Growing up as a JW was a form of mental abuse for me

by Miss Fitt 47 Replies latest watchtower child-abuse

  • Miss Fitt
    Miss Fitt

    In another thread, canleave made the comment "I spent my childhood feeling conspicuous"

    I can really relate to this, so I wanted to start my own thread.

    Growing up as a JW from birth, I was a really shy, nervous child and hated being different from all the other kids. I can't remember one day when I was happy at school. I felt isolated and always scared of having to 'make a stand for the truth.' I was bullied a lot. Not physically, but just the constant drip feed of name-calling, snarky comments and humiliation. There are a few incidents that can still bring me to tears if I think about them. I remember the tight feeling in my chest as I walked to school every day, dreading what the day would bring.

    My mother (pillar of the congregation) became a JW in her 20s, and I knew she would never understand that feeling of sheer terror as you walk into the classroom. I never really talked to her about how I was feeling as, I guess, I felt guilty. She is a confident, forthright, zealous person and I knew she was expecting me to witness to the other kids. It simply wasn’t in my nature. How could I tell her I used to look around the school and wonder ‘why can’t I be like everyone else?’ It wasn’t that I wanted to do anything bad, I just wanted to be like all the other kids and do all the normal things they were doing.

    One of my sisters was like my mum, brimming with confidence and loved witnessing to all the kids. She would hold bible studies in the lunch break. She later told me that she loved the feeling of power that being a JW gave her, the knowledge that she was going to live forever and she could save peoples lives. She was held up as an example in the congregation, and was trotted out at conventions to give her experiences.

    Over the years I have grown in confidence, although I am still quite shy and full of self-doubt. I’m a bit of a loner and I hate being the centre of attention. I’ve never felt ‘good enough’ even when I’ve excelled. People have told me that I am clever, kind, sweet, caring, generous, and an all round lovely person. I never quite believe them. I know that my childhood experiences have caused this.

    If anyone reading this is still a JW and bringing up kids, please understand that each child is different. Some JW kids thrive in school because they are naturally confident. Don’t forget that for children who are naturally shy and nervous, their school years are a long, drawn-out torturous process full of fear and isolation, that eats away at your child mentally and emotionally.

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    I'm a teacher, and I observe teenagers all the time at school. I notice that non Jw teenagers laugh a lot more and have better and more active imaginations than Jw teens. I'm sure growing up Jw kills kids' imaginations and sense of fun.

    I used to wish I'd grown up Jw when I was in, but now I see from people on JWN what it was really like, and I appreciate my non Jw parents more than ever now I've left because they encouraged me to create and explore and have all sorts of friends and interests, not rigidly tie myself down to a dull way of life with a group who has no place for initiative or self development. I converted to that myself, and deconverted...I have a way to go in redefining who I am and getting myself back on track creatively etc so I really feel for you born ins who were never even allowed a taste of those things.

  • punkofnice

    Although I'm a geezer, you have accurately described my childhood. School was hell as I didn't fit in. The congregation was hell as I didn't quite fit in there either.

    Basically, I've gone through life feeling like a misfit because of the cognitive dissonance the cult crowbarred into my brain.

    Although I love my Mum (Dad died), I cannot thank my parents for raising me in that vile, mind destroying cult.

    I feel your remains.

  • Nosferatu

    Almost sounds like my experience, except I was actually beaten up in school. I didn't fit in, my mother made me wear hand-me-downs that were horrendously out of date because "Jehovah's people are supposed to stand out". And when I wasn't getting beat up at school, I was getting beat up at home.

    As time progressed, I because marked as "bad association" in the congregation. Why is beyond me. So people in the Hall wouldn't talk to me, and I wasn't allowed to spend time with worldly kids. It's the spot where you're truly alone.

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    I had that alone experience as an adult: no friends in the cong, yet not allowed by the religion's rules to associate with the worldlings who welcomed me with open arms when I moved to that new town.

  • punkofnice

    I remember I had good friends at school but wasn't allowed to associate with them out of school. There was no one of my age in the congregation.

    Life was very lonely.

    I took to playing guitar and reading non JW books. Some I hid like; 'Chopper', 'Skinhead', 'Boot Boys' and 'Suedehead'.

    ...along with a load of vampire novels.

    I loved Sci Fi and tales like Kafka's Metamorphosis. I wanted to be educated but wasn't allowed!

  • Julia Orwell
    Julia Orwell

    How rude! Drives me nuts that these parents have smart kids but hold them back. Other kids would love to be smart, and so many parents would love to have a kid who was into Kafka! But not Jw parents, washing windows is all you can ever do. And don't ever leave the truth because like poor op poster, you got no confidence to make it without the gb because they hold you ransom to your dud parents.

  • punkofnice

    My careers adviser at school wanted me to go to teacher training college.

    ...........wish I had disobeyed the GB!

    I remember I used to write stories and poems. One day my Mum read some and rather than encouraging me she said I ought to stop as I was looking too deeply into my mind.......whatever that meant.

    I was gutted.

  • Phizzy

    I too never felt comfortable at School , so I didn't go much LOL, I played "hookey" a lot, even on what was supposed to be my last day at School, I bunked off.

    I felt even less at home in the KH and around JW's , I have always felt more relaxed with non-JW's. All this was a terrible conflict within, especially whilst growing up.

    I have learned to look at this, and identify the fact that, because I felt I could do nothing about it, I was frustrated and angry, though I suppressed these emotions.

    Such a childhood is, as you rightly say, a form of mental abuse, and to recover from it one needs therapy of some sort, at the very least, we need to vent on here about it !

    I do blame my parents for being so blind and silly as to join the cult, and go along to a degree with its edicts. I know they thought they were doing the right thing, but why oh why did they not check out whether they really were making the right choice ?

    We can all be thankful that we are now free, but I along with many of you guys, feel sadness and resentment for a lost childhood/teenage years, and for the lost friendships, not of the false friends in the WT, but the life-long friendships we may well have made had we been allowed to be normal kids.

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    It is absolutely mental and emotional abuse, and I think it goes far beyond shyness or lack of imagination. It has to do with the worldview that all of you worldly friends, teachers, family and neigbors are soon to be destroyed, and YOU will be bloodguilty if you don't speak up.

    I think growing up JW is almost like growing up in a war-torn nation. . . . always under constant threat of everything you know being annihilated.

Share this