Differences Between Ex-JWs

by David_Jay 20 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • David_Jay

    We are not all the same--a real "Duh, David!" statement for me to make, I know.

    But it has taken me time to realize that I sometimes unrealistically expect us to see things more eye-to-eye than we do, and it has made it a struggle in that I find my need to be supported emotionally in my "I-survived-the-Watchtower-too" psyche spent more on having to explain where I am now and defending why.

    Yet the world is what we make of it. So I figured if I didn't feel that sense of solidarity that seems missing among the debating, then I was part of the problem. I'm responsible for making this place feel like a support and place of solidarity, just as much as anyone else.

    But approaches I tried didn't work until I shut up for a while. And listened...

    This list may not be complete, and it may demonstrate how little I really know about life, but I realized I couldn't appreciate the diversity of this group and the individuals in it until I understood what made it diverse, such as...

    1. Born-in JWs vs. Converts.

    I was not born in. I just passed through, spending roughly a decade in and getting out. I was even able to be converted faster than most because I had some religious training before, and it was simpler to wake up because of the same thing. I was searching to begin with, and when I didn't find it, I left.

    Born into the religion, if that is you, is very different. You were made to do this. You may have liked it or parts of it or you may have hated it all, or a mixture of this. Your being baptized as a JW was not a choice, not like it is for converts. You were not necessarily searching for what the JWs claimed they had. This was probably expected of you. Leaving means leaving life as the only way you've known it. You are more likely to be done with all things religious after this because your only experience with religion was so distasteful. For all I know, it took you more courage and effort to leave than it did for someone like me.

    2. Having JW Family vs. Having No JW Family

    I have one family member now, barely hanging on, in the group, no blood relation but married in. Saying goodbye for me was simple. I was not leaving behind my family. In fact leaving the Watchtower was the opposite. It was essentially coming back to the family, to support, to my culture. It was like coming back to life after being dead for a few years.

    I cannot imagine it being the other way around. How do you that? And watching those shunning videos recently released by the Governing Body--I thought Jewish mothers knew how to take others on a guilt trip until I saw that! Sheesh! If Witnesses complain that those who leave end up being haters and bitter, then they need to try leaving all their family members behind too and see just how hard it is. Don't expect such people to fart rainbows! The Jews may have been free after they left Egypt, but they complained in the wilderness, and often legitimately (something JWs never admit about the Bible). It takes time not to be bitter, and frankly if you did go all "Mary Poppins" on me after leaving a cult, I would think you had some screws loose. Even the fictional character Kimmy Schmidt has a hard time now that she is free from her previous cult's bunker.

    3. Having more than TTATT vs Only Leaving Because You Know It's a Sham

    Frankly, I had it easy. I had something else to go to. It was like making a switch from an airline jet to another on the trip to a pre-planned destination. I'm still headed in the direction I had planned to go, just took a few steps back on an airline I will never use again. I could be atheist, agnostic, religious, a combo, whatever once I left the JWs as the way to any of this was already set for me when I returned. I actually gave a public talk one night at the Kingdom Hall and the next day or so I celebrated Rosh Hashanah with my family. Sure I miss friends from my JW past, but today I think they are stubborn stupid asses for staying (now 20-30+ years after I left). You want to ride on an airline that never goes in a straight path, never ending up where it promises? Go suit yourself. I don't need idiots for friends.

    Like me, all of you who left have likely learned THE TRUTH ABOUT "THE TRUTH" too. But now what? You have to start from scratch. You may have to be more defensive about your newfound convictions because you have to travel a path you must wield out for yourself. You must be your own advocate. No one brings home the bacon for you. You have to slaughter the beast yourself if you want meat, even guard it like a rabid dog once you have it. Who can blame you? It's tough. You didn't necessarily have a previous destination. You may have just got kicked off the airplane and left stranded at the airport. No connecting flight for you!

    4. The Franz Era vs the era of Governing Body 2.0

    You relatively new ones are probably tired of hearing this or maybe don't even understand it, but the religion I once belonged to died a while back. The Jehovah's Witnesses I belonged to no longer exist. I couldn't go back even if I wanted to. To return to the religious beliefs of the JWs from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s era requires a time machine. If I went into a coma as a JW in 1989 and woke up today, I would be an apostate with my JW convictions. There is not a religion that practices that belief system anymore. Sure it changed from Russell onward, but once Franz, one of the originals died, so had all of the original and authentic 1914 generation. By the mid-1990s that teaching changed and it all went out the window with it.

