How long did it take you to decide to disassociate?
From the time I started my research and fully understood that the Watchtower was nothing but a lier, it took me two and a half months before I sent in my letter of dissociation, but it was not by my choice. It was my brother-in-law, who wanted to be an elder pushed the issue.
How has this impacted on you?
There has been pros and cons to this. First major con was I have family who is JWs that are second and third generation that I am not able to see. My mother was brought in by her cousin, who lied and told my mom that we would get to see my older sister again that died at a very young age. This was the 1975 lie.
The pro is that it got my toxic JW relatives out of my life, yes I know it sounds weird, but it's true. What I mean is that by being shunned it gave me time to take a step back and reflect on these people, and how manipulative some of them are, and my mother is a huge manipulator. She was the reason my husband nearly left me because she refused to back off in her control over me, regardless of how far I lived away from her. The control she had on me, she attempted many times on my husband.
Has your mental health in any way been affected since you disassociated? Eg if being shunned by family.
Staying in that religion, no I call it for what it is, staying in that publishing company, was actually harder on both mine and my husband's mental health. They nearly drove my husband to suicide. The only reason he is still alive is that of my own personal experience with this, and I knew exactly what to look for. When I was 16, I nearly took my own life, and it was not for lack of trying. I'm only survived that for one reason, and that is because my younger sister had found me before my heart and breath stopped, and they were able to get me the needed medical treatment to save me. The ironic part was when the doctors were doing test on my blood work, they discovered if I had not attempted this, and was not brought in, I would have died in a matter of hours, it was not related to what I had done to myself.
As a JW, it was a whole lot harder on my mental health, because there was always something in the back of my mind that was not right, but I couldn't figure out what it was, until much later.
As far as being shunned now, I've been out since 2001, at first it was hard, and there are days it is still hard. Days, when you find out a loved one, has passed away, and four years have gone by before you find out, and you only find out because you stumble across an article on the internet.
I don't know what my JW side of the family told my non-JW relatives, but I don't have contact with them either. I know they had something to do with it because it nearly happened on my husband's side. They were saying awful lies about me and my husband, but my husband's relatives knew better of him.
Do any of your current JW relatives associate with you? And if so to what degree?
From 2001 to 2008, yes there was some contact with my mom, and it was only through letters and phone calls. But it was only her way of trying to get me to come back. In December 2008, I finally had enough of her and cut her off. That was the only way I knew how to get her to stop her mind games on me. Those phone calls and letters were really messing with my heart and mind. There were times I thought I was going to have her back in my life, and then she would rip my heart out again and again.
Do you feel your life is better now that you are completely free of the watchtower?
Yes, very much so. Right after leaving the Watchtower, I was able to talk to a couple of different pastors, one of them being a former JW elder. They were able to prove to me things that I had been regretting my whole life as a JW was an unnecessary weight on my shoulders. It was the first time I was able to really forgive myself of past transgressions. What were those past transgressions you might ask, well they weren't anything serious. It was things like the tiny minor mistakes that we all make over the course of our lives. As a JW I could never let go of the past, I was my own worst judge, and jury towards myself.
Do you ever get panic attacks about Armageddon or that you left "the truth"?
This was something I wanted to make sure of first in those two and a half months while sorting through if that was even the "truth" or not. And to be honest with you, it did take me a very long time to finally shake free of the Watchtower's control over me. I can't even tell you the number of times I was going back and forth on what was right or not. There for a long time, I felt like the end of the system of things was still going to happen. Do I still believe that now? My answer to that is no. I don't get panic attacks about Armageddon. Even when I was a JW, I never thought I was good enough to survive that back then. The "truth", I refuse to call those liars that. Look at how many times they have flipped flopped back and forth on the same topics. How many of those times resulted in people dying, getting disfellowshipped, or getting their family totally in shambles because of those flip-flops.
This was the scripture that woke me up. According to Deuteronomy 18, using their own bible.
20. “‘If any prophet presumptuously speaks a word in my name that I did not command him to speak or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 21. However, you may say in your heart: “How will we know that Jehovah has not spoken the word?” 22. When the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word is not fulfilled or does not come true, then Jehovah did not speak that word. The prophet spoke it presumptuously. You should not fear him.’
1975 was not the only time they lied and told their people the end was coming, but 1975 was the lie that turned my own world upside down.