Hi and welcome, Rod and Thegoodgirl!
High rates of depression in Org.
To "The GoodGirl"
I can relate to you wholeheartedly. And be assured I will stay in touch with my girls to the extent possible. However, no-one knows where the oldest one is, and she seems to want to be away from everything and everyone. For now, we are patiently waiting for her to surface. The one in the middle is still a Witness and, of course, will have nothing to do with me. The youngest has left the JW's and we ARE in touch with each other. It's a real joy to me.
To "The BluesBrother"
Man! I had to look at you several times. I actually thought you were one of the Belushi brothers.
Life really is much more peaceful now. You will know why in the days ahead, because I have much to say and share with you all. Just hoping it doesn't come across as too self-indulgent or boring for you who read my posts. This is all quite new to me!
This is one of a series of installments as time permits. There is too much to do all at once. So here goes:
"You can count the seeds in an apple. But can you count the apples in a seed?!"
Along the way, down the pathway of life, we all plant seeds. Little do we know that from all that we have planted, what it is going to eventually reap.
My father was born on September 11, 1922 in the small town of Pincher Creek in Southern Alberta, Canada, about 25 mile S.W. from the City of Lethbridge. When he was about 17 years of age and in Grade 11, the year was 1940, when the 2nd World War was gathering momentum. Patriotism was running very high, and thousands of young Canadian men had gone off to the war overseas. Some local JW's were talking to school kids on the school grounds at noon hours and recesses. My father had a younger brother in Grade 10, and an older brother in Grade 12. These Witnesses carried around portable phonographs and records of speeches by Judge Rutherford, which they played to the kids. They also conducted Bible studies with the kids away from the presence of adults, including their parents. This was the time and manner in which my dad and his younger brother converted to the JW religion. Once converted, they then had to face the school system, which did its part to ensure that the national anthem "Oh Canada" was sung and the flag was saluted every day by all the students.
Of course, my dad and his brother now found it necessary to refuse to salute the flag and to sing "Oh Canada". After being warned of severe consequences if they continued their refusals, they still refused to obey. They were then marched up on stage in a school assembly and told once more to salute the flag. They refused, and so were strapped on the hands and wrists in front of the entire student body, and then expelled from school. They were being made examples for what happens when you dare to be "unpatriotic". Now they had to go home and tell their parents what had happened at school. Their parents (my grandparents) hated JW's, and since their two youngest sons were now one of them, then they were no longer welcome at home. They were each given $10.00 and told to "hit the road". Welcome to the real world!
While my dad's brother hitch-hiked to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, my dad hitch-hiked east, past Lethbridge, and on to Medicine Hat at the other end of Southern Alberta, about 125 miles from home. With the little money he had, dad moved into a "room and boarding" house with a number of other young tenants. The Landlords were a husband and wife team who owned the property and lived on the premises, and prepared all the meals for the tenants. Now that he had a home, my dad got a job working as an apprentice to become a machinist and a welder for the C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway). In those days, Medicine Hat was a major centre for servicing and repairing trains with steam engines. He started with the fabulous sum of $15.00 a week.
It wasn't very long before he met the young woman he fell in love with and later married, and who was to become my birth mother. That young woman was the daughter of the Landlords. When my father got married, he was 19 years old, while his young bride was 16 (almost 17). Now imagine this young couple making it on their own, with $15.00 a week coming in, and pay increases of something like five cents and hour coming on stream once a year. Then in April 1943 I am born, and 1-3/4 years later my brother is born. I have no idea how they could have managed all this on apprenticeship wages.
In the middle of all this, there was the military draft, where every eligible young male was drafted into the armed services. As near as I can tell, there were about a dozen young men in Medicine Hat who were JW's, and were all drafted. When they refused on the grounds of being "conscientious objectors", they were all thrown in jail. They also used the argument of scripture, saying they owed their subjection to the "higher powers", which the Watchtower Society taught were Jehovah God and Christ Jesus, and so were not going to go to war in obedience to any earthly government or ruler.
