Are You Happy Now Since Leaving the Watchtower?
(the following were responses to the above question as asked by a member of the H2O message board)
Since I have been out of the organization, I have not been able to replace
the brotherly love I experienced
while on the inside. Sure there were some unloving ones but the vast majority of "rank and file brothers and sisters were loving and trustworthy. I have not been able to find anything like it "in the world" and I wonder if any of you have. I would like to hear how you have dealt with this common experience, or if you have found a similar group of people without the mind games.
The fact is it is a feeling of "brotherly love" inside the Watchtower organization. But that's just what it is. A feeling. If you read the Pay Attention book, you will find that the elders in the congregation will actually assign certain "brothers and sisters" to make people feel welcome! That's exactly the words used.
The problem is that the mind games on the inside makes people feel this way. It's also called group pressure.
Sure there were some unloving ones but the vast majority of "rank and file brothers and sisters were loving and trustworthy.
This is in fact a mix of truths and lies. Most "brothers and sisters" are seemingly that way, and they may want to be like that as well. But they react only to orders from the men at the top!
The day the elders tells them to "mark" a person, the "love" and "warmth" disappears like a fart in the horizon!
They can't be trusted at all, since they will shoot you in the back at order. No matter how they feel about you. If you did have real friends inside - where are they now? Here, in the "old, cruel world" - people stand by each other - and especially friends!
People that will lie - even in court and to the police - to protect an organization, can't be trusted. People that are willing to murder their own children - are they trustworthy???
I have not been able to find anything like it "in the world" and I wonder if any of you have. I would like to hear how you have dealt with this common experience, or if you have found a similar group of people without the mind games
Naturally you haven't. Without the mind games there is nothing like the "feeling" inside the Tower. The mind games is what makes this feeling of brotherhood!
You will have no problems finding friends in "the world", but then you need to go places where you meet people! You need to meet them on their own terms, and your own. You need to be YOURSELF - and not an old Watchtower-drone, filled with twisted ideas and thoughts about everybody else really being morons, immoral a##holes etc.
I was somewhat happy being in the Borg but all of us have some many different experiences and being happy was not one of them. When I left the Borg I was angry and lost and afraid. I was mostly afraid because I had no hope believing that God loved me and that He would destroy me when that time came.
I would simply be destroyed because I wasn't a JW - I can laugh now about that but it wasn't funny for 12 years when I was thinking that way. When I left the Borg I believed in my heart that God was real and I did love Him but being that the Borg doesn't teach God's mercy and grace I just felt that God would never forgive my sins.
2 years ago when I finally listened to the proof about the Borg being false and my emotions went wild I was very angry then. I was mad at the Borg, my mom and at God. The question came - well, then what is the truth?
I was attending church at the time and an incredible amount of bricks came off my shoulders and I felt the freedom of knowing that I am saved because I claimed Christ as my Savior - this gift is for anyone to claim. I knew then that God is loving and has so much grace and mercy and love for us. My heart felt washed cleaned and that told me that God had forgiven my sins and will be remembered no more.
Its truly a disgrace that the Borg doesn't even have a clue what our God is about and His purpose - that is clearly displayed through the teachings.
I'm happier than I've ever been. I've formed the most wonderful friendships out in the "world." My friends now are *true* friends, something I never found in the organization.
I started college the first year after I quit the Witnesses. I met friends there with whom I'm still close today (15 years later). I also met good friends at places I've worked. I've found that you have to make the effort; people aren't "forced" to be friends with you out here like they were in the organization. But you'll find that once you make friends, they're generally friends for life. And they don't care what your religious persuasions are, etc. They won't shun you at the drop of a hat. You can really *talk* to them -- about any subject -- without them getting upset with you. :-)
In the past five years, I've also become close to a lot of ex-JWs over the net. We've met many of these wonderful people in person, and they have been a great source of companionship.
I am inclined to shout YES! with only the most fleeting reservations.
I first came to the Unitarian Universalist church looking for a haven, a safe place to figure things out after I left the JWs. To make a long story short, I found a very hospitable place. It was so hospitable that it led me to other hospitable places, rather than shutting me away from the world.
