The true cost of being raised as a witness
With more than 40 years of public speaking and cold calling experience I have been able to make a career in sales and technical training....Sadly though, kids today acquire the same expertise in 4 years of university which give them credentials that commands way more money.
How do you view your upbringing as a witness?
As a form of starvation to be honest.
After leaving.......... little to no normal natural affection from the people I grew up with.
Low achieving student in HS........ no further education.
Eyes wide open enduring the most boring meetings and assemblies. Followed by the dumbest publications.
We..... my wife, who was my pioneer partner........ walked out in the mid 1960's along with thousands of other younger ones. The times were a changing....for sure. Best decision we ever made.
There were no 'deeper things' related to the JW construct just a deeper level of bull shit.
I looked around for work and found nothing I was qualified for.
So I though what did my years as a JW teach me? It came down to this: I could polish my shoes, wear a suit and tie, pretend to be interested in what a home owner was telling me while biding my time until I could get back to MY message.
So I sold Real Estate and became rather successful at it.
Over the years I elevated Scientology as even more miserable then the WTBT$ was.
Other then all of that........... it was a wonderful up bringing.
This is a topic that my wife and I contemplate and discuss literally every day. A few years ago, when griping to my mother about JWdom, she told me in an irritated way to just "walk away" and quit griping. I told her that I can't just walk away because I lost my legs due to having been a JW for 35 years; I'm now crippled for life.
The summer before the sixth grade, I took an intelligence/aptitude test to try to gain entrance into a private school. The headmaster told my mother that I scored the highest grade of anybody that had ever taken the test to try to get into that school (and it was K-12). He also told her that I could do anything I wanted in life. I made top grades in school and was even voted best all-around (academics, athletics, personality, etc.) male as a high school senior.
And what did I end up doing? Regular pioneering and doing menial work to barely survive. A lot of times, I just worked with different JWs as they needed help, and they themselves were doing menial work. I would go sometimes with a JW who did residential lawn maintenance. I was so low that I wasn't even the mower guy; I picked up sticks ahead of the mower.
Now, with every passing day, the true cost of having been a JW hits me harder and harder. There are a number of things that really make me realize it. Here's one:
My old friend Jim (not his real name). He and I were in the first grade together. It was his second time around. He has a good bit of common sense, but never was really good with the books. We went to school together for a few years and then I left and went to the private school mentioned above. We connected again in college (yes, I went some - long story) and roomed together some. At the time, he could tell I was sort of in limbo (because of having the JW thing hanging over me) and he asked me what my aim was and told me that I could do anything I wanted. He still wasn't good with the books, but he completed a degree in business and then a Master of Public Administration degree.
Fast forward to now. I just visited him (lives about four hours from me) a few days ago. We are both mid to late fifties. He has been retired for about 3 years. He was a federal parole officer, and he told me he got an excellent retirement. He has a good pension, 401K, and benefits for life. And, his wife has the same. She was some kind of specialist nurse. Another friend told me in 1995 what she was making then, and my jaw almost hit the floor, so I can't imagine what she was making in later years. Anyway, she retired about a year after Jim, and she has a good pension, 401K, and lifetime benefits.
He has a nice house on 32 acres that's paid for. He gets up every morning and does whatever he wants - seven days a week. He showed me some of his projects. He has several different areas where he grows different fruits and vegetables. He has a wood-burning device outside that heats his whole house by circulating warm water to radiators.
Anyway, I just can't conceive of where he and his wife are versus where I and my wife are. We make very little money and have zero retirement prospects. In fact, I started my current job shortly after the housing market crashed. I lost all my work due to the crash. I was desperate. I submitted applications to Walmart, pest control companies, nursing homes, etc. Finally, the company I work for now called and hired me, BUT at $11.15/hr. After seven years, I now make about $17.50/hr. My wife makes about $12.00/hr (30hrs/wk). She and I together make significantly less than Jim alone makes in retirement. To make matters worse, my job can't last much longer because the technology it's based on is dying. We are losing business at about 15% per year.
I have another friend with whom I played high school basketball. He was a grade behind me. He played college basketball, and after that, he became a high school coach and then athletic director. He retired after 30 years - at age 52. I communicated with him recently. He lives right on the edge of a golf course and does whatever he want's every day with no money worries. His wife is also in the same situation.
