The Friday Column: Outside the bubble

6a00e554015a2e8834013485797020970cLast month marked three years since I resigned as Ministerial Servant, tossed out my neck-tie and walked away from the religion I had known virtually all my life. I exited a controlling cult but in many ways, I entered a strange new world.

An unveiled look at the world “outside the bubble” quickly brought up feelings and sentiments that I describe as “postponed”. If you’ve lost a loved one, experienced a break-up, suffered with anxiety and depression as a Jehovah’s Witness, you’ve likely been told to pray for Jehovah’s help, read the bible or seek counsel from “mature” members of the congregation.

All of the very natural emotions that stir up inside one’s mind are never truly processed. Instead, they are pushed back or “postponed”. Why even bother to address these traumas when the answer to all our problems is some future utopian paradise?

Here in the US, over the last forty-eight hours, we have seen two gruesome incidents of police brutality that have sparked politically charged conversations about race relations in this country. The peaceful protests that followed erupted in violence when eleven Police Officers were gunned down (five killed) in Dallas, Texas.

Even if one is physically removed from these tragedies, the senseless violence and loss of life naturally stir up feelings of sadness, mourning or even anger that we must process in an emotionally healthy way. However, to a Jehovah’s Witness still harnessed by their indoctrination, these senseless tragedies serve only to affirm their belief that humanity really does need that promised utopian paradise.

The feelings of sadness or anger are shuffled to the back of their minds. Any natural sense of justice is muffled as even expressing outrage over an injustice is considered a violation of a “true Christian’s” neutrality. Jehovah is the only one who could affect any real change in this world and even the thought that we puny humans can do anything to improve our condition is a most egregious lack of faith.

When we consider that those who leave the faith have likely endured this type of indoctrination for many years; it’s no wonder that many of us start out emotionally stunted when we arrive into the “strange new world”.

Learning to feel again

Birthday-Wallpaper-4One of the first things I learned was that all those “worldly people” I had dismissed as “destined for destruction” are actually mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. Just like me, they’re also pre-occupied with raising their children and providing a good life for their families. When a tragedy occurs, they feel sad, angry and depressed but they don’t have the luxury of hinging their concerns to some make believe future. They have to live in “the now”.

Sometimes those emotions spur a form of activism or protest but even if it doesn’t, at the very least, it triggers some type of introspection and self-analysis. As a Jehovah’s Witness, that kind of self-awareness is almost non-existent as any energy one could muster to take care of ourselves emotionally is quickly drained by the incessant need to put the “kingdom’s interests” before one’s own. It’s almost as if we have to learn to feel again and recognize that it’s okay to feel sad over some distant tragedy and not just the ones that affect other Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Upon leaving the cult, I lost many life-long relationships. I have been fortunate enough to make new friendships with great people who genuinely care about us. But, I have to admit that some aspects of these new social interactions were awkward at first. For example, Birthdays and all the customs associated with them are social conventions to almost everyone that isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. Our indoctrination taught us that birthdays are merely an indulgence by selfish people with a compulsive need to be exalted by their peers.

Because I’ve never celebrated my own birthday, I feel no emotional connection or nostalgia about the custom. To many of my new friends birthdays are, in fact, a pretty big deal. Not for selfish reasons, but because it’s an opportunity to celebrate the blessings of this life. They want to celebrate mine, and expect that I’d want to share in their own celebrations. It such a normal part of their lives that it seems abnormal when I’m not as enthusiastic as they are about the custom. I used to feel like the “Sheldon” character from the American Sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory,” trying to adjust to all these social conventions that felt foreign to me.

Three years later, I’ve come to appreciate the opportunities to celebrate life with the people I care about. Although some aspects of celebrations like Christmas and Thanksgiving still seem strange to me, I really do look forward participating. I also appreciate what many of those customs mean to my friends, and I feel honored that they wish to share those experiences with me.

You have an opinion? That’s okay too

africa_politics_africaonemedia-com_Over this past year, I participated in my first political rally, and voted in my first primary election, and it felt great. For years, I was taught that political activism was pointless and I must allow my mind to be “molded by Jehovah.” What really happens when one submits to that type of control is that we forfeit our ability to think critically to the whims of the likes of Anthony Morris III, whose idea of activism involves enforcing a ridiculous dress code and encouraging children to sacrifice their lives to uphold Watchtower’s Anti-blood doctrine.

