The story of my exit
I have been lurking here for about 6 months, and being the last day of the year, and ready to start the new one afresh, I want to share the story of our exit from the Org. I have found the personal experiences of others of immeasurable value, (and it’s been a while since a good exit story has been posted) that I hope this can be of benefit to at least someone.
My mother became a Jehovah’s Witness when I was about 9 or 10. I remember initially hating all of the new sanctions put on our lives (no birthdays and Christmas anymore) but for some reason I soon after joined her in attending the meetings and eventually got baptized at the age of 14. My staunch catholic father converted a couple of years later. I left school at 15 to pioneer and was a regular pioneer from 16-18. I was married at the age of 18 (because it’s way better to do that than to sin and have sex before marriage) to a fellow pioneer. Thankfully we didn’t have any children until much later.
It was around the time of the birth of our first child that my husband began to change and question his beliefs. He did not set out to try to undermine his faith, in fact I’m sure that he would have been more than happy to continue as a Witness if his research found that it really was the “truth.” Truth was of the utmost importance to him. His feelings mirrored those of early C.T. Russell who stated:
“We should learn to love and value truth for it’s own sake; to respect and honor it by owning and acknowledging it wherever we find it and by whomever presented. A truth presented by Satan himself is just as true as a truth stated by God.”
The presentation of “truths” at the meetings and in the publications began to frustrate him. He could see serious flaws in the way arguments were presented by the organization and this led him to do further research into critical thinking, logical fallacies and rhetoric. He learned to analyze every argument that he was presented with and became adept at pointing out their flaws. He was becoming increasingly frustrated at every meeting and the tension it created was enormous. He soon stopped going to the meetings.
Needless to say as a “still fully in” at the time JW this was devastating for me. I was an emotional wreck. I continued to take my children to the meetings despite his having stopped. This began the most heart-wrenching and stressful period of our married life. I was not open to any kind of different thinking. My husband would raise issues with me about the bible, WT doctrine and JW policies. I would go away and do WT publication research thinking that it would be easy to defeat his arguments, but I could not. I put it down to a lack of faith on his part and continued on. I remember going to assemblies and becoming “righteously indignant” guns blazing when I came home and ready to tear his arguments apart, but again this had little if any effect. Our marriage was “fine” when no religious or doctrinal issues were raised, but as soon as they were we plummeted back into a horrible emotional cycle. I was ever protective of my precious beliefs and put mental walls up whenever there was a possibility that they would be undermined.
The purpose of his raising these issues with me was so that I could understand him, not so that I would stop being a witness. He always stated that he all he wished to do was to figure out if our lives were actually going in the same direction and if not, we needed to have an honest conversation about whether we should stay together. I could not comprehend how he could possibly question the organization or heaven forbid the bible itself and not intend to stop me from being a witness (Satan is cunning after all). I was absolutely sure that if I perfectly applied 1 Peter 3:1 that eventually he would come back to the “truth.” So the walls stayed up and the cycle continued.
He put up with this for 5 years, and I am so thankful that he never gave up on me. We truly love each other and I am so grateful that this did not end up destroying our marriage (it came very close to doing so on more than one occasion).
The struggle to continue as a faithful witness actually led to the beginning of my downfall. As I soldiered on going to the meetings and out witnessing, I felt unsupported and isolated as part of the congregation. I felt as if the awkwardness of having a husband who was once a ministerial servant and now no longer in “the truth” was too much for some people to bear. Rather than rally around me to help me to continue, I was avoided, even by friends I’d had for 20 odd years. I would go to the meetings and no one would even bother to come up and talk to me. We were never invited to social gatherings as a family (my husband was never disfellowshipped). I felt as if I was now a questionable associate because the emotional trauma I was dealing with meant that I wasn’t at all of the meetings. I had done nothing scripturally wrong, yet I felt like an outsider. The publications also had very little to offer in the way of support. I kept thinking that I wasn't applying the scriptures properly and if I just try a little bit harder everything will be better. If I'm more regular, if I answer more, if I make more sacrifices, if I throw myself headfirst into the ministry it will fix everything, but I was the loneliest I had ever been in my life, I was absolutely miserable.
I thought that a change of congregation would help me to revive my spirituality and so we moved a fair distance away from our hometown. The new congregation was nice, but it finally dawned on me that I had to be content with having separate friends from my husband and that we would never really have family friends. That some way our family would never be united.
I was finding myself going to the meetings wondering why I was even there. I would sit there mentally disagreeing with the material provided. It became more of a chance at a social experience, but even then I had to prove myself to be a “fine Christian” before I would even be considered to be worthy of someone’s friendship. I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and in all honesty, I really could not have been bothered to try to prove myself.
Then the ARC happened.
I don’t know exactly what it was that prompted me to actually look into it. I was absolutely convinced that there was not even a possibility that there was anything wrong with the way the organization dealt with perpetrators of sexual abuse. After all, they were so vocal about abuses within the Catholic Church; it would be hypocritical if they weren’t flawless themselves!
I read the entire transcript of the ARC. Although not a victim of abuses myself, the similarities between the way that the victims had been treated by the congregation and my personal experience was uncanny. I was horrified at the responses given by the elders testifying and could not believe the dishonest representation given by them of the way things work within the organization. Oh, and of course Geoffrey Jackson’s obfuscation of most questions within his testimony was the final straw. My heart was broken. The organization, which I had given 20 years of my life to, was a sham. The dishonesty was overwhelming. The lack of concern for individuals within the org was inexcusable, especially considering that (according to WT teachings) this meant the future life of the persons involved!