My dad was also drafted, but he was exempted from service for medical reasons, as he apparently had a heart murmer. This meant that my dad became the only adult male in the local congregation of JW's (around 50, including the males, who were now in jail). He was then put in the position of "Company Servant". In those days, the Congregation was referred to as a "Company", and the Overseer was the Company Servant. What we have here is a case of a young man with a wife and 2 kids, just barely surviving financially, and then being given the responsibility to lead over a congregation of women and children. As if he didn't have enough problems just taking care of his immediate family! My dad and his wife were expected to be shining examples of leadership and spiritual maturity, and "field service" was the order of the day. After all, they were all living near the end of this "Wicked System of Things".
The Witnesses met in a rented hall above a service station (garage), which was owned by the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Across the street was Central Park for the City. On Sundays, they used to run wires from the upstairs hall, out into the adjacent trees, and across the street into the trees over there, where speakers were attached. Then, when public talks were given from inside the Hall, talks would be broadcast over loudspeakers in Central Park. A lot of people came to the park on Sundays, sat down on their blankets like they were at a picnic, and listened to these public talks. My dad was a frequent speaker, and some of the sisters who were there used to tell me that he gave some of the best talks they ever heard. The last talk Dad ever delivered was called "The Destiny of Earth, and the Destiny of Mankind"
It was only a matter of time before something had to give. One winter, my mother had had enough. She was trudging thru the snowdrifts with a three-year old kid (that would be "me"), and another baby in her arms a little over a year old (that would be my "little brother"), while carrying a baby bag and a Witness literature bag, knocking on doors, and receiving door slams and verbal abuse. And she said "No More!" She couldn't do it any more. She just quit everything. That left my dad not only disappointed, but also quite embarrassed. After all, wasn't he their "Spiritual Leader"? What kind of example was this setting for the Congregation? Then the fighting and the arguing started. According to my mom, she had been physically beaten more than once, and at one time, she fell down the stairs at the entrance to the basement suite we all lived in. She left, feeling in fear for her life.
If you worked for the CPR, you were given a Family Pass, where any of the family could ride the train to anywhere across Canada where there were tracks. My mom took off on the train all the way to Winnipeg, Manitoba, about 500 miles away. She stayed in a Railroad Hotel Room overlooking the CPR tracks.
The day she left, my dad came home from work, and found me in the bedroom, locked in a closet, while my brother was in the crib crying and with messy diapers. (I do not know if I was deliberately locked in the closet, or whether I went in there on my own, and then couldn't get out. I do not remember any of this!) My dad had to take care of this sudden crisis by calling in the brother of my mom, who was still a student in High School. He took care of us for two weeks (staying out of school to do this), while my dad found places for us to live. My brother was sent to my dad's brother (Uncle Jim) in Port Alberni, B.C., while I was sent to a farm about 45 miles east of Medicine Hat. This was the home of the Fishers, who attended the Kingdom Hall in the "Hat" Some of my best and fondest memories come from that farm, notwithstanding they were JW's. It was a happy time of my life!
............................................to be continued!
My husband and I also found that Elders, Ministerial Servants and regular publishers would live double lives, they would be pious and all that at meetings but at work or other events , they would act just like "worldy people".-Maybe that is how they escaped the depresion.- One elder at our congregation- My husband found out much later after we "escaped " the society, - this elder had not told anyone at work that he was a witness, In fact my husband attended his retirement party, they had rented a hotel room and played porno films. What a joke it all was, My husband and I are so happy to be free of the madness. To live our lives without being judged by others who do whatever the "heck" they like to do but they are the first to point accusing fingers at you if you step out of line!!!!
Well, I'm back again. Here's Episode #2, carrying on from where I left off last.
Just before my brother and I were sent away, dad took us for a ride. We all hopped on the train and travelled to Winnipeg to see our mom. God bless the C.P.R. for that family pass. I can recall looking out of the window of that hotel room, and being utterly amazed at all those rows and rows of railroad tracks, and all those trains moving around. (I loved trains, and used to dream about them. Once my dad even took me on top of a big engine that he was fixing in the "Roundhouse". It was awesome, and I felt so small.) Actually, the window was propped up to let the air in, so that I was looking out of the window thru open air. Suddenly, this gargantuan window came crashing down on my two little hands that were gripping the window sill while I was peering out. I was rushed to the hopital in an ambulance, and received stitches in my right thumb, and they bandaged my hand up like a big mitten.
