It's been at least a couple years since I've posted anything on here, and much longer than that since when I was active. Ten years ago I first came here all in turmoil over my disillusionment of my beliefs. I've been through lots of ups and downs since then. My leaving the "truth" was very difficult for my wife. Over the years, she has become less active, but still believes in it. I made a decision to not try to break her faith because I believed that that was part of respecting her and compromising. I wanted to help make up for the fact that I was the one who changed, not her. She had a couple of emotional affairs and that also brought us a lot of pain, although I never doubted that she loved me--at least not until that one time when we were arguing and I asked her and she said she thought she did love me but didn't know if she felt it anymore. That was five years ago, and she was pregnant with our first child at the time.
Since then, things have generally been better between us, and I do trust her. Mostly, we have been incredibly busy raising our children (we had a second last year), and like all parents, it's been hard to give each other as much attention as before. I am not very open with her, "emotionally unavailable," and generally just not that interested in our relationship and bored. I don't know if it's the kids that took it away from us, or the continued underlying tension of my non-believing status. We have always had a mismatch of needs in the bedroom, and although we do enjoy each others' company, I have grown more and more impatient and intolerant of her and she of me.
In the past year I have made a lot of life improvements, most notably accepting a great new job in a new town (a place where we lived before while we were both going to school), taking up running in earnest, losing over 20 pounds (experiencing the unbridled joy of not having any clothes that are small enough), and finally going on anti-depressants after struggling with depression for as long as I can remember. The drugs are definitely not a panacea for the dark places in my mind, but life is better without them.
The biggest life decision we have made since me leaving the "truth" was in having kids. I thought we had reached an understanding; that she knew I would never be a JW again, and that I wouldn't mind if she taught our kids about Jehovah and what's right and wrong in the eyes of the Watchtower. I had confidence that eventually, our kids would make their own decision about whether to believe of not. What I didn't realize was that kids will believe nearly everything you tell them. So until they are old enough to have their own crisis of faith and disillusionment, they will believe in Jehovah, that celebrating Christmas is bad, etc. I like Christmas and the holidays. This last Thanksgiving, I asked my wife to come with me to an extended family gathering with a huge Thanksgiving spread. It was a lovely experience, and I think she enjoyed it, too. But that was just Thanksgiving. I doubt she would have gone along with it if it was a less innocuous holiday. The main reason why she went along with it, however, was because I had previously opened up to her, after a series of tense arguments and sleepless nights, that the reason why I was so emotionally distant was that maybe I was feeling bored, uninterested, and that maybe I was having trouble feeling in love. This after she would plead with me to tell her what was on my mind, hugging me and asking me if I still loved her and whether I wasn't bored with her, over and over again through the years. In those moments of course I told her I loved her, but each time I felt it a little less and less. There was a time when I yearned to feel close to her and she always felt out of my reach. Now, I no longer have that yearning.
My five-year-old asks me why we don't celebrate Christmas. I point at Santa in commercials and ask her if she knows who he is. She says "that's Christmas, that's bad." I ask her what she would think if we celebrated Christmas with a tree and all the twinkly lights and presents. After giving it some thought, she claps her hands and her eyes sparkle and says it would be fun. I get angry with her when I tell her to clean up the toys in the living room several times and she doesn't do it. She scowls at me and says I'm being grumpy and that I better be careful because that will make Satan happy. I finally get her to clean up her toys and wonder how it will be when the stakes are higher, when she has a JW boyfriend and I'm not allowed to meet his parents because I'm an apostate. Or when she's in high school and starts to slow down in her studies because "what's the world worth, anyway." My son clings to my legs, crying to be picked up.
My wife asked me if she wanted her to quit. To quit going to the meetings? She already doesn't go to hardly any meetings. She went out in service last six months ago. She went to the last assembly, but only for one day. It's too hard for her to keep it up when I don't go with her and help. It was always like that. I dragged her down. I've always been the weight around her neck. She's never told me that, but I know. She asked me if I wanted her to quit, and I said how could I ever ask you that, that I didn't think that's what someone who loves another person would do. But now I wonder if that was all just a cop-out on my part. Maybe I didn't want to be the one to have to leave. Maybe I didn't want to suffer the anguish of being the one to walk out and be the deadbeat husband that I was told my father was.
So here I am, thinking of doing the unthinkable of giving her an ultimatum. She needs to decide what she wants. If she doesn't do anything with her faith, why teach it to our kids? Why must my baby girl not celebrate birthdays or Christmas? Just because that's how we grew up, but don't care enough about anymore to live our lives in accordance with our old faith? What about when it comes to blood? Who's going to decide whether or not she gets a blood transfusion if she needs it? Is she going to be indoctrinated against blood and then suffer the agony and guilt of personal defilement when her father tells the doctors to administer the transfusion?
I don't want any part of it. I thought I could live with it, before. I thought I could compromise. But I was wrong. I was wrong about myself and my ability to stagger on in the wilderness of my own spiritual void, forever and perfectly alone. I have grown numb, laying at her side in bed. Spooning her and feeling the softness of her skin and the warmth of her body, but none of the relief of having arrived at where I need to be after out wandering for so long.
If I leave it will only bring sadness and pain. I've had it done to me before. I confide in coworkers and they say every person reacts differently and that it's not rational to think I will recreate the same experience I had being a child of divorce. But there is something inside me that knows it's a lie, that there is no unselfish decision to make. If it wasn't for the kids, I know I would leave. If it wasn't for the kids, I might very well take it a step further....
I haven't given up hope that things can be better. I know for certain that I want no part in JWism. None of it. I don't want it around me. I am not going to the memorial next year. I don't want my kids to be indoctrinated. I want them to have a full life. Whether I was right or wrong for choosing to have kids in a divided household, I know these things now, and I have to be decisive.