Navigating the "real world"

by Minerva 18 Replies latest jw experiences

  • Minerva

    Thanks for the responses, folks! I think newboy's comment about being "plagued with the 'wiring'" makes a lot of sense. It did take years to move beyond the fear of "being bad" or "worse than the world" and "not living through Armageddon to the Paradise Earth". It takes a lot of introspection to de-program. It seems to be just as challenging to re-program with new "wiring".

    As an aside, as I write this, I'm struck by how much we all acknowledge the lingo of "the truth" -- it's like a different language (well, a cult language at least). Nice to be in a place where I don't have to explain it all.

  • millie210

    Hi Minerva,

    For what it is worth, you sound like a gentle, introspective person.

    For me. I am finding as I age that I am realizing that authenticity is easier and easier.

    Perhaps we just get more comfortable in our own skin with age?

    Or maybe it has to do with the narrowing of options society offers (childbearing being one that comes to mind) as one goes through life stages as a woman?

    Whatever it is I can tell the dross is falling away and I like myself better. Take me or leave me.

    The strange effect of that is the people who "like" you are just the kind of people you want!

    I am SO glad I am going through life now without all the constraints imposed by the Org.

    I dont know how womwn age in an authentic way inside the Org/ I really dont.

    It is nice to meet you!

  • Xanthippe

    Hi Minerva I totally get what you're saying. I'm an introvert and despite being out a very long time it is hard to build friendships from scratch when you lose all your friends and most of your relatives.

    Most people at work have large extended families and still keep in touch with school and college friends. I don't have any of that because of course I wasn't allowed to have friends at school or go to college although I got a degree after leaving. Well done doing that yourself and getting your masters and then a good job. Brilliant!

    I have joined a local group I found on and also a book group. We do meals out, Xmas drinks, pub quizzes etc. I've realised that the people who join, many have been divorced or their partners have died or they're new to the area so people find themselves isolated for different reasons apart from cults.

    Also at work events I did sometimes feel odd especially at Xmas because I didn't know what to expect. Just have a glass of wine and try and join in. You might get a taste for it 😀

  • steve2

    Others have given some very good advice. The only thing I would add is this: Never change your alcohol consumption to fit in with others - never. You describe yourself as 'never much of a drinker' like it was a vague negative aspect of your lifestyle. Be proud of your approach to alcohol - of course, I'm not suggesting you "parade" your alcohol-infrequency. I come from a tee-total family of JWs and believe me, it opened my eyes to what heavy alcohol consumers many JWs were. And, the number of times JWs themselves tried to talk me into having a drink! I actually found "worldly" people far more okay about my alcohol abstinence than the JWs ever were.

    In short, stay true to your principles whether in the organization or not.

  • Giordano

    but I still seem to have a hard time feeling "normal" in the work world.

    Any thoughts?

    As you can already tell we all speak the same language and share the same questions, memories, doubts and from time to time the success of living free. Those who have replied and hundreds more reading your post and comments know and understand everything you are saying. To us you are normal.

    Onward to your question. Maybe a lot of this is centered in your marriage. I left with my wife some 53 years ago so being around people is normal for me. Making new friends is normal. But if my wife objects to one of my friends......... feels he's not a good influence, maybe he's a loud mouth or uses profanity, drinks too much etc. Then that relationship is not going to work out even though I might like this person. I have to respect my wife's feelings.

    Look at this another way.......Suppose your husband was deaf or physically handicapped. Would you be cautious and protective when it came to who you invited into your home? Would your conversations be a bit guarded at work or during a holiday social contact?

    Do you invite fellow workers to your home for dinner or drinks or do you keep your acquaintances separate out of habit or convenience or respect for your husbands beliefs and preferences?

    You may be a women 'under the influence' not of the religion but your mate. That may be part of the deal you both made to keep your marriage together. Being an exJW mate is a difficult road to walk.

    Work place relationships are another issue. How many would keep in touch if you moved out of the area or went to work for a different company or University?

    Making friends and developing healthy relationships is simple........ become a Volunteer.

    People who volunteer are usually the best people......they understand that it's all about helping people or animals. These are folks who are willing to donate their time and expertise for a good cause.

    I have been a volunteer for some 20 years now and my wife teaches a water aerobic class three times a week for free. Doctors send their knee, shoulder and hip surgery patients to her and she doesn't even have a degree .......actually she can't even swim (there's a life guard close at hand). She makes a difference in their recovery and happiness.

    We have both made good and close friends over the years by volunteering. Because like a Kingdom Hall you meet regularly......... pick out the one's you like and allow a relationship to grow organically.

    Being a volunteer is the height of being normal.

  • Minerva

    millie210: I think you're right -- the older I get, the less worried I am about what people think about me. Authenticity is important to me -- without it I would still be trying to live up to an ideal of perfection that was killing me when I was a JW. But, I still find myself trying to find my balance in life, in work, in everything. (And, it is lovely to meet you as well!)