The 2016 Watchtower Convention videos have made it very clear that having an opinion that doesn’t align with the organization’s policies can prove to be harmful to any dissenters. We risk losing our family and friends, along with the stigma that comes with being labeled an “apostate.” Since being politically aware as a Jehovah’s Witness made little sense, I was reluctant about getting involved in any kind of activism as an ex-JW.

Once I left Watchtower it became clear that I was now a part of a larger community. One that was very informed about the issues. Often there’s a myriad of ideas and opinions and very little consensus, but unlike Watchtower’s high control approach, this community invites opinion and revels in debate.

It’s okay to have an opinion on government policies, religion, faith and social issues. It’s okay to think that we can affect the world we live in and strive for more opportunities and a better life. Just because we may not live long enough to see these goals realized, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to pursue change.

The topics of politics or religion can be divisive, and it often doesn’t make for good dinner talk, but it’s okay that you have an opinion. For all Watchtower adherents to be of “one mind” requires complete repression of our thoughts and feelings. As any mental health professional would tell you, repressing our thoughts and feelings is extremely harmful to the human psyche.

What is normal?

bubble-burstSure, there are things that still feel strange. Life inside a cult in many ways moves slower than the “outside world.” I’ve often wondered: will I ever feel normal? But what is normal really, and is there such a thing?

That might be a lot to answer with this article, but one of things I’ve learned after my fade is that no matter how similar the external factors might seem, our personal experience along with our feelings and emotions are what makes us unique individuals. Among those experiences, there exists a large space for variance. That’s why some leave the cult only to rejoin for fear of losing family, while others never look back.

Some exit the cult and choose to live a quiet life, refusing to be bothered with anything having to do with their former cult, while others pursue a life of dedicated activism in hopes of helping others awaken.

Whatever the case may be, once we’ve exited “the bubble” we need to seek out those feelings and emotions we’ve postponed. Tucked away somewhere in the back of our minds, those feelings must be processed before we can start to feel like a unique, non-group-thinking individual. Some of those feelings might be off-putting and uncomfortable. It won’t all be happy thoughts, that’s for sure. You might want to smack the smug grin off Anthony Morris’ face every time you see his image. You may be resilient enough to do it without the help of a professional counselor or therapist.

Just don’t worry so much about whether or not you’ll ever feel normal. Be happy that life outside the bubble will allow you to stretch out those emotional legs. Process those emotions and you’ll discover what it’s really like to “feel,” unencumbered by the weight of indoctrination.

“Free at last, free at last”.

A guest post by James Sequoia

Check out James’s previous article for JW Survey here: The Friday Column: Let the dead bury their dead.

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45 Responses to The Friday Column: Outside the bubble

  1. TeraG says:

    Thank you! Excellent description of what it’s like to learn to feel again and realize it’s ok to test the waters of new things. I too voted for the first time ever, in the primary elections.

    • Mitch Jensen says:

      You can still remain in the loop by picking and choosing where your going to keep up with anything Watchtower related. I like how Mr. Cedars in our to make people’s transitions less emotionally charged has chosen to avoid the Ex-JW Arkham Asylum Message Boards and Youtube Channels of Joker and Harley Quinn’s lunatic rantings of become Radicalized through their mad rantings.

      Most Ex JWs and Faders do like to know what is happening in a Organization that robbed many of them of their youth and the chance at having a good college education or career due to a lie. Mr. Cedars has provided a safe resource here where ideas can be shared without profanity or someone screaming at them. Mr. Cedars is lucky to have a skill writer like yourself and we are bless to have John Cedar’s overseeing a peaceful protest against mind control.

    • Idontknowhatodo says:

      Reading this has enlightened me because I realise I have since waking up found more of an inner peace than I ever have had before… the knowlege that this is my life and my body and that I have the right to control it has been to say the least liberating…you have described this very well indeed.