UUs believe in "the inherent worth and dignity of every person," which means that they love the world and think "separateness" from it is counterproductive, silly, dangerous, or just impossible. It makes for a very hospitable, compassionate world-view -- but of course everybody has their hangups to get over.
The thing I like about UUs is something that first attracted me to Jehovah's Witnesses 25 years ago -- their enjoyment of good works. Jehovah's Witnesses have had to suffer the misfortune of seeing that natural pleasure in compassion cramped and restricted and starved under the ever-tightening regime of "separateness", "neutrality," and "watching our associations."
UU's view the world as "a place of great beauty and great brokenness," as I have heard it expressed, and are called both to love it and mend it. I am reveling in this attitude and celebrate and act on it all the time -- from giving dollars to beggars, raising money for causes I believe in, even singing in choir.
Yes, on the whole, I would say I am VERY HAPPY NOW.
I presume you may be asking about another religious group? It's easy for like minded and like "cultured" people of the same race to get along and to have love and unity amongst them. The real test of our humanity is to be unified and loving in racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. I recall the JWs claim to be non-prejudiced when it came to race. It was a sham. There was class division and racial bias as well as the institutionalized sexual prejudice.
To answer your question, yes I have found a religious community that not only endorses diversity but celebrates it. I suspect you can find the same if you earnestly seek out people of different race, temperament, culture and religion and really get to know them as friends. Build your own circle of "lovers". You may be surprised at the results of your efforts. From experience I can tell you that my life has been rich beyond the furtherest post- armageddon fantasy.
I don't mean any offense, really, but I was in 25 years, pioneered, elder, worked at assemblies, and I have found as much love and more in the local PTA, and in many of other denominations or no denomination. The Witnesses are an average cross section of the population as far as kindness, caring, etc. I know what you said is the common spiel that we hear, but I think it more a placebo effect, emperors new clothes thing in those who fall for it than a real observation. I am hundreds of times happier since I quit worrying about the unintelligible bullsh!t the irresponsible and pompous characters in New York "fed" us.
My family -- all but one never joined JWism -- always has been and always will be the best association I can have. They are very kind, honest and loving people. I am ashamed that I viewed them as "bad association" because 12 @ssholes from Brooklyn said I had to.
In the seven years I was associated with the JWs I saw worse things happen than in my entire life as a Catholic. In my entire life I came into contact with only one priest which I consider to have been bad. And he wasn't as bad as some of the elders and COs I've met.
And I'm not saying all JWs are bad. But the ones that are are worse than the worst "worldly" people. And unfortunately I came into contact with too many ugly, self-righteous, arrogant JWs. Sad but true. I am not their judge and I don't think it's their fault. It is the fault of the demonic teachings of the WTS. That is the "fruitage" (to use their own language) of their teachings -- Phariseeism. There is a handful who were loving and just hanging in there that I love and miss.
You asked if anyone is happy. I can tell you this: I have never, ever, ever been happier. I am Catholic again and I love my parish. I love the charity work. I feel loved and not judged. And I try to love and not judge. It is way different from JWism. Every time I go to Mass we pray, "God have mercy on me a sinner" instead of "Thank you God for this spiritual food you have given us (because we're so righteous) uhumm." And anyone who is a JW knows that this is the attitude of the brothers when they pray at the Kingdom Hall.
Anyways, that's my story. My husband who was brought up in JWism is also out and he is happier now than he has ever been in his entire life. So there you go. Two happy ex-JWs who have not a single regret for getting the heck out of there!
I missed Bethel for a few years after leaving, even though I knew the old boys were not interested in truth or Christian Freedom. Even though I started going to a church before I turned in my disassociation letter, the one element that was missing in the church was what I now call homogenous love or "peer love," that of like-minded people. Even though I could be in a church and believe basically the same thing as most of the rest, it was the personal interests, thought patterns, goals, etc.. that were not the same. (Some Witnesses do like this kinds of mind control.)
