Tell us about your early life as a JW.
I was raised by my mother, five out of six aunts and grandparents who all lived in the same house in Mexico. We were very popular in the halls we went to since my grandfather was a very well respected elder. My family was incredibly popular and were supposed to be the model JWs,until my mother got pregnant,though she was never disfellowshipped for having me. I was a pretty shy kid mostly because there were almost no children that were my age. Until we moved to the U.S where I at least made one JW best friend.
How would you describe your family life while you were a JW?
Life was normal, though uneventful. There were no major fights that i can remember while i was growing up. All of my family are JWs so i never realized just how different we actually were from normal people.
How would you describe your level of devotion to the organization prior to waking?
From a very young age I was super into the religion like a regular witness kid. Until I was about six, my mother being an uber-jdub, heard from a sister that my favorite cartoon series Pokemon was actually satanic and forbade me from watching it, at that point I just became apathetic to the religion (you do not mess with a six year old and pokemon).
Though as I grew up the reasons for the apathy changed. Firstly it was the fact that I didn’t want to be the odd one out with my classmates, and secondly because I was simply not interested that much in the religion, it was just something I did, like go to school. I never prayed, I hated going out in field service, and never paid that much attention in meetings.
I mostly just coasted through because of the clout my grandfather had, people believing I was very shy, and actually being good at the reading assignments they’d give me. So I was left alone most of the time.
If baptized, why did you decide to take that step? If not, why not?
I was baptized when I was 17, this was at a time when i had already planned on leaving since I realized I was gay. But a year prior my grandfather died, and everyone in my family was crushed. So the peer pressure to get baptized to see him in paradise just grew exponentially. It was an easy enough process to get baptized. And immediately after i did it, I realized how much I screwed myself.
If born-in, what kind of Jehovah’s Witnesses were / are your family?
My family are a very devout, model JW family. My grandfather was a respected elder till his death; my grandmother is a regular pioneer even with health issues; my three oldest cousins want to either go to bethel or help out the org in greater capacity; my aunts are all regular pioneers; and one is married to a man who was a sustitute district overseer. And then there’s me, the guy that just wants to leave.
Are there any particular experiences or circumstances while you were a believer that come to mind now that you’re awake?
When two of my aunts where disfellowshipped it just rubbed me the wrong way how everyone, except for me, treated them. My older cousin treated them like they were dead while everyone else at least acknowledged that they were there. He wouldn’t even look at them.
The second one came about a little afterwards, one of my disfellowshipped aunts found out she was pregnant and almost immediately the elders reinstated her. It was obvious that it was because they didn’t want the child to be raised outside the JW bubble. It was almost laughable.
My grandmother also told me a story that when I was in kindergarten, sometimes I would come home crying because I didn’t want my friends to die at at Armageddon. When she told me this it shocked me. How could anyone think that’s normal behavior?
Was your waking up journey sudden or gradual? Describe it for us.
My waking-up journey was interesting. I planned on leaving before I realized the JWs were a cult, since i was gay. I really had two options, stay and live a life of loneliness and celibacy; or leave and be killed by god in Armageddon. My thought process during this was, ‘well god can only kill me once and its not like there’s a hell where I’ll be tortured forever, so I might as well leave’. It was only after I finally got the balls to look up exjw sites that everything about the religion just came crashing down.
Did you ever have so-called “doubts”? If so, what were they?
I’m not really sure. Again, I was apathetic to the religion most of my life, mostly going because it was expected of me. Though the shunning policy never did stick with me. Once I looked at things exjws were saying it all kind of clicked how all of it was bs.
Did you share your so-called “doubts” with anyone, and if so, how did it turn out?
God no! I tried to tell my jw friend about this stuff, but carefully since I really didnt know what he thought about the religion. It ended up going nowhere, though i do hope I planted some doubt in him. I eventally told my mother everything and our relationship while seemingly normal is very strained, though she didnt kick me out, so I call that a win.
Are you currently being shunned / ostracized by any Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Not yet. Me and my mother recently moved to a new area, where I’ve successfully started my fade, though when I inevitably come out to my family I’ll see where that goes.
What has changed in your life since waking up?
I’m happier now. Life is certainly different. I’m much more relaxed by not feeling like peoples eyes are constantly on me waiting to see if I mess up.
What does the future hold for you now that you’re awake?
Well, I started dating, something that a younger me would never have even imagined was possible. I’m currently job hunting, anything for now, though I do plan to go back to school to become an E.M.T. Now my life is in my hands, and I plan on making the best of it.
What would you like to say to doubting or questioning JWs who might be reading this?
If your’e not happy in this religion, leave. It might be tough in the beginning. With family friends and all of the new possibilities. But at the end of the day, even if it is kind of a cliche to say this, it does get better and you might even be happier.
What would you like to say to still-in believing-JW family and or friends who might come across this?
If my family finds this anonymous post and figure out who it is, i just want to say that im not doing this to hurt you and i love you guys. I might not always know how to show it but its true.
So get it together fam.