I have been a member here for some years although mostly in the background. Many of you have bravely shared your own experiences and I am very grateful for that but I have never been open about my own experience.
Nevertheless, I would be very grateful to those of you who would now take the time to read about my own personal journey from the JW religion and the circumstances that caused me to abandon that way of life and how I landed up where I am. I will avoid using names as my story involves the indiscretions of family members on my wife's side.
Until a few years back I was a member of the Cirencester congregation in Gloucestershire UK. I was relatively happy doing what one does despite the hypocrisy that is so evident to those who have an open mind. I never worked my way too high up nor was I particularly ambitious but I was eventually asked to act as a MS (although I am ashamed to have been any part of the deceit now) and had various tasks to perform. My wife was a full time pioneer as was her mother, her father being an elder in the same congregation.
One summer, we attended a family wedding on my wife's side which was a non-witness wedding, although there were other JW's there who were not directly connected to my family. At that time, my wife and I had two small children and consequently left the wedding reception around 7pm to get back by a reasonable time. A week or so later I was approached by our Presiding Overseer who asked to work on the ministry with me that morning. As it turns out, he had been approached by the other JW's who had been at that wedding, all of whom had claimed that my wife's father had acted in a way that would bring reproach upon the JW organisation and had displayed behaviour that was not befitting of an elder in the congregation. I cooperated as best I could but made it quite clear that I had left the wedding early and they would be better off speaking to others who had remained much later, such as my sister in law.
Apparently they did because a few days later my wife's father had stepped down from his position and the very next day was knocking on my door asking what I had said to the elders and why. You see, there is no confidentiality on the body of elders and my name had been put forward to him as the main perpetrator in what he evidently saw as a conspiracy against him. Needless to say that this had a detrimental effect on my marriage as I took the full brunt of the anger and strife that soon followed. In short, I was blamed for the whole drama; apparently I had constructed the whole thing singlehandedly, to what end I am still unsure.
Naturally, disillusionment set in and it became quite evident to me that I was involved in a rather cultish mentality. After much study, reading Ray Franz's books and others, I discontinued my association with the congregation. My wife struggled on alone for a while but gave up after a while, stating that she believed it was nothing more that a cult and she wanted no part of it. She did, however, still blame me for the unhappiness that her parents had suffered. This had a corrosive effect upon our marriage and in 2006 my wife had an affair. I was devastated and heartbroken. After a while I fell into depression and had some form of breakdown but continued with my marriage because I wanted to be around my children.
Although I have now moved beyond that hurt and trauma, I have become aware that my wife has had other 'flings', one of the more recent ones being with her first cousin. This I found particularly disturbing and found the whole thing very difficult to understand. My children know about it too and are very supportive of me but sadly, their opinion of their mother is not a good one. It would seem that, even now, she resents me for what happened way back in the late 1990's and holds me to blame.
After much thought, I recently decided that I am no longer able to endure the hurt and rejection in our marriage and have just recently petitioned for a divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. This has not gone down too well with her but I am determined to follow it through and have instructed my lawyer to do just that. It is a very nasty business and I would not wish it upon any one of you or your children. I have been in a very abusive relationship, both mentally and physically, since around 2005 and have decided that my children are now independent enough for me to dissolve the marriage. Some friends think I was wrong to stay in the marriage for so long but I try to comfort myself with the belief that I have done the right thing.
Anyway, thank you so much if you have taken the time to read this and I would be very interested to hear your own thoughts if you have gone through something similar.
My best wishes to all of you.