Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?
Father was raised Catholic and converted to the JWs in the late '60s. He met my mum - a born-in - and I was born in 1972. They adopted my brother in 1977. He was disfellowshipped in the early 90s. My dad's side of the family are still Catholics and are very nice to me. My mum's side are all JWs and they shun me (boo hoo).
Were you a born in or a convert?
Are your parents / family JWs?
As above, yes and no.
How many generations have been JWs?
My maternal grandparents were JW converts.
Did you hold any position in the WTS? (MS, Elder etc...)
Pioneer. MS and Elder.
Did you *really* believe in the bible, in spirits (angels, demons)?
Did you get baptised? When and why?
I was baptised in 1987 at 15 years of age. I did so because it was expected of me, but I didn't really believe it.
What was the initial trigger that made you start questioning things?
When the Governing Body wrote the letter to all congregations about cancelling the Book Study Groups and cited "rising gas prices" as one of the reasons, then seeing the dismay of many in the congregation about this change, especially since 6 months before we'd had a Service Meeting item about the huge importance of the Book Study Group.
Where did you find information? Internet sites? Books?
I first saw information about the above letter on a blog called "Letters from the Governing Body". That opened my eyes a bit, then I saw some YouTube videos, then eventually this site and JW-Facts. However, years beforehand I'd come across apostate newsgroup!
How difficult or painful was the process of leaving?
Devastating. I had 2 young children I was raising as JWs at the time, my ex-wife was a JW and I was serving as an elder. My whole life was built around the organisation.
Was it a big dramatic exit or a careful quiet fade?
Big and dramatic. Resigned as an elder around 3 months after the letter re. the Book Study Groups, DAd about 3 months after that.
Did you convince anyone else to leave with you?
I spoke to my ex-wife at the time, and she came to her own conclusions about "the Truth" and she left at the same time. I also spoke to a JW friend who I knew was having doubts and he and his now ex-wife exited around the same time.
How were your family relations affected by your decision?
The family was torn apart, both on my side and my ex-wife's side. Her JW family have zero contact with her. I was some, but limited, contact with my parents. I haven't seen or spoken to extended JW family since 2008, however a second cousin exited the religion a few years ago and he got in touch via Facebook.
Were you or are you still being shunned by those who didn't leave?
Yes, but fuck them. I don't give a fuck about any of them.
How long have you now been out?
Mentally since May 2008, DAd since October 2008.
Was there anything you looked forward to doing when you left?
I tried a cigarette then a cigar a few months after leaving. I got a tattoo the following year.
What are you most proud of achieving since you left?
Moving on with my life. Freeing my children from mental slavery. Growing a business. Not giving a fuck.
Is there anything you miss about life in the congregation?
The community element and believing I had a large group of friends (I didn't, they were all conditional).
Red pill or blue pill? Do you regret waking up to reality at all?
Red pill every day of the week, regardless of how painful the truth is. I don't regret it, although I confess sometimes that I miss the seemingly simpler and blinkered way of life and having a large group of friends.
Did you become an atheist or transfer your faith elsewhere?
I attended the Alpha Course at a local church very soon after ceasing to attend meetings. I told my father about attending church and this resulted in my mother pressuring me to DA so that he wouldn't have to tell the elders. I was a bit of a rabid born-again Christian for a few years, but by 2012, when I turned 40, I allowed myself to mentally unshackle myself from the need for a faith or a god.
I consider myself an atheist.
How do you now feel about religion in general?
I detest all forms of religion and blind faith, and I can see clearly the clinging to out-dated beliefs and mindsets have on society.
Do you feel any guilt celebrating Xmas or birthdays or doing any other JW "no-no"s?
At first a little. And I don't really throw myself into the "spirit of Xmas", but I enjoy seeing what it brings to my children and those who I care about.
Have you attended any face-to-face meetups of ex-JWs?
I've met up with some ex-JWs, but not for a while. In my experience, the only thing we have in common is that we're ex-JWs.
Describe your circle of friends - mostly other ex-JWs or regular people?