It took me a while to sort it out: that such kind of comraderie is only available in a restricted group setting, such as clubs and sectarian religions. That alone should make it undesirable, but of course, not all "clubs" are bad. Just the dishonest and bigoted ones. :-))
One thing I learned from my Christian brethren (post-watchtower) was that Jesus taught us to have a love for all our brothers, regardless of their habits, culture, etc. and that was really more of a "heterogenous" love, one that means loving others who, although basically good people, have few habits and thoughts similar to your own. To me, that is the real challenge of Christianity. For a Witness to love another Witness was not hard to do; we were all kind of clones. Kind of like loving yourself. But to love someone who calls themselves Christian (and who gives you no reason to believe otherwise) who has little in common with you is much harder. Witnesses taking care of Witnesses who are flood victims or whatever in other countries is certainly nothing to brag about.
So the bottom line is, learn to appreciate the kind of love Jesus showed, not the common peer love that is no different among Witnesses than in any other club or sect.
If you really miss the comraderie, join a club! (NOT a sectarian religion.)
I am glad you were able to experience brotherly love while on the inside. I have not.
When some brothers have been good to me, even loving, I found this "love" existed only if I was active. When my family hit severe financial problems years ago, we did not attend meetings because of working several jobs, or because of depression and exhaustion. We were dropped like hot potatoes. The only ones who called were two elders who berated us for not attending the meetings...I was supposed to quit my extra jobs and let my family starve and attend meetings.
JW love and friendship is conditional and not real. That does not mean that some individual JWs don't have true love; I am sure that many do. I just never met them.
I found many non-JWs to be more loving than JWs are. In my case, I have trouble making friends because of shyness and because I do not have many social skills as I was a JW most of my adult life. Also, Ottawa is a difficult area to make friends in. Not to mention I have spent most of my life working long hours.
Hi there, Your experience has not been my experience. I have found people everywhere who I have felt an affinity with, compassion for, friendship towards, respect of etc. This is only limited by my ability to put the time and effort in to cultivating deeper friendship with them. I have been the one to hold back, postpone, withdraw, too lazy and too self reliant etc to work at getting more from the lovely people I meet. I cannot complain about the amount of wonderful, interesting, and caring people out there. I know that it's all about 'getting out what you put in', and I feel it's me who doesn't want to invest the effort that is required to develop lasting friendships. I guess I'm past wanting a very close friend. My husband fills that need in me.
Having said that - all our situations are different. Our localities, personalities etc. I'm out-going and chatty, and the people I have contact with are all very down to earth, honest, good people. Some areas are harder to break into. It's certainly not as easy as having a pre arranged community group, who've got something special in common. But this could be the case if you have a specific interest or hobby. In this case, you should join a club, or take on charity work. It would be a similar set up as the congregation. Especially if it's something that is of great interest to you. We do bond best with people of similar interests.
I'd even go so far as to tell you to go back to the meetings if you are missing the company too much. It would fulfill a need in you and life's too short to deny yourself the things you like. A lot of people attend church for the social side alone. I suspect a number of witnesses do too.
I used to sit in restaurants after field service on Saturdays, having lunch, looking around at all the people in their shorts and jeans, care free, doing chores, laughing, places to go, shopping and mowing and parties to go to...and was SO ENVIOUS that I had no life. It was NO LIFE in that Org. It was slavery and prison. I had only the friends in the congregation and they were boring, lifeless and forced to be my "friend" as well. The minute I started expressing any doubts, those FRIENDS were gone...poof. Now, I have moved to another state away from those hollow people, and have discovered how wonderful and genuinely caring and giving people are. I knew that before I was a JW and allowed them to convince me all worldly people were these horrible creatures not even worthy of our time except that which we afforded them in "service". I revel in sitting in the sunny morning light on my porch reading the paper with my coffee, the kids playing baseball, or swinging or swimming, the sounds of the neighborhood buzzing with life around me. Those people will not just appear at your doorstep, my friend, you must make an effort to step out of your mental BOX and go meet them. Show them the true you...forget the propaganda and don't prejudge them. The JWs think they are the only this and the only that and in doing so... have removed themselves not only from the world, but from each other and from life. Count your blessings and get OUT THERE :)
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