“I’m losing my mind”, I thought as the air rushed out of my lungs. The compass of my life was spinning out of control. I willed myself to stare at my computer screen as I watched yet another John Cedars video that solidified my awakening. Familiar words suddenly lost their meaning as my life, as I’d always known, seemed to lose direction.
“How am I meant to ask anyone about this when no one else seems to realize the things I have learned or found out?”
“What is this knowledge going to cost me? My family relationships? My friends? My future?”
These were the very thoughts I grappled with as I started awakening from my religious indoctrination.
My name is Sacha, and I share this article with you to assure you that you are not alone.
As a recent member of the JWSurvey team, I have taken on the Support & Aftercare Manager role to help the many people who reach out and contact us. I help to handle and respond to the multitude of emails and Facebook messages received each week.
Please allow me to introduce myself:
Since birth, I spent my entire life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses – a fully devoted believer in “the Truth.”
As far as I was concerned, this way of life was part of my very DNA! Everything about me as a person was defined by this belief structure. After all, I was worshiping the Almighty Jehovah God along with his earthly organization, right?
The household I grew up in was very spiritually-minded. Theocratic activities were part of our daily routine, fueling my endeavours to be the ideal JW youth. I pioneered, worked on JW construction projects, and even lived and worked at the Australian Bethel Headquarters for five years. I genuinely enjoyed my “theocratic” life.
In true Watchtower tradition, I married the perfect JW sister and we continued in spiritual activities, such as pioneering together. I became an appointed man in the congregation and had an active share in congregational duties. I enjoyed this confection of a life, along with the many aspects of Watchtower service that opened up to my wife and I.
However, it was during these very pursuits of “Kingdom activities” that I discovered unsettling facts about the organization. While researching through the Society’s own publications to prepare for talks, and from examining old books from the congregation library, disturbing information came to my attention. The irredeemable history of “the Truth” had been completely whitewashed and distorted. Further comparison of past writings with Watchtower’s current rhetoric revealed that the Governing Body was not being transparent about many issues.
Naturally, I dismissed these things as “Old Light” and was determined to resolve these qualms – but only from “approved” sources. And once again, in time I found dissatisfaction with the answers found in Watchtower’s resources.
In this information age, it became apparent that if I was to be truly thorough and intellectually honest, I had to take a comprehensive look at the wide variety of information that is so easily available. After all, how was I meant to actively recruit members into the organization unless I myself could conclusively prove it to be true? Also, didn’t the Bible itself encourage us to use our “perceptive powers” and God-given brains to determine all things?
So I allowed myself to embark on an innocuous research assignment. If this is the Truth, then it should easily withstand a bit of analytical investigation and research, or so I remember thinking to myself. Sourcing material from a JW echo chamber was not going to be sufficient. It had to be from all sources, and confirmation bias needed to be left at the door. Truth is truth, after all!
One click led to another, and suddenly I landed in what seemed like a scary part of the internet. There it was… JWfacts.com. As I hovered my mouse over the page ready to click, every nerve ending in my body screamed “NO!” – an indoctrinated reflex, I now realize in retrospect.
It wasn’t long after that when I found the very website you are reading right now: JWsurvey.org. With great hesitation and trepidation, I betrayed my JW-honed flight response and allowed myself to anonymously take part in the Annual Survey. Through all the anxiety, I simultaneously felt safe and liberated to see that I was not alone in taking part in this! I also explored the many online forum support groups and enjoyed interacting with the honest-hearted people who made up these communities. Some beautiful friendships have resulted!
Many current Jehovah’s Witnesses will cling to the convenient misapprehension that those who conscientiously leave the organization are taking the “easy road” in life. Yet if there’s anything my own experience has taught me, it’s that there is so much courage and integrity involved in fearlessly turning over every stone that has paved your life thus far. To go against the grain of an established life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and head back to the drawing board of your life’s blueprint is far from easy. I have enormous respect for all who have been brave enough to do so. It is like navigating a “narrow and cramped road.”
I was very fortunate that my wife Sherrie (along with our fur-baby Derby, the Abyssinian cat) also eventually made her way out of the religion. She too took her own journey of discovery – at her own pace – and learned “The Truth About The Truth.” I didn’t force her. I simply created a safe atmosphere in our home where she could learn things for herself. (Sherrie is also a member of the JW Survey team. Keep an eye out for her articles.) For more information, our journey is captured here.
And so, ever grateful for the resources and assistance we were given to awaken, I feel an overwhelming desire to assist other people who are traveling this path. Having now joined the JWsurvey family, my role is to help process the multitude of emails and messages that come through via this site and various other social media platforms. It is our promise to you that your messages will always be treated with the utmost confidentiality and respect. We have been in your situation. We know how important it is to feel comfortable to open up.
It’s important to us that you know we are here for you and have experienced the trauma you may currently be facing. We understand, and we want to provide a safe and soft landing place for those needing to take stock of their lives, regroup and process their thoughts during the “waking up process.” We can provide a listening ear and assist each other to build a community and support network.
Above all, you are NOT alone! You are part of an ever-growing wave of momentum worldwide. As you begin to steer your way through the community, you’ll discover that so many Jehovah’s Witnesses feel just like you. Silent prisoners of what they know, they are troubled and distressed at the realization that they may have spent a lifetime of devotion to something that is not true.
Our team here at JWsurvey.org does not have all the answers. We can’t solve every step, or fix everything. However, we can provide some basic support, experience and information to anyone in need of moving forward and taking control of their life. It is our aim that this will help some face the future with hope, strength, and dignity.
Please be assured that we value TRUTH and HONESTY and will draw on our broad experience to assist where we can. After what we have been through, we all deserve to live a happy and successful life!
Feel free to reach out and share your thoughts and experiences. Make use of the resources we have here as you navigate your way through life after Watchtower. Pass the torch and look for ways to assist others.
And most importantly, please know that you aren’t losing your mind. You are not flawed or broken. You’ve just woken up.