  2. Kate says:

    Without the belief that all of life’s tragedies will be made right by Jehovah in the very near future, I have had to try to learn to deal with extreme sadness and depression (for example at the loss of a young life). My reaction these days to such things is so different from the witnesses I still know who put it out of their minds because it will all be okay soon.

  3. Oubliette says:

    James, nice personal essay. I really appreciated your experiences and observations.

    There are many reasons that life after leaving a cult is difficult. For those that joined as adults, it is difficult for to reclaim or rediscover our authentic, personal identity. For those that were raised in one, we need to discover who we really are for the very first time.

    As you observed, all of the normal coping skills that the average person has were kept from us while in the cult. There is a lot of personal education that an individual needs to get in order to untangle the mess of false beliefs about both the world and ourselves so we can live happy, fulfilling lives in the real world.

    Two of the best bits of practical advice I can share are these:

    1. Learn to have a realistic, positive worldview. Let that replace the unrealistic, extremely negative worldview that the WTBTS indoctrinated us with.
    2. Develop mindfulness: instead of dwelling on past hurts in a negative way and blaming ourselves, accept that we didn’t intentionally join a high-control, authoritarian, destructive cult. Become aware of our thoughts and feelings and learn to replace negative, counter-productive ones with healthy, positive ones.

    It’s difficult, but it’s worth it.

  4. Bad Penny says:

    So enjoyed your article James.
    Many points that the majority of us can relate to.
    It has been three years since my exit from the org. also. What made you wake up, you didn’t say? The July 2013 Watchtower set me on the freedom trail, was it the same for you?
    I haven’t celebrated my Birthday since leaving, but my son’s workmates sent him a First Birthday card at the age of 29! Crazy isn’t it?
    Looking forward to your next article.

    • James Sequoia says:

      Thank you Bad Penny,

      For about 8 years prior to my exit I knew it was a harmful cult but I stayed in for fear losing friends and family. My initial doubts came about while researching on the Internet, trying to actually defend the 1914 doctrine after the local congregation had a rash of “apostasy” where the presiding overseer made a hasty exit. The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was the deliberate mishandling of child abuse victims.

    • Telescopium says:

      Bad Penny,
      My wife and I found so much wrong and contradictory in that Watchtower. The whole issue comes across as a massive power-grab by the Governing Body and a huge slap-down of everyone else.

      I remember looking at the picture of the ‘wheat & the weeds’ parable, and thinking, “Where’s the great crowd?”

      I mean (assuming Jehovah oversees all) there’s Jesus, Satan, anointed Christians, imitation Christians, and angels. But no great crowd. What does that mean?

      I was already waking up at the time, so this didn’t really concern me, but it cemented in my mind that the great crowd really is viewed as inferior to the anointed.

      Inferior in importance.
      Inferior in assignment. (‘assisting the anointed’)
      Inferior in hope.

    • Big B says:

      @ Bad Penny & James;

      Very nicely written article James.

      Firstly, my fathers death, a presiding overseer occurred 16 years ago this month, I think that was the real turning point with belief in this ‘indoctrination’.

      Secondly, as you said Bad Penny, the July, 2013 Watchtower study article that threw C.T. Russell and friends under the bus did much to convince me that this so called ‘spirit begotten/led’ organization was just guessing at doctrine. They (G.B.) don’t have a clue as to what may or may not be the TRUTH.

      This is clearly shown in the timeline at what occurs in sequential order for Armageddon to occur. This timeline was not discussed in any of the questions during the study but shows a removal of the remaining anointed into heaven in Christendom refers to as ‘the rapture’. Most of the elders missed out on the revealing of this NEW LIGHT.

      The U.N. debacle, child abuse pedophilia cover ups & payouts, were just icing on the cake for me.
      Also the reading of Ray Franz’s “Crisis of Conscience” (should be required reading for anyone interested in the real history of the Watchtower) opened my eyes to the hypocrisy of this cult.

      My family and I started our fade and have been out for three years. We registered to vote for the primaries in our state and will cast our vote in the national election this coming November. Celebrated Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in my adult life as my parents stopped observing the holidays as J.W.’s in 1960.

      Looking forward to the holidays with my family again this year, free of guilt and free of fear of upsetting Jehovah or the Watchtower death cult!
      True Christian freedom at last.

