Actually I posted my story here one time before... but under a different screen name. Since then I have forgotten my former screen name, and password. The limits of my laziness meant that I would rather create another screen name, and tell my sad, pathetic and uninteresting, story over again.
Anyway here it is. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC and attended several congregations in my time there. Both of my parents were JW's, and I was baptized when I was 14, right after my freshman year in High School. I believed myself to be the typical "good" JW kid, and our family was always a model family within the congregation. Eventually my father ascended to the position of Elder, and my mother auxiliary pioneered. And not to toot my own horn, but I thought I was the model JW kid. I avoided bad association both "worldly" and those "fringe elements" within the congregation. If you didn't comment at least once in the meeting, you weren't worth talking to in my opinion.
Unfortunately around this age, the time comes for all teenagers to decide what they intended to do with the rest of their lives. I had decided on going to college (one locally), and pursuing something that would support myself in the ministry (boy, did the WT did a number on me). Well my folks had other thoughts and in the midst of high school we switched to an American Sign Language group in our District. I was thorougly upset. I thought the ASL was the uncoolest, dorkiest, geekiest thing that could be do. While I was not resistant to learning a foreign language.... sign language? How many deaf people did I know before going to the ASL group? None (and how many do I know now? Nada). Anyway, the choice was not mine to make at all. My parents tried to convince me that Jehovah was directing our family to this new group, and nothing but blessings would be bestowed upon our family for taking upon this challenge (or something like that).
So I had to endure my remaining High School years in a congregation where I did not begin to understand the meetings for about a year and a half. Still I had wrestle with the decision of a post-high school life. Well not only did my parents interrupt my social life as a JW, but it seemed as if they were going influence the rest of my life. They dissuaded me from going to college, and attempted to pursuade me to consider Bether or the Full-Time Ministry- in lieu of college. Well I was thoroughly upset, nothing seemed to be going right with me. I did manage to reach a settlement as to what I was going to do after high school, and we agreed. I was going to Pioneer and attended community college classess in hopes to be a Firefighter and a Paramedic after graduating from High School (as opposed to my original plan of being an Architectural Engineer).
So directly after High School I began Pioneering. Well this is where the story takes a turn. While at the ASL group my father had a problem with the elders at the Host Congregation the ASL group worked with. Even today I am not 100% sure of the details but whatever happened between my father and those elders was a pivotal moment in my life. My father eventually had to step down as an elder, and stopped attending meetings altogther (he has yet to return). It this time when I became a Regular Pioneer. I Pioneered for one year with the ASL group, and attended Pioneer School. The next year, since I was of legal age and tender, and my folks could see that I had no intention of doing anything ASL related, I moved back to my old congregation. I Pioneered for another year, but family problems between my mother and father began to change things again.
Natually I was upset, and seeking answers. How could a family that had "put Jehovah first" in our lives be struggling so much? I'm not sure how I came upon Crisis of Conscience but I read it. After reading it, everything I knew was turned upside down. I soon became disenchanted and disgruntled at the Watchtower for what they had done to my family. I soon read Insearch of Christian Freedom, and then Combatting Cult Mind Control, and the deprogramming was done. In less than six months after I took myself off of the Pioneer List I had deprogrammed myself from the Watchtower mindset.
At this time I was working both as a Firefighter and Paramedic with local departments, and everything was going great. Initially I didn't leave the congregation with any big fanfare... I just slipped away. I would see JW's out and about, and they would talk with me and ask me how I was doing. I would reply, and pray that they would not ask my about what congregation I was attending or anything theocratic. And that was my dilemma for several years. JW's assumed that was happy and carefree serving Jehovah in this congregation or that. Which in itself was not a bad deal, because I could still hang with my JW's associates (but not guilt-free).
Eventually I decided that the charade in front of family and friends had gone on quite enough and in Jan 2004, I officially wrote my Disassociation letter (although I had stopped attending meetings in 2000). Wow that was more liberating than reading the books. I really and truly felt free. I recieved some backlash from my extended family, but that does not bother me as much. Infact it is quite laughable.
In my post-JW, I sought out things that I had believed to be absolutely Evil to make a judgement for myself (except for drugs and illegal stuff). I bought myself a motorcycle, developed an appreciation for fine cigars, and pipe tobacco. Tattoo's are coming pretty soon. Also back in October I was sworn into the United States Navy (Reserve). I learned that the Navy and Marine Corps has a need for medical personnel, and since I was already trained, I signed up (thats the Pioneer Spirit in me, lol). The Navy is pretty cool, and while they try to indoctrinate you in all things Navy, I'm a little more hip to the game, and haven't completely submitted my mind to it just yet.
As far as my immediate family goes... my parents are divorced. My father has not attended a meeting since before I quit attending them. Although he says that he has not put returning to the JW's out of the question, I've not seen him take any steps in doing so. I talk with him from time to time about "spiritual" matters, and he tends to fall along JW party lines about many issues. In the past he refused to read COC, but he accepted it the last time I offered it to him. My mother has read both COC and ISOCF, and is reading Combatting Cult Mind Control. She still maintains that Christianity is "the way", but she's not as dogmatic about it as she was as a JW. My sister hasn't attended meetings in years either, and she doesn't buy into the WT anymore. Although she has not read COC or ISOCF I would like for her to at least read one of those books. My extended family who embraced my family and myself when were devout JW's has turned on us, and worldly family members we turned our backs on when we were JW's have embraced us.
Well I've rambled on enough... thats my story.