This is my first post. I really feel i need to leave the JW's rather than go along pretending everything is perfect etc. I was raised in this organization and for many years never doubted it for a second. A quick rundown of what's brought me here:
My parents came into "the truth" in the 1970s. My mum came from a very poor family and my dad was a carpenter. They had 5 kids (including me) so money was tight. I had a happy childhood but my only friends were my JW family. The elders in my congregation coincidentally all had very good jobs. Their kids were all friends and they all did stuff together: parties, holidays, trips out - of course non of the non-elder kids were included in any of these. I didnt think much of it at the time, but when i was about 17/18 i did. The parties id go to were us JW teens would meet up were kind of exclusive. I managed to get around quite well simply because a lot of the boys wanted to date my sisters so they'd take me along. Anyway, in these parties there'd be the popular elders kids who of were a lot more worldly than i ever was, and more so than some of my worldly work colleagues. I told myself that im sure they'll come to their senses and i should keep trying hard to meet the standard of their popularity contest.
My dad was serving as a Min Servant. He was a very humble and private man. When he got cancer he got sicker and sicker and asked to come off as a Min Servant. The following Thursday, an elder gets up onto the platform and announces: "This is to announce that Brother XXXX is no longer a ministerial servant". As he walks back to his seat there's murmuring and tutting from the gossipers and backbiters. My dad wasnt there that day, he was too busy taking his morphine on a drip in his bed. Years later i'd discover by an elders daughter that has now left, that many in the congregation thought he was taken off because he was an adulterer. Which is completely the opposite of what my father was. A man who gave 30 odd years of his life to that organization.
Fast forward a few more years. At 21yo i enter a 3 year relationship with an elders daughter. The very first time i go to their home he sits me down with a bible and gives me a list of things we're not allowed to so (some of which were new to me and just gave me ideas!). Then he ask's if im a Ministerial Servant. I said no. He then asked why (?!?!). Turns out this elder is "one of the anointed" even though he's only 50yo and i thought they were all chosen in 1914. I didnt say anything. Later i found out that sometimes he doesn't think he is and other times he's sure he is, so every couple of memorials he doesn't partake of the bread and wine and other years he does.
3 years later im no longer with this girl. THE VERY DAY we break up she's out on a date with a Min Servant. They're no married.
Then i meet another girl, another elders daughter. This would prove to be the biggest mistake of my life. They seems like such a nice family. All their friends are elder families. "I thought to myself: This is it! I've reached the top!"
We went on a holiday together, us, my wifes family and 2 other elders families. Sitting round the dinner table the elders start talking about brother so-and-so and what he's done, why sister so-and-so is now disfellowshipped and even talking trash about other members of the congregation. This is while their wives and children are sitting there. I'll never forget when my father in law said "yeah, the judicial with so-and-so went ahead. We could see he was repentant... but we disfellowshipped him anyway." <they all laugh>.
So after we're married it turns out that daddy elder knows everything... and i mean EVERYTHING about our marriage. Anything i do he know about, no matter how trivial. If we miss a meeting we get a phonecall asking why we wernt there. If we miss a ministry day we get a phonecall asking why. My wife then begins to tell daddy elder what music is on my ipod. I get a visit from "concerned" elders. He also gets to know that i know a lot about other religions because i find it interesting. I get another visit from "concerned elders" asking why have i bothered reading The Book Of Mormon? The Koran? The Bagavad Gita? Buddhist writings? I reply with "well, they're quoted in our WT's sometimes, so somebody in bethel must have read them too in order to quote from them. And also, how can i preach to other faiths if im ignorant of their beliefs?". I was promptly removed from microphone privileges and sound desk.
Anyway. After a few years of having to hind mundane things from my wife because her dad and the elders might know i start getting annoyed about it. I cant open up to her about anything i think of.
Now comes the kicker... my wife comes home from a night-shift from work one day and goes straight to bed acting strange. Later in the day, im looking after some children for a friend and he calls me crying down the phone. She tells me she wasn't really at work she was in a hotel room with another man. An elder from another hall. An elder older than her father. It turns out, my wife had just found out she is pregnant. She confides in an elder at her workplace because she's worried about the future. This elder "kindly" advises they should keep in touch via txt but in private. Then later they end up in a hotel room "so they can talk in private". So she told me the whole story. The elder tried to keep her from telling me, warning her "if you tell your husband it will ruin your life".
Anyway, i forgave her. She was disfellowshipped and because she had absolutely no friends outside "the truth" she went through an entire pregnancy 100% alone. No friends, me at work. I'd come home after work and she'd be sitting in the dark crying. She'd been there all day.
So after all of this im thinking "my wife was sorry. she confessed the next day. i forgave her. she's pregnant and alone and scared." i couldnt understand why they were happy to leave her that way. We dont drive, so sometimes people would drive past her in the rain while she was 9 months pregnant stuggling to get to the hall - desperate to be reinstated.
She's now reinstated. But nothing we do is ever good enough. We get random "shepherding visits" telling us we need to do more. We have a baby and so our ministry has dropped. We're constantly left out of any social gathering, group and conversation. I especially feel totally alone, despite us JW's believing ourselves to be one big family. Also, i cant see the point in completing ministry reports. I dont see a scriptural basis for it.
So, just to be a rebel, I GREW A BEARD!!
I haven't held a microphone, asked to stand on attendance or anything since. I was asked why i have a beard. Why dont i shave it off? What are you trying to prove? You are fashioning yourself after the world. I, very politely, agreed to shave it off if they show me a picture of Jesus or any apostle beardless.
Sorry this was a long post, just a lot to get off my mind. Although im still going to meetings im totally isolated. And i don't have worldly friends either. I plan to slip away but i know daddy elder will report me if i tell my wife this.