I visited another friend on the trip to visit Jim. This friend, too, has some common sense but is not good with the books. He makes over twice what my wife and I together make, and his wife, a pre-K teacher, make more than my wife and I put together. Also, his son, a 30-yr-old rough, blue-collar type, makes more than my wife and I put together.
Anyway, I think it would be realistic to say that, considering wages, benefits, investments, etc., being JWs cost me and my wife literally millions. It cost us the prime of our lives. We were miserable the whole time; we just thought we were doing what was right and would be rewarded in the future. Now, it realize that I have no future. I spend probably on average an hour a day looking for some kind of business that we can get into so that we can at least work together and try to salvage a little of our lives - maybe working 20hrs/wk instead of 60 (we do side work in addition to our regular jobs).
To make matters worse for us, we both are animal lovers, and are taking care of (at last count) about 67 animals (about 60 cats, 5 big dogs, 2 exotics). We didn't ask for it; they were all homeless and in need. We buy all the food, pay all the medical expense, do all the work, etc. It consumes many hours per day. We have no lives. Our having been JWs is not the cause of that issue, but if we hadn't been JWs, we'd probably we be well off financially and caring for the animals would be far easier because we could build a nice facility, hire help, etc.
I had one shot at life, and JWdom stole it from me. The real cost is immeasurable.
+++++++ related issue ++++++++++
I can't really get anybody - JW or nonJW - to understand the true cost for me. NonJWs would have to have lived the religion for a good while to understand, but even most JWs can't understand because very few gave it their whole lives as did I and my wife (we lived in, for example, a warehouse, a barn (literally), two different travel trailers, a garage with no bathroom, etc.). When relating my situation lately to some individuals - JW and nonJW, I've had some well-meaning suggestions, but they were frustrating. Most are suggesting jobs or schooling or whatever that would have me start at the bottom somewhere like some twenty-yr-old.
One female JW said, as if she was excited to relate this to me, that Lowe's was hiring overnight or early morning shelf stockers. And this is a JW who is college educated and knows my abilities. I was thinking "so you want me to start at about 57 yrs old stocking shelves at Lowe's??? Really? I'm supposed to be excited about that?"
The problem is that I don't want to start any kind of career at my age; I want to be finished like Jim. I worked far harder than he did. He had afternoons, nights, and weekends off; I didn't. I didn't even get holidays off. He got paid for his work; I didn't (I actually paid to do my work). He got benefits; I got zero. JWdom owes me.
How do you view your upbringing as a witness?
As a little JW Kid ..
Satan..Demons..Armageddon..The Outside World Is Evil..
IT WAS A 24/7 NIGHTMARE..
Both my parents were true blue JW. My Dad was the real hard nose. I would have other witnesses tell me how lucky I was having parents like I had. Yes I was very lucky, almost total isolation from everyone, so called worldly relatives, kids I went to school with, even those in the congregation they thought was bad association. It was a strick us against them regime. Of course PO, CO and DO where gods to be worship. This all lead at the age of seven molested and almost murdered by our PO at the time. This caused decades of depression and anxiety. At the age of 52 I finally got help. You should have seen how many of our so called friends looked down on me for doing that. It truly was my awaking. At 62 I have to live with all my mistakes I made in my life. Thank goodness I have had a great wonderful wife who has stuck with me through thick and thin. Come to think of it that was the only good thing I got out of the cult. My dear wife. To me that is priceless. Still Totally ADD
And as you get older and focus out still further, you might realise when you look inside yourself, that you create your entire universe, and take the ultimate responsibility for everything, hold no hurt and no malice.
Well, that sounds all nice and goody-goody and maybe it's even a good goal in the big scheme of things of "Don't worry, be happy", but quite frankly I am REALLY ANGRY AND TOTALLY PISSED OFF that these charlatans f*cked up any chance of me (and my wife) having the successful life that we would have now if we hadn't wasted so much time and money and effort working towards a future of failed promises. (And because we ignored much of what was said about planning for the future and "hedged our bets", I suspect we are in a better position than many JWs today.)
