Children/Growing Up Stories

The most recent submissions are posted at the top. When the file gets too large, the older stories will be added to "Growing Up Archives."

see other similar files at: Growing Up in the Watchtower

Hi Randy,

I am 22 years old, still trying to deal with the way I was brought up. It's been 3 years since I've left, and I'm not as bitter as I used to be, but it's been a hard road.

I was totally back-stabbed by people who were supposed to be my friends. We were about 16-17 at the time. My one friend was out having lots of sex with lots of people - I had no idea. We were always deemed the "bad girls" (nicknamed "Nitro" and "Glycerin" by the elders, as when these two items are combined there's always negative results) and considered even "whores" by a few clique-ish "sisters".  I had never had sex, but since my friend was, I was guilty by association.  We had a terrible falling out, and months later I confessed to my mom that this friend of mine had had sex. Everyone knows that's a sin punishable by gossip, terrorism by the elders, and criticism. My friend didn't even get the half of it. I got most of it, being yelled at by the elders as I "didn't tell them" she was having sex. When I got up enough courage I told them, and nothing happend to her anyway. She was publicly reproved - but lied about all the sex she had. Looking back, I could give ! a crap less about what she did, and it was none of my business in the first place. Back then it was your duty as an upright Christian friend to "tell" and make things better. Things only got worse from then on.

After being "banned" from the aforementioned friend by her parents, (how ironic) I gained another "best friend". We had been friends before, but got really close after all this had happend.  "Laura" ended up having some mental problems. (I think she's a sociopath, and a pathological liar) Laura also developed an unhealthy relationship with a guy she worked with. I think he's a bit neurotic, and psychotic himself. He convinced her to steal my ATM card, and find out my pin number. My pin number was "2121" and it was quite a mystery how my card became suddenly lost after I used it the last time. She was with me at the ATM and could have easily seen me punch in my code. 

I knew my card was missing, but too naive to know that Laura had taken it. I thought it was lost in my car somewhere. I was wrong. I ended up bouncing about $200 in checks because I didn't know that all these ATM withdrawals had been made. She took out the max amount ($60) every day for a month. Finally I got my bank statement that showed all these transactoins I was not responsible for. I knew at that moment she was the one who did it.

Eventually, the state pressed charges. Before I knew this, I threatened to sue her for damages. I was discouraged by the elders because it would "bring reproach upon Jehovah's name". Whatever - I didn't care. They just didn't want their religion getting a bad rap. They didn't care what had happened to me. They only cared about their reputation in the community.

Shortly after the second incident with my so-called friends, I moved out of my parents house (a few months after I had graduated high-school) and got a full-time job. I stopped going to meetings, and associating with fellow JW's. The elders "stalked" me, until finally they gave up after not being able to reach me. They would drive by my house, knock on my door and call me. I worked nights at the time, and was sleeping when they decided to stop by. They pounded on my door, waking me from a dead sleep. I was scared out of my witts! I had no idea who was persistantly trying to wake me up. They must have knocked for 10-15 minutes. I finally got out of bed, and crawled to the door, peeking out the window and seeing two elders. I was livid, to say the least. I never did answer the door. Later on I found out that after they left my house, they went to my parents house to report that I had "avoided" them, even though all the lights were on and I had my stereo up loud. I laughed at ! this, as I lived in the basement of a house, and no lights were on, and no stereo was on.

They really haven't bothered me since then. The only personal "persecution" comes from my family who are still JW's.  My dad has recently informed my little brothers (17 and 14, who think of me as "the coolest sister alive" since I'm open with them and they can talk to me about anything and know they won't be judged) that I'm not good association. They can no longer spend the night at my house, for fear I may be having a party, smoking pot and doing shots of vodka. If my father knew me at all, he'd know I am not that type. So sad.

Another instance of JW persecution is the time I asked my nephew who made him to be so adorable. (He's 3, and very cute) My aunt was sitting there, and looked at him saying, "Tell her it's because Jehovah made you that way!" She said it in a very stern voice, almost repremanding me through him. How lame!?

My question is this: By saying mean things, and acting as a judge towards people who don't got to meetings anymore, do you really think these people are encouraging? Did my aunt think that by saying such a thing it would make me stop my whole life and yell, "Well it's about time you said that! Please oh please start a study with me!" No!

I've never been happier but today I continue to live my life dealing with the 18 years of brain washing I was subjected to the greater majority of my life. I have a great job, and a great outlook for the future.  Someday, hopefully, my parents will understand that by being a Witness, they made the choice to become one.  I also hope they understand I am only guilty of doing what they did - make a choice.

Feel free to write me anytime!

Chantel

PS-Post my name and email - I'm not afraid to be "found out". Anyone is welcome to email me if they want someone to talk to.


