Hi Lauren, my husband and I got out 27 years ago. We were a mess for about two years but we saw a psychologist and it helped. Then my husband got a paid job instead of window cleaning because we had been pioneering for years. Then I got a job in a clothes shop, which I hated but my colleagues were very friendly which helped me a lot.
Then we both did a distance learning degree. I don't know if you're in the UK. It was the Open University. My husband got a physics degree after six years and did projects within his next couple of engineering jobs to become a Chartered Physicist and then a Chartered Scientist. I did a history degree and a computing diploma to help me get a job. I even learned a certain amount of computer programming, which was fun.
My husband worked full time while doing his degree and I worked part time so it was hard work but we got there in the end. We both ended up with jobs we liked and my husband travelled a lot for his work. He went to Europe and America and Brazil, so lots of interesting experiences and getting to know how to deal with normal people, not cultists.
Then six years after leaving we had a beautiful baby girl. She brought so much joy into our lives. My sisters didn't acknowledge her birth. My brother heard a rumour I was pregnant and phoned me going all around the subject but I knew why he'd phoned. He and his wife finally came to see the baby. After cancelling five times. She was one year old by then, they didn't come again. My dad was never a JW so we took the baby to see him although my mother was not speaking to us. She was ok but made it clear we were there on sufferance because she was being a dutiful JW wife.
We didn't care. We had a wonderful time raising our little girl. Christmas trees, birthday parties - oh what parties we had. Enormous pass the parcel packages I made. Sleepovers for her friends. Dress-ups at Halloween. Wonderful. The great thing is my husband's parents left too after we did so they joined in and loved having a granddaughter which made up a bit for my family.
My daughter is in her last year at university now and she'll do her Masters after that. She's wonderful, she's made all the struggle worthwhile. Her dad died of a brain hemorrage seven years ago so we looked after each other. She is on the student union council and an active member of the uni feminist society. I'm so proud, can you imagine after the way I was treated as a JW woman that my daughter is an ardent activist for women's rights.
Life is good, we both have friends and it's all been worth it. Lauren, whatever is happening in your life and whatever struggles you have to keep your freedom from the cult know that it is worth it. Lots of luck and love to you.