Afterward, my dad, my brother and I were back in the hotel room visiting my mom again. The three of us were on one side of the room, while my mom was on the other. Dad told me to go over to mom, so I did. She picked me up and sat me on her lap. I looked her right in the eye and said "Mommy, please come home and take care of us!" Her response was "No way!. Nothing doing! Now go back over there to your dad." She put me down, and I walked back to dad. That was it, except for once; we never saw her again, until many years later when I searched for her and found her. We caught the train back home.
Now I found myself on the farm with the Fishers. I began to call them Grandma and Grandpa. They had three grown-up sons who also lived and worked on the farm, and I became fond of these "Uncles". Growing up on the farm can be lots of fun for a kid.I remember licking the salt blocks out in the pasture with the cows. And swimming in the pond with the ducks, as I talked to them like a duck. I remember sheering a sheep (with help) and feeding my pet lamb with a baby milk bottle with a big nipple. Also feeding calves the same way. There was this big gander with his gaggle of geese, and he used to chase me and peck on my legs as I ran away. I was terrified of him! One day I got tired of running, and stood up to him. I ran straight at him, shouting and throwing rocks at him. He was so shocked, he turned and ran across the farmyard with me hot on his heels all the way to the barn. He left me alone after that. I milked the cows, gathered eggs from the chicken coupe, and rode my little red wagon off the "cellar hill" where the preserves were kept. Once I got a bumble bee in my ear, while playing in the garden. I hopped around like a Mexican jumping bean, and Gramma Fisher came running to me, shoving her finger in my ear, and the bee flew away without even stinging me. I loved to eat rhubarb in the garden, but had to hide in the bushes so no-one could see me, since they were saving that for pies. There are hundreds of fond memories and stories I remember from those days. Just a normal kid.
Soon I was six, and it was time to go to school. The farm was ten miles from the town of Schuler where the "country school" was located. The school yard was the wide open prairie out in the back, where we used to catch gophers with string. A school bus would travel a main route, stop at various road allowances along the way and pick up each of the kids every day and take them to school. Then when school was over, we would be dropped off at the same spots. Now the farm was 10 miles from school, and the bus stop was 5 miles away. So each day the Fishers would drive me to the bus stop to catch the bus, and then come and get me at the drop off and drove me home. One day the Fishers had to drive to Medicine Hat, so they could not pick me up at the end of the day. Instead, they told one of their boys to pick me up after school. That was OK, except he forgot about the time. When the bus dropped me off, there was no-one there. I cheered over that, thinking I could walk home the five miles before they got me, and that would show them I was a big boy now. After walking for a while, it started to turn to dusk, and the hills and coulees got darker and shadowy. Off in the distance I started to hear the coyotes howling. Fear ran thru me, because a while ago we were all riding in the car, and I heard the coyotes howling, and one of the boys told never to leave the car when out in the prairies, because the coyotes can smell you, and will catch up with you and eat you alive. So here I am walking down this lonely, isolated road at dusk and imagining the worst. Suddenly, the howling stopped, and so my fears subsided, although I wondered if they were silent because they were sneaking up on me. I kept a wary eye open as I walked along. Soon I came to a giant ant-hill. The mound of fine granulated soil that peaked like a pyramid was as high as my knees, and it looked so neat, I just had to jump right into the middle of it all. Suddenly there were about a thousand ants running all over me, inside my pant legs, down my arms, on my face, in my ears. They were everywhere! That was when I learned to do the "Manitoba Jig", and I never knew I could jump so high and so fast. Anyway, I managed to shake them all off, with a few bites. To this day, I