 

Randy,

 
I just stumbled on to your website upon researching "Did Jesus die on a cross?" and found that I wasn't alone like I felt I was. OK My story:
 
 I was raised as a JW by my mother and father. My father was a Overseer for many years and is very well known in the organization. My father is a white German and my mother is Black. They met in Springfield Ill. 46 years ago while attending the same congregation. My mother was a Catholic and converted to a JW by her cousin. My father came over from Germany during the war and his mother was helped by JWs while over in Germany. She eventually turn the whole family except for my Grandfather. Fast Forward... I was raised as a JW but never baptized in the religion even under pressure. My parents did not push this on me as they did my sisters and brother for some reason, but I did get asked if I was going to before every up coming assembly. I don't mean to ramble but I thought you should know my background before I ask you my questions. Continuing on... I attended the meetings because there was no choice living at home and never really made it "my own". I would go but find myself hanging out with the more "worldly people" I knew. I was never "spiritual" as was my mother and father who by the way still are. So the day came for me to graduate from High School and my dad said I could not live in the house unless I became a JW. So I moved out.
 
I have never really gone back but a few times over the years, but everyone in my family besides me are Jehovah's Witnesses. Nieces, Nephews, Sisters, Brother, Aunt Uncle you name it. I always felt that the "Truth" was true, but never wanted to go or think about it, or practice so I did nothing. I worked, played in bands, drank, but always felt that I was bad and wrong because I was ignoring Jehovah. I just did what I could to not think about it, or anything else. I dated a lot, then found someone  and got married. She was not a JW but was accepted by my family oddly enough. She had a positive influence on me and they saw that. Well we had two kids, a year apart and I still did nothing about religion. My wife was raised a Presbyterian but did not practice. Well we knew we wanted to teach the kids about God and Jesus, but didn't know what to do as I was raised to think that if you were not a "Witness", you would not live forever. Since I was taught not to ever question the "Truth", I never went to another church. Until my wife said she wanted spiritualness for us and the kids and asked me to go to the local Presbyterian church. There I found that these people were not heathens, but when they talked about the trinity and the cross I kept thinking these people are worshiping wrong and false. I felt soooo guilty for even being inside a church so while sitting there I prayed to Jehovah not to be mad at me for being there. The church offered a class called "Alpha" which is for all who want a basic knowledge of their teachings. You break into small groups once a week and discuss Jesus and whatever else you would like to ask about. Well being an outspoken person, I told the group that I was raised a JW and everything I was hearing (cross, Trinity etc>) was completely the opposite of what I was taught. It was even a sin for me to be in the church. Keep in mind that I haven't even gone to a meeting regularly for over 19 years. But I had a TON of questions. This is all in the past three weeks. They were very happy to have me there and were very kind, unlike what I have heard growing up.
 
This comes to the questions I have... I am VERY CONFUSED... it's like I don't know what or who to believe... I don't even know which bible to refer to since the only bible I have known or used was the JW bible. The Presbyterian bible is so different. I feel like all these years even though I never went I was still bound by the JW power in some weird way. I still am not sure it is not the truth and all this questioning is Satin's way of pulling me away totally once and for all. My parents moved to Europe and are "serving over there" but boy did the brothers over here take advantage of my father as an Overseer. That got me initially questioning the religion, but not a lot. My sister is asking some questions also, but she regularly attends JW meetings. Reading through the many emails posted on your website, I see that I am not alone. You make good points and it makes sense, but we are told not to listen to anything that contradicts Jehovah.
 
I have observed many of the points that you have brought up on your website such as the JW religion seems made up of many social misfits who are in need of acceptance and belonging, and those who need "power" as would an Elder that normally wouldn't receive it in the "world".
 
So now I am left to wonder, if it is not Jehovah, then who is it? What do I teach my kids? If I do not teach them about Jehovah, am I sentencing them not to live forever? Who was Jesus? Who is right? What is going to happen to us when we die? Is there going to be Armageddon? If we are not JWs we are not going to be among the living? Who is god? What can I do to feel good like the other people who have written you and said that they now feel good? That why I am writing you. I am lost and scared and confused. My wife is very supportive but I am tired of not being a JW but having the guilt like I am.
 
Thank you for letting me rant, but I don't know what to do
 
Todd Marx

 

