Hey everyone...I'm new here and I thought I'd give you my story.
I was raised in "the truth". My mother is still a witness of over 25 years, and a pioneer for over 10. My father is not in the truth. He was supportive of my mother in her pioneering and everything, and he used to come to meetings occasionally when I was younger, but started coming less and less until he only came to the memorials. Anyways, since I was born, my oldest sister had already left the house (she was kicked out by my parents...I don't know the exact circumstances other than she got drunk one night and slept with someone. My dad's a fair man, and I know whatever he decided was the right thing to do at that point for the sake of the family...since there were still 2 girls and two of us boys left).
My childhood was very rough...my parents would be in fights constantly. My mother would hit my dad, scream at him, and did whatever else she could to make him feel horrible. I'm amazed my dad put up with it for so long. My mom has a borderline personality disorder, which she denied for all my childhood, and is only just now trying to get help for it. I was sometimes abused by my dad too, but I forgive him for that...bruises heal, but the pain my mother caused me by forcing me to be a JW will take much longer to cure.
We were forced to comment at each meeting, go out in service every saturday..the usual routine. I wasn't allowed to associate with anyone outside of the kingdom hall, as commanded by the scripture we've all burned in our brains. I found that generally the people at the hall were very shallow...there was always a flaw in personality about all of them that made it impossible for me to like them. Most of them would always have to bring up spritual things at every encounter. If I were to spend the night at someone's house, I would have to do the watchtower study with their family. Stuff like that really annoyed me.
What was most hurting though is that as I became older, and we moved several times...there really wasn't anyone in the hall around my age. I had many friends in school but I wasn't allowed to associate with them, so I had no friends at all. This forced me into my room all day, the time in which I used to mess around on computers (which is paying off in a big way now). My mom was sure computers and the internet were works of the devil...she would scream at me constantly for being in my room all the time...but never had any sympathy for me as I didn't have any friends, and not by choice.
I began dating a wordly girl in 10th grade...(which ended up being a big mistake which I regret to this day), but it did allow me to see some people I had known for all my life for what they really are. My best friend lived up here in pennsylvania, where I used to live, and we were friends since I was in the 2nd grade. Every summer I would spend a week up at his house, and he would spend a week at our house. He was one of those friends where you could pick up right where you left off...you didn't have to talk to him all the time to stay his friend. I mustered up the courage to tell him that I was dating a wordly girl, in the hopes that he would be at least understanding. His response really shocked me...he said that he would not be my friend anymore and that I was not welcome at his house anymore. When I stopped dating that girl, he gradually allowed me back at his house, but things weren't the same anymore. He occasionally tries to talk to me now, but his requests for us to get together are very shallow, as he never does anything to follow up on them. Really, I don't consider us friends anymore.
At this point I stopped going to meetings less. I knew what I was doing would be viewed as wrong by the rest of the congregation, and I am not the type of person that would act pious at the meetings when I knew I was living a lie. I started making excuses as to why I couldn't give my talks on tuesday, and eventually stopped doing that and going out in service. I am sure that this was seen by others as me "turning to darkness", but that really wasn't the case. I was never baptized, though being pressured constantly to do so. I knew that if I did not become baptized, I couldn't be disfellowshipped, and the last thing I wanted was to be cut off from the rest of my family. I didn't like that I was being forced to do anything. It's similar to when you were younger and your parents would force you to say thank you to someone. Remember the times when you were planning on doing it and they said to say thank you right in front of the other person? Didn't that make your thank you seem a lot less honest than you wanted it to be? That's exactly the way I felt....I felt too much that what I was doing was just a routine, and that my heart was not at all in it.
The things I had learned made sense (at least from looking at the bible we had)...but some things didn't make sense if you looked at the big picture. There are many things in the bible that I would say are very difficult to understand, and we were just told to trust the organization on what they meant....some of these things were very important to my beliefs, and so that added to the doubt in my mind. I later started dating a girl who was in the truth, but not too involved with it. We're still dating today...she's a wonderful girl and I'm very thankful I met her. We feel the same way about the organization today, and I'm very grateful that I can talk to her about these things. We have a website of our poetry at http://grsecurity.net/poetry I hope some of you read the poems...they're all from the heart, and I think they might brighten your day up a bit.
When I was about to graduate from highschool, I went to go visit my sister in DC (she and her husband are still witnesses...they're both nice people though, and don't push it on me or anything...I enjoy spending time with them, and they are not against me at all). While I was there, my dad called on the phone and said that he had left my mother. I really couldn't believe it...they seemed happy before I left for DC, and I couldn't imagine them not being together. I'm glad I had my girlfriend to talk about this to, because I wasn't talking to anyone else about it...I keep my emotions very close, and only reveal them to people I trust very much. (for those who take keirsey personality tests, i'm an INFJ).
