I was raised a JW and am currently pioneer in a foreign language congregation. I have been unhappy on and off with my involvement in this religion and am ready to step back again. Growing up I was always active but extremely reserved and a low hour publisher. I went to college instead of the pioneer-out-of-high-school route, but I was generally a "good girl". I feel kind of stunted in life because of unnecessarily avoiding so many things... Anyhow, I started getting more involved a few years ago, and at first it was great. I felt all these "blessings" and people are so encouraging at first...until they start resenting you & trying to get more control over you. I realized that my blessings were really more about more general spiritual practices that many religions teach, such as prayer and meditation, not conforming to an organization.
The things which irk me seem petty (i.e. nitpicking my dress all the time), but really are symptomatic of bigger things, such as the demand for high conformity. I've always noted the plethora of logical fallacies & massive inconsistencies in the articles, since I was a child. I have also made excuses for it though, and sort of privately held my own notions that allowed me to reconcile it all. Like, I take the Bible to be poetic, emotional language, not literal history. I have questioned if Paul's writings are to be followed as God's word or if they aren't more like the modern literature (ie opinions of people interpreting God's word)...he seems to diverge from Jesus.
Anyhow, like many, most of my family and all of my friends are witnesses. These individuals are all wonderful people, but many are very unhappy because they are trapped and unable to better their lives because of this organization. It's the high control factor, arbitrary policies, discouragement of critical thinking, increasingly disturbing adulation of the "GB", and inconsistent reasoning that turn me off. Of course I fear being DFed if I were to make a loud exit, but I don't think that will happen if I just back off slowly. A this point, I am not sure I want a total exit (more on that later).
I don't fear Armageddon or death, and frankly, if there is an Armageddon, I don't believe in a cruel God who will kill off anyone who is not a JW. I'm more of a reward motivated person and so the idea of not living forever is sad to me. Even if I know it sounds ridiculous....I suppose I have trouble letting it go because I lost much of my youth to this organization. Everything I wanted, I sacrificed because I had the idea that in the paradise, there would be time for everything and I would be young again (forever!). Of course the resurrection "hope" has its appeal too. The idealistic part of me wants a world that is united, peaceful and free of illness and death, and I don't have faith in humanity... I have seen the GB vision of paradise and it disturbed me. It sounds like a worldwide Bethel...ugh!
Sometimes I think I used this religion as an excuse to fail. Like, I didn't go to the exact college I wanted and get a degree in exactly what I wanted, and so now I don't have to face that I might have failed. My mediocrity was just me placing "spiritual things" first. I can fall back on it as an excuse as to why I am still single in my 30s & never date - well, there are few single brothers and I've been trained "since infancy" to never flirt (i.e. repel worldly men with a "bitch shield").
So I have a relative who "fell out of the truth" when she was young, and because she was never DFed, the family still talks to her. She is very bitter, and that is something I don't want. She married an inactive brother, and it seems they faded out together.
I am basically thinking of something similar....marrying someone very "weak". One of my biggest sources of unhappiness is the forced celibacy of being single because of the lack of single men in this organization (and so many of the single ones past 30 are...well....weird). Someone who is inactive is also going to understand me more than someone who was never a JW. And they may not pressure me to do anything I am not ready for or simply don't want to do.
I met someone online from another country, and I can tell he is "weak" and inactive (perhaps only attending the memorial), although he is vague about it because he knows I pioneer. He definitely believes, particularly in the resurrection & in Jehovah as God (which I may still believe; or in a personal God), but there is a similar attitude of being more focused on having Christian qualities (i.e. teachings of Jesus) and less stuck on arbitrary organizational protocol. He wishes worldly friends and relative "happy birthday" on social media, and I have good reason to think he has dated worldly women not too long ago, so I know he is not involved much. It's jumping ahead at this point, but the idea of marrying someone far away who is inactive and moving to their country seems a good way to avoid meddling from people who wonder why I am doing less. It would be hard for old acquaintances here to verify much about his status. The people there wouldn't know me and probably would write me off as weak after seeing I married someone weak. It's probably just a fantasy of running away, but it is an idea that occurred to me after I met this person.
My family is fairly open-minded (ie my dad maintained contact for years with a DFed friend; my sister is already inactive & dating someone worldly & my mom just shrugs her shoulders) and probably wouldn't care so long as he has official status of "baptized brother". I do worry about disappointing them, as they are so proud of me right now. However, I know my mom is really frustrated that I still live at home (due to pioneering & only working part-time) and am not married. I won't go into my other possible exit strategy, as I want to stay anonymous, but it is more gradual.
Thanks for reading this...not sure what I am looking for - perhaps just some listening ears.