I last updated you guys almost 2 years ago here.
I thought I'd post an update.
The peace I discovered having decided to let the angst, worry and fear over what to believe is as strong as ever, although I am keeping more abreast of what JW.org (formerly known as WTBTS) is up to, and I never cease to be shocked and surprised.
As my last post mentioned, I split from the JW girl I married in 1993 and both of us have moved on with new partners that better fit who we are as grown adults, rather than the children we were 23 years ago.
My partner has no religious background whatsoever, although her children are being raised as Catholics by their father. Hearing her kids openly doubt, question and even ridicule the religion is heartwarming and exactly the way it should be.
As for my children, they continue to be a never-ending stream of joy and pride.
My oldest son is now 16, having been only 8 years old when we left the Watchtower. He had big anxiety problems for a while afterwards, worrying about Armageddon etc. That was very tough to deal with, but through time he left those fears behind, and I'm not sure I could meet a more calm, level-headed, open-minded and mature 16 year old. My girlfriend regularly comments on his wisdom beyond his years.
I can only shudder at what his life would be like - having the mind and outlook that he does - had he be confined by the harsh borders of JW life.
He's moving into his 5th year of high school later in the summer, and has absolutely no clue what he wants to do with is life, but he is certain he wants to travel and experience the world, an opportunity I'm all to happy to support him with.
My youngest son is now 7 and he never experienced the JW life, having been born almost a year after his parents left. Despite his mum and dad splitting up, he's an unbelievably joyful kid, a pure pleasure to be around. He recently told me that sometimes he feels like crying, and I was concerned and asked him more, only for him to explain that sometimes he feels so happy he could cry!
Unbelievable. How many of us "born ins" ever felt like that?
Again, another strong reward for the pain and sacrifice of cutting yourself free from JW mental slavery: the positive knock-on effect for your children.
At this point I'd say to any active JW who is worrying and doubting over what direction to take in life, if you have children, set them free by freeing yourself from the Watchtower.
Yes, it WILL be painful, but in the long run, the benefits afforded to you children are immeasurable.
A big worry, of course, is kids going off the rails if they no longer have the restrictions of the Watchtower.
To that I'd remind all parents that it's your responsibility to be examples for your kids, to coach them and guide them, and to love them unconditionally. You don't need any outside help with this, such as from a religion.
My 16 year old son was at a sleep-over party the other night. I had a quick chat with him about alcohol, telling him I didn't mind if he had a couple of drinks, but not to go mad. And he took that advice. But that's come off the back of loads of chats between us where I've openly admitted mistakes I've made. Again, this can be very hard to do in the JW world.
My 11 year old daughter is strong and confident and has a social life that I'm more than jealous of. But it's a social life devoid of the sniping and tell-taling that most of us "born ins" experienced.
On the health front, I'm a wee bit fucked. My heart disease reared its head again last December and I ended up in hospital over Christmas having survived a massive heart attack. This is hard to deal with at times. Genetics have played a massive part in it happening, but I've no doubt the stress and pain from 2008 to 2012 (when I finally made peace with religion and my upbringing) have played a huge part too.
I'm remaining positive that I'll get back to close to normal, but I'm realising it'll take lots of time.
So, for all my heart is a bit clogged up, my mind is still open and still at peace (in no small part to almost dying in a Glasgow hospital*).
I'm going to be keeping my eye on JW.org developments going forward, these are very interesting times for the cult.
*This is what it feels like: you're just going to sleep. It's very peaceful (until the doctors and nurses are shouting at you to "cough...cough! Stay with us". :-)