I went to a meeting throughout the ARC and could not believe that no announcements about it were made from the platform. That no one else seemed to even know that it was going on! I attended the regional convention with the hopes that something would be announced there, but nothing. The closest anyone came to saying anything about it was during the final talk on Sunday when the speaker visiting from Bethel said, “There are many negative reports about Jehovah’s Witnesses in the media. Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper!” I could not comprehend that a massive problem such as this within the organization which negatively effected thousands, would not be addressed head on.
I have not attended a meeting or been witnessing since. My conscience would not allow me to be complicit with the actions of the Org by supporting it any way.
The ARC talked about doctrinal matters I had never even heard of such as: the two witness rule; the possibility of a woman who is raped being disfellowshipped for fornication; losing faith in the GB as the FDS = disfellowshipping for apostasy; questioning anything the GB presents as equal to apostasy; lying being acceptable if it meant protecting the Org; preemptive shunning; the list goes on.
At this point I had still never read any information on an “apostate” website, but I finally worked up the courage to read information on JW facts. The way arguments are presented on Paul’s site, unemotionally and straight from WT publications, is an awesome way for anyone new to questioning the org to get information. The Pandora’s box was opened and after much research on numerous websites, you tube videos and through this forum, I found that I knew very little about the religion I had been a part of for the last 20 years of my life.
There are many more nuanced details to my story, all of which added fuel to the fire to help me leave. If I had mentioned them here, this post would have been a novel! I am sure that I will bring them out in posts to come.
Welcome, and where can I get a copy of the arc transcript?
Wonderful first post!
Welcome to a genuinely warm and supportive community!
"I felt like an outsider."-mrsObfuscate
Here you will be welcomed with open arms!
Hey! You stole my story!😉
Couldn't be happier that we finally had that honest conversation and that it turned out we were heading in the same direction.
Welcome and thank you for sharing your story....I completely feel for what you went through trying to stay 'faithful' in desperate circumstances. It echos some of my own experience of the treatment and lack of care when my min serv husband left me ....and the crap that people spouted
In my congregation there had been more than 1 accusation of abuse....over many years the same brother was accused by different sisters but of course it was covered up and the congregation never informed. ....it was only when this brother gave me cause for concern around my 9yr old daughter that the whispers reached my ears via other concerned mothers.....I was raging to find out the elders had put our children at risk and then I heard off more brothers in cong had been accused and it covered over. ..and that was before I heard about the worldwide scandal of cover ups! That knocked my faith big time and on top of that when my cheating husband left all I heard was
ohh we miss him such a good brother you must have done something for him to leave. ..
'Just because he's clubbing and with women doesn't mean he's been unfaithful. ..he's still ur husbsnd and deserves ur respect '
We as elders can't get involved unless he confesses to sin....
Our friends didn't want my company as a single mother having to tag along with other couples...I think they were worried I was sex starved and pounce on their husbands haha
The single sisters were older ones who were nice but boring to put it nicely. ...only so much spiritual conversation one can tolerate ...I was only 35 not 75!
The teenagers would invite my daughter out but they didn't want a mother in tow...so most of time I was left very lonely after suddenly having my life turned upside down. ..
If I went on the field service and helped others more I wouldn't be depressed and I'd trust in jehovah more to support me thru this nightmare. ..my child was ill by the way I forgot to mention so meeting and field service were minimum due to circumstances beyond my control but still this was their helpful advice !!! .My stepfather died suddenly and in traumatic around circumstances around this time and I didn't much sympathy. ..One sister even said to me...well he wasn't even ur real father! Gradually over a few years the ones I was closest to in the truth stopped attending for various reasons but mostly due to their own experiences of bad treatment. ..not only did I miss them but when I looked around the cong the exemplary witnesses that were left and I was supposed to emulate were a group of the most narrow minded unpleasant judgemental humans I had ever met...bar a few genuine ones I still miss....
After year's of struggling my own feelings of worthlessness and despair I decided enough was enough of this mentally abusive crowd and stopped going!
I don't think any one noticed my absence until !after 7 years of being alone I met my fiance. ..the elders warned me he was an evil worldly person and would have evil secrets and might even be unfaithful. ...
I had to laugh at them for this...I said...what like the time I married a regular pioneer who had a secret porn addiction and is now sleeping around. ...end of that conversation
I moved away as my friends ignoring me was very painful but I knew it would happen
I'm trying to repair the damage but this df shit is a whole new low
I never thought my child would cut off her parents that helped her through her illness
What a great post! Your story is inspiring and gives me hope that maybe my situation will also have a happy ending. Thank you for sharing it
Wishing you a very happy new year - I hope your 2016 is the best yet!
Welcome. I'm very happy the arc info is reaching people and waking them
I read your whole story. Wonderful! I just knew when I saw the ARC on YouTube that it would wake people up. And here you come along! You made my day. And you're so young. You have your whole life and the life of your children a head of you. Congrats to your whole family.
May you and your family really go far. Well, this makes the looks of 2016 look pretty bright for you. Go get 'em!
Link to full transcript -http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/case-study/636f01a5-50db-4b59-a35e-a24ae07fb0ad/case-study-29,-july-2015,-sydney.aspx
stuckinarut2, sparky1 and
I appreciate you sharing your experience. I have not been disfellowshipped and am trying to avoid it if at all possible. Shunning is such a cruel and pointless exercise, especially since you have been out of the organisation for so many years. I hope that your new fiance brings you a lot of happiness.
I am sure that I am not the only one effected by the ARC, but I am surprised at how some witnesses have defended the organisational response and applauded the testimony of G.J.