Recovery From The Jehovah's Witnesses - A Guide
Hey guys. A friend online asked me about my recovery and how i managed to recover relatively easily from Watchtower indoctrination. Although i think a major part of it is acquainting oneself with information about the Watchtower and it's history, a lot of it (for me at least) was an inner game. Looking at myself and the world around me in a new way.
Below is an email i sent to a friend who left a few months ago who is struggling with feelings of who they are and what they're going to do. He's asked me to post it on here in case it helps others.
So here it is. For what it's worth:
Things I Learned From Being A Jehovah’s Witness
1. You know the natural love that a parent has for their child? The one thing that nature bestowed upon almost all living things, to care for their young, to nurture them, to train them and let them grow? Well the watchtower society will take that away. They convinced you, over time, to give that love to their organization and put your family second. To put yourself second. Even your very life. It's time to end that crap. Love yourself. Love your friends. But don't waste it on those that will take it and not give it back. There's a million songs been written about it and it may just make the world go round but love it a powerful thing, and it's not to be wasted on those who make you feel less than you're worth.
2. You’re not broken. You were programmed slowly but surely to look at yourself and see a broken thing that needs fixing. But that you couldn’t be fixed in this system. So what was the answer? Work hard for Watchtower and strive to get into the new system so that you could be fixed and finally become acceptable. You were told that wanting to better yourself in this world was a selfish thing to do. That wanting to think of yourself and your needs was wrong. To think for yourself and disagree with what they printed was a sin. But none of those things are true. You’re a unique, 1 in a trillion individual who is capable of love and creating joy in other people. You have, inside you, the ability to make others feel special, excited, sad, happy, to make them laugh, to make them cry, to make others feel loved. You have that ability. The odds of you being born at all are so infinitely small that it’s a miracle you ever exists. Think about all of your ancestors. Every one of them had to survive plagues, wars, natural disasters AND manage to find a mate, conceive, not dying in infancy, not dying as a child, growing up without being killed and so on and so on. You’re special just even being here reading this. Realize that and love yourself. You’re not broken, someone only told you that because they wanted to own you.
3. Leaving will make you stronger. You’ve been through all that bullshit, now you see it for what it is and you wont allow yourself to be taken advantage of again, you wont allow yourself to be fooled again and you’ll be tremendously loyal and loving to those you really care about. While the Jehovahs’ Witnesses are freaking out over another President saying he’s going to bring “peace at last” or if there’s going to be a WW3, they’ll be running around losing their shit and freaking out. When their perfect world is falling apart, when their prophecies fail again, when they get depressed and feel burned out for having to work, work, work to be accepted - you will be fine. You’ve dealt with all that. And if anyone tries to force you to do something again you wont be so quick to bend over and take their crap. You’re stronger than them. You have no reason to fear anyone or any organization. Your future is well and truly in your hands.
4. It’s ok to not know. When I was a Jehovah’s Witness, the answers were all laid out for you. The problem is, the questions were too. As a Witness, there was an answer for everything, but the answer always pointed back to one thing… obeying the Governing Body. What colour were Noah’s sons? If there is no god, how do you explain the Fibonacci sequence of numbers appearing in nature? Why is the sky blue? The Watchtower will give you an answer for these things… it may not be the right answer, and the answer may change with “new light” but you have an answer. But in the real world it’s ok to not know something. Maybe we’ll never learn the answer in our lifetime, and that’s ok. It’s this obsession with having to have answers right now that has caused such ridiculous teachings such as “new light”. Admitting you don’t know and being fine with that is a sign of humility and character. Learning different opinions for the same thought is a wonderful thing and can even be a great bonding session for people.
5. The world is a wonderful place. It’s not perfect, but that’s ok. Jehovah’s witnesses seem to be ok admitting that their governing body are not perfect, but they don’t reject them and say they’re not worth following. No, instead they overlook those imperfections and follow them anyway. And that’s the mindset you should have when looking at the world. Yes, there is poverty, war, death, disease and destruction. But there’s also love, cures for illnesses, scientific breakthroughs, the abundance of knowledge made available to almost everyone on the planet, there’s forests, lakes, waterfalls, flowers, birds and charities and people working to make the world better. They’re not sitting there praying for it, they’re actively doing it. Right now.
6. Eliminate negativity. If something isn’t contributing to your life. Eliminate it. Throw it out. It’s not worthy of you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a belief, a person, a job, a type of food, whatever… get rid of it. And focus on what you do have and what you want more of. Your family are shunning you? Great, they did you a favor. If someone is willing to cut me out of their lives for something as petty as me not holding the same religious beliefs about them then they’re not worthy of my time. They did me a favor by removing themselves from my presence.
