Things have calmed down again with my mother to the point where I found myself once again in her kitchen last night. Drinking too many cups of coffee as I always do at her house, I imagine if I were a smoker I'd have been lighting one cigarette after another instead. It had been a pleasant enough evening, I sat there with my crocheting in my lap, something I always take with me to my mother's house so that if I get nervous or stressed out, my hands, and my mind, have something to do and somewhere to go. My mother had been acting strangely all night, I attributed it to left over uneasiness over the recent family wedding debacle. But finally as the evening wore on, she finally put her hand on my shoulder and said that she'd just had some news and didn't want to tell me, but didn't want me to hear it somewhere else later. I hate conversations that begin like that. I just looked at her, waiting for her to continue, and she said "It's about so and so." Instantly their faces registered in my mind. He, tall, blond, an incredibly shy man who was always trying so hard to do his best, at everything. She, bubbly, outgoing, seemingly the perfect complement to his shyness. A young JW couple that I had known, and loved, for years. "Are they splitting up?" I asked, divorce being the first possibility crossing my mind. I thought of their son, who had to be an adolescent now, even though in my mind he was still the infant that I had held and rocked to sleep at a wedding when he was only four weeks old, comforting him so that his exhausted mother and father could have a bite to eat, and maybe a dance or two before returning to the trying schedule that new parenthood demands. "No," Mom said, tightening her grip on my shoulder. Darker thoughts crept into my mind, illness, accidents, injury. I wasn't prepared for her next sentence. "He did something to himself." It took a moment, and suddenly I realized where she was going with this. "Is it serious?" I asked, hoping maybe his attempt had been unsuccessful. "As bad as it can be." she said, and her eyes filled with tears. "He killed himself!" I said, an instant wave of nausea seemed to bring my heart up into my throat. "Why? How could this happen?" I was already wondering why one of the kinder, closer families in that congregation I remember from my teen years didn't step in, say something, do something. Then the ton of bricks landed on me fully when she continued. "Well, he was disfellowshipped about eight weeks ago." Suddenly, I saw everything in the room through a red filter, literally. Outrage, frustration, despair seared my heart. I fought with all my might not to vomit. After a few minutes, I could finally talk again. "He tried harder than just about anyone I ever knew to do everything right." I was frozen in my chair, dumbfounded. Then the memories came. I remembered how much it took out of him just to get up there on the platform and give a talk in the ministry school. So painfully shy, so sensitive, and the man who was the school overseer seemed to take perverse delight in finding flaws in his talks which were never there. Invariably, my friend would be standing at the back of the auditorium, beet red, looking at his shoes as the idiot on the stage humiliated him in front of the whole congregation. I would always pick a couple specific points out of each of his talks and tell him how much I appreciate them, and he always said "Really?" surprised anyone found anything of value in his words. In him, for that matter. My friend, (I'll call him Drew) and his wife were my favorite young couple in the congregation. I was there through my teens until my mid twenties, and in that time I got to know Drew well. I was very shy myself in my teens, believe it or not, and as his wife would be happily chatting with everyone after the meeting, Drew and I would talk a little at the literature counter as he gave me my magazine order. We shared a similar sense of humor, we were kindred spirits in our shyness, and he became a big brother figure to me. I remember when his wife became pregnant, he was so sympathetic that he threw up every day, because he felt so bad about her morning sickness. This was a man of rare heart and soul. After having known him a couple years I got to know things about his upbringing that he didn't openly share. His mom often twisted his ear, and his brothers, as she dragged them by it to the back of the Hall for spankings. He was only five, his brother about three, and she did this whenever they couldn't sit completely still at meetings. He struggled, always, as so many young JW men do with trying to provide for his family because he had no education past high school. He tried so hard for years to run a small business, and he looked up to my father for all he'd accomplished in that way with only a high school diploma. My dad sat with him for hours more than once and helped him draw up plans of action, educating him. He was always grateful, and followed my dad's instructions to the letter. I had a huge crush on Drew's younger brother, who was on the fast track to Bethel and lived out of state. When he came to visit, Drew was sure to introduce us, took every opportunity to put us together in car groups in service and all. I know he had high hopes that his brother would take to me as readily as I took a shine to him. It wasn't to be, his brother went away to Bethel. I think Drew was more disappointed that it didn't work out than even I was. When I left the organization, one of the saddest things to me was that I wouldn't be able to talk to Drew and his wife anymore. I hadn't seen them as often as we'd moved away, but when we did, it was as if no time had passed. Drew also observed at times the way my first husband talked to me, and he didn't like it. I could tell, he would turn red, and look at me, and his eyes said it all. I remember, some months ago, my mom being at a wedding where Drew had approached her and asked about me. She made sure that I knew about it, so that I would know "how much people still care about me." My heart ached, and I missed my friendship with Drew more than I wanted to think about. I was glad to know he hadn't forgotten me. So last night, I felt as if I wanted to wake up from this nightmare as I heard that Drew was disfellowshipped a couple of months ago. I didn't know, if I'd known, I would have called him up to talk to him. To make sure he was okay, to tell him that things would be alright. If he would've believed me, I don't know. But I didn't get the chance, and now I never will. I can't believe he's dead. Only in his thirties, Drew is dead. His 13 year old son has no father. I cannot help but believe, knowing Drew as I did, that the disfellowshipping was the thing that pushed him over the edge. He only ever wanted to do everything right, all the time. I don't know what happened, I don't know what he was df'd for I only know that there isn't anything I can imagine him doing that justified him giving up and taking his own life. My mom cried, I cried. She said that she worried about me, that she didn't want me to ever "get to that point." with giving up on everything because of being shunned by everyone. She went on a short rant about my cousin's wedding (3 weeks ago) where