    • nullandvoidboy says:

      @ Bad Penny,

      Funny but since my fade of 3 yrs, I’ve still never thought of my birthday….until my new, real friends, found out and surprised me…I was 52 going on 53 and the last birthday I had was at 9…I thought it very sweet, but inside I was kind of meh…..the JW’s really ruin these things for you….I met my first girlfriend, after my divorce and fade, and it was next to xmas….She loved xmas and knew my “story” …I was supportive but not EXCITED about the holiday…another meh moment. She used to call me Bubble Boy, lovingly, because there were so many things I hadn’t experienced yet…she was cool.

  5. Eric Arthur Blair says:

    Great summation James, this is so where I am at right now, adjusting to life outside the bubble – repairing the damage and recalibrating the “human psyche.” At least it’s good to feel human again!

    I’ve been through some volatile emotions since I faded 12 months ago, but I’m happy to say that the one that shines through the strongest now is relief, utter relief, and a sense of freedom. This morning, Saturday, I got up and thought to myself “thank god I’m not going witnessing!” Instead of beating that tired old routine into our kids, today we are heading to the coast as a family, which we have been doing more and more – getting out, living life and exploring the world outside the bubble.

  6. alex williams says:

    I really enjoyed your experience. We both are going through the same feelings. Though not “born in.” My exit has been difficult and trying. For the first time, I supported a candidate during the primary, shared Thanksgiving meals with another family, and opened gifts on Christmas with others. It’s a tough adjustment. I lost my parents and 2 young adult kids to this cult. Thank you so much for writing this article. I’m not alone 🙂

  7. Imacountrygirl says:

    James, What a great article!

    I am now a registered voter myself and I actually feel proud of it. It has been exciting for me to learn about the politics of my country and our world.

    There is still so much I haven’t learned yet, because previously, there was “no point”, but that’s OK. I find that I care very much about many things that in the past I glossed over.

    It’s a boost to confidence when you are aware of the world around us and are able to discuss various issues intelligently.

    I feel so much more connected to life. It’s empowering to know that I, though only one, can make a difference.

    “Free at last, free at last”.

  8. Jeffreycanning says:

    Nice one James… I have lost family but part of the cost of freedom. Now with my limited resources, limited brain power I try to help others think critically. I have had relatives ‘unfriend’ me on facebook. Told me to shut the f#*k up, suggest I move on ,but I won’t… Too important is helping other poor suckers…

    • Telescopium says:

      Jeff,
      Those you help will thank you! Everyone telling you to ‘move on’ doesn’t understand how much help is needed to break the spell.

      I agree with you. Help the poor suckers!

  9. Tara says:

    I must admit to still looking over my shoulder to make sure I’m not being watched but then I find myself laughing at myself. Really, in the big picture what can they do to me? I know many, many are in the horrid position of loosing family because of the cult but we, ourselves are free. When I find myself in a store I will now walk down the aisle with the Christmas decorations, the St Patrick’s day stuff, the Halloween stuff… lol it’s fun, try it. Of course, I will admit to being a little afraid of being cornered by a JW and given ‘that’ look but that is all it is! It cannot physically hurt you. Sure it may be uncomfortable and you do wonder if they are going to run straight out to the car and call the elders but what can they do! Seriously! what is the worst they can do! So and so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! well whoop de do! Put it in writing for me and I’ll stick it on fb lol. Freedom is a wonderful thing but it does take time to learn to be free within ourselves.

  10. Chad Willis says:

    I woke up about 2010 left in 2015 and just this week got DFed for voting in the November primary. I would not meet with the elders so I’m sure they considered that dissacossation. I fell no regrets whatsoever in fact I fell liberated. I posted my departure and the reason for it on my Facebook page for all my witness and non witness friends and relatives to see. I have already received comments of disbelief all from nonwitnesses please feel free to friend me, Chad Willis.

    • JBob says:

      A bit confused how the primary voting crucified you, or did you post that life event to your Facebook page?

    • Winston Smith says:

      @Chad,
      Your elders obviously had not kept up with the “new light.” Per the November 1999 Watchtower questions from readers (pg 28-29) voting is a conscience matter.

