The Thief of Always
I totally understand where you are coming from. I am around the same age as you and I know for a fact that growing up a JW has negatively affected me. My parents discouraged college so they never planned for me going, even thought I'm naturally athletic I was never allowed to play sports growing up (so athletic scholarships were not an option), I was never allowed to have worldly friends and now that I don't associate all my JW "friends" have abandoned me.
Thank you all for your perspectives. I do realize time is on my side, which I am grateful for. This is just a struggle I never really envisioned. I'm not usually a very emotional person, but the question really struck me at my core. I'm glad I have somewhere to share it. Plus, writing is therapeutic. Somehow it's easier to wrangle and mater feelings with the written word instead of the spoken word.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Yinzer-- I could be you. Similar age, college educated, and my husband always asks me what my passions are. What I want for the future. I have never known- we never had a future growing up. He says I handle everything like a task to be completed but have no joy. We have education, great kids, great marriage, and money to enjoy life. Why is that not enough? What is wrong with me? It's not that I want more, but I feel empty.
My husband, a non born in, converted for me during med school. Looking back, he says being a JW totally F*ed up his med/residency life. He can now see and understand- being a JW he never felt so dead, unenthusiastic, judgmental, and worthless in his life. Constantly hearing at meeting you are not good enough, all the judgement, man made rules, ridiculous 'study' articles... He feels he has his life back. He can be himself again. He has a zeal and practices different, his partners even have noticed a huge shift in the last 6 months. I am jealous he can 'go back' to who he is, but I don't know who 'i am'
I crush weights at the gym nearly every day, watch what I eat and what I drink, and also love to target shoot and collect knives. I like to watch 80's flicks and The X-Files.
I'm 36. Welcome to the forum.
Yinzerdad, thank you for revealing your personal experiences to us. I’m sure your blubbing session at the therapy group was actually cathartic.
Not everyone HAS to be passionate, many are happy ‘foot-soldiers’ in life who look after their families and thoughtfully support them in every way which is not only valuable for the next generation but is a source of stability and satisfaction to oneself and all loved ones.
Nevertheless your little break-down indicates that you are aware of the problems arising from a JW childhood. This is a sad consequence of being brought up in a narrow authoritarian cult. The effect for many is that imagination and experiment and normal helpful childhood experiences are sacrificed in the name of “serving God” (in reality serving the interests Watchtower organisation). This leads up to a person who is lacking the needed preparation to flourish in the real world as an adult... but instead is left ideally kitted out mentally and emotionally to slave as another Watchtower drone.
This harmful JW practice removes the chances of building an integrated and balanced and confident child, at least where the parents blindly follow the dire “theocratic” advice.
However you have two things which are a sound platform from which to work: You are young... and you have an education beyond the expectations of most JWs. You still have great opportunities in life ahead of you. You are also doing something about your depression, this is very good... and be happy that you have taken the effort to do so. As a JW the only things for which you might have received commendation were to do with the wretched religion. The therapy should help you see who you actually are, not the person you were reared as a pawn in a publishing company’s master plan!
With freedom from those old constraints nagging in the back of your mind, it is likely that you will find many things that the real you will be passionate about. All the best to you and do keep posting.
Welcome, Yinzer, your post was pretty profound to me. I have always had that exact sense. For years I didn't wear contacts because of some apocalyptic fear that I wouldn't be able to function in life if I had to worry about contact lens solution. . . glasses are more practical, right? I still had some armageddon scenario in my head that has affected relationships and personal habits. And eyewear. I can garden, bake bread from scratch and have a good supply of non perishables, but not much in material goods. Its weird and I know where it comes from. Plugging in dates for next years calendar still feels kind of odd to me and I am DECADES out of the borg. From birth I had it instilled that I would not even get my PERIOD in "this old system of things". I sure didn't worry about keepsakes for my grandchildren! I am really unsentimental and hold on to very little, take few pictures. . . I think I have mimimalized my life and my family's life because of it. I did give them holidays and I didn't take them to meetings, but I really had a shortsighted way of seeing the world. Still do.
You are young and recognize this. If your therapy is good for anything, it should be that it helps you get past this and change the things you want to change in your life and your world view. I hope it is something that is action and progression oriented, rather than just a lot of navel gazing:) I see that you are physically out, but mentally, you are still in. I hope you find a way out of the tower. Grow your hair?
Don't be too hard on yourself. Recently, I had to deal with the same topic. A neighbor asked at a bbq - what are you passionate about? He would not take "I don't know" for an answer. That got me to thinking and I came to some of the same conclusions you did. Namely, that my involvement with JWism for 30+ years had robbed me of the opportunity to find out.
After giving it some thought, I think that some of us are just generalists. I'm very interested in a wide variety of things, but if I had to pick one to the exclusion of the others, I would be hard pressed. Just be open to new activities. Maybe one will catch on. Who knows what is could lead to. At the moment, I would have to say that my favorite activity is just wandering around in the forest seeing what I can find.
I had a hard time really feeling anything. Not happy not sad, nothing. The therapist I went to said that sometimes kids brought up in cults have just shut down their emotions because it was all too much for our little minds to deal with.
You're not alone, it looks like quite a few of us have the same experience. It took me a few years to make progress in this area, I have been out 17 years, and I am happy, have passion, and am at peace with life. Don't let your upbringing be what defines your life now.
Good luck and welcome.
YinzerDad, Welcome! I enjoyed your post. I too, am twice your age but didn't mentally leave the Watchtower until i was almost 60.
My only living child (daughter) is your age so I am always interested in the perspective of the early thirty somethings raised as Witnesses. She asked me if she could take dancing lessons when she was about 8. I agreed, reasoning it wouldn't be much different than piano lessons-something perfectly acceptable in JW culture. Little did we know she was extremely talented. After only a couple of years she was moved to the advanced classes in Ballet, Jazz, and tap and the teachers were pressuring me to let her dance competitively. Needless to say, the congregation did not approve and I'm sorry to say, I didn't let her take her talent to it's natural limit.
Fast forward to the present. Daughter left JWs nearly 10 years ago after being baptized only 2 years. Like you she has recently started therapy. Not all of her pathology is JW related but more than she admits to- is. However, I am happy to report that after leaving JWs she took up Ballet again as an adult, not to compete but purely for the love of dance.
I mention this to say that there might be an interest you had in your childhood that you have put aside or forgotten about. You now have permission to explore those interests. Even if they seem childish, who cares? Go for it! I wish you and your family all the best. Keep us posted.
Beautiful first post Yinzerdad!
A sincere and genuine "welcome"!
You are NOT alone. This community is made up of sincere and genuine people who understand the most important factor in life: Support and Acceptance of one another.
Yes, we have lost much of our life, yet it is vital to remember this: Focus on any good points you can from your past, and also take control of your present and future!
How you feel is up to you. Its your choice to accept what cant be changed, and use it as a catalyst to move forward. Find something positive in each day (whether it is helping someone, or being friendly, or being good at your job) . Give yourself credit for those things, and it WILL spur you onto a more positive future.
Keep communicating with us here too.