unbaptized family members of the bride who "knew the truth as well as any of us" who are active drug addicts and as promiscuous as they come sat at the reception eating cake, and I wasn't there. She admitted that she and my grandmother had had a conversation where they lamented this fact to each other. "I don't know what they went by making that guest list." my mother complained. "If they were going by conduct half the guest list shouldn't have been there." "Neither do I." My grandmother replied sadly, and then she went up to her room where she stayed for the rest of the night. My mother admitted that she is "struggling" with the organizations stand on shunning, she said "When you treat people as dead when they're still alive, what good does that do?" I commented that I felt it was barbaric, and outdated. She ranted that the governing body was putting demands on people that were pushing them past the breaking point, dividing families, and instead of giving people reasons to come back, it's giving more and more reasons to just give up and die instead of trying anymore. In the end, though, she says she believes that Jehovah will fix everything, that the society will see the errors in its ways and change its stance again. Our conversation lasted for hours, as I told her flat out that this is the reason organized religion has no place in my life anymore. I may never know why Drew did what he did. I don't know what led to his disfellowshipping, I don't know what made him so desperate that the only way he saw to stop the pain was to die. But I'd be a damn liar and a complete hypocrite if I didn't tell you that I'd been in that place more than once in my life. My brother criticized Drew for what he did, said he wasn't thinking of his family, I tried to explain that sometimes suicidal people believe (incorrectly, of course) that they are causing their families so much trouble that everyone would be better off if they were gone. He doesn't understand. It's something that you can only understand if you've ever been to that place, and I told him in the end that I was grateful that he didn't understand that mindset. That I didn't ever want him to be able to. I am left with a million questions that will most likely never be answered now. I cried myself to sleep and had nightmares all night of Drew being put into a body bag, laying on a table in the morgue, being put into a refrigerator. Images of his sweet face, lifeless, and his lips as blue as his eyes were hit me every time I close my eyes. Sometimes even when they're open. I loved him dearly, he was such a rare person. I wonder what happens now to his wife, what about his son. First thing I thought of was the posts that LyinEyes wrote earlier this week about her mom's suicide, and I thought how no kid should ever have to give up their parent to this. It's so wrong. Disfellowshipping and completely cutting someone off from, in Drew's case, as in mine (and the case of everyone who had the misfortune to be born into the organization) literally every person they have ever known well and cared about, or who cared about them, is barbaric. How can they ever expect anyone to come back to the organization when their true colors are shown, and your very family bows to mind control and fear and shuts you out, thinking all the time that they're doing the only loving thing, because that is the line that the society is feeding them? I am devastated. How many more? How many more of my friends have to die this way? I could just as easily been another statistic. If not for my second husband, I would have been, without a doubt, a memory now in the minds of my friends, just like Drew will be. I love you, Drew. I am so, so sorry. I wish I could've done something to help you, I would've done anything I could to keep you alive. I have to wonder if his family went the whole shunning route, especially his brother. Knowing how "spiritual" they were, I imagine that they would have. If they did, I wouldn't want to be any of them right now. They will have to live with their actions the rest of their lives. Was it worth it? No. Of course not. If you're a JW and you're lurking here and reading this, and you've cut family members off because they've been disfellowshipped, I hope that you will think very carefully about me, and about my friend Drew and realize that if you don't speak up now and tell them you love them, you may never get the chance. If you found yourself standing at their grave tomorrow, could you live with yourself? Think carefully about this. I wonder how many more people have to die before the rank and file say enough. Enough already. Too much, already. Goodbye, Drew. I wish you could've known how much I still adored you, and always, always will. To quote Don McLean's lyrics... "This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you." If I had to write Drew's epitaph, that would be it.
Another Df'ing/suicide...in memory of a dear friend...
((( Esmeralda )))
I understand the pain you feel.
What a sad story. It's too bad that it's not the only case. It's a disgusting religion that controls your mind and pushes you out at your first sign of weakness.
How awful. How strange and awful and how unspeakably cruel of the organization that loomed so large in his life.
Jehovah will fix everything
Your mother, it seems, had a moment of honesty before saying this, and that's good. You can only say "Jehovah will fix everything" so many times before you realize he hasn't, he won't, and even if he did now, it'd be too late. Meanwhile, another atrocity committed in his name is added to a list that goes back to Adam and Eve ...
awful that this happend, I was horrified when I read this.
take care of yourself.
Those of us who have had first hand knowledge of family members or friends committing suicide are painfully aware of what you are feeling right now. It is the most helpless feeling anyone is compelled to endure. I'm hopeful you can work your way thru this pain, but at the same time knowing it will not be easy. If I can help in any way please feel free to PM me. Bug
this is a truly heartbreaking story. and much moreso because it is not isolated. so many, so many have suffered this hopelessness at being shunned and rejected by all whom once were held dear.
remembering how discouraged you were a few weeks ago, essie, i am just gratified that you were able to come to the forum and share your feelings. time and experience, indeed, give the conviction that "this too shall pass."
i'm glad you're still here, and i thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so eloquently.
best wishes, nowisee
I am so sorry Esmerelda. The pain in your words is very evident.
How many more must die before the org. sees new light? Even IF new light materialized tomorrow and the shunning policy was changed, it still would not wash all the blood off the hands of the WT Organization. They will be stained forever.
This is EXACTLY why I left the org.
My little brother killed himself at age 18. You have brought up emotions in me I thought I had dealt with but .....I'm going to have to write down my thoughts and face this pain.
Thanks for sharing this with us. It will change my day but for the better. You did a wonderful job of expressing yourself.