Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
My parents became Witnesses in 1972 when I was four years old. They raised my two younger brothers and me in the “truth”, and convinced some of their own siblings to join as well. I married pretty early, raised two of my own in the “truth”, sad to say. My parents are still in. My kids are still in. One of my brothers is still in. None of them talk to me. Most of my cousins who were in have left.
How many generations have been JWs?
Three now. My parents, my generation, and my kids. (Grandkids? I probably won’t be informed)
Did you hold any position in the WTS? (MS, Elder etc...)
I was baptized at 16, and began pioneering shortly after. I went to Bethel (WTF) for a year. Later I served as MS and then elder.
Did you *really* believe in the bible, in spirits (angels, demons)?
I guess it was more of an instance where I didn’t question it as much as believing in it. When I did start to have questions, I was told to “wait on Jehovah” and that my questions were about unimportant things. Such as the logistics of the Flood, how over three million Israelite refugees (and their herds/flocks) maintained a nomadic lifestyle in the middle of the desert.
Did you get baptised? When and why?
I got baptized because my friends were baptized and pioneering. I wanted to look good.
What was the initial trigger that made you start questioning things?
I don’t exactly remember. Reading the Bible and really thinking about how things could happen was something that I had done. Probably Joseph Heller’s book, “God Knows”, about the imagined musings of an elderly King David really got me to start questioning the stories in earnest.
Where did you find information? Internet sites? Books?
I stayed away from all things apostate. Even after I left. I only began looking after discovering this website by chance.
How difficult or painful was the process of leaving?
It took me a long time to make the decision to leave. First, I left my wife, as I could no longer live with her after almost 24 years of hell. Living on my own away from the former congregation made it easier for me to slip away.
Was it a big dramatic exit or a careful quiet fade?
Neither, really. After being separated for over a year, and having stopped attending the meetings, I asked my wife for a divorce. She wanted to know if she had grounds for remarriage (which she acted upon six months later), and I decided that I was going to be truthful in all of my dealings. I told her she did, and henceforth I was shunned by my family and eventually DF’d in absentia.
Did you convince anyone else to leave with you?
Were you or are you still being shunned by those who didn't leave?
I’m still completely shunned. My daughter reached out to me for a couple of months last year (online, as I live on the other side of the world), but that ended. Probably around the time when my brother made a last-ditch effort to make me think about attending the meetings again, and I told him I no longer believed it and he should examine his own beliefs. That probably outed me as apostate to my family.
How long have you now been out?
For over four years now. I attended my last Memorial in 2014. Never went back.
Was there anything you looked forward to doing when you left?
Yep. Making my own damn decisions about my life.
What are you most proud of achieving since you left?
Surviving. And thriving. I discovered that people are generally good, regardless of whether or not they belong to the cult I was a part of before. I met people from around the world, made friends, and last year I quit my life in the US and moved abroad to Thailand.
Is there anything you miss about life in the congregation?
The social life. I was always entertaining people in my home or planning group activities. It was much easier when you had other people with whom you were in constant contact through the meeting schedule.
Red pill or blue pill? Do you regret waking up to reality at all?
I regret not waking up (or choosing to continue “sleeping”) a long time ago.
Did you become an atheist or transfer your faith elsewhere?
I will never join another organized religion. If the JW’s were right about one thing (in my opinion), religion is a snare and a racket. Theirs included.
How do you now feel about religion in general?
To each his own. I’m surrounded by Buddhists here, and they make it work for them. Too many damned temples everywhere, though. Waste of money and real estate.
Do you feel any guilt celebrating xmas or birthdays or doing any other JW "no-no"s?
I still hate the pagan holidays. Last Christmas, I was chosen to be Santa Claus at the school where I teach. No amount of my protesting about how much I despise Christmas seemed to dissuade my bosses. I was given a cheap, ill-fitting costume and made to go out in front of the kids. Never again. I felt gross.
Birthdays, however, are something I love. And I don’t have any problem if someone offers me marijuana. I have smoked two cigarettes, simply because of the circumstances. I didn’t feel any guilt, but I don’t choose to make it a habit. I am in a long-distance relationship with a woman now, and I’m faithful to her because it’s the right thing, but before that, I felt no guilt in sleeping with anyone I wanted to.
Have you attended any face-to-face meetups of ex-JWs?
No. Because I don’t think there are enough ex-JWs in Thailand to have a meetup.
Do you tell people about your JW past?
I used to avoid the subject, but now I’m very open about it. If they want to talk about it, I will. If not, that’s cool, too.
Do you feel animosity or pity toward current JWs?
No animosity (with a few exceptions), but mostly pity to those who are stuck by fear of losing everyone they know.
How do you respond to witnesses when they call at your door?
I only wish they would.
Storm the barricades or tend to the wounded? (do you favor activism or support)
I’ll stick with tending to the wounded. Storming just seems to make them reinforce their flanks. I don’t have the time for it. Besides, there aren’t many “Christians” in these parts anyway.
What do you think is the most effective approach to reaching people still in?
Kindness. Smile when you see them. Don’t push them to engage, but be open if they do.
Do you think the WTS can or should be destroyed, will continue on as-is or grow / change?
I’d love to see those motherfuckers (GB, and “heavys”) go to prison or be flayed alive. Won’t happen. But hopefully the rank and file will catch wind of the stink below the surface soon and abandon it.
How has your life been impacted by your JW past?
Not having attended university has had a serious impact on my financial security and also my own feelings of self-worth.
Are there things in your life you blame the WTS for?
Besides the lack of a good education, stealing the best years of my life, alienating me from my family (and from my non-JW extended family when I was “in”), and just lying to me all of my life….no, I don’t blame them for anything.
JW upbringing - a protection or a curse?
On the surface, would seem like a protection. But it scarred me.
How do you fill your time now it's not filled with meetings and field service?
Neftlix and Facebook, unfortunately. Oh, and travel. I can go places and not give a rat’s ass about missing meetings.
Do you still have an interest in JW beliefs and doctrines?
It still holds a morbid fascination for me to see what they are up to.
How much of your time is still spent on JW related matters?
Too much. My girlfriend thinks I should stay away from it. She may be right, because the dreams lately have been waking me up. But it’s also cathartic to connect with others who understand what you’ve been through.
What do you think of the ex-JW community?
It’s interesting to see that we still have fellow-feeling for each other without the aid of the “Holy Spirit”
Do you see yourself still being associated with the ex-JW community in 5 or 10 years time?
I’ll probably have moved on from visiting the websites. I don’t see myself living in areas where there are many ex-JW’s to meet up with personally.
Do you fear the future?
You mean, do I fear Armageddon? Nope.
What advice would you give to anyone starting the journey of leaving the WTS?
Don’t be afraid. Decide how much hurt/loss you can stomach, then fade/run accordingly.
What would you change in your life if you could go back and talk to yourself?
Listen when your brain says “run away” the night before you get married. You aren’t ready. You aren’t right for each other. Who cares about losing privileges? And listen to your doubts. Don’t let anyone tell you that they aren’t important.
Do you have any regrets about life since you left?
Sure, I’ve made some mistakes. But my life didn’t begin until I left.
Can we read your life-story anywhere? (links to online or books)
If you’re interested in reading my erstwhile, self-indulgent blog, send me a private message.