It seems that when people leave the JW organization they assume that their life would have been better had they never been JWs. This might be true but perhaps not. Had a person not been one of JWS would they 1) have furthered their education? 2) Have given up nasty habits like smoking? 3) Have lived a more moral life? 4) Have read the Bible more? Who knows? Being bitter only hurts you. When you hate, you only lessen yourself and this holds true whether or not you?re a JW.
I actually appreciate the things I learned growing up as a JW, especially in the Theocratic Ministry School: How to speak to anyone without fear, no matter who they are. How to teach. How to speak well. How to speak before a crowd of people. These are skills I have carried with me and used in business as an insurance account manager, software trainer, business owner. I have the ability to treat a barely educated janitor with the same respect as a corporate CEO. I learned from JW meetings that if a person acts or reacts a certain way, there may actually be a reason behind it, not to judge someone by initial encounter.
I never got addicted to smoking. I do, however, smoke about 6 quality cigarettes (usually Mexican Pacifico's) or cigarillos a year for the pure pleasure of it. Drugs scared the hell out of me. Alcohol, well, it's legal, JW accepted, and I am genetically an alcoholic (recovered, thank you AA).
I also have an IQ of over 140, and I was pulled out of HS after my sophomore year with a GPA of 3.5. In my adult college education I've maintained a 3.92 gpa. I wonder where I could have gone with proper education. As it is, I was heavily involved with software, opsys, networks, for 15 years.
My only bitterness is on the shunning issue. My parents and sibs never allowed themselves the opportunity to know me as an adult. They took away the opportunity to know them. I have a childhood friend I contacted a few years ago who really, really wanted to see me, but she'd have to talk to her husband and mother to get permission.... she was 40 years old at the time. How rediculous is that?
What do I think of JW's now, in general? I feel the organization is one of high control. Outside information is tabu. I don't berate the org, only my experiences with a couple of congregations and the elders running them. And my experinces opened my eyes to the hypocrisies. Although the congregation I was raised in was good and supportive of its members, even to a point of taking private collections for buying food or heating oil for down-and-out members! Not so in all congregations.
How do I view JW's now? I feel for them as I feel for any people who are gripped by toxic religion or toxic faith. As individuals? I don't try to persuade them to my point of view. I've thumped enough in my early years, and I no longer believe in thumping. If they chose to continue as a JW, that is their choice, albeit, I believe, a fear-induced choice.