I'm as guilty of making assumptions as anyone.
Yes, you are! Guess I really touched a nerve in you, MBD, from all the wild assumptions you're making about ME. My application to Bethel was about 25 years ago and had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to leave the Witnesses. I merely mentioned it because of what you said about applying for Bethel -- that's called "finding a common ground" with someone you are trying to converse with. And, yes, there are many women at Bethel, but most of them are married or have special skills. They RARELY take a single woman, which is what I was at the time. Perhaps you never saw any evidence of sexism in the congregation you were in, but I've been in many congregations in my lifetime and I've seen a lot. And, honest, I've never ONCE in my life had penis envy! I like being female and my husband likes it that way too.
I'm glad you found your soulmate. I did too and we're still happily married after 21 years. He left the Witnesses about 15 years before I did, and very patiently waited for me to see the same things he did.
No one ever said meeting attendance was required for the gift of everlasting life. God gives it freely. Meetings are for your benefit and the society has always stated this.
Every elder I've talked to since I left (and there are precious few who have bothered to talk with me) told me that I HAVE to go to meetings or I won't have Jehovah's holy spirit and direction and thus will not be able to survive Armageddon.
Now, as for my reasons for leaving:
1. Lack of love: After my husband left I attended meetings on my own for 15 years, the last few of them with our two children. Once I had no husband by my side, I became invisible. Never mind that I ALWAYS made comments at EVERY meeting (and that is not a cognitive distortion), elders found it hard to remember my name. I took care to invite children to my house to play with mine, but my children were rarely invited to their houses. The final straw for me was when our then 6-year-old son came down with a rare virus that caused post-viral arthritis. He was in screaming agony for about 4 weeks and finished Kindergarten in a wheelchair. I'd missed a few weeks of meetings because of his illness but no one called or came by to see how I was, but that's okay because I was used to it. When I attended a Sunday meeting, finally, with our son in a wheelchair, out of 150 people only three came up to ask what happened. The Presiding Overseer came up to me after the meeting, as I was leaving, and asked "what happened to him?" I started to tell him, but after a few seconds he interrupted and said, "well, Jehovah will give you strength to endure," and walked off. THAT was the last straw. There is no way I will endure watching my children treated badly by a group of people who delight in telling the evil worldly people how much better they are than any other religion in the world.
2. Lack of love: While all this was going on with our son, my dad was having his own problems in another congregation. He was an elder for 40 years, professed to be of the anointed, and the only one who stood by my husband through his problems with the Witnesses. For his pains in standing up for a victim of child abuse (my husband), my dad never received another district convention part, and he used to have talks in all of them. Anyway, in 2001 we had to put my mom in a nursing home because she had Alzheimer's and Dad could no longer take care of her. Something snapped in him after that and he had a brief affair with a lady at his retirement home. He confessed to the elders and was disfellowshipped. He repented about 8 days after they announced the disfellowshipping, and the elders made him grovel for a year before reinstating him. They picked on him for every little thing. But he stuck it out and got reinstated; unfortunately, after that no one seemed to remember or care about his years of faithful service. The elders continued to pick on him, no one invited him out to dinner or to their house for any kind of social activity, and he became quite depressed. He talked to the circuit overseer about how lonely he was and the C.O.'s brilliant suggestion was: "Well, YOU take the initiative and invite people over." Hmmm, a 77-year-old man on a fixed income, living in a retirement home -- what was wrong with that advice? Three days later, Dad attempted suicide. He was not successful at that time (September 2002), but in February of 2003 he was successful. If you do a little digging around on this board you'll find the letter I wrote to the elders and the Society's subsequent (3 months later) reply.
3. Child abuse: In my dad's congregation was a young man, age 15, who at age 14 sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl, also a member of the congregation. He was sent to juvenile detention for a year. When he came out his parents wanted to attend the same congregation even though the little victim and her family were still there. When the victim's family objected, as did many others in the congregation, the elders told them that they HAD to accept the sex offender back in that congregation (there are three others that meet in the same Hall) and gave a local needs talk on forgiveness. They also threatened disfellowshipping to anyone who talked about it. I was attending that congregation with my children at that time, and I knew nothing of this until one of the sisters told me not to let my children go to the bathroom by themselves. I found this kid's pictures on the Texas Sex Offender Database, and here he was invited to every social function, holding babies on his lap at the meetings, like nothing ever happened. The victim's family left, never to return. Do you blame them?
People throwing accusations around without evidence.
The above examples are the ones for which I have first-hand knowledge, so you can't say that I'm making unfounded accusations.
I'm not here to insult anyone.
you may in fact be the one in need of therapy
I did go to therapy and it helped a lot. When I first left the Witnesses I experienced severe panic and anxiety attacks, and talking it out through therapy helped. After my dad's suicide, therapy was VERY useful. I may find myself going back again, but I think most of my issues have been worked out for the moment.
I welcome an explanation of it's damning evidence against the Witnesses.
Okay, if you're going to be a writer, would you PLEASE work on your use of apostraphes? It's a real pet peeve of mine: you should have said "ITS damning evidence" NOT "IT'S." "It's" is a contraction of "it is" and "its" is a possessive pronoun. Not hard if you give it some thought.