YES YES YES!!! I am going to tell my story if you all will listen. It is pretty long but I have just found this website and am so relieved to know that I am not the only one.
I was raised a witness. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was chronically ill so I went to meetings by myself. I was a very spiritual little girl. Unfortunately for my future as a witness I was also very intelligent and inquisitive. Educated women are evil after all right?
My entire family sufferred a lot of physical and emotional abuse throughout the years but because it came from the head of the household the elders would never intervene. When I was 12 I suffered abuse of a different kind from an elder (who was also a family member) which I kept quiet for fear of ruining the lives of his wife and child. I suffered from depression (which I was told by the elders was just selfishness) from a very young age. But I was always a very good little witness. I pioneered in the summers and tried to gain favor in any way I could always feeling that because of my family's low status I personally wasn't good enough.
When I turned 17 the depression and disillusionment became overwhelming. I lived in a very small town and had good friends (people I had known all my life) who were not witnesses. This also caused problems even though I never did anything remotely wrong. I couldn't believe that these people were going to die just because they didn't believe the dogma of the witnesses. I asked questions...big mistake. The week after I turned 18 I decided that I wanted to smoke a cigarette. So I did. My well-trained little witness conscious couldn't let that go so against my mother's advice I told the elders. I also told them about the abuse I had suffered from various men throughout my life because I had finally gotten to a point where I thought it was wrong and something should be done. The elder told me that since there was no physical proof they couldn't do anything about that. But they disfellowshipped me. For smoking a grand total of 5 cigarettes.
Mistake #2...I had the audacity to challenge their judgement by appealing their decision. The head of the original committee actually lied in my presence to the apellate committee about me and what I had done. The apellate committe of course upheld the original decision.
This was right before I moved to go to (God forbid) college in a different city. My new elders were actually very supportive and recommended that I be re-instated after only 3 months. They sent the letter to my old congregation who held onto it without replying for another 3 months. When they finally did reply they said I was not ready to be re-instated. So my new elders submitted another recommendation immediately. The old elders again did not reply for 3 months. The CO finally got involved and insisted that they give some sort of reply. They insisted on meeting with me. Due to the fact that I had been absolutely interrogated I was terrified of being in a room with them alone again. So the CO, who thought they were being ridiculous (or at least that is what he said to me) offerred to be in there with me. My old elders threw a huge fit saying he had no right to be in there with me because I was of age blah, blah, blah. So it went to the society who finally ruled that he did have a right to be in there with me. I had major panic attacks all during the drive down there and was crying so hard that I couldn't even speak when they asked me questions during this meeting. Because the CO was there they behaved in a better fashion than normal but were still pretty terrible. They did go ahead and re-instate me.
Me and my family expected that once the CO had seen their horrible behavior first-hand that actions would be taken that would resemble some form of justice. I guess it did...witness justice. They were each given parts on the next circuit assembly. Nice huh?
So for the next 3 years I tried very hard to repair my reputation by being a "super" witness. I knew that I personally wanted a college education and my parents weren't going to pay for it. I also knew that in order to be seen in any sort of good light since I had been DF that I would have to pioneer. So I worked 2 jobs, went to school full time and started out auxillary pioneering. I eventually upped it to regular pioneering. I lasted about 6 months before I had a complete break down. My body could not do what I was asking of it. But I couldn't let school go...it was my life-long dream. And to get any kind of decent husband I had to prove my worth as a good little witness so I couldn't stop pioneering. And no one else was going to support me so I had to work 2 jobs.
My body made the decision for me. I became chronically ill. No doctor could figure out why but I just kept getting infection after infection and ended up having to quit everything and move in with a family member. But it was made very clear that this was only a temporary solution and I had to get back into a place of my own.
I became very depressed as I saw all of my dreams going up in smoke and couldn't have felt more like a failure. Not one person from my congregation came to see how I was or called. I was a pioneer who dropped off the face of the earth and no one even checked on me. So of course I felt even more worthless. I started drinking and smoking and got in a very destructive relationship with a very mean man.
I had finally decided that this life just wasn't meant for me. I had experienced too much pain and couldn't do it any more. And then I met my worldy husband. My angel. He proposed on our first date and we were married 3 weeks later. It has been six years now and he has absolutely been my salvation! He is my proof that God loves me in spite of the witnesses. We have helped to heal each other from our painful pasts. I could not ask for more.
I was DF for the second time one week after we were married. For a long time I still believed that the JWs were right and I was evil. But after a couple of years that changed. I went to the other extreme...atheism. It has only been in the last year that I have been able to separate God from the witnesses and realize that they are not one in the same.
So now I am trying to find my own spirituality. And to punctuate this message I literally just got the call that the frame for my diploma for my bachelor's degree has been completed. I start med school next fall.