Yeah, we were gullible. Yeah, now I see how stupid and foolish we were for buying into this crap, but it is what we were spoon fed from birth. Malice? You're damn right I have lots of malice towards the whole worthless bunch of them, many of them who MUST KNOW THAT THEY ARE A HUGE SCAM -- but to acknowledge that fact would cost them everything they treasure about their cushy lifestyle of power and position.
The greatest revenge is living a happy & successful life!
I feel for you, Magnum. When I was young(in the 3rd grade) the school department had me tested and found that I was 'highly gifted' and they wanted to advance me 2 grades. My mother said NO because of her Watchtower influence. Strike one. My grandfather wanted to send me to law school (I wanted to be a doctor but that is a separate story), he was going to pay for it and felt that I should prepare at a young age. My mother said NO because you won't need lawyers in the new system. Strike 2. During my last year of jr. high school I received multiple achievement awards (this was in a town with 2 large junior high schools). I was not allowed to retrieve them (we had moved about 125 miles away that late spring) because you won't need the 'accolades of men' in the new system. Strike 3. At my new high school I discovered that I had more than enough credits to graduate in the 10th grade, except for 10th, 11th and 12th grade English. Would the school please give me these classes during summer school and let me graduate out of the education system early? Mother.........help! Strike 4 quit school to pioneer and then become a Bethelite. My Bethel experience was devastating but contained a 'silver lining'! One warm spring day, I was taking an older gentleman, his middle aged wife and his young teenaged daughter on tour. This was in 1976. He asked if he could give me some advice and I said sure. He told me: 'Son, I was in Bethel in the late 1930's and early 1940's. All we heard over and over was that Armageddon was coming any day. We ate bread, butter and sugar sandwiches and worked all the time. Armageddon still hasn't come. If I were you, I wouldn't put too much stock into what those old men in Brooklyn say. If you listen to them lock, stock and barrel you will never have anything.' That was the best advice I ever got. After I left Bethel, I worked hard and became a full partner in business with a worldly (gasp) person and semi-retired at 47 years old. HOME RUN! The true costs to people like you, your wife and many other witnesses are immeasurable. I am sorry that these 'con' men and religious 'charlatans' have been able to have such a negative and far reaching influence on so many that trusted them because of their own dedication and sincerity.
OUTLAW.........my mother saw demons around every corner! I remember her allowing one of her friends to beat her son with a hairbrush to help get the demons out of him. Another time, she dragged me to her old bible studies house to stay overnight and observe her demon attacks so that she could report these 'attacks' to the elders and thereby they could help her in 'exorcising' the evil spirits.
How so many of us escaped our childhoods to become 'mostly' sane and rational is quite a feat and should be congratulated.
sparky1, Interesting and thanks for the sympathy.
ballistic: "When you first leave the witnesses, you may like to put a figure on things like that, yes the impact seems huge.
As you focus out, you might see that some kids your age were drinking beer instead of knocking doors, not doing anything productive at all. And you'll realise you were learning something completely different, some personality traits that were difficult but ultimately the most useful on your life course.
And as you get older and focus out still further, you might realise when you look inside yourself, that you create your entire universe, and take the ultimate responsibility for everything, hold no hurt and no malice." [quote thing won't work for me]
The impact doesn't seem huge to me; it is huge (see my first post on this thread).
"you create your entire universe". Not true. My world, my universe, was created for me from the time I was a small child. I was shown this infamous picture numerous times:
I'm just now beginning to understand the degree to which I was affected. Notice the little girl with doll in hand and puppy going into the abyss.
"hold no hurt and no malice". Maybe you hold no hurt and no malice, but I do, and lots of it.
"As you focus out, you might see that some kids your age were drinking beer instead of knocking doors, not doing anything productive at all. And you'll realise you were learning something completely different, some personality traits that were difficult but ultimately the most useful on your life course."
The kids my age are now comfortably retired or close to it (see my first post on this thread). I can't think of any personality traits that I learned that I wouldn't have learned anyway or just naturally had.
“some kids your age were drinking beer instead of knocking doors, not doing anything productive at all”. Do you call knocking on doors and disturbing people with false prophecy and trying to get them to join a cult productive? I wish I had been doing what my nonJW peers were doing – enjoying life.
How do you view your upbringing as a witness?
Most of us who were raised as witnesses would appreciate that some aspects of our upbringing were ok. A foundation and measure of stability came with it.