Ever since I was old enough to comprehend, I always knew things didn't add up with what the organization was teaching. On top of that actions displayed by members seemed very hypocritical as well as the experience's I had at home. My parents were witnesses well before 1975, armageddon-end of the world scare. 1975 came and went, shortly thereafter my dad was appointed as elder in the Los Angeles Pico congregation. What is so damaging at an early age is that the JW parents restrain their children from having any type of social contacts apart from school. At school, I was often embarrassed to go because I was teased or just made to feel that I didn't fit in and that's what I went through in middle school the experience was very traumatizing. I remember when I would ask about sex issues or just personal issues on becoming a man, I was told to go get one of the books and look the information up for myself, and that will tell me what I'm suppose to expect or do. Now remember he didn't grow up as a JW in fact he didn't become one till he was in his 20's. So there's no excuse why he couldn't sit down with me personally and talk to me about anything out of love and concern, sadly this side of him I never got. I wasn't personally sat down and personalized with in a way to understand what I was going through, I needed the attention of my father and the personalization from him to let me know what a young man goes through. I receive neither, rather sadly I grew up without as idea of what was natural and normal processes of expectations of what I will be going through in young manhood to becoming a man. I wasn't allowed to talk on the phone to none of my peers, those were the ones who really knew and could relate to what I was going through and coming from. The JW kids wasn't into each other like that a lot of the JW kids didn't even like to associate or play with other JW kids. Mainly JW kids friends were ones at school or ones that didn't have anything to do with that religion. Go figure. I wasn't allowed to talk with females on the phone, my calls were monitored and if the girl wasn't a JW i was told to get off the phone. In particular, I was talking to one female that interested me and I felt we had some things in common. My mother listened to our conversation and told me to get off the phone where the girl could hear her.

The next day the girl asked me why she acted like that, had I or she done something wrong. I said no my parents are JWs and they don't want me talking on the phone to nobody. Well as soon as I said that it scared the girl and we stopped talking. I really liked her to, but wasn't given a chance or individuality to be my own person, be respected for making decisions of my choice of people that I liked. Not because a religion authorizes you to like only who they say, and doesn't allow room for anybody associated within the JW org to make their own personal decisions or judgments. Basically, I was suppose to know better about who I was to suppose to associate with and who I wasn't and that was end of issue, no discussion-deal with the frustration, repression, and suppressions. In the end it's for my own good. No it never turned out to be for any good, because my parents have displayed the same kind of garbage like everyone else within that org, basically they have shunned me and my family, they don't acknowledge the kids, they tell people stories as if we communicate and they are so close to the kids and love the kids so much that is far from the truth, they only put out interest when they feel they have no real idea of where we are actually living just to keep tags on us-(make sure I keep my  mouth shut on things I'm opening up about and talking about now they don't want no one to know what it was really like and how it still is now) That is what I and my wife has had to deal with and it hurts. Mainly our children are the ones mostly effected by this and that's so sad. How do we explain to our kids reasoning behind all of this of why their grandparents don't have anything to do with them. My wife and I don't stand for anything that my parents are about or try to uphold. How do you reasonably explain that to your child/children. Actually the child lives with the same auras and effects from growing up within that org as I did when I was a child, even though their parents claim no association and have nothing to do with that org. That's how this effects everybody. Our kids don't understand why or what were going through, they just know something hurts and effects our lives because of their father's background and that their involved in receiving the same treatment. My wife is made to feel the same way also.

They didn't have anything to do with my background. Leave my wife and kids out of it, leave them alone.....

That is a little summary of my story...

Go to www.support4xjws.org for more!


Hello. My name is Gabe. I was raised in the JW faith since I was born. I always thought I was evil or not normal because as my parents told me over and over" I never allowed the truth to set in my heart". My father was and still an elder. My mother is also currently a full time pioneer. I was never baptized thankfully. I stopped going to Kingdom Hall at the age of 15. I wanted out from a very young age, I would say at around 10. However, this was no easy task. The final straw for me came when I was offered a grant for college. I was 15. I was so very happy and proud of my hard work and I rushed home to tell my father. Even though he always wanted me to put the "service" first he always encouraged me to do well in school. I told him about the grant and much to my surprise he flat out told me that I would never go to college because this was the "ball field of Satan" and to forget that issue all together. I was very upset and tried to reason with him. My father would also "use the rod" as he called it (more like beat me when he felt I was going against the word of Jehovah). Well at fifteen and as upset as I was I was not going to take any more beatings. The confrontation became physical and I soon found myself banned from the congregation and "dissfellowshipped" if you will. My father also kicked me out of his house saying that I had let the "influences of the wicked world of Satan destroy my faith". He also said some other things I will never forget nor do I wish to discuss. Needless to say, college suddenly became a "Pipedream" if you will. I had to stay with friends and work odd jobs. Quickly I became depressed and turned to drugs and alcohol for comfort. I did this from age 15 to age 22. What changed my life was the birth of my daughter. I am now 26 years old and attending a community college. My relationship with my parents has never been the same, though they I sense a change in them towards the congregation. I think they are not as dumb and naive as they pretend to be.

