Relationship Issues: Boundaries, Freedom of Choice and Codependency

by 00DAD 83 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • LV101

    LHGal --- I, too, stayed on the fringe but married w/unbelieving mate never to ever be a witness --- thankfully. I was actually further away from center than fringe. I heard from more than one married sister how uncomfortable the single sisters made them feel. I could not believe what they were saying being married to a xtian and all. One of them told me they didn't trust one particular single sister around her husband. I can only imagine how you felt.

    A damaging religion --- OMG! It's very sad.

  • 00DAD

    Hi guys!

    Thanks for all your responses and comments. Obviously many of us feel that same way about this subject.

    I want to respond to all of you individually but my schedule today prevents that. I'll try to respond by mid-week!



  • cyberjesus

    The issue of not understanding other human beens is not limited to jws. But humans in general. We judge and we have learn to classify into good and bad...rather than just is... Even on non jws or even xjws..

    Just look at the many times a day some one shares an experience and the number of condemnation and praise comments... And a little acceptance there is, regardless of what we want for ouselves.

  • 00DAD

    Just finished the "Boundaries" book by Cloud & Townsend, this morning.

    It's a really good read, a little preachy at times but it contains a lot of very useful, practical suggestions on setting and enforcing appropriate boundaries in all our relationships: family, work, friends, social, church or whatever.

    I highly recommend for us ex-JWs that have had our personal boundaries trespassed on again and again the the WTBTS, its practices and policies and no doubt the local elders and our uber-JW family members.


  • sizemik
    have had our personal boundaries trespassed on again and again the the WTBTS

    Very valid point. When those boundaries, which for most people form naturally, are constantly disregarded, they eventually disappear altogether. As a JW my "space" was constantly violated inappropriately by all manner of people, but you just adapt to it. Consequently, I no doubt overstepped myself. I'm sure this is why Ex-JW's (especially those born in) can have such difficulty forming wholesome relationships after getting out. The roadmap for forming appropriate relationships is non-existent, and navigating the problem is often extremely difficult. Some really need help with this.

    Excellent thread.

  • 00DAD

    sizemik: When those boundaries, which for most people form naturally, are constantly disregarded, they eventually disappear altogether.

    Agreed. And in the case of the WTBTS this constant trespassing in other people's lives and moving of personal "property" lines is very calculated, deliberate and be design. It is all part of their efforts to control and manipulate.

    The WT "theology" gets the individual to accept violations of their appropriate boundaries without protest. The elders will often insinuate themselves into areas they should not be, or just outright overstep family and other relationship boundaries as if it were their divine right (which of course they believe it is!)

    The elders will also "redraw" boundary lines in ways that are not appropriate and that are very damaging to relationships. When someone is disfellowshipped they are excluded from their family, friends and others that in any normal functional social setting would be the support system that could help them. The property line is redrawn with the "sinner" on the outside. They are not completely isolated and alone.

    sizemik: I'm sure this is why Ex-JW's (especially those born in) can have such difficulty forming wholesome relationships after getting out. The roadmap for forming appropriate relationships is non-existent, and navigating the problem is often extremely difficult.

    Exactly. When we try and form relationships or even to re-examine those that we might still have after leaving the organization it can be extremely difficult. We do NOT know how to respect the personal boundaries of others or even our own. It takes a careful, thoughtful process. I've been working on it for several years and have made much progress but I'm not done yet.

    Also, when we try to re-assert appropriate boundaries concerning our self, we will often find that individuals that are controlling and manipulative and that are used to routinely trespassing on our turf will often become very upset. It's funny that NOW what I see as a childish temper-tantrum I USED TO interpret as "righteous anger" or disappointment in some mistake I'd made or short-coming in myself. Not that I'm perfect, because obviously I'm not, but manipulative, controlling personalities love to exploit weaknesses in others for their own selfish gain.

    Sometimes just telling someone like that "No" or even disagreeing with them will set them off on one of their tirades. And pointing out a mistake they make will generally result in them going ballistic. Forget about an apology.

    I am learning who to let in to my life and who to keep on the other side of the fence. I've got a new, hi-tech, ultra-sensitive alarm system installed to identify would-be trespassers. I like to keep it warm, cozy and safe here on the inside for myself and the trusted few that I let in.


