The true cost of being raised as a witness
I think that being raised as a JW generally tends to restrict our opportunities economically, just like being raised poor, as a minority (discrimination), to single parent households, or in a low GDP-country. It sucks, especially if your upbringing includes many of these categories. I still think I was relatively lucky as I only had the JW-factor to deal with.
I did go to college, but just to get a 2-year degree and much of that was earned while I was still in high school with a program that double counted college and HS credits. I always wanted to be a scientist even as a little kid, so I regret not going farther in my education, that is I wish I would have spent most of my 20s in college. I didn't leave the JWs until I was 28 and instead pioneered during most of my 20s. I could have had a PhD by now, but instead I'm working full time and going to school part-time and still have a couple years left to finish my undergrad. If I pursue a PhD I'll be doing so in my mid-thirties and would need to incur great opportunity costs from lost wages (I have a good paying job now already). Or... I'd end up spending 10 years doing a PhD part time. Neither sounds ideal.
So in my case, the cost is not so much in terms of lost income/savings potential, or never getting an education, but one more so of just wasting the first decade of my life knocking on doors and making it harder to do what I really want to do in life since my peers (among those that love science) all have a 10-year head start (and lower salary requirements).
The JW lifestyle is all about placing on hold literally everything because everyone is hunkered down for the Big A. ......A siege mentality.
As a result of this fear, most JW parents are emotionally unavailable to varying degrees. It is this emotional unavailability that takes the largest toll in my opinion, aside from the obvious spiritual abuse. It has consequences on the family even after a person leaves.
This is an excerpt from a relevant article"
- Loss of hope, faith, and joy: For many adults who were raised under an emotionally void parent there is a deep feeling of loss and grief. The “loss” of a parent who is still living and breathing can seem like the most tragic experience. To look at a parent in the eyes or hear their voice and yet feel so far away, is tragic. The inability to connect to the very person who brought you into this world is tragic. It is like a tease. It is like a distant fantasy. Sadly, the adult child begins to feel a sense of grief and loss of hope, faith, and joy. Sometimes adult children internalize their emotions and begin to feel depressed, suicidal, or self-injurious. This is often when substance abuse begins.
scratchme1010, I love your post , especially the one about letting go. I am 24 years now and I want to be watchtower-free before I'm 30. My situation is quite a dicey and difficult one and I'm constantly struggling to keep a cool head. Thank you for that experience and I would like to message you if you okay with it.
Good points Perry.
I think all JWs are emotionally unreachable. They have suppressed, repressed, stuffed, bashed over the head and buried in the backyard all their natural, original thoughts and feelings and this makes having a relationship one of
them dificult at best impossible at worst.
The first thing I did when waking up was to set out to find me, sounds cliche but when you have been denying your own thoughts and feelings for so long you need to become reaquainted with your true self, where you end and WT begins, what are your thoughts/feelings and what were embeded there by WT.
Once I did this the "fake" became unbearable to deal with. I could probly "play the game" "stick to the script" when I see JWs but I can't stand pretending anymore just to make them and their deluded brains feel better.
I struggle with this question. On the one hand, you can find some good in the most miserable situations. For instance, a cancer survivor might tell you how the experience made them view each day as a gift and helped them cherish each and every day. Hell, even a prisoner can tell you they get three meals a day and clean water to drink. On the other hand, the religion makes you sacrifice in ways that are counterproductive materially and harmful to the soul.
In my personal experience, it's possible that growing up a JW was a net positive, but for reasons outside of my control. My mother was completely unequipped to raise a family. My father had no interest or was incapable of providing any kind of guidance. He wasn't a deadbeat. Although poor, we never went to bed hungry.
We grew up in a poor neighborhood and attended failing schools (the kind that have two or three armed police officers on permanent patrol). The average classmate is divorced, working a menial job and living day-to-day. A lot of my classmates have felony records and have spent time in prison. At least three classmates are in prison for murder. Gangs were rampant.
The religion gave my mother the justification to become a zealot about protecting us from "the world." I did not have friendships outside of school growing up. My mother was inactive, so we didn't have friends at the KH, either. My entire childhood consisted of going to school and coming home to watch television or play Ninetendo. My childhood and adolescence were robbed from me.
But by the time I turned 18, I didn't have any of the baggage that I might have acquired had my mother not been as militant as she was. I could very easily envision a scenario where I would have been an accomplice to a crime because I was hanging out with the wrong crowd or a situation where I got a girl pregnant in our teens. The last meeting I attended was when I was about 25 years old and I felt like I've been running 7 years behind ever since. My 25 was essentially 18 for most people. I've managed to do fine and am currently in a really nice spot in my mid/late 30s where JWism is mostly a distant memory I reminisce about here once or twice a week.
I'd love to take a peek at the parallel universe where my parents never became JWs and see how things would have played out. It's possible I'd be in a worse position now simply because my mother was not equipped to raise us properly and JWism at least made her skew to the overprotectionism side of things.