      In part it states: “However, there appears to be no principle against the practice of voting itself…As to whether they will personally vote for someone running in an election, each one of Jehovah’s Witnesses makes a decision based on his Bible-trained conscience and an understanding of his responsibility to God and to the State…If someone decides to go to the polling booth, that is his decision. What he does in the polling booth is between him and his Creator.”

      I realize that to have tried to go and argue this with them, you would have had to go meet with them and this would have be challenging and may have opened up a host of other issues. But I think that everyone on this site should be aware of the official stance on this matter. What a bunch of hypocrites (your elders) for not following their own rules or even doing the needed research to handle a judicial matter.

      WS

      • Songbird says:

        Well, apparently newer ‘new light’ re-states the old ‘light’ on this issue. On May 12, 2014 under the heading “Why Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Maintain Political Neutrality?” JW.org made the following statement.

        “Jehovah’s Witnesses remain politically neutral for religious reasons, based on what the Bible teaches. We do not lobby, vote for political parties or candidates, run for government office, or participate in any action to change governments. We believe that the Bible gives solid reasons for following this course.”

        https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/political-neutrality/#?insight%5Bsearch_id%5D=96e8c1ba-e105-463e-8d2f-555e43a3566c&insight%5Bsearch_result_index%5D=3

        • Winston Smith says:

          They are certainly unclear in that they keep giving opposing opinions on it. The 2014 reference appears to be a blanket statement, much like similar statements made throughout their history. In this same reference that you linked, they also state: “We also respect the rights of others to make their own decisions in political matters. For example, we do not disrupt elections or interfere with those who choose to vote.”

          Even in the 1999 article, they certainly portray voting in a negative light. Recalling what was going on for the org in the late 1990’s – they were trying to get legal recognition in several Eastern European countries – and the blood issue and voting were the #1 and #2 items holding this process up. This appears to be what prompted them to make such statements and relegate certain matters (blood fractions, voting) to matters of conscience. I would still argue that based on that second statement in the article that you referenced, the 1999 stand could be argued to still be in effect. Either way, I doubt it would have helped Chad in his situation with them.

          WS

        • Winston Smith says:

          In reflecting on this constant flip flopping of rules and regs, a couple thoughts came to mind:
          1.) When I was an elder, we were constantly being told to change our procedures back and forth. One CO would come and tell us to do something one way and the next would tell us to do the opposite. On one occasion I remember calling the branch for direction on a special situation and getting told to handle a certain way and then, after it was handled, receiving a scolding for having not handled it right. It was frustrating.
          2.) You certainly must allow for individuals’ opinions coming into play. There is little in the way of checks and balances in the overall hierarchy, so strongly opinionated persons can turn their personal views into “law” while they are in power. For instance, we ask one branch member how to handle something and tell you their way; you ask another and get told a completely different way. I think this one reason you see articles in the Watchtower and on jw.org that contradict others. It’s not all “new light.” Often it’s a combination of someone’s opinion and poor journalism.
          3.) But could it be something more insidious? Could it be that the Borg intentionally keep changing rules to keep the, what I refer to using the the Orwellian term, “outer party” (your non bethel elders and MS’s) in line? Thus they are trained to be organizational yes-men and to never develop a will of their own, through constantly having to relearn what they already thought they knew. Reminds me of the scriptural phrase: “always learning, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.” Why? Because truth, as defined by the “inner party” (the branches and HQ) keeps changing.

          Just some thoughts.

          WS

      • SIRIUS says:

        @Winston Smith

        Perhaps on a much larger scale, since the JWs have a concept of being true and better (owning truth & superiority) it’s odd they can’t govern over others like in a government of today. You’d think it would be a natural, they have the traits… right? I’d love to see a JW run for office and throw NWT passages on Billboards at worldly people.

        BTW, are GB members voted in?

        IMHO

        dogstar

        • Winston Smith says:

          New GB members are voted in by the current GB members.

          WS

          • Searcher says:

            That is why the Watchtower organization that is the led by the GB is an ‘oligarchy’. The privileged few, selected by the few, to rule over the masses.