When I got back home, things were very different. It was strange not having my dad there. Since I was living with my mom, she of course was trying to portray my dad as a horrible man, and for a time I believed it. While I stayed in the house, my mom did nothing but yell and abuse me verbally. My dad would call sometimes to talk to me, and I feel very bad about how I treated him those first couple weeks. He came to my school and asked me if I needed anything, and gave me some money, and something he found while he was at work. He brought by a computer he found while he was at work also and left it at the house. Up to that point I had never seen my dad really cry other than at my sister's wedding, but whenever I saw him, he would be in tears. I really felt bad for him, and I knew that he loved me, and he said he did for the first time that I can remember.
A week before I graduated, my mom stood outside my door yelling at me for at least half an hour...pounding on the door and screaming as loud as she could. She knew that I wasn't going to listen to what lies she was telling me about my father anymore, but she couldn't handle not being right. I couldn't take being yelled at like that, so I opened up the door and chased her back to her room. I never touched her, but I hit a small hole in her door. My brother then came after me screaming "I'm gonna kill you" and ran after me with a broken off lacrosse stick. I ran to my room and locked the door, when he punched a huge hole through it. The door was now open with him at the entrance weilding the stick (it was some bronzish metal, and the end of it was burred and sharp)...so I had to defend myself...he was in a fit of rage. I didn't hurt my brother, but just wrestled with him and took the weapon away from him.
While this was going on my mom called the cops on us and ran out of the house. She told the cops she wanted me to be kicked out of the house, and brought some elders over to talk to the cops (and of course give her biased side of the story). I talked to one of the officer when he came up to talk to me, and I gave him the whole story. He found nothing wrong with me and said that I couldn't be forced to leave, but would have to leave on my own will. The elders tried to get me put in jail, and the officer said that if they were going to put someone in jail, they'd put all three of us in.
Half an hour after this all happened, my dad called and told me i had 30 minutes to pack up my stuff, and that he was going to take me with him. He was living with my 2nd oldest sister at the time, and so he came and picked me up and drove me there. I fell asleep on the couch, and was awakened by my sister's husband yelling at my dad (my sister is not in the truth anymore...she feels the same way about it as I do, and she's seen a lot of the hypocrisy of the elders first hand. Her husband's father was an elder and didn't pay over 20,000 dollars of taxes, and tried to put the blame on her husband....her husband, however is still a witness...he got into a skiing accident several years earlier and he's never been the same since...he was in a coma for over a month and rehab for over 6.)
He said that I was not welcome in his house, without even knowing what had just happened to me. My dad stood up for me and gave him an earful and explained what had just happened....my sister's husband tried to take back what he said and asked us to stay, but it was too late. I packed up my stuff again after being kicked out twice in one day, and we went to go to my dad's girlfriend's house. Imagine how uncomfortable I was meeting her (though I had met her once before) and then sleeping on the couch there for the next week. During that time though I got to spend time with my dad, and I really enjoyed it, regardless of how strange it felt at times.
We had a senior retreat that week for school, and during it we were asked to write a letter to someone who has meant a great deal to us, and I wrote my letter to my dad. I told him how much I appreciate everything he has done for our family, and that I know he was underappreciated many times...I thanked him for caring about me and loving me even though he didn't know how to express it sometimes. I told him that no matter what happens, he's always going to be my dad and nothing can change that. I gave him the letter at my graduation, and he burst into tears. It was really an emotional time for the both of us. He cried when I left to go to college....I really love my dad, and it just shows how the world is not as black and white as the witnesses try to make it. Here my mother was the evil one, and my dad was the only one who really cared about *ME* and not whether I made it to meetings or not.
My dad still calls me every week and tells me he misses me and loves me and asks how I'm doing. I've only gotten one call from my Mom the whole time i've been here at college (coming close to 8 months now), and that was to tell me not to claim myself on my taxes and that she was supposed to. (this turned out to be a lie that my mom used to try to illegally jip my dad out of even more money than she already is...my dad works very hard for a living, and he's living right now on about 20 bucks a week...hardly enough for anything).
I haven't really thought much about the witnesses since I've been here, and I've been getting the magazines for some time, though I never read them (my mom ordered them for me)...but lately I started watching all these things about the cult of scientology...just for fun at first...i thought some of the things they believe were outrageous..to the point of hilarious. It then occured to me that scientology was using the same kinds of response against its critics that witnesses use, and that the same kind of mind control as in scientology is being done to witnesses. This made me go look on the internet for more information...so I could learn about the things that were being hidden from me.
I just last night ordered Crisis of Conscience, and I found this board and hope to share much more in it. I've decided that I want to be accountable to God for myself, and that I do not want a corrupt organization to be representing me. There's so much hypocrisy in the organization that I can't even begin to describe...the mind control is definitely powerful. It keeps you from seeing the truth if you're stuck reciting the same things over and over again, unable to ask questions, and unable to think for yourself. Anyways, I'm very happy now, because for a while I had thought that I would never have a relationship with God again, because of my horrible experience with being a witness.
Now I'm eager to try to rebuild that relationship, and be accountable for myself, and show God that I love him, rather than serving the requests of men. It's important that we encourage each other and help each other to fulfill our goals. Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this...I hope to form friendships with many of you.