    The amount JWs today study and the type of material studied would have been heavily mocked by the previous Governing Body. It is barely JW-lite. We knew more about the Bible in my time, more about other religions, more about the world than the JWs do today. Part of that is due to the fact that your JW oldies, the parents died, some there since the first. They are no more. No one to teach the "deeper things," no one to ask how to do such and such, just the belief that it is "the Truth." How JWs today aren't uprising with the Bethel layoffs, the lack of printed materials, the use of tele-evangelism and the request for donations just proves my point. Those original folks either left or died. Those things were once considered earmarks that we had lost Jehovah's approval or that the Devil was among us. Now such things are praised as gifts from heaven!

    Therefore when we discuss things today, it ain't like it used to be, even among exJWs. Some of us are ex's of very different religions. Some of had made choices with more or less freedom than others, more or less support than I or you have. Some may seem angry and bitter, but it could be just a reflection of how strong they have to be merely to make it to the next day.

    Some of us weren't searching for God to begin with, and the thought of religion sickens us because of what we experienced as JWs. Others were just passing through and didn't think twice about abandoning what was for them merely a wrong step or stumble on a longer journey.

    Some of us left all behind, and some of us got everything back.

    Some of us got freedom with the luxury to keep on where others are left unable to afford such a luxury now that they are virtually alone.

    The majority here may be exJWs, but that doesn't make us the same. We each have a different definition of what being an exJW can be. It is never a failure to be one thing or another because different circumstances require different approaches. Unlike the uniformity of what it means to be a JW, the title exJW guarantees no such uniformity.

  • Simon

    Great post, well explained.

    I think there is also often a belief that everyone who was a witness once must therefore be like us and will be our friends. Everyone is very different and though many of the experiences we had were the same, ultimately all we had in common is that we once belonged to the same club, often to different regional version of it.

    People often really have little in common although as you say, there are some sub-groups that tend to have greater similarities.

    I was a born in. I could never get my head round someone choosing to join, even when I was in!

  • David_Jay

    Well, at least you don't have the experience of saying: "How could I have been so stupid?"

    And I saw some signs too that it was a cult, but allowed their lies to calm me down. I actually let a lot of it happen because I was afraid of a nuclear holocaust at the time, as a young teen when I went in. Fear made a fool out of me, or better allowed me to be turned into a fool.

    I should have listened to my doubts (or actually "warning bells"), and I didn't. I wasn't even 18, but still. They may have done some brainwashing, but I freely opened up my skull and poured the Kool-Aid in.

  • TerryWalstrom

    We were all passengers on the same Titanic, but each of us was on a different level of the ship. Some of us found succor in lifeboats, while others struggled in icy waters until the Carpathia arrived.

    Suffering, panic, loss are profoundly subjective experiences. How we cope and adapt and what we become in the long run as a result, may well be a measure of our character more than our trauma.

    I kind person before the iceberg is probably a kind person still.

    An a**hole may be even more so in the aftermath.

    Ex-Jdubs have something in common in the sharing of delusion, the blind trust, the thrill of absolute certainty, and the confident assurance we hold the winning ticket---then, only discovering to our inestimable horror, not only was the rug pulled from under us--there was no floor!

    What happens next is a strong desire to minimize the confusion.
    Our rational mind--the part still functioning--wants clarity.

    By sharing our experiences and sampling the consensus distilled on this discussion board, we little by little minimize vagueness.

    Some turn to Authority once again. "Just stick the needle in anyplace, Doc--I need relief!"

    Others turn amateur sleuth or dilettanti detective. Like JFK conspiracy nuts, they seek the most fantastical solution to the crazy speculations.

    In the end, there is not there there.

    It is only us here. Now.

    The path we take is of our own making. The same brain-machine inside our skull which caused us to fall victim to the cult is STILL THERE.
    Unless we replace the parts, one by one, we surely end up in the same place again, and again, an again with different labels attached to the same delusion.

    For my part, I simply pretend to be an activist wrenching victims from the burning building.

  • cofty
    Unlike the uniformity of what it means to be a JW, the title exJW guarantees no such uniformity

    I agree with this point. There is no such thing as a homogeneous ex-JW community.