    Xanthippe: I have been lurking around too. I haven't found exactly the right group to join but I'm on the lookout! What you say about co-workers and their extended families and college friends: I totally hear you. Even though I do have the college thing under my belt now, I was a nontraditionally aged student when I went, so I didn't make a ton of friends. There are a few folks that I connected with and we keep in touch, but several moved to other states after graduation; and those that are still around here, well, they are so much younger than me -- especially from my graduate (Master's) program, where I probably made the closest friends. They are all just starting their families. My daughter is almost 21. I do know a lot of people who are part of bookclubs, so that is a good avenue for me to pursue at some point. Currently, I work full-time, and I'm also working on my doctorate in Adult & Higher Education. (Yeah, I know, that's a lot of schooling -- but the university pays the tuition, and I only have to pay for books and fees which is quite affordable. My undergraduate loans are what are going to me the rest of my lifetime to pay off.) So, I take a couple of graduate courses every semester which means little time for outside reading; the downside to a book club.

    steve2: My experience with alcohol isn't entirely formed my growing up a JW, not in the sense you mentioned in your experience. My dad was DF'd when I was 9 and left our family -- he was an alcoholic (and I later learned he was also a drug addict but I never saw that part of things). He died when I was 12 of alcohol poisoning. I think that experience is what left a huge impression on me. I just don't see the point of drinking until you're hammered and, even though, my co-workers rarely get drunk, everyone else around us tends to -- I just don't have a lot of positive experiences dealing with drunk people -- my dad did my head in on that one. So, yeah, I'm usually the designated driver by choice, but, again, it still makes me the outsider in a lot of ways.

  • Minerva


    Do you invite fellow workers to your home for dinner or drinks or do you keep your acquaintances separate out of habit or convenience or respect for your husbands beliefs and preferences?

    We don't invite people over to our house much at all. His friends are all Witnesses and he doesn't feel comfortable with that; and I haven't really thought about inviting my friends/acquaintances out to our place. He has gone with me to other people's homes and to social events that are attached to work. I think he would be okay with me having folks over, so maybe I just need to consider that. I work with about 8 other people in my office, and he's met them all.

    I do like your idea about volunteering. That's something I have felt drawn to do but have not yet found the place/occasion/situation to get involved in. Recently, I agreed to be the faculty adviser for a new student group at the college for nontraditional students. It has felt good to give back to them -- there isn't a lot of support for older students at the university I work at. But, I will have to be on the lookout for other opportunities. That's good advice!

    You may be a women 'under the influence' not of the religion but your mate. That may be part of the deal you both made to keep your marriage together. Being an exJW mate is a difficult road to walk.

    There has been times when being 'under the influence' may have been true, but my husband is really not overbearing compared to how other men can be. Before he stepped down as an elder -- yes, there was a lot of pressure on me to fit the mold -- but he hasn't been an elder for at least 10 years (there were a few years, in the beginning when I was just becoming inactive, that he was still an elder).

    I am sensitive to his feelings about things -- probably to the detriment of my own -- and truth be told, I am the one who tries hard not to rock the boat, which does feel stifling at times, in terms of just "being" myself. That's something for me to meditate on a bit more. Being an exJW mate is DEFINITELY a difficult road to walk, and I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone else lightly.

  • DesirousOfChange

    Same thing with the Holidays. My husband's a JW, so I don't really observe anything; and frankly, it isn't all that important to me to observe Christmas, or Easter, or whatever. But, I know it's important for my co-workers, so I go along with the Holiday party thing, contribute food, bring a gift, etc. But, I always feel like I'm just trying to fit in because, ultimately, I can take it or leave it.

    That is all something I can relate to (other than my spouse is not a JW any longer either). I don't have the feeling that many relate here about the "joy" of the experience in celebrating the holidays for the first time. Halloween (maybe if I had young kids, but I still think it's too scary). Christmas (just a big celebration of excess commercialism that puts many too deep into debt). Thanksgiving (we had the family in for turkey -- would have never done that in our JW days -- we'd have waited until Friday).

    For workplace associates, we give gifts to our employees and business contacts, but AFTER Christmas, so it's more like "let's plan on celebrating a good 2017". In most businesses they are attempting to be non-religious or non-denominational for the holidays too.

    I would place most of your uncomfortable feelings on being (as you describe it) an "introvert". That typically means you're uncomfortable in a crowd where you are expected to be social or "bubbly". I think that is compounded if you're a non-drinker, as booze is a big part of our social scene today. So much so that if I choose to have a non-alcoholic drink, I'll have the bartender serve it in the same glass as all the booze drinks so it doesn't let others detect that I'm not drinking. That can make some of them uncomfortable. That's just the way it is. . . . BTW, welcome! . . . . Doc

  • JWdaughter

    Don't fret too much. A lot of people participate in holiday things feeling like frauds a bit, but do it to be sociable or out of kindness, to further business interest, etc. Others have no problem dismissing it for lack of inclination. Just go into it to the extent that feels right to you or use it as a yearly reminder to go the extra mile to be kind or giving. However it works for you. Just enjoy what you like and distance yourself when you want just like normal folks do.

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