hate ants. Being none the worse for wear, I kept walking down the road towards the farm. Then I spotted this giant mushroom. I was thinking about creamed mushrooms on toast, and this was just perfect for supper when I got home. I picked that mushroom, and thought it was like an umbrella, it was so big. It even started to sprinkle rain, so I held that mushroom over my head like it really was an umbrella. Finally, I get over this last hill, and I could see the farmhouse off in the distance to the south-east. I decided to take a short-cut thru the field. I could see one of the boys in the farmyard walking from the barn to the house. Half-way, he stopped for a minute, and then rushed to the house. Then he hurried back to the place where he had been standing, and stopped and waited like before. I didn't know why he stopped, but I continued to march towards home, singing a song, trying to ignore the two blisters on my feet. Then I saw him run to the barn, and in a couple of minutes, come out of the barn, mount the horse, and head out into the field straight towards me at a full gallup. When he got up to me, he practically jumped off his horse which was still galloping, and looked at me with panic in his eyes, and asked if I was OK. I said "Yes, why?" He said he thought he had seen a coyote in the field, and he had gotten a rifle and was firing it at me to kill the coyote. As I kept coming towards him, he realized it was me, and remembered he was supposed to pick me up after school. He was very relieved that I was not injured. We rode double back to the farm. I had to tell him all about my adventures, while he soaked my feet in a washtub with epsom salts. Felt so good! We then went to cut up my mushroom. What a disappointment to discover it was all full of worm holes, and not edible. I didn't feel like eating after that, and don't remember if I did or not.
During this time, I missed a lot of school because of the usual childhood diseases- mumps, chicken pox, measles, whooping cough. Also, in winter months the snows and blizzards came, making the roads impossible to drive a car or truck on, because the snow-drifts would be three and four feet high. The road to the bus stop was a simple dirt road, no gravel, no grading, no paving. Out of a ten-month school term, I attended about half the time. By the end of Grade One, I barely knew the alphabet, let alone read "Dick, Jane and Spot" stories from a book.
However, throughout my time on the farm, we always had weekly bookstudies Tuesday nights- right in the farmhouse. Sometimes, fellow witnesses would visit, and we would all study together. On Sundays we had Watchtower meetings, again usually on the farm. Medicine Hat was 45 miles away, so attending meetings was a relatively rare exception, except, of course, when Assemblies were held. On Saturdays we drove around the farm community and did field service (except in Winter). All of this seemed quite normal for me. Dad did not have a car, so the only time I got to see him was when we travelled to Medicine Hat. I remember being so excited to see him, and crying when we had to leave. They also kept a picture of my mom on the refrigerator. From time to time Gramma Fisher told me to go see my mom in the picture. That became my memory of her. Quite some time had passed, and one day when we were in Medicine Hat, I got a visit from my mom. Gramma Fisher told me to "Go over there and see your mommy!" I apparently told her "That's not my mommy. My mommy is in the picture!"
During the springtime of Grade One (1950), my brother was removed from his home in Port Alberni, B.C., and joined me on the farm. Whoopie! I now had my brother back. And we fought like cats and dogs, with biting and scratching as part of our repertoire. (I guess it was hard to have to share with a brother when I had gotten used to getting all the time and attention. In May of that year my dad had gotten remarried, having divorced our birth mother earlier on. They did not want to pull me out of school with less than two months to the end of the school term, so we stayed on the farm until the end of June. After that, we got to move into the big city of Medicine Hat, with dad and our brand new mom. I always found it funny that my first mother was named Fay, while my second mother was named Kay. This was the start of a whole new world and life!
