Keeping your sanity while stuck as an active JW

by oldskool 13 Replies latest jw friends

  • oldskool

    I pass along this advice as a new topic, to get it past one off comments that may not get as much attention.

    I exited the Jehovah's Witnesses about a decade ago. Like many, my personal situation felt too restrained to act on my impulse and get out quickly. I took about a year and a half to two years to leave via DA.

    I empathize with anybody leaving the Watchtower who finds it difficult to falsify dedication, interest, and belief in both their personal and public life. After mentally migrating from conviction to non belief in the group's divine favor, it can feel extremely humiliating and defeating to publicly demonstrate faithfulness to the group.

    That said, I think that the process of surviving "in between" belief and non belief in the group, especially while still remaining active within the community, can be easier navigated by following some of the following hard learned advice:

    1. Each jw/ex-jw has their own journey. Don't take on the added burden of feeling the need to speed anybody else's up unless you've determined it to be an absolute last resort necessity (I think spouses fall into this category). This is because...

    2. Your conduct probably will have the most lasting impact anyway. From speaking with many ex-jws over the years, a common theme I've always heard is that honest friendship and empathy are what people remember. If you get DF'd at some point down the road, it is harder for people to swallow if they liked you and you always demonstrated intelligence.

    3. There are JWs that are descent people. They may believe some absurd stuff, but so did you. Yes, there are also some rather obnoxious JWs. But failing to remember the decent people you know means falling into the good/evil mindset trap. The good people will probably always been good people, and may also stay JW for the rest of their lives. I still see JWs 10 years later that say hi and act like I never left.

    4. Do your guts turn into a pretzel every time you go to a meeting, feel like you have to give a comment, or lead a group prayer? I'm here to let you in on a little secret. It's OK to lie through your teeth, and it's ok to be a hypocrite. The idea of remaining "true to your personal convictions" is a concept the WTS has rammed down your throat. This is their ideal, but it doesn't have to be yours. You are dealing with some extremely heavy psychological forces. Do yourself a favor and learn to lie.

    Any by learn to lie, I mean learn to push the words out of your mouth without feeling guilt, shame, or humiliation. Recognize that language is powerful, and by communicating to JWs what they need (not want, need) to hear, you are the one in control. Start brining up 1914 or something else most JWs only casually understand anyway is of no help for you.

    5. Don't worry about being right or proving a point. It will only come back to bite you. Instead...

    6. Figure out and write down the ways you can lower your commitment without consequence. What you contribute to the group, including time, money, and energy, is what the group is taking from you. This is what you need to correct above all else. So start to figure out how you're go about getting your life back, one step at a time. Sometimes it can start by just acting like a lousy JW. Know those people that don't study for meetings or keep up with the materials? Well that can be you. Rather than reading through all this stuff and getting worked up about it, you have the ability to just say no! I think I read more Watchtower literature while I was leaving than when I was actually active. That wasn't necessary! Just start to figure out how you can win something back for yourself, especially your personal time.

    6. Choose your path. Are you looking to fade? Then you definitely need to learn how to lie. Looking to DA or just get DF'd? Write all the consequences on a piece of paper, look them over, and accept them. Deciding to remain partially active, or even fully active? Again, figure out your rules and stick to them. At any point you can switch your goals. But if you decide to start smoking and claim your trying to fade your basically not taking your fade seriously, so why even fade? Now your jeopardizing the fade, something you claim to want, and will be stuck depressed for getting DF'd and loosing things you put off accepting could be taken away. You're in a serious situation and choices matter. You typically can't have it all, you need to pick and acknowledge what can go bad, because it just might.

    What I'm saying is that you should step back and realize that just because the JW leadership layers everything as a battle between good and evil doesn't mean you need to accept those terms. I think that by accepting, you make the situation more complicated and difficult than it may need to be. I know personally, a good bit of stress during my exit was self induced because I got wrapped up in the either/or drama than I should have bothered with.