    However I didn't recognise myself in any of your descriptions of typical ex-JWs. I didn't reject religion because my experience in the cult was distasteful, the thought of religion doesn't sicken me and I have never been bitter. I spent a large part of my life genuinely searching for god and religious truth.

    I rejected it all based on reason and evidence. It was a decision of the head not of the heart. I oppose theism not because of hatred or bitterness but because the evidence shows it to be in error, and I happen to think that truth matters. People deserve to have important information with which to organise their lives.

  • Phizzy

    I was born in, but could write exactly what Cofty wrote above to explain why I left.

    I was a lover of truth, still am, and left because there simply is no truth in the JW "religion". Not truth in the real sense of the word.

    I am not bitter, I do regret that I did not wake up much earlier in life and so make better life choices, but what happened, happened.

    I must admit that I was surprised at the differences amongst ex-JW's, a hangover from the old JW thinking,that there is only one right way.

    When I left, I set out to educate myself, so studied Philosophy, History, the Bible, Evolutionary Theory etc etc, all as an "armchair scholar".

    I was astounded that other ex-JW's did not do this, and came on Sites like this and displayed their appalling ignorance, and their prejudices.

    But I was known as a "studious type", I guess such people are still as lazy now as when they were JW's, not finding anything out for themselves, not reading, not even thinking !

    This is sad, the freedom one gets by walking away from a High Control Cult like the JWs should not be wasted by wallowing in ignorance.

    The differences between us as ex-JWs explains why trying to get a united approach to things in the Ex community is like herding cats.

  • TD


    You relatively new ones are probably tired of hearing this or maybe don't even understand it, but the religion I once belonged to died a while back....

    Yes. In Apocalypse Delayed, Penton referred to JW's as "...rationalists par excellence." That's not true anymore and apparently hasn't been for quite sometime.

    The JW's of yesteryear honestly thought that the facts, when critically examined, validated their beliefs. It was the whole basis of their door to door ministry.

    (I'm honestly not sure why they go door to door anymore. Why should I or anyone else accept what they believe simply because their "governing body" says so?)

    The modern JW faith is hard for grumpy old men like me to comprehend. :-)

  • Xanthippe
    Your being baptized as a JW was not a choice, not like it is for converts. You were not necessarily searching for what the JWs claimed they had. This was probably expected of you.

    Mmm you've got us all figured out now have you? Guess again David. It was a choice for me. I wanted to serve God and save lives. So I pioneered for ten years. Many on this forum felt the same way. I was searching for truth. At sixteen I questioned the Ransom Sacrifice doctrine and asked everyone what they thought. They thought I was mad. The hatred for the idea of a loving God torturing people to prove something to the Devil eventually led me out of the cult.

  • VIII

    When I got baptized I did it with my fingers crossed (figuratively) behind my back. I simply did it to be accepted by the JWs I was hanging around with at the KH. If I wanted friends, I needed to be baptized. I was 13. I knew it was fake. I knew it was garbage and I never prayed and I didn't know half of the answers to the questions the guy I studied with was asking me. He still let me go ahead and get baptized.

    I can see his face--an older man, gray hair; glasses. Basically someone who would be lost in any crowd. He would ask me questions from whatever book we had to study from right before 1975 and I would guess at the answers.

    I just needed to say I was a baptized Publisher. Then I would have friends.

    A pathetic way to be accepted.

    When I went to college I never once heard from my JW pals. I was a renegade just for getting an education. That did allow me to fade away without being DFd. After that I never looked back and never went back.

    BTW, I hated being in the "Truth" from when I was a child. I knew that they were wack-jobs way back then. If any of you met my family you would understand. I mean that. They are all loony-toons. And all JWs. I figured I had to be switched at birth. I seemed to be the only one who knew that the JWs were nuts.

  • David_Jay


    I do NOT have everyone figured out and never will, nor should I try.

    And I didn't write this as if I was including an exhaustive list of all the situations that there are. Some did follow the path you mention, and I tried to write this in such a way as to let people know I was only speaking in generalities. But apparently, at least as far as your reading of my post demonstrates, my abilities to write in an efficacious manner are lacking and not a little.

    And no, Cofty, I wasn't purposefully limiting the reason why people choose to embrace rational thought, atheism, or a list of other things. I find atheism quite a noble use of the mind and a great benefit to humanity, as well as myself. You would be the first person I would call on to teach me its finer points and to lean on where I fail to support its freedom of expression.

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