"Those Who Leave Are Doomed..."
In Mission Impossible 3, Ethan Hunt (aka Tom Cruise) and his protege (aka Keri Russell) have an explosive pellet implanted in their heads through their nose by the bad guys as a way to control them. The only way to to stop it from detonating is to use a defibrillator or some device to send massive electric shocks to the body, thus short circuiting the deadly implant. Hunt's protege doesn't get the help she needed in time, and she dies. Hunt does get a violent electric shock that almost kills him, but in the end saves his life. (followed by the most incredulous ending of an action movie ever, but I digress)
I thought of that movie after I remembered all the countless conversations and meeting/convention parts that talked about the many problems that those who are disfellowshipped or "apostates" have after leaving.
There is some truth to this. In my immediate family, I
havehad two very close loved ones who have since died, all because of the after effects of their exit. One was DF'd and eventually took his own life after making many poor life decisions, especially with drugs and alcohol to ease the pain. The other just lived in a very unhealthy manner, drank a lot, and eventually passed from cancer. They were my brother and mother.
However, what JW's and the GB conveniently omit is how they've sabotaged people, in essence, implanting an explosive device in peoples heads. Once you're gone, that ticking time bomb is activated, and you still see what they want you to see. You still see yourself the way they want you to see yoursself, and sometimes, only a huge shock to the system will disable it.
Many who leave fill the need to engage in behavior that was previously forbidden, and so long as it isn't destructive or addictive, and you don't put yourself in life threatening situations (even as simple as drunk driving) then no harm, no foul.
It should be mentioned more that anyone who leaves a high control group or cult, especially born-ins, have trouble adapting. You have been conditioned to see yourself as nothing without "the organization". You have everything to lose, especially yourself.
The insidious explosive that the GB has shoved in your head detonates, and suddenly, you are involved in risky behavior, sometimes drug and alcohol abuse, abusive relationships, not even knowing that you are allowed to love yourself. And yes, it can kill you. And then you become a sad "experience" that isn't even related accurately....
HERE IS THE POINT
Exiting JW's need help. Some more than others. Forums like this help, but sometimes, you need a real "shock" to your system. If you have insurance, get help. Get some therapy.
If you can't, forums like this can help. My advice, 11 years removed from this sickness, is to learn to love yourself. You don't need the distraction of drugs, alcohol, or co-dependent relationships to ease the pain. PLEASE BE SMART and deal with the pain. It can eat you alive, and explode in your head.
Getting help, or sometimes, just a friend telling you what's really going on with you is a SHOCK! And that is fine. It can short circuit the control that can actually kill you. We all need that. I don't think it does any good for exiting JW's to feel that they are less than others, are somehow doomed, or otherwise to be used as just another anecdotal example to relate by the ignorant idiots who run the Borg and their congregations.
Nope, the best revenge is to LIVE WELL! BE HAPPY! That isn't easy, and you don't have to do that. But reclaiming your life, and sometimes getting help, is one of the best decisions you can make.
Sorry to hear about your mother and brother, AllTimeJeff. What a sad but sobering legacy.
Yes, the dice is loaded against those who leave even before they walk out the Kingdom Hall door - then the JWs shout among themselves, "See, no good comes to those who leave." If you belong to a group that "blames" the victims, it is spiritually invigorating to look at the ex-JW landscape of suffering and death. Trouble is, among the JWs themselves is a high proportion of suffering and death that is ignored or "re-languaged".
Yet this kind of disadvantaged "start" after leaving is not unique to JW organization. Anyone raised in a high-control group has difficulties adjusting once they leave, especially if the group has adopted a stand-offish, highly suspicious attitude towards wider society and even literally demonized it.
Well adjusted and healthy people have a range of social networks, not relying on a limited source. They have choices and exhibit flexibility. Those raised in high-control groups don't. JWs provide the sole avenue of "help" and once it is removed, it is incredibly hard for the individual to find their footing.
It can be done and the route to surviving consists of understanding the impact of high-control environments and learning skills to move forward in life - skills that were scorned in the high-control group (e.g., self-care and management, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation and so on). Sometimes help is provided via individual therapy, other times through "biblio-therapy" (reading and applying self-help literature)and forums such as this one. To know you are not alone, that your struggles make sense and that how you "end" up is not the product of nature alone, but also nurture are gateways to recovery and an improved quality of life.
We were in a cult. We're ex cult members. It's not like quitting a job you got tired of, it's a life changing event, and one that is looked down on by most of the people you called 'friends' and 'family', because they're still in the cult . At that moment you leave, you become all alone. Forums like this are a help (helped me.. Thanks Simon and everyone whose been a part of it). But you're right, therapy would be good, if affordable. I had a few sessions, but they were more of a counselor, not a licensed therapist/doctor. But what really helped was having friends who were kind enough to let me spill my guts to them. A 'worldly' friend who listened, and gave advice. And later another couple of ex-JWs, in which we could commiserate together over a beer. Going it alone is tough, very tough.
