The all too common results of leaving a religion like the JWs are the feelings you are experiencing. To feel devastated at the loss of your family and close friends is totally natural.
Many people feel that there is a way of moving on and for those feelings to go away. They truth is that they don’t ever completely go away. Even after years, those feelings of sadness and loss can strike your heart, many times out of the blue.
It is not all bad news though. There are some very positive things that can be done in order to compensate for what you have lost.
The first thing is to make new friends. Even though you have been adopted by your husband’s family, this isn’t going to help you with your feelings of loneliness. You need your own friends for your esteem. In the back of your mind, they will have just accepted you for your tragic circumstances.
As lovely as this is, you need people that want to be your friend because of who you are, not just because you are married to them in law. As you have found out, making friends and feeling comfortable when meeting new people is not at all easy. This might be because you have not fully recovered from being a JW yet.
In this matter you have so many good things going for you. Ex-JWs have so many assets that help them achieve acceptance and friendship outside of the religion. The hardest part is recognising what you have to offer people. This is due to the horrible feelings of rejection you feel when you leave the Watchtower and the feelings of unworthiness that you naturally functioned with while you were an active JW.
You need to heal to feel better and you need to feel better in order to heal. A catch 22. So you need to fake it to start with. This never feels good. In fact it can prove very uncomfortable as your post suggests. Nothing at all to worry about.
You need to force yourself out of the security of your comfort zone and get out and meet new people and try new things. This will leave you feeling very uncomfortable and anxious, but these feelings are a great learning process that you can build on for the future. So try not to shy away from how you feel, as bad as it may seem at the time.
When you try new things in the ‘world’ it is going to feel so desperately alien. You are going to feel like a fish out of water. In many situations you are going to feel awkward. This is to be expected. It is also a good gauge. When you try something and you feel awkward, it means that it is not necessarily for you. Be cautious not to write things off too soon though.
It is important for you to try many things, things that you may think are not for you. This won’t be so easy when you have a family to look after, but it is such an important step to recovery. To find your niche outside of the organisation is of utmost importance. Your esteem lies there. Esteem is the biggest thing that will help you manage the feelings of loss of your family and friends.
To be accepted outside of the JW religion will be the biggest aid in your recovery. Where that acceptance will be is difficult to know and might not be in a place that you expect.
The other key in helping you take this first step is the knowledge that most people in the ‘world’ feel the same as you do, even though they have never been a JW or similar. When I first ventured out after leaving I was astonished at how many broken people there were out there. When you realise that you are not unique in feeling alien, it can help you challenge the feelings of being an oddball and aid you in feeling more acceptable to people. You then recognise what you have to offer the world outside.
Once you find even a little acceptance outside in the ‘world’, your esteem will blossom quite quickly. Things will then snowball. You will feel more confident. The more confidence you feel, the more you will heal, leaving you with more ability to try more things. It will only be a matter of time before you find your all important niche in life outside of the organisation.
There is more that could be said, but these are the bones of the road to recovery. Be as brave as you can be and don’t give up or relax into a life where you are not fully content.
I wish you the very best.