your post really struck a chord here.
I came out of the JWs and moved away to a different city to get away from my JW environment. When I started my job, I felt I was bursting to tell SOMEBODY what the hell I was going through (leaving a cult, just lost every single friend I had, JW wife and inlaws have turned against me, some of my own family has turned against me and treats me like dirt only because I left my former church) So I started my new job and at lunch it all just sort of came tumbling out.
This happened on a frequent basis and my co-workers didn't know what to think. They had never heard of such things. They didn't say anything really. They just looked aghast at some of the stories I was telling them and got very quiet. They could not relate whatsoever. Hmmm, not a great way to start off my new job.
my upbringing has had quite the opposite effect. I find it difficult to form relationships to say the least. I feel quite emotionally and socially retarded, and so I can’t compete in the dating game.
The Watchtower mindset about avoid worldy people is deeply ingrained. My JW mother found it appropriate to terminate every single friendship I had as a small boy, unless that friend was a JW. I could only go over to another non-JW boy's house to play if I gave his parents some literature. Yes, I did do this a few times. I'll spare you the details on what happened, but you could guess, and you'd be right. After a while, I learned to feel extreme guilt over having friends outside of the JWs. So when I left at 35, I had some "issues" on social interaction on my plate, to say the least. Years later, I find that a lot of that has gone away.
As time has gone on, I don't feel the need to bring the JW topic up anymore with people who can't relate. I agree with Larc in the sense that I've gotten the impression it's a huge turn-off for most people. It's an unpleasant story, and I was talking about it so much because I needed someone to empathize so I could heal from the experience. But it drove people away because it made them feel bad, hearing what I was dealing with. I am fortunate I found the 1-800 helpline and Randy Watters and other ex JWs I could talk to by telephone when I was overwhelmed by my grief and anger.
I agree with Harmy that your real friends will listen, but the only people who can really relate to you when you first come out are ex-JW alumni. When I have met other ex-JWs at support meetings or apostofests, it's always been a pleasant experience. There's nothing to explain. Everybody knows exactly what you mean, exactly where you're coming from. But when I go to a party or out with co-workers, there are plenty of other things to talk about and I don't feel the need to bring it up. (I guess I'm healed! Can somebody say amen? )
I agree with what has been posted, that interacting with people is a skill that can be honed. Me? I felt like a kindergartener on the first day of school. Be prepared for the fact it is going to take time since the difference between the closed environment of the JW world and the real world is *extreme.* I wouldn't say it's like moving to another country and learning the customs and language. More like moving to another planet. But you'll get there.