  11. Pj Wilcox says:

    Very well written and thought out. I should like to meet you some day and laugh a bit about how JWs have no clue what it means to have a loving family. My family may be a bit distinctional but it’s all we got.

    Bit of humor to conclude
    My definition of normal is merely a setting on a “DRYER”

    I so appreciate your profound wisdom

    Pj Wilcox
    http://www.unsealedbooks.com

  12. Telescopium says:

    James,
    Truly appreciated your experience.
    You mention social interactions being awkward at first. This resonated with me because I spent most of 2015 in a socially self-destructive state, not knowing who I really was or what I liked or disliked. It took a total re-evaluation of my life to figure out who I am.

    Your article indicates you’re happy now, living your life to the full. That’s great evidence of a successful life after leaving the Organization. Thank you for providing that.

    I wish you all the best.

  13. JR says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. The emotional destruction is the part that has been the hardest to learn to fix but leaving this cult 15 years ago was the best thing I ever did…but I still find the holidays hard to make that emotional connection.

  14. Twmack says:

    Thanks James, “Starting to feel again” is a good
    expression. I too now vote in local and general
    elections. After having my democratic rights
    suppressed for many years, it gives me a great
    feeling of freedom when I drop my paper in that
    ballot box. I’m a normal citizen in a free country.

    It’s very much like the Berlin Wall coming down
    after nearly 30 years. What rejoicing there was,
    especially by those who had been on the totalitarian
    E, German side.

    Now they could embrace and mix again freely with
    others from their own country, free from the threat
    of being killed by patrolling guards.

    Incessant indoctrination, religious or otherwise,
    creates a barrier that’s harder to break through than
    a 12ft, wall. It took me nearly 30 years to clear my
    mind of WT, propaganda, it’s an easier task today.

    Information is the key, it’s what all controlling regimes
    fear. WT, needs to censor us to maintain their control,
    if we allow it we’ll never be free. We will always be on
    the wrong side of that wall.

  15. David Brand says:

    Thank you James, a well written article and a perspective a vast multitude of us understand full well. I am glad to see you are using your own name (at least I believe you are!). More than a few ex-Witnesses are afraid to use their own name on these sites for fear of losing what little contact they may still have with family members still active in the organization. The idea of celebrating birthdays still drags on me like a heavy yoke around my neck. Being taught from an early age that birthdays were a selfish celebration, I’ve never learned to fully let go and enjoy mine. Funny enough, I turned 50 last week and found it difficult to enjoy the occasion, 30 years after I left the Witnesses!! I shared an article about my thoughts on “celebrating life” in this manner on https://separatedfromtheflock.wordpress.com. Take a look if you’re interested to see my take on birthdays and other matters related to being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    • debian70 says:

      Hi. There are several reasons not necessarily linked with the Jehovah’s Witness organisation why some decide to use a nickname… Perhaps it has something to do with job requirements or other sensible activities 😉

  16. Quendi says:

    James,

    Thanks so much for sharing. When I was disfellowshipped, my experience was quite different from that of most Witnesses. All the years I was in the cult, I had never turned my back on either my relatives or friendships I had before my baptism. Afterwards I continued to cultivate real friendships with “worldly” people. Thus, when I was put out, I had a great safety net to catch me. I was aided, assisted and loved by people the Watchtower had constantly disparaged. So when I turned to these friends and family for help, they gladly and lovingly assisted me. Otherwise, I would have lived on the streets and suffered all kinds of harm.

    The angry silence I met when I pointed out the actions of these “worldlings” in contrast to the complete neglect and abandonment I got from the elders was priceless. Though disfellowshipped, the elders told me I was still one of Jehovah’s sheep. When I asked them why they had abandoned me to the wolves, bears and lions outside the organization, I got no answer. I subsequently ceased any and all efforts to return and am all the better for it.

    Your story will help and inspire many others. Keep spreading the word. This cult is not worth the time and effort it demands from its members and the sooner they realize it the better off they will be. I am very glad that you have got hold of the real life, not the horrible fake one the Watchtower has imposed on its followers. Keep up the good work.