And if you grew up as a JW, once you free yourself of the chains of their moral code, you will experiment in things. I did. I learned my limits, and what was healthy and not healthy, what was worth a risk and what wasn't... and I did it without the pressure, rules, fear and guilt of the cult. I knew others who did as well, but unfortunately did not come back from the dark side. Maybe they could have been saved had they been helped, or had a shoulder to lean on...
Good post, good reminders. Thanks for sharing. And my thoughts go out to you on your family loss.
One hell of a thread Jeff- thanks for posting it. I completely 100 % agree. Very well expressed. I was a born in JW and been out 13 years myself - but after my mom died in December it kicked in some anger / sadness feelings within me regarding how my still in JW relatives treated me and still treat me - even though my mom who was a JW was the only JW in my family who supported my decision to exit the Witnesses. So I got 3 sessions of grief counseling from a therapist a couple months after mom died- and it helped me immensely to help me see the silver lining of positivity in my life with my involvement with playing music and being on this support board with the give and take.
I'm so sorry about the loss of your mom and brother my friend. My deepest sympathies to you on your loss. You are so right- the JW cult messes our heads up in ways that many times - we don't even realize till years later when we experience a death of someone close or some other major event that triggers the former cult indoctrination. One reason why it's good to always keep pursuing freedom of mind and movement and try to experience happiness in our life and learn to love ourselves as our self esteem was assaulted by a criminal organization bent on breaking us. Some of us do break in time- but many of us survive and flourish. I lift my glass and raise a toast to everyone here for the latter outcome . Thanks again for posting this subject- it will help many folks on here that can relate. Take care buddy, Peace out, Mr. Flipper
I don't think it does any good for exiting JW's to feel that they are less than others, are somehow doomed,
I agree with this. Not everyone we meet is happy and nobody is happy all the time. People lose jobs, have health or money problems, have bereavements. ExJWs are not broken people surrounded by 'normal' people.
Imagine if Bernie Madoff, while making illusory fortunes for his clients, had also spent a considerable amount of time ridiculing people who lost their money in the stock market. "People who aren't successful in the stock market turn into a bunch of lunatics."
Imagine further that after his conviction for running an illegal Ponzi scheme that cost tens of thousands of people their life savings, Madoff turned around and mocked his victims. "See, I told you all along that people who lose in the stock market go crazy."
What do you suppose the response would be? Would the media and public join in the ridicule or would they turn their ire on the criminal who stole their money?
This is more or less where I've come down on the issue of "crazy apostates." Yes a lot of ex-JWs on this forum or otherwise exhibit symptoms of anger management or other instabilities. But at the end of the day, what's the most important narrative: the fact that the victims of the Ponzi scheme are having a hard time adjusting and coming to terms with losing their life savings or the fact that they were taken advantage of by a criminal who turned their world upside down?
Similarly, what's the most important issue when discussing the issues commonly encountered by ex-JWs: the fact that many have trouble adjusting or the fact that they were deceived?
That's not an excuse to adopt a victim mentality and ex-JWs should do all they can to get back on their feet as quickly as possible. However, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we are talking about victims of a religious cult, after all.
When someone is released from a long time being incarcerated it take them 1 month for every year to adjust to life outside.
Like leaving the J.W's it takes some time to adjust to a new life........but hell it's worth it!!!!!
ATJ. One hell of a story. My condolences on your losses.
I empathize with your situation. Although I was associated with JW's for over 20 years I was a JW for just 7. My exit was easy knowing all the while I was going to tell them to FU and FO If they ever came around to question me. Those of us who have had it easy when exiting, do not realize the trauma, fear and ..if I may...PTSD associated with leaving the cult. My heart goes out to those who have made the break after many years or... all their lives living the lie that is the JW religion. I SALUTE ALL who have left this effing cult and are trying to put their hearts minds and lives together. I understand the uphill task that such ones are experiencing - shunning and rejection feom near and dear ones among other struggles both emotional and financial
Especially the aged among us who are stuggling to adjust to the real world. My heart goes out to all of you . I wish each and every one of you an earnest and heartfelt adjustment to the new life outside the cult. May each and everyone of you find the happiness that each of us seek in this life. And may each and everyone of you eject everything about this cult from your minds. To that endeavour I urge you to strive towards and cherish the hope that you will be steel - willed towards doing. Once again I salute you for your courage in exiting this cult.
Well said ATJ,when i think back it took me quite a few years to finally shake the shackles that I had being a JW.
You dont lose the effects of years of indoctrination overnight ,it takes time to break free of the mindset imposed on you.
And my wife , it took quite a few years for her to clear her mind that when you leave the religion you lose your morals and will commit immorality.
We have both been out over 20+ years and retained our morals Its a furphy to think you need religion to have morals.
Sadly , some leave the religion but the religion never leaves them and it doesnt bid well for them .
I`m sorry you experienced that ATJ