I will now try to reconstruct what transpired in my dad's life from the time he found homes for me and my brother. Here he was, still working for the CPR, and living all alone. For whatever reason, he became an inactive Witness, notwithstanding he still believed it was the "Truth" Years later he told me that he considered himself as one of the "Wicked and Evil Slave Class" which the Watchtower Society talked about during the Rutherford era (referring to those who rebelled against Rutherford's new leadership and successorship to Charles Taze Russell.) Perhaps he didn't have the heart to keep on attending meetings, and became embarrassed or even disillusioned. Perhaps he felt rejected by his wife, just like he was rejected by his parents and his school. I am quite certain that both my mother and my dad became very depressed, and also indifferent to spiritual matters. Many years later, when I talked to my mother, she told me that for a very long time she could not look at little boys playing in the school grounds or playgrounds, because it would tear her up inside. Dad would come off work and stop by a nearby hotel and"drink a few beers with the boys". One day he was there, and someone tapped him on the shoulder from behind, asked if his name was ____________ ____________, and dad told him "Yes." Wham!..... The guy punched dad in the face without warning and broke his jaw. Dad fought back, and the other guy spent six months getting over his injuries. It later came to light that my mom had talked this guy into "punching out" my dad. (Perhaps because of the physical abuse she felt she had received from dad while she was with them. I really don't know.) What I do know is that in all of my years of growing up with dad, I and my brother were not brutalized physically by dad. Yes, we did receive spankings from time to time, but we did not get the sense that he spanked us out of anger, but rather to teach us a lesson. We did not feel "afraid" of our dad, but did feel a lot of respect towards him.
In any event, my mom and dad got divorced. My dad got custody of us, and that was it. The Court ruled my mom was an unfit mother, probably because of abandonment.
After the divorce, dad met someone nice, who later was to to become our new mom. She had been a widow from the 2nd World War. She lost her husband who was shot down as a fighter pilot. For six years she stayed at home, and did not go anywhere socially, although she did work in a "Dress Shop". She had a real head for business.
I don't know who, but some friends of our new mom, who also knew dad, felt that she needed to start getting out and on with her life, and that dad needed companionship as well. In any event, they got together and fell in love, and then were married. Mom had a background of growing up with the United Church and also the Anglican Church. She and her brother and sisters were never religious, but they did go to these churches. The United Church would transfer in a new, young and good looking minister. Than all the Anglican Church people would flock over to the United Church to check out the new minister in town. Then this minister would get them involved in all kinds of programs, and the Church would prosper. But now the Anglican Church needed to revive and renew itself. So they would transfer in a new Minister, and everyone would flock over there. This see-saw game was how she grew up with religion. Before getting married, dad arranged for there to be some bible studies in order to introduce his bride-to-be to the J.W. teachings. During the studies, she would consider things point-by-point, but did not hesitate to express where she agreed and where she disagreed with the teachings or interpretations of scripture. She did not believe that any one church or religion had all the answers. After these bible studies, she told dad that if he wanted to continue to be a Jehovah's Witness, she would not oppose him, but that he should not expect her to become one of them. They still loved each other, but dad knew from the outset that his new wife was never going to become a J.W. Ultimately, his response was that he "will die believing this is the Truth" but that he "didn't have the guts to get out there and be an active J.W. when she's not going to as well." And so, when they got married, we were raised without any religion. Dad did have some bible studies with us kids in the home, but we seemed to be more interested in playing and other things, than sitting there thru those boring old bible studies. Dad just let it all slip by, and we all kind of forgot about religion.
We now settled down as a new family unit while we learned how to live with and accept this new mother. At first, we called her "Kay". Imagine this. She is on her own, She gets married, and the next day, she wakes up as the "mother of two boys". Instant family! It must have been a real shock to her system. For about two months she could not do enough for us. We were spoiled rotten with all kinds of new toys and clothes. A lot of this was bought when they were on their honeymoon. And, of course, we found out we could get away with almost anything. We were "holy terrors"! Finally, she couldn't take it anymore, and she exploded. When dad came home from work, he found her sitting on the couch crying. He asked her why she was crying. "I spanked the kids!" she blurted out. Dad asked "And what did they do then?" She replied tearfully, "They ran up and hugged me, and called me 'Mommy'! " "Well," dad said, "now they are yours!"
In my next episode, I will tell you how religion came back into my life, and how I became involved with the J.W.'s. It is just starting to get interesting.
.........................................to be continued.
