I feel like I could literally write a book about my life as a Jehovah’s Witnesses. But I will try to keep it short.
My mother started studying with her aunt when she was pregnant with me. Of course, she had been witnessed to by her aunt before but it finally took hold with her because she wanted to be able to give her children direction in life. Not long before she started studying, her oldest sister had been baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness and her other sister and mother were studying as well. My mother quickly brought her life in harmony with JW teachings by marrying my “worldly” father. She was baptized when I was 2.5 years old.
My stay at home mother, spent the time that my sister and I were in school, as a regular pioneer. When we came home, our life revolved heavily around the religion. I gave my first talk at age 4. People always commended my sister and I for our spirituality and my mother beamed. At the time, I was less shy than I am now and would frequently get in trouble at school for telling people that I could not hang out with them because they were bad association. I was baptized at age 10 even though my mother did not want me to because she thought that I was too young. The elders and circuit overseer told her that she should not crush my dreams and so off I went dedicating my life to Jehovah. At the time, I did not think that there could ever be anything to convince me to leave Jehovah.
Some things happening in my life also convinced me that we had the truth. For instance, there were occasions when my father would lock us out of the house after going to the meeting. Or when he would rip up all of the literature. This persecution convinced me that I was on the right path. My father’s family were worldly and I would see all of the problems that they would suffer with such as teen pregnancy, drug use, imprisonment. This also convinced me that living the way Jehovah’s Witnesses taught was the best way of life.
In my teen years, I became disillusioned with serving Jehovah. I enjoyed my school friends even more than my Kingdom Hall friends. My friends were good people. I couldn’t understand why I had to read the same Watchtower articles several times. I was beginning to feel that being a JW was making me seem awkward and weird.
Towards the end of my teen years, as I began to regular pioneer and join the foreign language group, my devotion to Jehovah got stronger. I was being used on assembly parts and being praised for choosing to serve Jehovah instead of going to college. Actually, I turned down a scholarship to a very prestigious school in the area, which caused my father to literally not talk to me for several months. My sister left the organization around that time and while I was extremely jealous of her, I still felt sorry for her because I really thought that she would be destroyed in Armageddon.
During my time as a Jehovah’s Witness, there were many times that I had doubts. I never really gave those doubts much thought while I was in but they really came back to me after I had left. For instance, the time that one of the young boys in the hall I attended as a child was raped in the KH bathroom. I thought that the KH was a house of God and so bad things could not happen there because God would protect it. I always had a hard time with prayer because I never felt that I was talking to anyone. The idea of this abstract God didn’t make sense in my mind. And then whenever talking to anyone about paradise, I felt like I was talking about some fantasy world that I was never going to see.
I think I had mentally checked out for a few years before I had actually left. I was longing for love and a marriage mate and it just wasn’t coming to be. I figured that I at least deserved that for being the perfect little JW. I hated pioneering and going in the ministry. I didn’t feel like I was making a difference and I was going out with the same people day after day and I literally hated them. I first stopped pioneering and I stopped living up to their definition of modesty. I wanted to wear things that made me feel sexy and so I did. I started going on dates with worldly guys. I finally met a guy who I really liked and liked me. Being a silly JW, I easily confessed to my mother and the elders but I sat for the judicial committee. I had no plan on leaving my boyfriend but I lied because I didn’t want to be disfellowshipped. But a year and a half later, they caught up with me and told me that I would be disfellowshipped. I did not go to the second judicial committee. I basically told them that the judicial committee was for their benefit and not mine. I did have a run in with them this year during the memorial. They called asking if I would talk with them and I did not respond. But they came to my house asking to talk and I told them that I had nothing to discuss with them. I took their flyer and promptly threw it in the trash. It felt sooo good.
I’m so glad that I found the r/exjw community on reddit. I found it after I was disfellowshipped. There was a video of a young girl giving a presentation about how her life was as a JW that made it to the front page. I was so excited to know that there were other people just like me. Every time I start to feel that it would just be easier to go back even though I no longer believe, that community helps me to stay strong. My mother no longer talks to me and as of this years convention, my sister has not spoken to me and I no longer see my niece and nephew. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost everything by leaving, but I know that it is their decision and not mine, to no longer have contact. I did have some success speaking with a therapist. She was very understanding and also helped me to see that it is for the best that I left that cult.