    Quendi

  17. debian70 says:

    Beautiful essay. I got my freedom in 2006 after spending nearly 20 years at Bethel and I discovered a brand ‘new world’. The real new world made of normal people like myself. No drug addicted, no fornicators, no liars, no blasphemous people… just normal people who loved their families, had a job, showed feelings, passions and so on. I started almost immediately to be part of this new world. I voted several times and I felt proudly part of a community. I proudly voted at the Scottish independence referendum and more recently for Brexit. I celebrate birthdays and Christmas. Only Easter does not make real sense to me. I now have a family who loves me deeply.

    However, just at the beginning though I felt a bit awkward thinking that all disfellowshipped people were living a pretty miserable grey life full of sadness, painful remorse etc but I wasn’t. So I thought: “Well I must be me very evil!”. Fortunately I met this community online and I discovered another “new world” full of real happy disfellowshipped/disassociated open minded people. What else one could possibly ask?

  18. Jill Hileman says:

    And it’s more than ok if you could benefit, even need, the support of a therapist to guide you through the jungle of emotions and life changes too. You’re resilient because you made it. 🙂

  19. Michael Scalf says:

    48 years in. Was an elder at one point. Now 3 1/2 years out and really enjoying life. I like so many others had doubts but put them off as wrong thoughts. Then one day a woman at work asked me to come to her church. Don’t know why I accepted the invite but I did and it has changed my life forever. I found out that all the things I was taught were indeed wrong and that God is not mean or cruel and demanding but truly loving and forgiving. Best part is that woman who invited me to church is now my wife. God is truly good and the real truth about him does set one free as Jesus said it would.

  20. James Broughton says:

    The Watchtower Society speaks much of the New World “just round the corner”. Thank you James for reminding us that the new world-wide community of freed people is here and now.

  21. CaptainmyCaptain says:

    I faded a while ago, and then got back into it because of where I lived and the small town and at the suggestion of my parents. I then left 3 years ago when I moved to a larger city and I have been faded since 2012. I kept telling my family that I was going to meetings, but I wasn’t. I was much happier enjoying my weekends doing what I wanted to be doing and not knocking on peoples doors at 930 in the morning and disturbing them if they were sleeping in or enjoying their breakfast together as a family. Since then my family has figured out that I haven’t been to a meeting in years. While I still have contact with them it’s very superficial at best. I still struggle with my feelings and thoughts. I only attended the the convention this past summer to please my parents. That was the wrong thing to do. The Society knows how to really tug at your emotions and they way they portray life in the “new order”. I have lost someone very close in death and it was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. And the society really rips at your heart strings with the video portrayals. They know that everyone has been impacted by death in one way or another. However when you really start asking questions and analyzing things in great detail, you realize that this is just a giant corporation, and they are a lot of other church groups out there that were created during the “enlightenment” period in the late 1800’s. Raymond Franz’s book was eye opening to say the least. I never thought that I would be 36 years old. When my siblings were this age I thought that was old and that I would never have to experience getting older. Well 18 years later I’m still here, but my life is just a little different. I’ve realized that I’ve lost out on 36 years of my life…..living in fear. I can relate to the writer wholeheartedly. I’ve lost or ended a lot of good relationships because of the fear that I have of dating someone of the “world”. I haven’t fallen into drugs or debauchery. I even went to college and got a degree, and I’m so glad I did because I don’t know where I would be now if I had followed the guidance of the society. At the time I decided to go to school, I’m sure my parents were brow beaten because they gave me that choice to do whatever I wanted. I made the right decision. I will never lose my degree or my education and it made me a well rounded individual. I have so many emotions reading this article. Do I still feel like a failure at times…..yes I do because I have a superficial relationship with my family, but it is what it is. But if you are faded DO NOT ATTEND the convention. It will mess with your head like you have never been messed with before. And really make you question what you are doing. I wish I had never gone. The society knows what they are doing. Thank you for this article. I can certainly relate and I’m sure so many others can too.