We rarely see each other since the incident at age 15. Needless to say. I am a strong opposer to Jehovah's Witnesses and their activities. I have even gone as far as filing a restraining order against the nearby congregations. I would like to donate to your organization. I would also like some information on how to possibly present all the evidence that clearly shows the entire "SOCIETY" is false. I know the members mean well, but they are the real victims since the follow blindly. If faith is blind these guys need seeing eye dogs!!!! I feel it is my self found duty to rescue as many of these people as I can. They deserve to know the real "truth"

Respectfully,

Gabe


My parents met at the Kingdom Hall and married a year after my mother graduated from high school.  Both are highly intelligent but neither went to college.  I was born a little over a year later, and always loved going to the "Kingo Haw," as I pronounced it in infancy.  I was commenting as soon as I could speak and loved my pink Great Teacher book.  My parents love to tell how when I was about two years old, I stunned a well-meaning clerk at the grocery store who asked if I was ready for Santa Claus to visit my house.  My reply?  "Santa Claus is from the devil!"  My first memory of field service was when I was three and was stung by a sweat bee that had got up my dress as I sat in the backseat of our Fiat.

 
I was giving talks (the two sister kind, the only kind women are allowed to give) by the time I was eight and spent every Saturday morning in service.  I remember waking up on Saturdays, wishing for the quiet that would mean neither of my parents were going in service, because I longed to watch Saturday morning cartoons.  I was proud of my many return visits, mostly older people who were probably too kind to turn me away, or else fascinated by a small child spouting such large doctrines.
 
I remember hating having to color plain pumpkins with no carvings around Halloween and endless inoffensive snowmen at Christmastime.  I never understood my parents hatred of the Christmas displays at stores and was rebuked for humming Christmas carols absentmindedly at the grocery store.  Thankfully, my parents were semi-reasonable and did not consider "Jingle Bells" a Christmas song.  I was happy to have one song I could sing in music class.
 
I remember being the only one in my class in first grade who memorized the Pledge of Allegiance and the only one who did not recite it.  I remember not being allowed to play soccer because it was competitive.  As a straight-A student, I remember stunning my fourth grade teacher when I explained that I would not be going to college, but would work part-time as a beautician when I grew up so that I could pioneer.  I remember not being allowed to take choir or band classes at school because they had too many patriotic and holiday programs.  I remember not being able to play with my friends from school on weekends, although I was allowed to play with the worldly neighbor children, since I didn't have to be driven to their houses.  I remember having to tell a school friend's mother that I could not take the free piano lessons she had offered me because spending time with her daughter after school would be bad association.  That phrase haunts me like a mantra:  bad associations spoil useful habits.  The battle cry of the Watchtower discouraging wayward children from making worldly friends.
 
When I was thirteen, we moved to yet another town, another congregation.  At our first meeting there, I met my best friend "Rachel."  We have been nearly inseparable since then, although I spent most of my teenage years grounded from her bad association.  I was baptized at fourteen, she two years later at sixteen.  We auxiliary pioneered in the summers, often going in service with an older, scatter brained friend who had return visits all over the area and didn't notice that we suggested going from one in the far north part of our territory to one in the far south.  I got my first job at the donut shop where we took our breaks.  He knew the Witnesses were honest people and their teenagers were hard workers (we had to be if we wanted spending money, our families were all poor!)
 
In my congregation there were a great many young girls and not so many guys.  The only single men under thirty were single for a reason.  So we looked forward to the district convention every summer--finally, some social activity!  We wandered the arena hallways looking for boys and friends, checking out who was wearing what (too much make-up? too short a hemline?  too high heels?) and gossiping.  Once we were old enough to sit by ourselves we sat in the nosebleed section and wrote notes and spied on people with binoculars.  Still, in all the playing we did, I felt the zeal of thousands of people singing as one.  I loved the sound of Bible pages flipping in unison.  I always took long and extensive notes during the talks.  Of course, I doodled in the margins and threw those spirals away after the assembly.  I never read them again.
 
I was always dutiful in studying my lessons for the book study and the Watchtower study.  I was required to comment at least twice each meeting.  Sometimes I waited till the last second to put my hand in the air, hoping somebody else would be called on.  My comments were always rehearsed and intelligent.  The older people complimented me on my comments and talks.  It was very important to me that I not be placed in the category with those my age who didn't comment or join the "school" and spent most of their time running back and forth to the bathroom.  I always got my ten hours a month in service.
 
I was also bored.  I hated how I got caught up in the excitement when someone was reproved or disfellowshipped, wondering what they did and trying to figure it out from the none-too-subtle talks in the following weeks about weaknesses of the flesh.  I soon discovered my own weakness when boys at school began to ask me out.  My first relationship began at the end of my sophomore year in high school.  We skipped school one day and went to the movies, where I was kissed for the first time.  I was so nervous about getting caught that I threw up several times that day.  Thankfully, the school year ended and he moved away.  After the district convention that summer, I had an attack of conscience swore off worldly boys.  I would have been allowed to date a JW boy, if there had been any around.  The ones I liked were sporadic attendees or just studying.
 
