My Introduction - An ex-elder's story of waking up later in life.
On reading your OP, I identified with how utterly painful and 'unreal' this late age awakening must have been for you.
I was a convert, a dedicated convert.
I found that little by little my personal intergrity felt violated by the 'tone' of the Watchtower - and so I started to dig deeper.
A few years ago, I had tried to reach a beloved relative with a couple of our publications - and was knocked back when they answered with an expose of misquotes, that is quotations placed out of context, unashamedly reframing the original thought of the original writer.
I knew this was not the way of 'holiness'.
This was just a small ( relative to other unacceptable issues) but defining point in my Watchtower life. You know how it goes.
It's been a hard, hard and hurtful path.
'They' do so much damage. They truly do.
Dear Doubtful1799, thank you so much for posting your story. I can relate with it on so many levels. Especially this frustration: I consider myself a mildly intelligent person. Why on earth it took me until I turned 40 to wake up and get out? Why couldn't I see the con and the deception before, when it's so clear now? I still bang my head on the wall for that.
This words of yours resonate deeply with me:
I now realised I had been conned. I had believed in a lie. And the implications were devastating to say the least. I cried for days. For my lost hope of everlasting life. For the harsh reality of my mortality. For the years I’d wasted knocking on doors spreading false and erroneous teachings instead of living up to my potential. For all the damage I had inadvertently done, even though my intentions were good. And for all the family and friends I would potentially lose, who I would be unable to rescue. [...] Don’t get me wrong, I have had a good life, but I could have done so much more with it if I had known the real truth. I could have been a real help to people, not just pseudo help.
^^THIS. My feelings exactly. I had an uneventful youth, never really got into any problem, was a "good witness", made progress, was well-known and cherished even by the top hats in Bethel in my country. Married "in the truth", did everything right (except engaging in full-time pioneer service, that somehow never appealed to me).
I got lucky, because after some dramatic turmoils, I managed to help my wife and son to leave the cult. We imagined we would be successful faders, but events regarding my son and military service had him disfellowshipped and me and wife da'd immediately after in formal protest. I am also lucky for my JW side of the family isn't shunning us; on my wife's side about half of the JW's aren't shunning us either. The other half, her sister included, shuns us. And yes, we have lost ALL of our JW friends. That has been the hardest part - rebuilding a network of friends and family with whom we may share common interests. It's been hard (harder for me than my wife, who is naturally a very sociable person; I tend to find it hard to cultivate friendships, as not many people share my set of interests, namely in music making ...), but we're rebuilding. It's getting better, slowly. The freedom is like nothing else: and yet, it's just NORMAL. It feels good to just be NORMAL and not a religious freak.
Welcome to this forum, and welcome to the rest of your life. I hope your example may inspire others to take the same stand for themselves.
there are a lot of people on here like you which didn't like finding out TTATT, because it shattered their dreams, goals, relationships , All I can say is there is a lot of lost souls on this forum that need encouragement and support ,hang in there the journey will seem unforgiving. What friends you have or did have will disappear ,so find a hearing ear. Our forum friends will always listen and you will never be shunned here for your openness and honesty.
Welcome and thank you for sharing your story. Many here have had that pain of waking up and realizing how utterly wasteful those years as a JW were. The good news?!! You're awake and now you can start really living your life!!!
I would agree with other posters with regard to DA'ing. Don't give the Elders power over you. We had some elders come by a while back and all they care about is putting a label on you, whether it be "inactive" or "depressed". Don't let them think that they are still in control of your life. They are nothing but helpless victims of religion.
I hope that the time will come when your family will also wake up. In the mean time, try reconnecting with non-witness family members. We did and now we are very close to both sides of the family again.
Also have an open mind to try new things. Find some time to volunteer, do yoga or take up an instrument. Find things that bring you joy. The wife and I do quite a bit of volunteering and we have made many new friends doing so. You'll see that non-witness people are not so scary and they won't judge you based on meeting attendance or how many hours you waste in failed misery.
Not to be morbid, but as a JW we knew there was a chance we would die before Armageddon came, and we knew that upon death there is no thought or pain. That hasn't changed. Death isn't something to be afraid of, unless you live a life of regret. So go live your life! There's nothing to be afraid of. Try new things. Drink and be merry. Drive fast and take a few chances. Don't come to the end and wish you had done this or that. Just go do them now while you still can.
thanks for sharing, great news to hear, what a brilliant adventure awaits for you living your life without constraints,prettiness and toxicity !
For me it started with Crisis of Concience, the Proclaimers book, the Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah series and the This generation change.
When you have history for hobby it is to much to continue ):
It opened my eyes. Fade since 2008. Did a bachelor and master.
And happy now with wife and kids.
I've read everyone's comments on here to our friend Doubtful- and I have to tell each of you how honored and thankful I feel to be on a board with all of you beautiful people showing this new poster care and empathy. Something we didn't receive much of in the JW organization. We have a really cool and compassionate community here on this board. I consider you all friends. Hope we might meet someday.
DOUBTFUL 1799- Really enjoyed your opening thread and post ! Would love to see or hear how you feel about the kind reception you are receiving here. How are things going for you ? We are here as a support to you and are willing to help in any way possible. Hope to hear from you sometime at your convenience. I know life is busy for us all. Hang in there, Peace out, Mr. Flipper
I would to read some of your Experiences while serving that stand out in your mind and that you may have been mislead affects your thinking now!
Thanks for sharing your personal "JW story". I was particularly touched by the part where you said you cried for days after losing your hope of everlasting life. That's a tough one isn't it ? My wife and I faded in our early 50's after being raised in the religion. Like you, it was a perfect storm of events and doctrinal conflicts that made being a JW intolerable. We had to come to grips with our own mortality in a matter of days rather than over a lifetime as most people do. Sometimes the pain and emptiness was unbearable, but here we are, years down the road, making more than just a go of things. Coming to grips with ones own mortality is a very freeing thing once it happens. It's much easier to deal with than having to constantly convince yourself that you're going to live forever in a paradise when you know on some deep level that it can't possibly be real.
It's difficult at first but try not to spend too much time on "what might have been". When those thoughts come up, shoo them away just as you'd shoo away flies buzzing around at a picnic you were trying to enjoy. Why let those kinds of thoughts spoil your day? After all, what is wasted time really? Time passes and is gone, whether we do something productive with it or not. What if you'd have been allowed to attend University and you'd been hit by a bus a week after graduating? None of us knows if things would be any better if we'd have turned left instead of right at a fork in life's road.The main thing is that you're still here and will do better now that you know better.
I found that most if not all of the depression and anxiety I suffered over the years was due to suppressing my own common sense and from attending those bleak and mind numbing meetings. Once I was away from all of that and I had recovered from the rude awakening that I had been duped, things began to get better and better.
My hope is that this will be the case for you as well. It would be great if you could manage to continue on as you are without the JW's doing any more damage to your life than they already have. I hope that by formally disassociating, you won't be burning any bridges or making things more difficult.
You know what's best in your own circumstance but the main thing is you are moving forward and no longer spinning your wheels chasing after a fantasy.
Many thanks for your post, and welcome, d-1799!
Hope your dear wife will begin to see the WT for what it really is. Be patient about that.
I'm one who was forced to see the reality - i made excuses for all the red flags for many years - until finally after being targeted personally i awoke to the injustice and hypocrisy. My husband had cooled off towards the org a long time before me but never said anything to oppose. My last meeting was around 4 or 5 years ago - i don't remember exactly anymore.
This forum has been fantastic for healing and recovering my mental faculties!
Best wishes to you and your family.