Ok. Here's the story. I was raised a JW as long as I can remember, I think technically I celebrated christmas at 1 year old, but then the folks got baptized. I grew up with about 10 children my age in my congregation, so that was good, we were always getting into trouble. I was really hyper and could never sit still during meeting so I regularly got the crap kicked out out me in the basement of the kingdom hall. The town I grew up in was near watchtower farms so most of our elders and MS's and were from bethel. We got the hardcore dogma fresh from the bethel breakfast table. As a teenager I realized that a lot of the rules didn't make much sense. I believed mostly because it was all I knew but was more terrified than anything. I thought the witnesses might be right and that I could really see my dead grandfather and play with tigers that wouldn't eat me. At 17 I left home and DA'd myself with the full series of meetings with the elders, them asking 'Are you sure you want to do this?' and me answering "Yes." Really I just wanted to get out and have a little fun before the world ended. I figured if my nature was really so contrary to gods will and he was going to kill me for sure then I'd better make the most of my time. I did have a lot of fun, but my parents disowned me. Eventually the guilt settled in and around 19 we reconciled and I starting going back to the meetings with "the prodigal son returns" being chanted around me. I tried my hardest to make it work and eventually conceded to getting baptized at 20, only to make my parents happy. I was totally miserable, cleaning the toilets of kids my age at the local college so I could be in field service more. Eventually I gave that up and went to college myself. I started to get a basic understanding of sociology and psychology. The methods of control they used started to become apparent to me and I become even more miserable. I stopped going to meetings, finally got a girlfriend who wasn't a jw and tried to live a normal life. Of course this didn't work so well because everyone I knew and had known my entire life was a JW, including 30 members in my congregation who shared the same last name as me. I moved to california at 22, mostly to get away from the family. My friend who lived out here encouraged me to go back to the meetings. I went through the repproval process and shortly after realizing that I did absolutely nothing wrong, left again. I stopped going to meetings altogether and have never been back. I have been JW free for about 8 years now and I still am dealing with the preconceptions and views they crowbarred into my brain. I have also learned a lot from the whole ordeal.... and even learned a few things of value from the witnesses.... but don't tell anyone. ;D Check out my photo journal at http://www.teamgeeks.com/paul/