When I returned to school for my junior year, I began dating my ex-boyfriend's best friend.  Dating is a rather euphemistic term.  We only saw each other at school and a couple of times in town.  Regardless, I was a wreck.  I was so nervous I woke up vomiting every day.  I lost thirty pounds in one month and hardly ever made it to school.  Then my boyfriend began to hint around that he wanted to sleep with me.  At only sixteen, I knew I wasn't ready for that, religious or not, and told him so.  He wrote me a note in reply, trying to convince me.  I was usually careful with my notes, but I forgot and left it in my pocket.  Unbeknownst to me, my mother did laundry that night and discovered the note. 
 
I knew something was wrong by the way my parents were behaving and I started vomiting again.  By the time I had composed myself, they were ready to drop the ax.  That's when I discovered how sneaky my mother can be.  She simply told me she knew what was going on, so I might as well spill it.  I must have spilled a lot more than she bargained for, because I thought my stomach problems were punishment for my sins and began to tell her about not only this boyfriend, but the previous one as well.  More vomiting. 
 
The next day I had to go to school and clean out my locker.  I took all my books to the vice principal's office and told him I was quitting school.  Being the student I was, he was taken aback and as I tried to explain things as vaguely as I could, I began to cry.  He brought in one of the school counselors and I explained things to her as best I could.  She felt it was such an outrage, for someone who loved school as much as I did to drop out, she offered to help me take the matter to court.  I told her I feared ending up in foster care or even worse, having to live with my parents treating my like a leper, as they had been doing, for two more years until I turned eighteen.  So the matter was dropped and I left school.
 
I began to take some home school courses, really pathetic courses.  I completed an entire semester over one weekend.  The highest math courses they offered were algebra II and geometry, both of which I had already taken.  I felt intellectually starved.  My parents allowed me to find a day time job, and I started working in a pizza place.  If they had only known the atmosphere there!  I was working with twenty-ish men who cursed non-stop and talked about sex constantly.  I thought they were hilarious!  I loved being there, but I missed school.  I felt like a freak when my friends from school would come in in the afternoons, and here I was with a uniform on, wasting my chance at having a career.
 
I hadn't planned to go to college because, even though my beautician dream (ha ha) had died and I no longer wished to pioneer, my parents had made it clear they wouldn't give me a dime to do it.  I had no idea that a student with my GPA and good ACT scores could get a full-ride scholarship.  Until one of my teachers called my mom.
 
I don't know what exactly she said to my mom to convince her, or what my mom said to my dad to convince him, but my parents sat me down the day after the phone call and told me that I had scored so highly on my PSAT that I was on my way to being a National Merit Scholar.  I knew what that meant:  scholarships.  They were going to let me go back to school because the home study course I was doing was not considered an accredited school and I would be disqualified.
 
I was elated.  I had broken up with my boyfriend recently, after hearing from a friend that he had been cheating on me.  I prayed to God in thankfulness for getting to go back to school and vowed never to date a worldly boy again.  But I was human, and a teenager.  After a few months back at school, I had a new boyfriend.
 
By this time I had a car and a little more freedom.  One of my JW friends was getting married and had a sleepover bridal shower at her new house.  My best friend Rachel and I had befriended a new girl our age in our congregation, and the three of us were decidedly bored by the Bible Win, Lose, or Draw game that the other girls thought was good, Christian entertainment for a shower.  Jokingly I suggested we go buy some condoms to blow up and decorate the house with them (I had seen something similar on "Steel Magnolias").  "Samantha" thought it sounded like fun, for real!  So she, Rachel and I feigned going to the store for snacks and set out to get the condoms, as well as some toilet paper and shoe polish.  We had a blast blowing up all those condoms in my teeny car, then commando crawling around the yard shoe polishing the cars and toilet papering everything in sight. 
 
While we were in the back yard, some strange motorcycle guys saw our decorations and came up to the front door to ask if they could come in and party.  Of course, the other girls were all scandalized and upset about this, when we came bursting in, ready for them to see our handiwork outside.  Needless to say, no one was amused. 
 
The next day, the groom-to-be called me and proceeded to chew me out about the whole affair.  He was especially angry that we coerced strange men into coming to the house, jeopardizing the safety of all the girls present.  I explained to him that we hadn't meant any harm, it was just a silly joke for fun, not meant to offend anyone.  And we certainly hadn't had anything to do with the motorcycle guys, but he insisted that whether we asked them to play a joke or not, if it weren't for the condoms everywhere they wouldn't have come to the door.
 
I called Rachel and found out that he had called her also, but was very polite and explained to her that the elders were now involved and he hoped she didn't get into too much trouble over this misunderstanding.
 
