Started sliding out around 1974. I was fortunate to have my best friend leave at the same time.
Thing is, even though I had been in since the early 60s or late 50s, had done Bethel service for 4 years, pioneered, etc., I didn't ever really have any major crisis over leaving. I attribute this to 2 factors: The first, and most important is my friend. The second is that my family was "in", but so fringy. My dad getting df'd for smoking didn't phase me. I let it be known to my family that that would have zero effect on my relationship with my dad. We were all in agreement. Later, my mother and both brothers were df'd for various reasons and it never affected how we related to each other. Even brought some old friends from NY who had moved to Los Angeles up to the desert to meet my mom and dad once and told them they were to treat my father with respect. They did, in fact they were wonderful on meeting him.
Things did not go so well for my friend. His dad was a PO (then Cong Overseer) in a KH and really gave it to his son and to me. By that time I hated the mention of the WT. However, I was always respectful to his family. His mom was cool but his dad and his grandmother and all the witnesses in that cong. thought (and still do) that I was Satan for pulling their beloved son out of the "truth". Gotta tell you, this guy don't get pulled nowhere he don't wanna go!
My conclusion is that I was never spiritually mature enough to have ever done anything with them anyway. But the shite they gave me and the guilt that they tried to heap on both of us actually retarded our process of maturing. We were both made to feel worthless and never given any encouragement. It was pretty tough for 2 young guys who had no access to the "brothers" for comfort but were still lectured to. It was to take us YEARS to grow up and to realize that we were actually free. I don't think I really grew up until I was about 32 years old. Pretty slow. But, there was no encouragement from the "bros" and I couldn't trust the "world".
Still feel like a misfit. But I am a happy misfit. Missed out on a lot of good things in life but I guess I am feeling compensated now in the second half of my life. My best friend and I are in constant contact even though he lives in Northern Mexico.
This site has really opened my eyes. Thanks to Simon and all.