A couple of days ago a new poster started a thread asking for help, that simple post had this to say:
I'm so scared! I need help and support. Where can I go for support in my are. I was raised a jehovahs Witness. Broke away when I was fourteen and I am now 38. I am still hauted by the teachings. Please help!!
Now, for a little background on myself: I was a member from the ages of 7 to 15 (what I consider to be the "formative years"), I am now 37. I do not consider myself to be "haunted by the teachings", but this post did get me to thinking about certain traits and feelings that I have that I can now see are directly related to that experience.
"Never alone, but allways lonely"
For as long as I can remember, I have never felt like I "fit" into any group. Wether it was classmates, workmates, the people I went thru basic training with, etc. I never belonged. It seems that except when I have something direct to add to a group, I become "invisible", and am no part of it. This isn't becuase I am particularly anti-social, I just don't fit in. This isn't to say I don't converse with people on a daily basis, nor that they don't start conversations with me... it's just I have had few true friends in my life.
How does this relate to my time with the witnesses? Simple - "You are no part of this world" - allways being the "odd man out" when it came to holidays and the "pledge of allegiance", the one that set in the orchastra with the violin quiet on the knee while the christmas music was played... not able to partake in "organized" sports... and worst, having to explain WHY nearly every single day to someone. Eventually, you learn to accept this, and while you are among the witnesses you even feel somewhat "above" them, because you have the "truth" and they don't.
Why does this still haunt me today? Because I still don't "fit" in... I have very few friends, and I find myself not trying to really create new bonds of friendship... after all, my witness friends (at that time) all spied on me to report things, or even cheered on the bullies that would hound you during high-school. It is very difficult for me to open up, and very few that I call friends today, ever have much to do with me outside of work.
"Pride goeth before a fall"
I can remember my first talk on a thursday night... If memory serves I was around 8 years old (I think I was one of the youngest in the congregation to do this, but that could be my memory failing). I always enjoyed reading the paragraphs in bookstudy, looking up scriptures and reading them aloud, answering questions on Sunday. So it was a big event for me to get up and do my talk. I wrote and practiced it with my "pioneer sister" (flesh and blood) until it was just right. In our hall, we had 3 "schools", 2 downstairs and 1 in the main hall. Well, the little room I was to give my talk in was jamm packed... standing room only... I give my talk, and there is a large round of applause... not sure why, but it was for me! I got good marks on my card. I remember being so excited and proud of myself.. I had done something good and everybody liked it! I remember my sister looking me square in the face telling me "To be humble, becuase pride goes before a fall".
This still affects me to this day. Why, you ask? Simple, ever since then, no matter how good I am at something, it is hard for me to take the recognition... I work hard, sometimes to the amazement of my peers, but when it comes to the accolades, I shy away. And then, when the accolades that are due me don't show up, I just take it as a matter of course, and remind myself that I shouldn't be "pridefull". All the while wondering "what must I do to be recognized". When people, such as my boss, tell me that I am "respected by my peers" and an "extra-ordinary" employee, I find it nigh impossible to believe, even though I know that I am. I have no doubt that this has directly affected my advancement opportunities.
When I first envisioned writing this, I had a whole lot more to say. Now that I sit here attempting it, I have run out of juice. What I hope some come to realize is that some of us that have not been involved for 20+ years still have demons that we deal with.
I may write more on this, I may not... I might even later decide to edit and remove this... I usually don't let others in. I find that debating the trivial stuff helps to hide the "scared, lonely kid" that I have inside me.
I hope you all understand.