Tell us about your early life as a JW.
I was a kid. My mom and dad were divorced when I was 4, with my mom leaving the org, so I had exposure to the outside world but I still believed wholeheartedly until I was about 10. I wasn’t allowed to play little league or participate in many things I wanted to. My dad remarried and so that side of the family was me, my sister, 3 step brothers, a new baby, and a cousin that came to live with us. It was hectic. Meetings were kinda boring but the conventions were at least moderately exciting.
How would you describe your family life while you were a JW?
Generally pretty ordered. Lots of time spent studying JW literature.
How would you describe your level of devotion to the organization prior to waking?
All in until about 10.
If baptized, why did you decide to take that step? If not, why not?
I was too young and got out before the pressure really started.
If born-in, what kind of Jehovah’s Witnesses were / are your family?
Very devout. My dad was a ministerial servant and is now an elder. JW doctrine was taken very seriously. We did those daily bread readings every morning and never missed meetings, went out in service every weekend, etc.
Are there any particular experiences or circumstances while you were a believer that come to mind now that you’re awake?
I had nightmares about Armageddon. Specifically about my mom, stepdad, and half siblings of that family dying. And schoolmates.
My step-grandfather committed suicide after being disfellowshipped.
I has an enormous crush on a girl at the kingdom hall named Mandy. She had one of those port wine stain birthmarks on her face that I’m sure she was self conscious about but I just thought it made her more beautiful and exotic. I could barely even look at her without blushing.
Was your waking up journey sudden or gradual? Describe it for us.
The thing with my step grandfather committing suicide was a big jolt. His whole family shunned him. I thought surely they would feel guilty or like they had made a mistake, but they defended shunning him as being right.
I left over a haircut though. My dad gave me and my step brothers all buzz cuts once every few months. I wanted to let my hair grow. He said no. Mom said I could. A fight ensued with the result being staying with mom permanently.
Did you ever have so-called “doubts”? If so, what were they?
Yes, lots. Especially around some of the examples of cruelty, slavery, and mass murder in the old testament. It was hard to reconcile with the idea of a loving God.
Did you share your so-called “doubts” with anyone, and if so, how did it turn out?
Yes. Dad was generally pretty good at explaining but eventually the explanations stopped a king sense. Age of reason, I guess.
Are you currently being shunned / ostracized by any Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Not particularly. I see my dad infrequently but we’re cordial enough.
What has changed in your life since waking up?
What does the future hold for you now that you’re awake?
What would you like to say to doubting or questioning JWs who might be reading this?
Read from sources other than the org. There’s a reason they don’t want you to. Also, check out the B.I.T.E. model of cult behavior and see how much you think it matches.
What would you like to say to still-in believing-JW family and or friends who might come across this?
Nothing. They know how I feel.