Meeting other ex-jws helped a great deal. I was not the only one, and so many of their experiences mirrored mine, so I was not the problem as my family and elders tried to say. Is that like gaslighting?
Then I read Ray's books, Jim Penton's, and other ex-jws. I started posting on JWN and researching points they shared and understood why the WTS doctrine/policies gave me cognitive dissonance when I read the bible.
My family had been obliging by shunning me when I was an active pioneer and elder's wife. Not that I had shared my doubts with them or anyone in the Borg. I was badgered by other jws about my severe chronic illness, even implying I wasn't really ill.
My first month not at the meetings, including conventions/assemblies, weddings, funerals was such a relief. Like a 1,000 pound gorilla off my back. 15 years later, still don't miss it. I still come here on JWN just to keep track of the "new light" from God through the WTS mouth.
I know I will never be like a non-jw who never heard anything much about jws. It is like going to Al-Anon and making friends of people who understood. But now we travel, garden, go to concerts and other events, movies, free events at the local uni, and now I am old enough to go to classes free. I have started art classes and restarted my piano lessons without any concern to arrange them around the boring hurtful meetings.