  • LongHairGal


    Like you, I learned who to let in my life and who to keep the hell out. This tactic of overstepping boundaries is something that the JW religion and other high control groups do. But, more than anybody else, they think they are going to do this to a single woman. (There were some bastards there that, I swear, needed to be beaten back with a stick.) The absolute nerviness and potential for abuse that came from them was something few men would tolerate.

    The co-dependency garbage was something I saw with regard to certain single women there and I steered clear of them!

    The religion wants you to behave as though you were in your own house and surrounded by loved ones. This couldn't be further from the truth! This is why I heard all the horror stories of JWs who did horrible things to each other and defrauded each other. None of this exploitation happened overnight but was a careful erosion process of thinking people's sensibilities.

    The reality I saw was that I was really surrounded by strangers who either didn't care about me, didn't like me, and wanted something from me or thought I "owed" somebody something. In some cases, they were even more petty and evil than that. They just wanted to see me miserable or lowered in status, etc. which really stems from jealousy.

    All these things happened slowly and over a period of time but the final result, as I saw it, was that I was in a trap and I had to get myself out.

  • Quendi

    I’m sorry to be joining this discussion so late but I felt I wanted to contribute. I appreciate what 00DAD, LongHairGal and sizemilk have all contributed, particularly on the aspect of boundaries. They are essential in all relationships since without them no relationship can exist because we do not recognize the other person as an individual. That is one of the functions boundaries perform.

    I remember hearing a talk some years ago about maintaining good relationships in the congregation in which the speaker focused on two scriptures. One was Exodus 4:6 and the other was Job 1:11. In each passage he drew attention to the use of the word “please”, noting that it was spoken by both Jehovah and Satan.

    “What can we learn from this?” the speaker asked. “This: By using the word ‘please’ both Jehovah and Satan showed they respected the dignity of the individual and recognized that every relationship has boundaries. Brothers, we should heed these examples. If Jehovah and Satan respect boundaries, then we must also!” It was a powerful and graphic lesson for me which I have never forgotten.

    In addition to the book our friend 00DAD has suggested, I’d like to recommend two more. Both were written by clinical psychologist Alan Loy Mcginnis. I suggested them to a young Witness I knew some years ago. He read them, liked them very much, and to my great surprise and pleasure took both of them with him when he was invited to Brooklyn Bethel. When he arrived there, he set up an independent book study group with some of the newly-made friends he had to examine the books in depth. Up until the time I was disfellowshipped we regularly corresponded and he told me both books had proved invaluable to developing needed survival skills there.

    The books are The Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care For and Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Enjoy Helping Others to Excel. Both are available from and other outlets and booksellers.


  • rip van winkle
    rip van winkle

    One of the dumbest things I ever did in my early witness days, was to allow a C.O.'s opinion become the deciding factor against my employer's offer of furthering my education. I did not solicit the C.O.'s opinion at all- that was the doing of the person who was conducting my study.

    The C.o. said that it would interfere with my weekly meetings and my spirituality, etc. And that was that. Of course, sometime later, a group of MS brothers, started taking night courses to advance their knowledge in computers and no one said a word!

    The impact of allowing the C.O.'s interference to make a life decision, altered the course my life would take.

  • Quendi

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, rip van winkle, you were younger then and like so many, implicitly trusted the advice you received from elders, traveling overseers, and the like. I know I did.

    I was an engineering student back in the late seventies when we still expected Armageddon to fall any day. Yes, 1975 had come and gone, but most Witnesses believed that before the decade ended, we’d be in the “new system”. So when others advised me to give up college and concentrate instead on “spiritual matters”, I listened to them. I still remember how my decision broke my poor father’s heart.

    Well, the years ran away and I grew restless. It wasn’t just the endless waiting for “The End” that gnawed at me or even the lost employment opportunities. It was my own unquenchable thirst for knowledge which prodded me into going back to school. I finally listened to my inner voice, returned to college, and got my diploma ten years ago. I have never regretted that decision.

    The congregation elders weren’t happy about my return to college, but I more or less told them to shut up and mind their own business. By that time I was in my early forties and was nobody to fool around with. They couldn’t intimidate me as they would have a youth. When I finally graduated, one family in the congregation threw me a wonderful graduation party to which many people came to offer their congratulations. I think many wished they had done the same thing I had.

    I don’t know your circumstance, my friend, but it’s never too late to take charge of your own life. Many people go to college as “non-traditional students” and there are resources available to assist them. If you still want that diploma—for whatever reason—don’t hold back. This is your life and you should enjoy it to the full.


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