7. Do something. Anything. Have a goal. Have hobbies. You spent Saturday mornings knocking on doors, you spent Sunday morning at a Kingdom Hall sitting through a talk and a Watchtower study, you spent Thursday evenings studying the bible and one of their books for 2 hours. You studied at home when you wernt at the Kingdom Hall. Those days are over now and now you have the most precious thing there is… time. No matter who we are, now matter how much money we have or how good looking we are, we all get the same amount of time in a day. 24 hours. And one day you will die. I will die. Every person you see when you look around will one day eventually die. So don’t waste time. You’ve already wasted a minimum of 6 hours a week at Jehovah’s Witness meetings and ministry. That’s 6 hours a week you could have spent learning a language or studying for a degree or learning a new skill. You have time to use on whatever you want. So use it wisely. Don’t sit there watching junk on TV. Put down the gossip magazine. You’ll look back on your life when you’re old and remember all the things you did, or could have done, when you were younger.
8. Stand your ground. The Watchtower Society gets by on control. The governing body control their members using their magazines and the elders. The elders, unknowingly, are being used by the society to force you to comply to the Watchtowers will. Sure you can leave… but you’ll be shunned. That’s blackmail. So now that you’re no longer a Jehovah’s Witness enjoy the fact that these men cant do shit. You can speak to who you want to, go where you want to, do what you want to do. You have rights that they cant legally stop you from using. That means you can talk to a Jehovah’s Witness if you see one, let them be the ones to cross the street. Let them be the ones to get flustered when they see you coming. They want you to feel this way. They want you to feel ashamed, embarrassed and scared of them. But you’ve no reason to. They cant control you anymore unless you let them. And you let them by handing over your dignity and power. I think back to elders talking to me when I was a Jehovah’s Witness and I cant believe some of the things I let them get away with. I let them talk down to me, to “council” me over some things that weren’t even in the bible, and I never said no to them even when doing so would put me out. Never hand over your power to anyone.
9. The world is full of good people. Go and meet them! Seriously, most people haven’t been in a cult and if you have enthusiasm and determination to go out and meet people and make new friends, you’ll meet some amazing people. Fear of meeting new people is worth overcoming for the payoff you get. Sure, right now you may have no friends and family. But that should propel you to go out there and meet people. No one else has this. 99% of people have their family to rely on, friends they’ve had since school that have been friends with them their whole lives. We don’t have that. And you can look at this two ways, as a blessing or a curse. It can be a blessing if you think of it as one. When I go out about my day and I see a pretty girl, my enthusiasm for meeting her far outweighs any fear or anxiety that I feel at the same time. And it’s not just girls, anybody, people in shops, people on the train, people in bars. And when you’re genuinely interested in other people it’s magnetic. This determination was borne from necessity – you had no one. From here things get better.
10. The world is a better place with you in it. Think back and imagine the times you’ve helped somebody, even the one time you made someone laugh or feel better. You did that. And you can do it again if you want. In fact, you can do it for the rest of your life if you want to. Maybe you’ll never change the world, but you do have the power to change someone’s world. Many people’s worlds in fact. Never underestimate or undervalue yourself. Because I guarantee, if I met you I’d find at least 5 things that are wonderful about you. We can be our own worst critics, and that’s ok. But not all criticism should be bad. To criticize means to examine closely and notice. So start noticing the good things too. Other people wont always tell you the good things about yourself.
FANTASTIC thread my friend! Really, really well written.
Thank you so much for sharing.
This is worth printing up and keeping handy...for ALL of us!
That is beautifully written, I'm gonna bookmark this.
Well done, Pale Emperor!
There are many pathways to healing and rebuilding one'a life after being in and leaving a cult.
Thank you for sharing some of the things you have learned from your journey!
This was a really good read - your friend is lucky to have you for support.
"You’ll be tremendously loyal and loving to those you really care about"...
This is so true. For every family member or friend I've lost because of them following these silly rules, I've gained someone new who loves and supports me unconditionally. I can't tell you how much I value them because of my JW upbringing. I might have taken it for granted had I not had that experience.
Thank you for sharing. Beautifully presented.
It's very interesting to note that none of your recovery has anything to do with prophecy or doctrine or the bible or what they say versus what the reality of things is. You don't quote a single line from anyone, not even your own self.
I will have to steal that.
Thank you so very much, Pale Emperor for every word that you said! I've gotten so much encouragement from your posting than I received in my 38 years in the BORG! IT'S TIME TO GET MY PARTY ON!
So beautifully written, Pale Emperor.
My husband and I have just read it together and it has helped us both so much. I'm going to save it so that we can keep reading it.
Thank you so much. If only the Watchtower knew how much they'd lost, when they lost you.
Nicely Put !