Hi everyone! This is a just a very brief posting (although I'm not sure if I'm making it in the right forum ) to introduce myself to you guys. Although it's the first (well, with this post, second) post I make in the forum, I have been lurking for quite a while, probably over a year or so.
My background is like so many of yours I'm sure. Just a brief run through of my life will be made, I don't have anything exceptional to say since my life is pretty plain in comparison to most people .
My parents were introduced into "the truth", when I was 3 years old (that was the last year I'm told I had a birthday party and celebrated Christmas) and are still inside the organization. As for me, I was quite faithful in the organization until about the time when I was fifteen years old and got my very first computer. Of course, like everyone else here I'm sure, the very first word I punched into Yahoo! was "Jehovah's Witnesses" and it came back with quite a few hits. To my naive surprise, not all of them were positive and I was intrigued by the messages of those "apostate" websites. In reality, I felt oddly liberated finding out the real truth about what kind of organization I was in.
I had doubts since before, but no one to express them to and of course, my entire life revolved around witness activities so there was no doubt in my mind that something was wrong with ME. My first doubts came when I saw how two-faced a lot of the people were when in totally different settings. People I was told to look up to did more amoral things than I did (in retrospect, good for them, they actually maybe managed to live a more normal life) and this baffled me intensely since I was told people in authority were put there by Jehovah's guidance. Of course, once I found out about a lot of false prophecies my doubts became threefold and I went on a huge campaign of finding out everything I could about the organization my family and I were in.
By the age of sixteen, it was obvious this organization were most definately NOT divinely inspired. Around this little epiphany (sp?) I became more and more withdrawn from the congregation we attended and the people in it. I pretty much began the process of removing myself silently from the organization as I did not want to be disfellowshipped. Reading about everyone's experience now, I think most people do this out of instinct as they can't fathom the idea of everything they knew being ripped away from them so fast; I salute those who are brave enough to confront the elders and/or publicly begin acknowledging their new acquired beliefs. The only thing I had the guts for was introducing a lot of the congregation to the internet and I could only hope that they used it as a tool to gather information like I had.
At any rate, as I became more and more scarce in the meetings, I began having conflicts at home with my parents because of my abscenses to preaching and meetings. About the same time, I also gave up all my responsibilities in the congregation (I worked on the territories, typed ALL of our congregation's papers to be put on the public board, and worked the sound system); luckily, I was never named Ministeral Servant (is that how it's said in English? We only attended Spanish congregations). For some reason, the president of the congregation (I know this one is wrong, please tell me what the title is called in English ) [who is the elder appointed "in charge" I guess] started to look over my way. He was quite a strict elder and started putting pressure on me to increase my service to the congregation. When I didn't comply, he told the Superintendent who had a little chat with me during his visit. His "punishment" was to take away my "privelege" of passing the microphones and reading the Watchtower. Gee, I was really, erm, dissapointed .
For a few more years I had to keep up my apperances and go at least on Sundays (though I was the last one to arrive and the first one to leave ); but as luck would have it, when I was 20 our job relocatted us (my dad and myself work in the same place) to another state. From the moment I arrived, I started making excuses of not being able to go to the new congregation (my publisher card did get sent down here, though, I assume). For a while, this caused tension with my dad who became irritated that the time was never right for me to go. Eventually, the District Convention rolled around and I had to go forcefully through many guilt trips of my parents. When I got there, I found that I just couldn't stomach the whole structure and monotony anymore. I went one whole day, and the next day I left during the break; I swore to myself, "NO MORE!" and I haven't been to one since (that was 3 years ago). Thankfully, I never went to any meetings and so was left blissfully alone by the elders in my congregation for a while. They later took up an interest to "visit" me, but that is a whole other story for another post .
I have, for now, managed to escape with being inactive and hope that I can keep getting away with it for a while to come. In the meanwhile, I began down my "pagan" road by beginning to celebrate things such as Mother's Day (my mother cried tears of utter joy when I gave her something on Mother's Day, I think she had forgotten how nice it felt to be acknowledged by devoting a whole day to her), birthdays (I give presents to my closer family members), and (starting this last year) a little Christmas. My mom has even picked up some of these "nasty habits" and actually gave me a birthday gift last year, that was the first birthday present I'd had in 19 years; and she expects roses and a nice gift on Mother's Day now .
All in all, I've been very happy fading away and haven't hit any road bumps anymore. Like I told my best friend (a non-JW, although she's been exposed to some of it), "I'm more happy now, than I ever was serving the Watchtower 'god'". I honestly feel that if there is a God out there like the New Testament says he is, we are all already saved and we have to just endeavour in our daily lives to bring as much joy to ourselves and to those around us. I think I've finally found peace and balance with myself. When I think about my time spent in the organization now, I don't know how I endured it or how I could of left my entire childhood slip away. I am saddened by a lot of lost opportunities, but instead of dwelling on them, I look forward to experience the world instead of fearing it.
Oh, and sorry for the long-winded post. I guess I got a bit carried away! It was very nice to write to all of you and hope to have many fruitful and caring interactions with you all.