My 71st Birthday Confessional

by TerryWalstrom 49 Replies latest jw friends

  • TerryWalstrom

    I was born January 15, 1947
    in Mt. Carmel Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.

    Within six months of my birth, my mother would bundle her baby boy into a blanket and board an American Airlines propeller-driven plane--in effect, leaving my father behind--to return to her hometown, Ft. Worth, Texas.

    My Dad had an excellent job working for Cadillac as an inspector. It was a Union job. It paid well. But his wife (my mom) refused to continue living in his house because his alcoholic mother lived there. Dad left his secure employment and flew to Ft.Worth to reunite.

    Mom and Dad moved in with my maternal grandparents.
    Those grandparents pretty much reared me.
    Dad got a job making 1/15th his previous working wage.
    He had to walk five miles to get to work as an auto reupholsterer.
    Mom worked in a Donut shop, in a Carnival, as a waitress.

    According to Mom's story, Dad lasted in Cowtown about six weeks and threw in the towel and moved back to Detroit. He got his old job back and sent her money to return when she got her head straight.
    According to him (I met him 25 years later), she spent the money on new clothes and told him to send more cash for plane tickets. She spent that too and he was done with her (and, consequently: me.)

    None of the above is at all interesting to you but it fascinates me. I guess this is because I got off to a lousy start in life without a father in a world where DIVORCE was shameful.
    For the first 21 years of my life, I felt inferior to my peers who had both a Mom and a Dad.

    I was extremely shy and backward socially in elementary school but I made perfect grades. That was my compensating principle: You are better than I am--but I am smarter than you.

    I was the school spelling champ. I could memorize anything.
    I increased my vocabulary to the point nobody could understand a word I spoke or wrote.
    Congratulations Terry, for stupid over-compensation.

    My best friend, Johnny, induced me gradually to become absorbed into a seemingly friendly and righteous religious organization (cult) of Jehovah's Witnesses. For me at that time--it seemed like self-betterment.

    I learned (was indoctrinated) to go door to door talking to strangers about how Armageddon was coming. I was schooled in public speaking and how to prepare and deliver sermons.
    I was privately counseled to refuse induction into the Armed Forces and got myself sentenced to 6 years in Federal Prison. I 'served' time from 67 to 69 and was paroled.

    I married my best friend's sister.
    We created three incredible babies and I worked as a janitor, a mobile home builder, and a bricklayer for four years. Simultaneously, I was a full-time (one hundred hours per month) minister of Jehovah's Witnesses.

    I lost my F-ing mind!

    Talk about s*itholes? My LIFE was one.
    I moved my entire family away from Texas (and I hoped the influence of the JW's) to California. I determined to become an artist.

    Life changed dramatically. I was reborn as a human being.
    My wife was still a devout Witness. Our marriage fell entirely apart.
    I could no longer even pretend.

    You can't win for losing, it seems.
    Either my life has been a stinking failure or it was some kind of raggedy-ass drama of survival with PTSD. (I had been assaulted in prison.)

    I either did the best I could with what I had--or I'm simply the remains of a brainwashed cult victim who could never quite regain sanity.

    Tomorrow, I turn 71.
    What in the world, I ask you, do I have to celebrate other than surviving?
    I have exactly what I deserve and nothing more.

    My children and grandchildren are the real miracles in my life.
    I have nothing to complain about worth the telling.
    I'm still healthy and have most of my hair. I'm not yet fat.
    I lost 2 of my best friends to death last year.
    I cannot acquire or maintain any significant other in my life because I'm pretty much impossible to deal with.

    Why am I writing this?
    Beats me, other than to bring myself up to date in personal inventory.
    Turning 71 means you stop and take stock.

    I appreciate all my Ex-JW friends who stop to read what I write and post. You help me more than you know simply by BEING THERE as a sense of 'family of friends' for me to talk to and 'share' thoughts with.

    I guess if I didn't have stories left to tell or people to listen, I could pack it in and join Elon Musk in a colony on Mars.

    Thank you, folks, for listening.That's my birthday confessional


  • Xanthippe

    Happy Birthday Terry for tomorrow. I get the over-compensation thing, it makes it difficult to make friends. I think everyone's life is a raggedy-ass drama of survival. It's a difficult planet, but what a ride!

  • Hanged Man
    Hanged Man

    Happy birthday you old goat (get it?).

    Keep the amazing stories coming Terry.....I for one really enjoy reading them.

  • carla

    Happy Birthday Terry!

  • TerryWalstrom

    When I see old JW's from my era, they invariably look like the toothpaste tube; squeezed and rolled. Used. Used up.
    None of them appears healthy.

    Maybe it's just my perception. Dunno.

    My point?
    I feel like--with all my ups and downs--I've done much better in life (actually living) than the 'faithful' Dubs. I can look back with incredible memories of a life well-lived and I have a great many stories to tell.

    I always want to say to my generation from my old Kingdom Hall:

    "Hey--did Armageddon ever arrive?"

    Old Dubs don't seem to be much more than ghosts of Xmas past.
    It requires an extraordinary talent for cognitive dissonance.
    So, bottom line, I can't complain.
    I jumped ship and never looked back.
    Smartest thing a soul can do.

  • NewYork44M

    Happy birthday Terry.

  • HappyDad

    Happy Birthday Terry and please keep writing. Your stories are enlightening. Just two more weeks and I too turn 71.

  • TerryWalstrom

    I've promised myself I'll finally release my entire JW memoirs this year after working on it almost four years.
    My working title is:

  • _Morpheus

    Well, first let me wish you a very happy birthday, terry :)

    i suppose its easy to look at the futility of it all... but today is all thats promised to any of us and living according to our values and enjoying the fruits of our labors is important and satisfying. And for whatever its worth, terry, i really enjoy reading your posts ;)

  • eyeuse2badub

    Yo Terry,

    Happy birthday! You and I have so many things in common and I 'd really like to meet you someday. I will be 71 next month. I was imprisoned for failure to report during the Vietnam war. 16 months at Safford, AZ. I married young, pioneered (100 hours a month), was a janitor, was an elder for many decades, excelled early as a "golden boy" in the wt organization, have 4 fantastic kids and 7 neat grandchildren.

    I really enjoy the way you can put words together and make stories of your life interesting to others. Unlike you, however, I have remained married for the past 51 years to my lovely, but stillin, wife. We often have meaningful discussions about "Whatever happened to us on the way to Armageddon?" lol

    She often wonders how I could leave the 'troof' after spending my whole life as a dub. I always answer her by asking who it was that told us, as young 20 year olds, that "you will never get old in this system". Who told us that without fail "this system will end in our 20th century".

    For the past 7-8 years since I resigned as an elder and began my journey away from the wt organization, I have come to see life as it really is and it's not all bad. I go to the gym 4-5 times a week and am in good shape for a 70+ year old. I've made several new friends at the gym and most are much younger than me. I have time for sports and my hobby of restoring vintage motorcycles. Since I've ventured outside the borg I've found a brave 'new world' full of fun and exciting things to do and experience.

    Your life is certainty not over and please find time to keep contributing here. Get to the gym and build yourself up. It truly is amazing how physical exercise can change your whole mental outlook.

    Again, happy birthday and I really do hope to meet you someday. I live in northern California.

    just saying!

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