But, it struck me too, that we also lost so very much! AND we lost a lot of POTENTIAL.
By this I mean, we need to look at not just what we lost, or what was deprived of us, but what that ended up costing us as adults into the future.
If I take $10 from you, you have lost just $10.
BUT, if you were going to use that $10 to buy something that would end up earning you $1000, then I actually took $1000 from you!
I believe it is the same with being raised as a witness. The way we were all discouraged from higher education for example, or discouraged from charity work, or community social activities such as team sports, ended up costing us all MUCH more in the end.
Through the years I have thought about this a lot. Many times, and in different ways, also as i mature as a person my views on this have evolved.
It really depends on how/what you look at it. There are the things that we definitely missed, as having a normal school life and hindering our development in terms of our social skills, not being able to participate in normal activities that all others can. Depending on how each JW family handled it, those handicaps may have been traumatic for some. My parents were not that great at dealing with our not participating in activities in school that JWs aren't allowed. Some were traumatic and created psychological harm in some of us. Some were mild, and in some cases, some JWs look the other way and let certain things slide and not follow (or bend) the rules a little to accommodate for their children having a sense of normalcy.
Those are definitely things that created negative influence in out lives. However, the other side is that when I think of my own family and other JW families I know, I'm not sure that life would have been any better had it not been for the structure that the WT provides. In fact, some people do join religions and organization in attempts at obtaining guidance on how to properly raise a family. In the case of my family, the WT gave my parents something that they otherwise would have never had in their lives, that is, a sense of belonging, a way to have some education (my parents were low level literacy people; they had a 4th/6th grade education), not to mention life forever in paradise on Earth and the pride/grandiosity that comes from having "the truth". That feeling of relevance is something that kept them in the JWs for their entire lives. I don't think that they would have any of those had it not been for the WT, though I might be wrong. Speaking of which...
The reality is that there's no guarantee that my life as a non-JW would have been good/better. There's no way to know what life would have brought me growing up outside that shield.
Personally I have many reasons to be happy and grateful for a few things that I believe I did right:
- Leaving when I was still young. I send them to the carajo when I was 23, now in my 50s I have a life history that doesn't involve them.
- Not believing what they claimed I was supposed to be/become because I left. That's the worst part of those cults, not only they tell you how you are supposed to be, but they also try to convinced people of the kind of life that awaits them if they leave. I always took that as BS.
- Embracing my JW past. I know that there are instances when I felt it was not appropriate nor in my best interest to disclose my JW past, but I am not ashamed nor embarrassed for it, especially since being a JW was not my choice.
- Letting go. I didn't become vindictive, nor did I become "anti-JW". I decided that I can't care less about what they do or say, for as long as they don't slander me, in which case they I will see them in court. Other than that, I do not care, nor follow, nor react in any way about any change they make, any policy they adopt, nothing. I just can't care less. They can have a drag queen giving the Watchtower study for what I care. That organization is out of my life, period. I know some people are not fond of my "I don't give an eff about today's text" attitude, but I know that for myself that's the right attitude to have, because I really can't care less about them.
- Minimizing influence. I decided to properly educate myself in negative influence, looking for professionals in the matter, reading reliable sources of information, obtaining support from people who know (a) what I'm talking about when I talk about growing up a JW and (b) specialize in this kind of mental health issue. I did that as opposed to looking for the opinion of other people who can only talk about their own experiences (which are not mine) or people who don't have a clue about high demand, controlling groups, shunning and other harmful JW practices. I rely on research, people who have studied these groups at a professional level, and can understand the things that born-ins have to deal because of their negative influence and growing up in a cult.
- Remaining realistic. I acknowledge the effect and influence of that organization in my life, but I also know that I have better choices today.
- Reinforcing my stand and place in relationship with the WT. I always hold my family responsible for their choice of giving the WT more importance than me. I didn't choose to leave, they chose to stay, and therefore, they are the ones who have the responsibility of looking for me, and the ones with the consequences.
The good thing about being aware of the things you mention, stuckinarut2, is that we now have better choices, and we come to appreciate a lot of things that many people take for granted. That makes us special and more appreciative and grateful for the things that we do have, and for the fact that we were able to leave.