  22. Tara says:

    Had the best conversation via messenger today. MC asked after me… I posted a big smiley face over some comment. he remarked on it and I said that’s because I am happy. He said he was glad I was but also not. Basically he eluded to the fact that I cannot truly be happy because I no longer attend the meetings. I basically told him that I was happy because I had found the God of my youth again. I told him I pray and have faith that my God loves and cares for me. He told me more was needed than just that. I asked him what more could be needed than my love for God and his son and their love for me? He told me he wanted to help me. I told him I didn’t need any help I was doing great. He just didn’t get it that I wasn’t pining after the meetings and the org. So I said I can’t miss something that my conscience will not allow me to condone… I mentioned that I will not talk about it with him because the study article last year said we should not talk about things, even if we know it is true because it’s not loving. I let nothing slip but gave him plenty to think on. I actually felt a little proud of myself for not caving. Happy drive to work 🙂

  23. Sharon Christensen says:

    Such a good article! Still going thru many emotions because of JW orgy control after many yrs…but perhaps one day…When I have “my times” usually brought on by my mother, still a fullfledged WT…My dear daughter, who I vowed the day I had her …that she would be a free spirit, never to live a controlled life dictated to as to how to live by some imperfect man, claiming to have God given backing to do so…She looks at me and says…Mom, a boat can only be sunk, if water gets into it…do not let their muddy water sink your boat…Still a float…:). although after a chewin match from my mother I have to bail quite a bit!!!!! Never going back! Nothing there! And yes…would like to slap all of them in the face for their disgusting fakery and falsehood…and kick their…hiney’s past their ears…but oh wait…my tight pants will not allow me to lift my leg that high! :))). PS…2016 Regional Conventional….leave your brains at door near the table that says…interact and credit cards accepted here! One more thing…here in Manitoba, Canada….Convention in full swing at Portage La Praire…HOT AND STINKIN HUMID!!!! Hope there is air conditioning…if not the Dear Bros. will be sweating like chickens in the barn with only fans blowing!!!! Not a good smell…but fitting for the JWorgy! Ever see a chicken…in heat! ? :)).

  24. Governing body says:

    The only time you are allowed as a JW to express your angry, frustration and literally go on a peaceful protest , is when Caesar demands JW to pay taxes.

    Look at what we did in France.

  25. FullyAwake says:

    I really appreciated the following statement in your article:

    “One of the first things I learned was that all those “worldly people” I had dismissed as “destined for destruction” are actually mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. Just like me, they’re also pre-occupied with raising their children and providing a good life for their families.”

    Individual witnesses actually believe that anyone outside the organization is destined for destruction if they don’t become witnesses even if the person is good and sincere. Their organization teaches them this. Don’t you think that this is highly judgmental? The scriptures warn us about being judgmental in several places for any reason. The Witnesses judge the entire world!

    The behavior of the witnesses reflects that of a cult. The witnesses will deny that they are in a cult, but in reality they are. They say we don’t follow one man, but the governing body is a group of men. It doesn’t matter, they are still following imperfect men and allowing them to shape everything they do and don’t do in life.

    EXAMPLES PROVING THAT THEY ARE A CULT:
    I heard one witness say that his brother better get back to meetings regularly before it is too late. He was insinuating that he will lose his life if he doesn’t attend meetings. The organization teaches this but the scriptures do not.

    It is amazing to me how witnesses view outsiders. Most witnesses will not allow their children to associate with anyone from school. All of their children’s associates must be witnesses in the congregation.

    Another example in 2009/2010 on two separate occasions the district and circuit assemblies strongly discouraged the use of Facebook by any witness and were encouraged to close their Facebook accounts. Sure enough, a flood of witnesses closed their Facebook accounts all because of what a “MAN” or “MEN” said they should or shouldn’t do. Most of them re-opened their Facebook accounts once some time had past by. Why? Because there is nothing in the scriptures that state that there is anything wrong with it.

    These examples show how ludicrous this whole thing is and further proves that they are actually a cult following men.

  26. Ms Leslie in Texas says:

    I’m in awe at how we’ve all been there, have begun truly living without judgement and we are FINE, prospering even!! And how awesome to be able to share the feelings of our awakening with no judgement!!

  27. Alfy says:

    Becomnig ‘free’ of any cult’s compulsions does require abandoning the words of Christ who said ‘by only continuing you will be set free’.

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