I'm B.L. currently from Houston, TX, but spent most of my life in Chicago. Thanks for having me. I've never had an opportunity to just get this OUT... so I apologize for the long-windedness in advance...
I spent the first 17 years of my life in a JW home, then the real world caught up to me. I got baptized when I was 10, and wish I had never did it because puberty was an experience. Had my first run in with girls when I was 13- totally unprepared for that. It was all downhill from there. Seems like in the lower income areas of this country, JWs tend to thrive- where people are less educated- and their hopes are just for some happiness, let alone some quality of median incomism. Thus I lived in a district where my family was of a group of reknowned Witnesses, my uncle, dad all their friends were "big-tymers" always on the Circuit, District level activity- giving big talks, directing dramas, all that... Double Life had a real meaning for me- because all I could imagine was getting kicked out of my house for not following suit. My mother was the real harbinger of JW-life...she tried to push into my head that I wanted to go to Bethel and Pioneer and marry one of my grandmothers friends granddaugthers and go serve where the need was greater. I wanted to go to Michigan State University, pledge Omega Psi Phi (fraternity), study Physical Therapy and work for a Professional sports team. So, guess who's dreams got pooped on... yeah. So much changed so fast as I was a teenager. Seemed all my friends were non-existent except for when I was at school. I wasn't allowed to associate with kids at the hall because they weren't good enough associations because their parents watched HBO comedy shows or they got 'in-style' hair cuts... And at a point- I just got sick of it- so I let the other side of my life out- and yup- got kicked out of the house at 17 (I told them that I felt that this was all BS and that I didn't want to do it anymore- and went to stay with my then 23 year old girlfriend), then again at 18... (second time wasn't nothing to do with me at all- my best friend's little brother and my sister started a physical relationship- which I found out about when I was told to pack my stuff and get out of their house--- furious doesn't even scrape the surface).
So instead of trying to figure out college, I was figuring out where I would live, between my car (at 18 yrs old), some random chick's place and spending the random night at my best friend's parents house. My best friend used to always tell me that God doesn't do this...and I would tell him Miguel, this is the truth.. and you know what happens if we say it ain't. He also used to tell me you KNOW that's not your real daddy, and it's time for him to get you out of his house... a conversation that would almost surely lead to a fight. So when he told his parents I was living out of my car and what had transpired (the whole story), they took me in and there was some normalcy. Then my mother tried to condemn his parents for taking me in...and his mother LEAPED to my defense. She said "God gave me 3 sons, and gave you 1- I've always prayed for 1 more- so thank you and get off my porch..." Miguel was DF'd a short time after that- but his parent's never condemned him as a person...only his behavior- smoking of a certain green plant and his continued sexual episodes with his Girlfriend who refused to marry him when the time came for him to ask her. Miguel and I eventually got own place, and two young guys with decent 9-5 jobs in a nice apartment...well, it was a riot. One day, as our custom Miguel told me he'd call me when he got to work, as he was always oversleeping. This was a no big deal- except that he never made it to work. He died of injuries sustained from a fall down 35 steel steps after having a major heart attack- at 23 yrs old. Heartbroken, consoling his mother was the only thing I could think about... while my mother was heard at his funeral saying "Well, he was disfellowshipped, so I guess you know what that means..." Problem was the person that heard her, was Miguel's mother... I know that as a Christian...I'm taught to forgive- but I still struggle with forgiving her for that night. Thing is, she didn't know that Miguel was actuall going to the KH and making efforts to be an active JW again. I vowed that I would NEVER do the same.
I was never allowed foster a relationship with my grandfather because he was such a bad evil man who had rejected Jehovah and had an affair on my grandmother. When I was 28 he and I reconnected and spent 3 wonderful years learning each other and talking and having that grandfather/grandson relationship that never was... Found out that he was disfellowshipped because he was smoking cigars on his patio and the elders told him that if he didn't stop, he didn't love jehovah and that he was going to be disfellowshipped. This was also when the congregation owed his business several hundred dollars for repairs he had made to the KH- and he had already slashed the price for most labor and parts. His "affair" on my grandmother was during a time when they were separated for 4 and 1/2 years... and after trying to work it out they divorced 3 yeas later. Go figure, that while they were separated, one of the elders was trying to get with my grandmother- and during that time, my grandfather was denied efforts to get reinstated. He died but the night before he died, he told me that he wished we had more time... my mother called me that next morning to tell me he had died. I told her I was at the hospital when he died- and hung up the phone. I hugged my mother for the first time in 10 years at my grandfather's funeral. Felt like hugging air... pointless.
I found out when I was 8 that my dad was actually my step-dad and that my biological father didn't want to have anything to do with me or my mother. All I ever knew about him was his name and that he sucked. So, to my surprise, my mother called me just prior to my 32nd birthday to tell me that my father had sent a letter to her- for me. I responded- "This is a new low, even for OUR relationship." *Mind you my dad had been disfellowshipped for his adulterous behavior (but I'm the spawn of Satan) fairly recently at this point.* "You didn't even have the decency to tell me y'all got a divorce- wow." Not from him, from YOUR father, Michael (a name I hadn't heard since I was 8)... So I asked her to scan and email the letter to me, for which I am eternally grateful. I was able to call my father the same day and had a conversation with him. Wee-irrrd... but comfortable. I found out that he had been looking for me and my mother for quite some time...under the wrong last name. A last name given to him and his family in a letter from my mother stating that since he didn't want to become a JW and marry her that they would never see me again. That my last name would be Williams (which it isn't) and to not bother trying to find us as she was marrying someone in 14 days... I never knew that I had been AROUND my paternal family, let alone that a childhood nickname that I was called was given to me by my uncle. So- I found out that I have 3 other sisters and 2 brothers - all younger than I, and that my youngest brother- was born on the same day as me- 23 yrs later. My step-mother is the best thing to happen to me EVER... and she's known about me since the day she met my father, and has championed his search for me and my whereabouts- and encouraged him to keep looking despite his fears about what I would feel about him. That relationship is growing its own legs and my siblings couldn't be happier. I recently was able to watch my baby sister graduate from College with a BS in Nursing and my younger brother to graduate High school with a scholarship to University of Delaware. After much conversation, my siblings have convinced me to enroll at a local state university to begin to acquire my business degree... and to pledge grad chapter of the Fraternity of my dreams.
Why am I telling you this? No idea. I don't know you people, you don't know me. I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to- there are some people out there that thnk that being a JW is the best thing since sliced bread. To those people... I say don't question anything, except your own faith. If you feel like your faith is wavering- you're not crazy- ask the question why... I was baptized at 10 yrs old- if I could do it all over- I never would have. I did it to be able to handle the microphones at the KH.. Not to have my life ripped apart for 15+ years because I didn't believe the same things that my parents believed, and that I was ill prepared for life as a human. I don't feel that any religion that promotes the categorial dismantling of a family in favor of a man-made ideal is from God. If so, may as well break out the stones and get at it. No single organization has a lease on the love of God- period. "Judge not, lest you be judged first" , "Neither are you the Lord over the faith of another". I can't believe that a religion that has such a dramatic disconnect with its young people and those that it retains, it does so based upon FEAR of reprisal from family... can be the truth...I just can't believe it. I believe that the Bible in and of itself represents the word of a divine being- God or Other (totally another topic) and that noone is able to tell me what he thinks of me except him, when I meet him.
Good luck to those of you still struggling with a decision...and God Bless you to those of you who've already made it and are paying a price for it.