    I say this all knowing that most JWs, including Elders (maybe even especially Elders), arn't as serious about the faith as you think they are. At my hall, I could list 20-30 people that floated in and out of regularity that most folks paid little attention to. Possibly gossip about how inactive they are, but that is par the course. You're trying to survive, not worry about gossip. In fact, the serious/nasty behavior typically only comes out when they feel threatened.

    Focus on winning back for yourself, it's worth it.

  • Ding

    What did you do about going out in service when you knew you didn't believe it anymore?

  • oldskool

    Fist I lied, and wrote whatever I needed to on those time sheets.

    In service, I played to loose. Bad presentations, light knocking, and using the word "bible" as the first thing out of my mouth with a long pause to give the householder the window to shut me down. It worked 90% of the time.

    In fact, there was a family guy joke a number of years ago where peter becomes a JW and does exactly that. Enjoy it, it's the instructions:

  • millie210

    This is AWESOME oldskool!

    What does the Org say about that....they say you only have to tell the truth to those who are entitiled to it,

    Well! By virtue of everything they do and say they are not entitled to My truth, That is how I get around any moral dilemma with them.

    I also appreciate your point about not reading and getting worked up. Most JWs are tired and stuck and not up for the fight...better for everyone to use a light touch .

    Thanks for taking the time to write this all out, you are going to help some who are struggling.

  • millie210
    What did you do about going out in service when you knew you didn't believe it anymore?

    I dont know if this would help any for you but pack your car as full as you can with publishers so that no one gets much of a turn.

    Check out your own territory and chose one where you know most people are at work everyday.

    If you do have to talk to someone - pick a light easy scripture of encouragement and just say:

    My purpose in calling today was to share an encouraging thought from the Bible - read the scripture and tell them to have a nice day and leave......

    if the JW accompanying you questions what you did at the door, just say that you are trying something new that the C.O recommended......which was to use the Bible more at the door.

    (C.O.s are always saying this....they also say to use discretion about leaving literature so you can use that line also if you wish)

  • oldskool

    Another important thing about field service:

    Just about every JW hates it.

    If you have the power to fill it up with a bunch of time wasting bs all of the "True believers" are going to be right there to support you.

  • zeb

    A great guide thanks. I faded. Fortunately for me I was not born in. I came in as an adult and never abandoned my former (few) friends who were barely any different to jw anyway.It was only after coming here I learnt that term fade. I no longer answered up. Especially as the elder doing the wt would do a critique of your answer. I noticed very few others were answering too. Just the old folks with their standard quote the page answers. They brought in the 30 second answer time which was really bizarre. It never stopped the wt study going on and on.

    Re the school: (the school that never was!) I only ever got a reading twice a year.

    I found the best use of the long rambling talks was doing my pelvic floor exercises.

    I avoided any convo with anyone. Entering it was "Hello, baby doing well? "That's nice", and sit. Same on leaving.

  • ttdtt

    oldskool - All good advice:)

  • honest

    You know I'm a inactive jw. But wanna be a public apostate but can't because of family. We have found our happy medium. We don't go to any meetings, assemblies and zilch field service. Family still associate with us. They don't ask we don't tell. We celebrate the holidays and birthdays quietly. if watchtower abandoned the shunning policies we would be completely open about our stance. Till then watchtower and neither do our brainwashed family need to know our true feelings. watchtower wants to play dirty we play dirtier. While inactive yet still part of the jw social group I have been able to pull out my best friend and a few others by carefully planting seeds. We have our gatherings of us inactive jws. We are torn between being honest or losing our families. Everyone has chosen different paths and our path is right for us. it's a big fuck you watchtower, my one finger salute. I will have my cake and eat it too. Watchtower does not deserve to take my family or happiness away. So I play... 😈

  • smiddy


    You have been doing this for 9 years ? They talk about the patience of Job , he couldn`t stand in your shadow.

    just saying


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