Life after the witnesses, friends, faith etc
Hi everyone, this is my first post so go easy on me :) I have been a witness all of my life (I'm 37) and truly believed it until 3 years ago. My husband and I had become spiritually weak and over time I began to question more and more until I came to the conclusion that the witnesses were not the true religion but just one of many religions and that if God is there then there are many paths to get to him. Anyway, I've battled with keeping going as my husband still believed and I didn't want to be in a divided household as we have a young daughter and thought it would be very confusing for her (and us). So anyway I've has a roller coaster of a time for the past 3 years and finally my husband now feels the same as me. However, although we have kind of decided it's not for us the pull of friends and family is so hard. I feel quite scared and lonely to be leaving that comfort behind but I can't continue as a witness. How have people adapted to life outside the truth? Making friends? Have you found your new friends to be as genuine? How about faith? I feel like I still want to believe in God but don't know even where to begin.
Theburstbubble, welcome to reality...
How have people adapted to life outside the truth?
Everyone adapts in different ways. I had a lifetime of beliefs to unlearn and replace with beliefs and ideas based on critical thinking and evidence. It's scary and exhilarating. And, you may want to seek counseling (e.g. there are therapists who specialize in cults). Oh, and you will know you are making progress when you stop calling it "the Truth".
Making friends?Have you found your new friends to be as genuine?
Lots. And the cool thing is that these friends don't leave you if they disagree with you.
How about faith? I feel like I still want to believe in God but don't know even where to begin.
One place to begin is to ask yourself "why do you feel you still want to believe in God?". This is a question that most of us were never afforded the opportunity to ask. We were simply taught to accept this at face value with the same evidence we thought the JWs were "the Truth". How did that work out for you? So, maybe a good place to start is to ask a lot of questions especially ones that start with "Why?"... Take your time, challenge all your assumptions, and be gentle on yourself.
For what is worth, I am an atheist now and see no reason for faith. Faith ultimately comes to believing in something without good demonstrable evidence or evidence to the contrary. That did not seem like a path to truth to me. And, after some time I also realized that religion does not have a monopoly on those "spiritual" experiences, the sense of awe, wonder, joy, etc. You can have those feelings and experiences in other ways,
How have people adapted to life outside the truth? Making friends? Have you found your new friends to be as genuine? How about faith? I feel like I still want to believe in God but don't know even where to begin.
Life goes on regardless. You will find that people that are not JWs also come in varieties. Some are genuine and some are untrustworthy. Just like the Kingdom-Hall. So you pick and choose who you want in your circle.
As far as God is concerned, you have returned to humanity's point of view. No one has or ever had all the answers to the God question. It just that the Watchtower made you believe they had all the answers but in reality they never did.
If there is a God and he is almighty, just, loving, and merciful, you shouldn't have to worry about judgement. If there is no God or he doesn't care, then you shouldn't have to worry either because once we're gone we won't know a thing. So enjoy your life and your family, that's the best thing. Isn't that what the Bible teaches.
(Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13) . . .I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one’s life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work.. . .
TheBB-Welcome. You ask questions that are difficult to answer. Personally, I feel much better mentally and emotionally since leaving the JWs. My spouse is still in, which causes a lot of difficulty to my family, as none of the kids want to attend, yet we feel like we are walking on eggshells. We secretly have to celebrate birthdays and so on. My youngest child hates having to keep these secrets, yet loves the b-day celebrations and holidays spent with her uncle, who left before me. I haven't made any friends, I don't know how, which is sad. Yet, I feel full of strength and am far happier than when I was living a lie (no more panic or anxiety attacks for me!). My kids are transitioning well and making friends at school and are involved in extracurricular activities. I have lost faith in a god, and believe in atheism.
It should be noted that I didn't have many friends in the organization before I left. As a person who hated going out in Field Service, I was never on the 'A' list in the congregation to begin with, that was reserved for pioneers, elders and ms.
Welcome, I have always maintained good relationships in and out of the witnesses gig. Still not so for my pioneer spouse. This makes it very difficult, some of the best friends you can find right now are some well meaning exjw's that will help by listening to you, and empathizing.
But be cautious, for me I always had "wordy" friends, I fear some who have only known friends in the "truth", they go out and get hurt and feel the witnesses were right. I aways say this:
There are good people in the org, and bad people in the org, there are good people outside the org, and there are bad people outside. Be cautious, but there are non-witness, non-religious people outside that are absolutely wonderful human beings.
freemindfade - But be cautious, for me I always had "wordy" friends, I fear some who have only known friends in the "truth", they go out and get hurt and feel the witnesses were right.
This is very true. And, it applies to not just "worldly" people you will meet but other experiences you may want to have. As a JW I was woefully ill-equipped to deal with the real world and made some mistakes along the way. Take it slowly. You need to learn to navigate in a different environment you are used to.
Hi and welcome. Well done being brave and patient until your husband joined you in disbelief regarding the JWs.
I made friends with mothers at school when my daughter was small. That may be a good place to start. Also I made a friend of a woman I worked with, which has lasted for about twelve years. I also made a friend doing voluntary work. They are genuine and they don't get upset if you don't agree all the time.
As for belief I was a Christian when I left for a while. After a while I started to look at other beliefs and philosophies and also read about science and evolution. I suggest you just follow your curiosity and read whatever you like, that's what I did.
It's good to have you here.
Welcome. I hear what you are saying about things becoming complicated when a little child is in the picture. Your religious views are evolving, but love for your child should not be affected by the changes in your life. If your child can feel the unconditional love from both her parents, then it's very likely that all the other changes will have very little effect on her. I have a little girl, too. i think we are doing them a favor by leaving this "captive organization" and the conditional human relationships that it offers.
I am a fourth generation witness, and I have seen how this religion has influenced and screwed up/divided four generations of my family. The cycle ends with me!
Making new friends can be a tough hurdle for some (like me). It's hard to trust again. But if you put in the effort and take the initiative to start new hobbies or volunteer work friends will start coming out of the wood work.
Wishing you and your family the best!
Thanks guys. It has been a long, rocky road. I was suffering with anxiety whilst going to the meetings as I knew it wasn't right anymore and began to hate reading the publications as just felt like it was all constant drip feeding of their doctrines. I was felt like I was suffercating. Plus felt like a fraud when with other witnesses. My main thing is that I don't want my little girl to be brainwashed the same way as I have been and want her to be in life whatever she wants. Don't get me wrong I've had some very happy times as a witness but it's now as though the bubble has burst (hence my user name) and feel very frustrated with everything. I felt relieved when my husband said he no longer believed it as well but I still feel like I need to believe in something which I again know is from the whole brainwashing thing. It's funny StrongHaiku as I still do call it the truth and then go to correct myself. I think I need to do some reading/ research on the whole mind control as I think that will help me rationalise things better. I have lots of friends who are still witnesses and are constantly battling with the sticking with it but are too scared to leave and often say 'but what else is there?'. It's so sickening that all of these people have been brainwashed into believing they are loyal to God when really is being loyal to an organisation. Can I just ask, do you think the GB believe it's 'the truth?'. What is the purpose of the organisation? I probably sound really naive but I just wonder as it can't be money can it as it doesn't come across as a wealthy organisation as they are always expanding etc
thanks for tips regarding making friends too. My little girl starts school next year so thought that would be a good opportunity to branch out and like you Xanthippe I'd like to do some charity work etc.