When I was called in to the elders, I found out that they were told that the whole thing was my idea and I talked Rachel into doing it with me against her wishes (she had not yet met with them, so I know this came from the fiancée, not from her).  They had not been told that Samantha was involved, and when I told them, they said that they were sure I pressured her into playing the joke as well.  She would never do anything like that.  They were especially upset about the sexual nature of the joke.  I had no idea that condoms were "dirty."  These were two people were about to start using them when they got married!  I was let off with a warning.  Ironically, my parents saw my point of view, that we had made a bad judgment, but hadn't caused any harm.  They placed most of the blame on the fiancée, who had obviously lied and the elders who chose to believe him over Rachel and me.
 
Another matter was brought up at this meeting.  My "dear" friend Samantha had called my mother and told her about my boyfriend at school.  I had also been visiting him at his parents' home when I was supposed to be with Rachel.  My mother surprised me by sleuthing out this boy's address and showing up at his front door one afternoon when I was there.  I was grounded from Rachel, who was the "bad influence" on me, never mind that she had never dated anyone, Witness or worldly.  This time the elders grilled me on the nature of my relationship with this boy.  When I told them he would give me a very chaste kiss when he said goodbye to me (the truth) they couldn't believe a worldly boy would not be trying to take liberties with me, or that I, the The Dater Of Worldly Boys, wouldn't be letting him. I was privately reproved, with the understanding that any more problems out of me would result in public reproof. 
 
I was getting pretty fed up with my whole life being shared with our congregation.  Stories were going around about me, from the way people were treating me.  I didn't and still don't understand why the particulars of a child's actions are any business of the elders, or why discipline isn't left up to the parents.  I certainly had no faith in these elders.  One was our former neighbor and had attended our former congregation.  I had known this man since I was a small child.  I was mortified to have him know such personal things about me.  I was also angered to be judged by a man who I knew spent little time with his own children, and spent most of that criticizing them.
 
During these years, Rachel's parents had been having a lot of problems.  When she was a child, her father used drugs, often in front of her.  Since I was at their house a lot, I knew that he was emotionally and verbally abusive to his entire family.  He was cruel to her mother and often threw things when he was displeased.  But he put on a wonderful show for the congregation and was made a ministerial servant.  Her mother left him for a while, taking Rachel and her younger sisters, but she worked cleaning houses, as many JW women do, and couldn't afford rent and groceries.  He told her she couldn't live without him, just as he had predicted.  He bought her a nice gift, and they were back together.  She went to the elders several times over the years about how he treated her and the girls, but he was never disciplined.  She was rebuked for not being submissive enough, forcing him to discipline her verbally.  She was a bad influence on her daughters, causing them to disobey.  They told her if she divorced him, she would be disfellowshipped.  She told them her daughters' friends were witnesses to what went on in their home.  We were never asked by the elders if what she said was true.  Rachel's father eventually stepped down as a ministerial servant.  Her mother divorced him and moved away.  She has told the elders at the congregations she has attended since then about her history and no action has been taken against her.  Rachel's father stopped attending meetings and married a worldly woman. 
 
Back to myself, in the summer before my senior year, I was asked out by a guy that I had a crush on, and I arranged to go on my first actual date with him.  I told my parents I would be at work until closing, but I actually left work early and went out with this young man.  We had a quick dinner, then sat on a blanket by a pond where he read poetry to me.  He had brought along a bottle of cheap wine that I think we each had about a glass of.  It was all very innocent, and I thought very romantic!
 
I went back to work to change back into my uniform and found out that my parents had been there looking for me.  I went into a complete panic, knowing that this time they would sell my car as they had threatened.  I didn't go home that night.  I stayed with some of my coworkers and eluded my parents all the next day.  I was so nauseated I felt like I wanted to die.  I went home that evening, after finding out that the police were involved (they were calling my car a stolen vehicle so they could look for me without my being missing the usual 48 hours). 
 
My car was sold and I was forced to quit my job, since the people there had covered for me.  I spent two months locked in my house.  If my mother left, she unplugged all the phones and took them with her.  I only went to the library and to the meetings.  This time, when I was grilled by the elders (was there passionate kissing? was there touching of genitals? were there genitals pressed against each other? were any clothes removed?), they decided to publicly reprove me for being repeatedly disobedient to my parents.
 
I was a normal teenager.  I wanted to have normal dates and normal friends.  My life consisted of school, homework, meetings, service and a full-time job.  I had never had a social life.  I had put so much effort into my schoolwork that I had earned a great number of honors and scholarships.  I was burned out and exhausted at seventeen from constantly trying to please everyone.  And yet I had no power at all over my own life. 
 
I was terrified that my parents would institutionalize me as they had threatened.  They sent me to a psychologist who told me that I had an incredibly healthy attitude for someone who had been through what I had.  She said I didn't need therapy, but she was the only person I was allowed to talk to, so I went anyway. 
When she told my parents to ease up on me, they suggested that they could save the money they were spending on therapy to buy me another car.  Of course, I jumped at that.
 
