What a journey!
It was a year ago today that i was announced from the platform by Brother Paul "Twofaced" Castley that i was "no longer one of Jehovah's Witnesses". I didn't go to that meeting to hear the announcement because i already didn't believe the Watchtower religion.
How was my first year? Well, it's had it's ups and downs for sure. More ups than downs though. My wife moved out to live with her parents, we're still not divorced yet, just "separated" and we share custody of our little girl. Fortunately, my little one was only 2yo when this happened so she slid into the new routine as if nothing had happened. My family, former friends and everyone i knew cut me off immediately.
At the time i still believed in God, but i didn't know who he/she was. So i spent 2 months reading the bible from beginning to end. Not the New World Bastardization, i real bible. I used the NIV (although i have many bibles). I read it on the way to work, on the way home from work and at home until bedtime. I highlighted scriptures that i didn't understand or that i wanted deeper insight on and looked them up online or in bible encyclopedias. Strictly no JW.org or WT Library allowed. I spoke to Catholic priests, i questioned Church Of England vicars, i spoke to a Rabbi, even a Hari Krishna monk (they were more culty than i ever was!). Eventually i read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins and, wow, i had to be honest with myself and accept that i had no reason to believe in any God.
So there i was. An atheist. And guess what, life became so much simpler and less worrying with zero guilt for sleeping with a girl or not praying before i eat. Sometimes, even now, i get the urge to pray before im about to eat. So i look up the sky and jokingly say "Thanks Thor!". ;)
I was almost homeless because i had to move out within a few weeks, non of my family would help even though they knew i might be homeless. With 2 days to go "worldly" people helped me find a place to move into, and here i am. Moved house, decorated, collected Hindu idols, joined clubs to get me out and meeting people: life drawing, German language pub meetups, photography club and piano. I swapped Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings at the KH for learning something new. So now i have lots more interests and a lot more love for life.
I dated a teacher who was the image of Katy Perry, I've photographed naked beautiful women for "art purposes" in my photography class, i got high in Amsterdam, i spent 8 hours in a gay bar with my gay friend and left a 7am (i was so hungover that day!), i volunteer to get groceries for an old lady in my street who's in her 90s that cant do it herself, im a member of a political party and i feel great for all of those things. I never did anything useful as a JW but now i feel a part of my community and im happy with who or what i am.
I look at still-in JW's and see how depressed they are. They're looking forward to the "new system" but they don't know they could have that joy and fellowship with their fellowman now. They just have to do it and work towards it.
My very first post is here: https://www.jehovahs-witness.com/topic/5748015927132160/trying-leave-im-going-crazy notice the tone of how stressed and anxious i was, compare to now and the posts after i left.
Thank you everyone on this site. You all helped me more than you'll ever know. I feel like i know you somehow, i recognize your avatars, your names, your style of writing and i have a few favorites that i look forward to reading. Dubstepped and Chook, you two in particular are like my new brothers;) im glad we keep in contact.
So, anyone who's just left or is planning to: it's alot better once you're out if you embrace being out and have a thirst for truth - not matter how inconvenient or blunt it may be, and just go with it. Come on here and rant if you want and ask questions.
Thanks again everyone.