Tell us about your early life as a JW.
I was born in, Parents divorced when I was very young. Dad remarried a great sister but was addicted to her faith. My mom who had custody was DF’d but still believed it was the truth. School was complicated because my mom was open to letting us go to birthday parties, dress up for Halloween, celebrate certain holidays ect… My stepmom and dad would tell us not to do this and the meetings basically let me know If I didn’t listen, I didn’t love Jehovah & I would die in Armageddon. The truth has haunted me since I was child. Those meetings, the bible story book( have u looked at some of those pics?!?), the illustrations in talks(u know the ones that manipulate you into thinking something completely different than if it wasn’t illustrated a certain way), meddling brothers and sisters( your job takes you away from the meetings often have you thought of changing careers to better serve Jah?), the what your doing is just not good enough kind of talk. It was overwhelming emotionally and yet in some weird way, I felt like I won the lottery by being born into the true faith even if it did make me hate myself.
How would you describe your family life while you were a JW?
I was glad my mom raised us so I could have fun with normal kids but life was also rough at home. My mom had abusive boyfriends my sister had mental problems. These issues just added to my feelings of being over whelmed and not fitting in (at the hall or school). My dad and his wife seem to have it together she was always put together but a very strict JW. Every time she opened her mouth it was to witness. My dad the ever busy elder was more liberal and cool. Everybody loved him…. she was the yin to his yang so to speak. My dad had a serious and secretive alcohol problem and no one knew about until he got his first DUI. I was 14 and they cracks in their perfect life started to show. He was reproved, stayed an elder and moved on. When we were teenagers my dad would take us Bethel every year. By this time I was quite the party animal and very social. My step mom noticed this and started a study with me. I hated it because I was feeling so guilty about having so much fun on the weekends. Soon enough I got out of the study and had a great high school experience even though everybody knew my affiliation with the truth.
How would you describe your level of devotion to the organization prior to waking?
I studied off and on after high school but always fell in love with a boy or left the states to travel the world. I was always honest with my study conductor and I was told it was Satan who was tempting me with men or travel. I believed them and thought I was just a selfish horrible person for wanting to love and live my life. So I always sided with satan…..until 9/11….That rocked my world. I believed the end was close and I was so distraught over the massive loss of life so quickly. My JW uncle who I hardly knew was stuck in the city I lived in after the attacks and my stepmom told him to call me. I was emotionally weak and he had all the right things to say. Peace on earth, no more suffering, death, crime ect…. I was all in after that fateful day. I studied at a local hall and became very zealous, very fast. However, I would ignore the unanswered questions I had and I don’t like to judge people. You’re gay? OK…A swinger? OK….Atheist? OK I always felt to each their own.I was intrigued by these people as well…. So, even though I was zealous at first, my heart was always liberal and way more open than I was willing to admit.
If baptized, why did you decide to take that step? If not, why not?
I got baptized at 27. I wholeheartedly believed it was the truth and it was an amazing day for me. I finally felt like I was saved and won the golden ticket. I never have to die! Wahooo…… Sounds a little selfish right?? Where was my close bond and friendship with god? I really tried praying often but oddly never felt a deep connection unless I was in distress. I almost didn’t get baptized after I saw the Dateline NBC episode. I called my study conductor and she told me not to listen to apostate lies and so out of fear I listened to her…..
If born-in, what kind of Jehovah’s Witnesses were / are your family?
Now that I know my father better he joined the JW’s to help him keep on the straight and narrow. He had drug and alcohol problems as a young man and had an incident with what he thought were the demons. His mom was a JW and sent him to study. In many ways it saved his life. Now he is in his 60’s a widower and I know he knows it’s bullshit. I know he knows I think it’s bullshit but we will never speak it to each other.
Are there any particular experiences or circumstances while you were a believer that come to mind now that you’re awake?
