It's around 10AM here in the northeast of Brazil. I have just finished having coffee and a light breakfast. I am reflecting on my Saturdays of JW past, where I would be just about ready to leave the morning field service group and go door-knocking.
Honestly, I hated every second of field service, always keeping one eye on the clock, counting down the minutes until service would be over.
12 years later since I last "preached", I am also reflecting on the sense of freedom I experienced (and still experience) when I definitively said "No more!" to being a WT slave. This meant no more field service, no more meetings, assemblies and conventions, no more faking, no more wasted time and energy on all things Watchtower... unless it's to help others escape.
Leaving the Watchtower comes with casualties for everyone who takes the bold step of exiting this religion. At minimum you'll lose so-called friends, which stings initially, but as you gradually distance yourself from indoctrination, you'll realize all of them were conditional friends. And, along the way, you gain real friends "in the world", who will do more for you (and you for them) than you probably had ever experienced from JW land.
At most (and at worst) you'll lose family members. This is the hardest obstacle to overcome in order to experience true freedom. Some will lose mothers, others sons, and others siblings. I have lost my older brother.
Here's how I made my decision easier: Imagine you and your family members are locked in a tight cage. You personally feel like you are losing your mind but your relatives are content, happy even, to being restricted to life in a cage. They feel protected. You, on the other hand, feel anxiety. You feel like you can't breathe. You are scared because everyone in the cage tells your the warden will kill you if you try to leave. Your cage mates also threaten to never speak to you again if you leave even if the angry warden somehow doesn't kill you.
You often call out to the warden to ask him some questions. Yet, he never talks to you. He merely has left you a book that is impossible to truly understand what it is that he is demanding of you.
You come to realize that he has never locked the cages. So, you have to decide: see what exists beyond the cage or stay put out of fear, obligation or guilt.
I chose to leave the cage. I looked everywhere for the warden. 12 years later, I still haven't found him. I have concluded that he probably doesn't exist.
I often walk by the cages and tell my family and former friends that the warden hasn't destroyed me. In fact, I tell them that life is amazingly great beyond the cage. Yet, they say nothing to me. They ignore me, in fact. I pity them but I have done my part by living a truly happy life.
I am happy to have chosen freedom over being a people-pleaser, no matter the casualties.
I will always remember how it felt to be free for the first time.