Once you learn how to assert yourself in life, exercising your built-in self-autonomy, you will find yourself taking control of your life in ways that you never knew or thought possible before. Others who accuse you of being bad or guilty or wrong or deceived may believe they are right and have your best interests at heart. But you do not have to accept their pronouncements. You cannot control them, but you CAN control your reaction to them. Do not let them be the judge of you. You decide over your own life. This is part of Self-Responsibility. This is key to getting over a lot of those hang-ups and guilt complexes we have been carrying around with us all our lives, like albatrosses. Until we learn to love ourselves, we cannot effectively love others. Stop the guilt! Discover that you really are special, and that you are worthwhile and loveable. Build your own self-esteem. Tell yourself every day that you are worth it, and that "Every day I am getting better and better". And no, you don't have to tackle and solve this whole problem in a day, and become overwhelmed. "Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard it's hard." A day at a time. A day at a time. A day at a time. Strive towards improvement and perfection, even though no-one is perfect.
Wow, rod P--welcome. Your story was compelling and yes, inspirational even! You spoke of the sadness and depression, but then the victory of taking control. thank you for sharing all that. And welcome!
Once you learn how to assert yourself in life, exercising your built-in self-autonomy, you will find yourself taking control of your life in ways that you never knew or thought possible before.
You cannot control them, but you CAN control your reaction to them. Do not let them be the judge of you. You decide over your own life. This is part of Self-Responsibility.
Until we learn to love ourselves, we cannot effectively love others.
Build your own self-esteem. "Inch by inch, it's a cinch. Yard by yard it's hard." A day at a time. A day at a time. A day at a time. Strive towards improvement and perfection, even though no-one is perfect.
i always say "brick by brick", but it's the same idea. what we say when we talk to ourselves is crucial...i've never felt "alone" in being autonomous. i mean, we're all alone anyway in this Earthly journey, no matter how many people surround us. thanks for expressing yourself so eloquently...(i feel funny saying "welcome", 'cause this isn't my board, but in this case, i just have to: Welcome!
Welcome good girl! One of the many reasons I left the JW org was because of what I saw happening with young people in there--so much tragedy! Many had become self destructive and depressed and ended up being Dfd which further separated them from their families, when what they needed most was help and understanding. Some of them died in accidents, some became drug addicts. Seems like the stronger ones left altogether and were never heard from again. Only a handful in my daughter's group remained as JWs. She is still in contact with a couple of them, but they seem sad--so restricted by their beliefs. Some of them were smart kids, but they have been stiffled. They live mundane lives, have mundane jobs and speak of mundane things. Of the two she is in contact with one is on anti anxiety meds--the other complains about everything and seems to be depressed. I'm so glad my daughter is out of there--she has really flown since she has been set free of all of that nonsense. It is sad to see how many have been stiffled in there--artists and musicians who were never allowed to develop their skills and others who have incredible gifts to share with the world but cannot do so..
Love to you, cybs
Fibromyalgia (more sisters than brothers)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (brothers tend to have this one more)
I am sure that many have actual symptoms but I'm sure a month or two away from the psychically sick congregation would do most of the a great deal of good.
It is a more acceptable way to avoid meetings and field service.
Fibromyalgia (more sisters than brothers)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (brothers tend to have this one more)
I absolutely agree. Another way of looking at it is, if you have a physical illness, the JWs tended to be very understanding compared with having a more emotional- or psychological "problem". So, some seem to have learnt that the most harmless way to fade away is to develop physical ailments. I'm not suggesting that those diagnosed, say, with CFS, are faking it. However, it is also a matter of clinical research that people "carry" chronic stress in their bodies, which actually leads to physical ailments of one kind or another.
I am sure that, if the watchtower society announced that you could be a totally acceptable person in Jehovah's eyes and not need to door-knock, the overall health of the majority of Jehovah's Witnesses would suddenly improve. I acknowledge that, in each congregation, there are a handful of JWs whose health would probably be in jeopardy if they couldn't door knock. As they say, it takes all kinds!
RodP - thoroughly enjoyed reading - can't wait till the next episode!
I too have noticed that depression and mental illness appears to be more frequent among practicing JW. Difficult to decide whether it's a result of being one OR if people with mental illnesses are drawn toward the JW teachings.
On a lighter note, I would be interested to know if anyone with Tourettes has successfully become a JW.