I was always bothered by an incident with my sister on a family trip. My step grand father was a jw pedophile. He raped all of his daughters including my stepmom. My stepmom let us sit on his lap and be babysat by him. He never touched me thankfully. My sister told and my stepmom and her sisters finally decided to tell the husbands what he’d done to them as kids. It was a disgusting and chaotic weekend. My dad always acted like it didn’t happen or that he didn’t care they all forgave my step grand father… he later got Df’d for something other than being a molester and when I was 10 he remarried a woman who had a young daughter. This made me sick and at 10 I so badly wanted to speak up. I never did. Logically I know it wasn’t my responsibility but I wonder what he did to her and if she is ok. I wish I would have spoke up. My dad called me when the step grandfather was dying and he asked me to talk to him. I wanted to say NOWAY…instead I thought I need to be forgiving. I spoke with him and wish to this day I hadn’t. the asshole died in good standing btw.
Was your waking up journey sudden or gradual? Describe it for us.
Gradual. My son is an old soul and had lots of questions and fears about his friends at school being killed by a god he loves. He couldn’t wrap his head around it. After trying to come up with a loving explanation I realized I had a problem on my hands. I started remembering my doubts abut the UN and the Dateline episode and slowly started going online. Once I read Barbara Andersons story that was it for me. My husband is a good but flawed man and is very devout. He will never not believe the bible or that Jehovah is the true god. Ever. I have shown him the Candice Conti files and the UN stuff and he couldn’t deny there being an issue but he says its with the org not Jah. I show him only facts and nothing apostate and he wants to get answers but his faith is strong so I think whatever they tell him he might believe. He knows emotionally I’m destroyed by the things I have found out. I’m terrified of my husband and kids leaving me (not because they are bad people just brainwashed) if I push things to far. Therefore, I stay but the cracks are beginning to show. Who knows how long this will go but I’m learning who I truly am and am not ashamed. Period.
Did you ever have so-called “doubts”? If so, what were they?
Like I said earlier Dateline was big for me. The UN as well. Once I researched in depth it finally made sense why the society pushed the UN so hard in the 90’s. The Awake always had worldly info straight from the UN who is the total and complete enemy of gods people backed by satan. Why the heck were they getting a paragraph of neutral information in Jehovah’s magazines? That was always weird to me. They signed an agreement where they had to promote the UN. Saying it was a mistake and they weren’t aware. Please, the Lawyers at WTBTS are wicked smart and cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s.. Rutherford’s fancy mansion in San Diego and drunken parties. Russell’s character defects were pretty big as well. Overlapping generations? No one can answer that one for me. Organ donation considered not ok in the 60’s but ok from 1980 on….How many people were Df’d or died regarding organ transplants prior to 1980?
Did you share your so-called “doubts” with anyone, and if so, how did it turn out?
Slowly with my hubby. Dropping subtle hints to my dad. I confess to co workers and a few old friends not JW’s and they have been a great support.
Are you currently being shunned / ostracized by any Jehovah’s Witnesses?
No but I think I’ve red flagged a few people.
What has changed in your life since waking up?
I’m at peace with the unknown. I never thought I’d say that but its true. This life and earth is a gift and I’m so happy to be here and connect with my fellow people. I believe in being kind, grace, mercy love and joy, I’ve always been interested in energy work and different dimensions. I will explore these things in my own way. I’m careful in what and who I believe. I will create my own reality. I would like this for my children and husband as well. I think though to be honest, I’m still searching for courage. I know it will come and We will be free from this life of lies. I have to believe this….
What does the future hold for you now that you’re awake?
Time will tell…..
What would you like to say to doubting or questioning JWs who might be reading this?
It can be a scary place to be emotionally. Your world will shatter but its temporary. You will build a much better life for yourself even if you are the only one who has woken up. Create a new world for you and only you until you are ready to face the consequences. This may not be the best advice but for those stuck in for family it has made a world of difference for me. Good luck to you all. Trust that gut instinct of yours and RESEARCH!! Much love to you all…xoxoxo
What would you like to say to still-in believing-JW family and or friends who might come across this?
To my husband. I love you with all my heart and soul. Please know that my issues with the org comes straight from the depths of my soul/ the core of my being. This is the real me. I no longer want to be living a lie out of fear. I don’t want to raise our kids to be full of fear like we were/are. Lets live my Love!! Now….it’s all we have.
To my kids. I’m sorry I’m putting you through this. I thought I was creating the safest life we could live. I was wrong. I’m not sure how to fix it but I will do my best to keep you safe and be honest with your questions from here on out. I love you and I want you to know you are never alone no matter what choices I or you make.