By the time I went back to school for my senior year, I had begun hearing voices.  A little socializing helped that in no time.  I joined every club I could.  I told my parents it would help me to win a spot in All-Sate, the top 100 seniors in our state, which was true, but it also got me out of the house.  I did become an All-Stater and a National Merit Scholar and made plans to attend a university nine hours away.  I stopped attending meetings.  I told my parents I would spend my time with whatever girls or boys I wanted, but agreed to be home by midnight on weekends.  I got my old job back.
 
But the damage was done.  Years of being treated like the original demon seed had made me feel like if everyone thought I was bad, no matter what I did, I might as well be bad.  The year I was eighteen is what I call the year I took leave of my senses.
 
I was angry with God and everyone else.  Rachel and I had a falling out that lasted a year.  I went to college, but never went to class.  I finally had freedom, and I tested it to the limits.  I walked by myself after dark.  I didn't care what happened to me.  I was especially naive about men.  I had no idea what they were like having had very limited experience.  What I knew about sex and birth control I knew only from magazines.  My parents told me to wait until I was married and that was that.
 
I became pregnant right before my second semester at college.  My boyfriend was much like Rachel's father:  insulting and cruel.  I didn't know any better.  He said he loved me.  I intended to stay at school and make it through with help from friends, but I was ill and needed to get away from my boyfriend, who was cheating on me (all my fault, he said).
 
So I moved back in with my parents, and surprisingly, they were very supportive.  I lived with them off and on for several years.  My son, who is now five, adores them.  But I am still bitter.  Being a JW destroyed my family and nearly my life. 
 
My father was very bitter when his mother was disfellowshipped.  She had been inactive for years when my cousin died of cancer and she felt the need to attend meetings again.  She was unable to give up her tobacco habit in the time the elders allotted her, and she was disfellowshipped.  Although he was allowed to visit his own mother, he felt betrayed by her and refused to call her, even at my mother's urgings.  One of the times when I was in trouble as a teenager, he told me he wanted to punch my face in.  Then he began to cry and said he didn't want to lose me like he did his mother.  He only lost his mother when let his convictions come between them.  He rarely ever attended meetings, only used his faith when it served him to condemn others.  When his mother developed cancer he started to visit her again, but even though she has been gone almost ten years now, he still has not overcome his anger at her or his guilt for not spending what time she had left with her.
 
My parents still don't feel they did anything wrong in my teen years.  I bear some resentments, but more towards the organization than towards them.  They did what they thought was right.  And I am responsible for myself.  I can't blame my bad decisions on my upbringing. 
 
Now I have made my peace with God.  About a year ago I found myself praying, something I had not done in years.  And I felt for the first time a friendship.  God was not sitting there, waiting for me to mess up, it was humans trying to play God who did that.  I have joined a Methodist church because they are very understanding that people believe all sorts of different things about God and the Bible.  There are some Biblical issues that I still have a lot of trouble with.  It's hard to completely clear your mind and sort out all the things you were taught as a child.  But there are enough JW doctrines that are blatantly wrong that I know I made the right decision in leaving.
 
Rachel and I were talking the other day about the end coming while there are still people living from the generation of 1914.  We were both still a little paranoid until I came across this website and found out that the Society has changed its mind once more on this issue.  The point is that all of us should live each day as if it were our last, enjoying all the things God has given us and striving to follow the example Christ set for us.  For me it is a great freedom to know now that my Judge is in heaven, not in Brooklyn!
AK

_______

Dear Randy,

I came upon your organization one night while surfing the Internet. I was curious to see if there were any sites about Jehovah's Witnesses. I was amazed to find so many!!

I want to share my experience with you, so that you may share it with others. I was born into this religion, thus giving me no choice to explore and find out exactly who I was or what I wanted out of life. I remember growing up in the typical Jehovah's Witness household. As children, we were told that whatever our parents told us to do we had to do just because they were our parents. I remember that I could not go to my parents about any problems because if you had problems, you weren't a good Witness. I also remember that my family was never quite "good" enough because my father worked a lot to support his family. My mother choose to be a stay at home mom, and this naturally placed more responsibility on my father. I was okay until those teenage years began to creep in.