I have 2 or 3 friends, one of whom is like a brother. He's ex-JW, although not formally DFd. The others are also ex-JWs. I haven't made or maintained any friendships with people who didn't know me when I was 17. My girlfriend's family are very kind and welcoming, but I struggle to build new relationships and friendships.
Do you tell people about your JW past?
It depends. Most of the people I associate with are through work, and some of them know. When I started dating my girlfriend I told her straight away. I've found it can help people understand why I'm the way I am at times.
Do you feel animosity or pity toward current JWs?
I have zero sympathies for anyone who chooses to remain part of any religion despite their doubts. I have a "fuck them" attitude to JWs, especially the ones I used to be close to. My rationale now is, they didn't really know me and I didn't really know them, so they mean nothing to me now.
I have some sympathy for anyone in the Witnesses that are actively struggling with cognitive dissonance, but I had to go through it, I had to suck it up, and I had to make the tough decision to leave. So do they. Deal with it.
How do you respond to witnesses when they call at your door?
As my parents know where I live, I'm assuming I'm a Do Not Call as I've never had them at my door in the 4 years that I've lived in my current home.
Storm the barricades or tend to the wounded? (do you favor activism or support)
In my opinion, militant activism only cements the JW persecution mindset. I remember protestors outside a convention years ago, and it didn't shake me from my JW mindset, they didn't even give me pause for thought. What helped me was the information on sites like this, on YouTube and the wonderful JW-Facts, and then once I was mentally out, Crisis of Conscience. I'd class all of that as support borne out of activism.
At the end of the day, people will believe what they want to believe and will place themselves and their children in places of potential harm. There isn't a great deal we can do about mindsets if people don't want to change their mind. Support, where required, is the way to go, and freely available information to allow people to decide what they want to believe should be available, as it currently is.
What do you think is the most effective approach to reaching people still in?
The internet, Google in particular. Storming a Kingdom Hall and proclaiming verifiable facts isn't as effective at freeing minds as it is helping the torment of those of us who've left.
Do you think the WTS can or should be destroyed, will continue on as-is or grow / change?
I think the world would be better without religion, but I can't see that happening for many millenia. The WTBTS needs to change and adapt, but I've also said it will tighten its grip instead, which is what I see happening.
How has your life been impacted by your JW past?
I lack some social skills. I lack some maturity. I have some skills such as public speaking, that are beneficial. I realise that half of my life has been spent in a mental prison and I haven't done the things that I hope my children are able to do, which is sad at times.
Are there things in your life you blame the WTS for?
Denying me a proper relationship with my parents, the sort I'm cultivating with my children. But I don't assign blame, I take ownership of where my life's at and realise only I can change things.
JW upbringing - a protection or a curse?
How do you fill your time now it's not filled with meetings and field service?
Family time. Relationship time. Watching the UFC on the weekends.
Do you still have an interest in JW beliefs and doctrines?
I keep my ear to the ground and I think I'll always be interested in the clusterfuck that is the Watchtower Society.
How much of your time is still spent on JW related matters?
Very, very little.
What do you think of the ex-JW community?
I think it's a minefield at times as many of us are damaged. I see a lot of judgemental people, at times. One very prominent exJW author is a little bitch who only tolerates people who hold the same views as him, for example. At the end of the day, the only thing most of us have in common is our shared JW experience, and we should remember that.
Do you see yourself still being associated with the ex-JW community in 5 or 10 years time?
I think I'll always check in.
Do you fear the future?
I try not to worry about how I don't have savings, a pension, investments etc. I don't fear death. I'm not looking forward to it, though.
What advice would you give to anyone starting the journey of leaving the WTS?
Expect pain. But know that on the other side you'll have a mental strength that few around you can comprehend.
What would you change in your life if you could go back and talk to yourself?
Don't get married (although I've never regretted my 3 children). Don't become a pioneer. Grow some balls, wake the fuck up, and do what makes you happy.
That being said, most of the time I don't regret my life as a JW because it's made me the person I am today.
Do you have any regrets about life since you left?
Can we read your life-story anywhere? (links to online or books)
Everything about my exit and some updates on my life since can be found here - https://www.jehovahs-witness.com/users/31214/passwordprotected/topics