"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." --Litany against Fear from Dune, Frank Herbert.
Yes, I'm a bit of a Dune nut, but I actually learned a lot from it. Ironically, I was reading the series, and started to see parallels between the machinations of the ruling power and the religious orders, and the ways JWs conform and control. The pictures in the WT books and magazines started striking me in a different way. I had a period of time where I left the JWs, not on principle, just because I got caught up in other things. I came back and did the whole judicial committee thing, not because I was convinced of the rightness of it all, but out of fear--of disfellowshipping, and of death. But when I came back, things were different. My separation from that constant drip-drip-drip of mind control had been lost for a time, so I started noticing injustices, mean people, the stupid things very indoctrinated witnesses say.
But I was still afraid because I was having these thoughts. I obviously wasn't spiritual enough. And you should have heard the excuses I made for the "brothers!" And if I started to question doctrine, I just quickly stuffed it down, because that was the worst violation against Jehovah's Organization of all!
I think what finally happened, I stopped being so afraid. I don't think there's a God who will squash us like a bug if we don't attend the Kingdom Hall. I do still fear inflicting pain on some of our nicer family members who are worried about us, but it's not the same as fearing for my "eternal life." It's not a mind-numbing concern, just more like compassion for their feelings. I also no longer fear a witch hunt that would result in DF or DA. While I would rather fade--less familial complications--the confrontation would serve to get more fanatical members of my family to quit trying to "help" us all the time.
One fear I have now, that I didn't before, is retirement. I spend way too much time thinking about how to make enough money for retirement (you know, now that I'm no longer a "Sooner.")