None of this means all is well in JW-land. As others who left much later in life have attested to, the longer you stayed in the cult the more severe the ramifications.
Edit: The better solution would have been having parents who could skillfully navigate the challenges of raising kids in near-poverty without the unnecessary burdens of JWism, but given the hand I was actually dealt, this might have been the best possible outcome for me.
I've managed to wake up at a fairly young age so, fortunately, this religion didn't cost me my best shot at an education. However, I do feel like I have missed out on many social aspects that I would have enjoyed. I don't have any really good old friends that I went to high school with, I never got to have a high school sweetheart. Perhaps that won't end up having a major impact on me down the line because I am trying to make college friendships that will last beyond my school years, but as my situation stands now it's hard for me to make plans to associate with my school mates unless I pretend it's studying to my parents. With any luck though, I'll be moved out of my parents house by this time in two years.
The money is only the start. There are things you can't put a money value on.
To start, how much do they lose when their souls are programmed to receive hardships? Financial hardships are only the beginning. Direct lost income due to no training or investments or because they have to keep quitting their jobs is only a small portion. Their souls are programmed to reject wealth, and there is absolutely no way of knowing how much they are losing for that. Health and other hardships are also part of the equation, and their souls could be programmed by the washtowel to receive diseases so they can prove faithful to joke-hova.
They also lose recreation time. How many vacations are wasted going to boasting sessions and out in field circus? That trip to the amusement park is lost--and only partly because of the fake danger of thrill rides. (Which are no more dangerous than field circus. You spend time in field circus, I spend the same time bungee jumping on properly maintained equipment in well maintained facilities, you have a better chance of getting hit by a car or hurt or killed in a fall down the stairs than I have getting hurt or killed bungee jumping.) Memories are lost for this. Life becomes more of a drudgery, since there is nothing to look forward to other than field circus all the time. Vacation time from school is lost for field circus, too.
And beyond the material gain from getting Christmas presents, all the fun is lost. Can you put a value on the Christmas tree they do not get to decorate? Or, the strain on family bonds that not getting to see their family to worship the sun causes? They get stress when at school--instead of participating in holiday or birthday events, they have to suffer embarrassment while they lose out on the fun. This creates negative value beyond the loss of the food or gifts they miss out on. And, more embarrassment when they return from Christmas break--they didn't even get a lump of coal for Christmas.
They also miss out on the fun in school. Beyond the material losses, they don't participate in anything that could keep them away from 3 PM field circus and those boasting sessions. No after school sports of any kind. No playing instruments--those lessons are mostly for fun, not profit. And, when they flunk tests because they could not study (too much field circus) or were too tired after the Thursday night boasting session, the embarrassment and soul programming to fail cannot be quantified.
Not to mention, when do they get to leave home? For me, it was when I entered college. That was an enforced move-out date. I moved some 600 km away from home to stay on campus, and I had to learn from my own mistakes. Do I stay up all night and suffer? Or do I learn to be responsible? What about wasting all my money playing video games or drinking beer (which was widely available on campus at the time) instead of budgeting it so it would last the whole time? Many jokehovians do not learn those lessons. There is no enforced move-out, whether to get out from under oppressive parents or not. Many are still living with their parents, spiritually unable to live without their support (financially, too), long into their 30s. This is taxing to the parents as well.
Fine, be dependent on your parents while you are little. But, if the system is half doing its job, you should be able to live without them being constantly right there once you graduate from high school or soon thereafter. College is the natural time to do this--we don't have a decent system of apprenticeship where people generally grow into a trade from an early age and become independent at age 14 or so, gradually relying less and less on parents until they can be fully independent by the time they reach 21. Thus, college is a practical necessity to learn to live on your own--and, jokehovian witless children miss out on that.
Can you put a cost on that? Or, can you put a cost on the missed entertainment? Granted, much of today's music lacks a soul. But, what about people that had to listen to a steady diet of Barbra Streisand instead of Led Zeppelin, or worse, Kingdumb maladies? Many jokehovians missed out on the pop culture because their parents banned "bad" music while they were children. Great albums like Saturday Night Fever, Hotel California, Thriller, Let's Dance, Young Americans, Led Zeppelin IV, Rumours--all lost. Artists like David Bowie, Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Foreigner--all banned by parents that would rather their children listen to the likes of Barbra Streisand (or worse, nothing but Kingdumb maladies) because they didn't want to offend joke-hova. How much does that missed experience and the fear of hearing a "bad" song or artist cost?
WTWizard, I like the way you write. Are you, by any chance, the reincarnation of James Joyce?
I'm quite fortunate, as although I was a jw for some 40 years I never fully brought into the idea of materialism. I brought my 1st house when I was early 20. Paid that off in less than a decade. And brought a 2nd one as an investment property. I have worked hard and so has my father who also owns investment properties. Now that I have officially left the JWs, I'm just so glad I never fully listened to them. If I had of I would now not only be trying to rebuild my life but rebuild it with no money.
Wow! Great replies everyone!
This topic has certainly struck a few raw nerves.
Thanks for your comments!