How do you deal with the loneliness after leaving?
FWIW, one thing that really helped us, was that when one of us was down and not feeling like working on making friends, the other one was usually on an upswing and would insist that the one who was down would get out there.
Maybe we just got lucky in that.
At one point, early on, there was a new music director at the college where my wife works who teaches classical guitar at a higher level than anyone else in the area. I'd quit taking lessons quite a while before because there wasn't anyone who was teaching what I needed.
My wife said, "Do you want to take lessons?". I said, "Maybe next year or something... I'm too stressed with everything going on."
She said, "I think that's a big mistake. This guy might only be here a year or two."
I listened to her, and I've taken lessons for six or seven years from him and even had nice paying gigs as a result. Concentrating on the guitar was a great distraction from leaving the Watchtower.
A year ago he told me to stop paying for my lessons, because I'm more of a friend than a student. He's planning on putting together a band and asked if I want to be in it.
The point is, get out there! Even when you don't feel like it!
You mentioned that your sons are autistic. I noticed recently that the local library is offering a story hour for children with sensory issues.
Weighted pillows and quilts and books for example. A slower quieter pace while reading etc.
You might want to check it out in your area. That can be another way to get out and meet people just through engaging in a group activity.
I volunteered at the humane society, joined recreation leagues sports through the city/county where I lived. I played volleyball, basketball and softball, it was so much fun. My team would go out after for food and drinks. I went to school, got involved in community events that interested me. I joined soroptomist, rotary and a community organization that helped low income women prepare for job interviews. I didn’t do all of them at the same time, but just tried out different things as they appealed to me.
Making friends outside of the religion is difficult, but not because of others. It’s all in us.
Our indoctrination is a challenge to overcome, but it can be done.
In the long run, we want to find people that love us for WHO we are, not WHAT (we pretended) WE PRETENDED TO BELIEVE.
This takes time. Go. Hang out with your co-worker. Keep it light and fun. As Xanthippe said, no need to tell you life story, at least not right away.
You’ll know. Just try to be yourself, as hard as that is.
You’ve gotten some great advice. Take it slow.
My wife and I have been out for two years and just got home from a movie night with a bunch of people that were never JWs. We decided when we left the cult that we'd tell everyone our story and that we'd say yes to any offers to socialize. We now have way more friends than we ever did in the cult and we can't keep up with them all. Some came from our cleaning business but we branched out from there. Follow people on Facebook and you'll have ideas for conversations.
It's not easy. We all have a measure of awkwardness when joining the world around us, but we can overcome it. We are just open and explain why we don't get certain references or don't know the etiquette in situations. People are understanding and genuinely interested. We all have a story that is fascinating to many people if we're willing to be vulnerable.
With new people you meet you don`t have to /need to, tell them of your past association with the JW religion either as that could jeopardize any relationship as worldly people can be Judgemental
also on first appearances.
I have made great friends with people over the years who have no idea I was a die-hard JW for over 33 years .
As a previous poster said about joining a support group if you haven`t already done so having two autistic children must take a lot out of you emotionally and you need support and encouragement .
Don`t deprive yourself , be pro-active in seeking out acquaintances who may very well end up being life-long friends
The advice given here on this forum could be the making of the new you
Good luck .And tell us how things worked out for you in the future,
It isn't easy.
Our situations are different.
I'm a guy.
And my spouse left the JWs with me about 40 years ago.
I was raised a JW and am very poorly socialized. I get along with people but have just a few friends - someone who would help me hide a body, if I had to.
There is a moderate-sized group of people in the XJW community who I know (and have known) online who I like, admire and respect. Some are no longer among the living; I miss them.
I think it is important to try within your means to help others. I've done stuff.
Most people here think I'm an ass, and that is fine with me.
My totem animal is the armadillo. I have a hard shell and I can ignore trouble until it goes away.
I think the key for you will be to develop a similar hard shell and appreciate the few people with whom you can build a friendship, but it isn't a quick process, and disappointment is a big part of it.
If it were possible, I would offer you my blessing, but I am not at all a believer.
Those feelings never leave, its a brainwash and you have to fight it each day. My son is 52, has nightmares still to this day, of armageddon - stress related anxieties he knows are from his childhood. You will hear many stories on this site about that but all each one can do is put one step ahead of the other. You need help- is there a non profit that offers help to parent caregivers in your area? Ask your doctor for a reliable centre to go to? You need respite help to allow you to go shopping or the spa for a few hours for your own sanity. Does your government provide help is such situations?
Two autistic children will drain you even though you love them sooo miuch
Keep touch with this board, it can be helpful, a good place to listen to others going through the same issues or close to it, that you are having
I guess being a stay-at-home mom with 2 autistic boys makes it harder to make new friends.
What about mixing into an autistic support group? If there are none around fine a few people that have the same problems and start one. Maybe since you mentioned I guess being a stay-at-home mom with 2 autistic boys makes it harder to make new friends.
Don't know the ages of your boys. Any sports they can play at. Maybe all three of you can volunteer at the local pet shelter. They depend on volunteers.
Our small city of 7,000 totally depends on volunteers.
The whole key to making friends in the JW world is that you saw the same people at least once a week, you had the same beliefs. You trusted one another. You felt you were apart of something important.
All of the above makes up what volunteering is all about.
I am so happy I posted this. There's a lot of ideas you guys suggested that I need to try. I guess my next step is therapy. There's definitely a lot I need to process.
And hey you have just spent the last three hours hanging out with nice people 'worldly' people according to the WTBTS............. making new friends and finding out that total strangers do care.