I grew up as a dub, with two quite strong JW parents and a sister. We did all the things that all JW kids do or rather don't do and as we became teens, my parents tried their hardest to keep us on the straight and narrow, with wholesome get togethers and so one. I always, and I do mean always wondered how really could JW's belive that we really were the only true religion... and when I voiced this to my mother, as a little child, she was quite shocked and I realised then and there that this was just not a discussion that one could have... you just didn't question. As a teen I tried my hardest to fit in with the kids at the congregation, and somehow never did - they were always quite a cliquey crowd! At the same time, I found myself fitting in quite well with a group of worldly kids, and so began my double life... trying so hard to be part of the cool witness crowd, even getting baptised at the same time as a bunch of them, and never really feeling a part of it, and also hanging out with the bad kids and doing things that I really should have been DF'd for, had I ever been caught! This double life went on for a while and eventually I sort of managed to get my life back on track, so to speak, and behaved myself for a while. After I left school, things went a bit awry again, when I found myself friends with witness kids, but the kind that were definitly categorised as bad association! Thus begain my double life again, this time knowing that I really wasn't the only one, but that didn't make it any easier, we were all being hypocrites! It was this hypocritical life that bothered me more than anything, and not because my concsience was bothering me, but rather because I knew that what we were doing was not really that bad and was probably just typical teenage behaviour, yet we were made to feel that we were terrible sinners! I met a young man at work and, heaven forbid, he became my boyfriend, and a more wonderful man, you have not met, treated me like a princess with kindness and respect and somehow, despite my having spent the better half of the previous five years hiding all wordly aspects of my life from the witnesses, I found the courage to introduce him into my witness circle. Oh they all tried to bring him into the fold - he was invited to meetings and intruduced to elders... he was so nice, he just need to talk to the right brother to see the light - someone who he would identify with. They could all find no fault with him as a person (except that he smoked) and at one point my dad even admitted to me that he was a lot nicer than any of the witness boys I had gotten to know (Which he undoubtebly was and still is), and he made me incredibly happy, but no matter how "nice" he was and how good he was, he was not ever going to be accepted unless he came in to the truth! Anyway, to cut a long story short, in the midst of all of this, I found the courage to just run away from the life I was leading with my parents. I announced to my parents that I was moving out of home, and this resulted in much shouting, tears and threats but my mind was made up, I was getting out. And I did. I moved in with a flatmate and stopped attending meetings, FS and all that, I just stopped. My parents were despearately unhappy with me, but after a while they started talking to me again. Well, 12 years down the line, I have never gone back... I have never felt the need or missed it in any way. I married that man from work. We had a completely non religious wedding ceremony and spent the majority of the planning trying to please both of our families (he is from an Anglican family). We now have 2 gorgeous children and are a perfect little family! And yet, 12 years down the line, I am still trying to find a way to deal with this whole religious issue. I can't bring myself to attend any other church and I despair at what kind of religious beliefs I should be bringing my children up with! I can't admit to my parents that I have birthday parties for my kids and celebrate christmas with my husband's family, for fear that they stop talking to me. I have nothing in common and therefore no relationship with my sister because she cleans rooms in bethal and spends the rest of her time either in personal study or in the field. I can't explain why it is that my children's grandparents are not at their birthday parties and live in fear that one of my kids says something about father christmas or something to my mother and "busts" me! I read these websites and discussion forums and still hear a little voice in my head saying don't read these things - they are bad, the society wouldn't approve, and yet I am relieved to read them! A part of me worries that by writing this all down I am finally admitting once and for that I am no longer a member of the witness world. I have not attended a meeting in 12 years and yet I still feel disloyal! How screwed up am I? How much do they really brainwash their followers?