Lots of people to answer, got to sleep and forgot this existed. Think I'll do it on 2 posts:
Oh yeah, it hurts because it is part of your own identity too. That threat of shunning hanging over your head is manipulation to keep you in line. That fear of getting caught, that the thought police might find you one day. It is terrifying because of that external pressure. But then you add that internal fear, that guilt or shame, and they have you stuck.
Again, you're brave for coming here at such a young age. There are other young ones here. I remember when I counted as a "young one", lol, but I guess since I turned 40 last year now I'm old.
I don't know where you are in your journey exactly. The site jwfacts.com has absolutely some of the best information, taken directly from Watchtower publications, about the religion. Sites like this are good for conversation, though it helps to go in humble and asking questions. A lot of people here have been through some rough times because of Jehovah's Witnesses, myself included.
I don't know if you ever listen to podcasts but I did one called "This JW Life" where I went through my life story. I wasn't born a JW, my family became JWs when I was 8 or 9, and then I go through my life as a JW (including as a ministerial servant and pioneer), and on to the eventual path that took me out. I also do another podcast called "shunned" where I help other people to tell their stories. So far it has been mostly ex-JWs but I also had an ex-Mennonite that was shunned. I'm interviewing an ex-FLDS member next weekend, along with some other ex-JWs too.
There is a lot to the organization that my guess is you do not know. I don't know how long you've been looking around. They were affiliated with the United Nations for some time, something that they dropped literally the same week that they got caught (if I remember correctly). They have so many flip flops on doctrines like blood. They once deemed organ transplants as cannibalism and it would get you disfellowshipped. If you go back and read about the founders of the religion like Russell and Rutherford you'll find all kinds of crazy things. It was basically born out of the Millerites (a sect of the Seventh Day Adventists). They believed that Jehovah lived on a star in the Pleiades constellation, they had properties like Beth Sarim where they bought mansions for resurrected ones to live in. This is all factual stuff. Russell even sold "miracle wheat" and other scams. If you start learning about other religions you find that JWs aren't alone in their view of the world in many ways. I had no idea until I left. You will find that they often use an ellipses (....) in a quote to manipulate the quote and hide information that wouldn't go along with the point that they are trying to make in their publications.
I could go on and on and on. I don't want to overwhelm you. It doesn't feel good to wake up one day and realize that you were tricked for so long. It feels very bad. It is hard to accept, and there is a grieving process like you might go through if you lost someone close to you. Some people are very bitter, some are compassionate but still very hurt. Many of us, like my wife and I that have now been out for just over two years, have rebuilt our lives and live free and very happy lives. Others here have spouses that are JWs because they married a JW, or maybe they are awake but their husband or wife is still very much in the religion. To a person almost all of us have had our families ripped apart by it. They absolutely destroy families. My dad died 6 months after my wife and I left the organization and were shunned. I wasn't invited to his memorial at the Kingdom Hall.
I shunned my own brother for 14 years or so. He was disfellowshipped for something he didn't even do simply because he wanted to walk away and didn't want to talk to the elders and wanted to be left alone. I didn't know that. One of the biggest things that woke me up was studying books on emotional abuse, narcissism, love, happiness, and other psychological health books. I started seeing how manipulative things were in the religion, and how I was being used to psychologically manipulate my brother to try to get him to come back. He was a happily married man living in another state, living a good and upright life, but because he was disfellowshipped and labeled as that he would be labeled forever even if he changed his life around, all because he didn't want to be a JW anymore. I reached out to him and apologized for manipulating him in that way through shunning. He accepted me and I accepted him. I was shunned by my parents for doing so. My wife was shunned by her family for doing so. We were still JWs in good standing. Six months later, after much study and looking into the organization, with our families shunning us for one decision we made after so many years of faithful shunning, we realized that love was not the identifying mark of Jehovah's Witnesses. Rather, it was control. Control is not love. We disassociated and got the name of the organization off of us so as to be truly free to live our lives.
We've learned so much in these last two years. We were lied to in so many ways by the religion that we gave everything to.
Anyway, I need to get off to bed as it is late here and I have to work tomorrow. I envy your youth and how brave and awake you are for that age. The one thing I don't envy is that it puts you in a very tough position at an age where you still have so much maturing to do and this is something that is very hard to handle, even though you seem very intelligent and like a good person.
Later my new friend,
Mike (I can use my real name because I'm free and don't have to hide anymore. That isn't true for most.)
Thank you so much, Mike. I wish I could reveal my real name, but I feel like I shouldn't do it. I think you can understand. Btw, got the 1984 reference, amazing book. I've actually just seen a video from a protestant elder talking about 1919 and gave a bit of JW background, includying stating Millerite origin. Thanks for the extra intel, I'm truly sorry for what you been through due to the organization, though. Hope you´re doing fine so far, friend!
Hi, just wanted to say welcome to the forum. Yes I totally know what it's like to be scared to come on here. I was terrified when I first found this place, but it's filled with kind people who only want to offer help or suggestions. No matter what you choose to do you'll be supported. www.jwfacts.com for me really helped a lot. Take it slow and go at your own pace on what you're comfortable with. I now have my freedom and kind of feel a little silly that I used to be so scared just to research my own religion. That for me shows how controlled I was. Why should anyone have to be afraid to simply reach out to understand their own religion better?
Best of luck in your search, I'm sure you'll be very successful no matter what path you choose in life.
Thank you cleanideas! I've been browsing on JWfacts, definetely way better than most sources I´ve found so far. Most of the information is very easily verifiable too, I'm enjoying it quite a bunch.
Here is the key to your lack of dissatisfaction: "My dad has the incredible feat of being an elder and having a PhD." You were raised by a man who thinks for himself I am sure. He has found some intellectual satisfaction in the WT thinking. In time it will wain I am sure. He has obviously allowed you to express your feelings and to think. It seems it will work out if he continues to reason on what is really happening in the WT organization. It is crumbling with such silliness its deplorable. Once he sees through the false face of WT he will also question the pseudo-intellectualism of the "the TRUTH". Look into the Australian Royal Commission's investigation into child abuse in the WT. Even a GB member lied during testimony. Don't miss it. Look on YouTube.
There I feel I should add more to this story. So, when I was about 13-year ish, I randomly found out about Australian Royal Comission. I told my dad. He helped me get the oficial state-written report on the event. I did actually see the YT videos first, and told my dad that G. Jackson blatantly lied in some points of the interview. He said for me to read it all and then talk to him. And here I'm to be blamed, because I didn't for two reasons: 1) I
was am a lazy bum. 2) I wasn't and really am not going through any drama due to being an Witness. Now that you reminded me about it, I should read it all and watch the YT videos too!.