When I was thirteen my neighbor attempted to rape me, and this was a very traumatic time in my life. The police and social workers told my parents that I needed counseling, but the elders in the congregation decided that we did not need "outside" help. They felt quite qualified to handle my problem. They even began to accuse me of bringing the attack on myself. This was hard to bear. As I got older I decided that I did not like not being able to go places with friends, have boyfriends, or do any of the normal things teenagers do. I rebelled in a large way, that is for my family. I didn't go on drugs, use alcohol, or smoke but I did like to lie. I felt that I had no other choice. I had to be a good Witness, or I would make my family look bad, and we couldn't have that. I lead the classic double life. I was one thing to the people at the Kingdom Hall, and completely different at school and work. I had boyfriends and loved it. I did not have conventional boyfriends though, I wasn't willing to sneak out or things like that for fear of what would happen if I did. Then there was that fateful day when I met the one guy who would win out. I was already deep into trouble at this point in my life. I had gotten caught doing things I shouldn't have been and caught in several lies. I had tried to come clean, but couldn't let go of the double life. This guy played me well and used my ego to the fullest potential. I was what is know as a "tease", and he was determined that he would get what he wanted. I dated this guy because of fears from my boyfriend before him. This guy was a real nut case. He was the typical stalker. He was doing all sorts of crazy things to me and I was afraid of bodily harm. The only way to get the protection I wanted was to "put out", so I did. Well, I wasn't very smart about it because I got caught in the act. I was never so embarrassed. The bad part of the whole thing was that it was on the school grounds. You can imagine what happened after that. My parents were called in to the principals office about the ordeal. My mother was furious and embarrassed. The school offered to cut me a deal and not expel me because I had told the truth, I hadn't missed any school that year, and my grades had me on the honor roll. My parents didn't go for it at all. They jerked me out of school that day. I never stepped back into high school after that. This was because they felt that I was out of control and the only way to control me was to lock me up in the house and make me go to meetings. I was sixteen and a junior in school. I felt my life was over.

My parents, doing the right thing, went strait to the elders. Now I knew my life was over. They called a committee meeting to find out "all of the facts". I mean "all", right down to the point of how I felt during the experience, and so forth. This was an interrogation and humiliation, because my father had to be there for the whole thing. Can you imagine how you would feel if you had to hear every detail of the sexual encounter of your child? I am a strong willed person though, so I decided that this would not be my undoing. The elders at the congregation decided to "disassociate" me, as I was not a baptized Witness yet.

I did everything I could to get back in good graces with the organization. I was baptized six months later. I still wasn't a good Witness though. I really didn't have it in my heart to do every thing the "Witness" way. I managed to struggle through. I moved to a new congregation, made new friends, and had a couple of good years. Then my desires began to resurface. I began to date an older man, and this was not well with my father at all. He found out from some elders that because I lived in his house he could control my every move. It was so bad that I couldn't even go to the store with out permission, so somebody would know why I was late getting home from work. They wanted to make sure that I was not with the man I was dating. We were going good until my father made it impossible for us to date. It turned out to be a good thing, but I would have rather been able to make my own choices. I ended up in trouble again, a few months later. I was really depressed and turned to a friend for comfort. It turned out that all he wanted was sex.(This friend was a ministerial servant at the time.) Well by now I had grown to love the organization and had to come clean of my mischievous behavior. By this time I was in my early twenties and wanted to live a good life, so I went to the elders. They called a committee meeting and for the second time there I was, with my father, telling all of the details of a sexual encounter. My father was devastated and felt I was a failure to my family and the organization.

I was not as strong this time, I didn't bounce back as quickly. It took me a year to get all of my privileges back. I moved to another congregation and started over again. The next year would prove to be the turning point in my life as a Witness.

I got into a routine and stuck with it. I became an auxiliary pioneer and was doing well as a Witness. I, however, still had a desire to date and get married. I began to date a man who was studying. I saw nothing wrong with it, but the elders had a different opinion. They called me in and informed me that if I did not quit dating this man that I would be removed as a pioneer. I was ready to be removed. The man was a man of honor and did not want to tarnish my reputation or hurt my position. He broke up with me after a month of trying to figure out how to make it work until he got baptized. There was no making it work. We cared very much about each other and wanted to be together, but because of their rules we couldn't. I got very depressed and sad because of the turn of events. I couldn't wait forever and it did not seem as though this man would become a Witness, somewhat because of this situation.

I met my husband just a couple of months after this event. His family had been friends with my family for a number of years and his mother kept pushing us together. I had no desire to go out with him so shortly after my heartbreaking break up. His mother had been pushing this for a long time and neither of us wanted it. I decided that I would get her off of my back, so I set him up with a friend. Boy did that backfire. My husband wanted to go out with me after all. I finally conceded. On that first date I knew that we would be married and six weeks later we were.

I thought, finally I would be able to live a good Witness life. I was married to a Witness, I would not have to worry about dating any more, and I could still pioneer. I was never so wrong.

My husband had gotten into some trouble before we met and lost his privileges. That wasn't an issue for me, I had been in that situation before. We knew he would get them back soon, he was doing everything required of him to show repentance. We got the first real blow that just could not be overlooked. I had overlooked a lot in my time, but not this one. The elder on his committee told him that because he had taken his sights off of the organization and focused on his new wife, that he would not be getting his privileges back. I was furious. He had done everything required except stay single. I just couldn't understand. Then came the rumors of why we had gotten married. I was "pregnant". I never had been and to this day, almost four years later, still am not pregnant. The elders said we had to overlook the rumors and had brought it on ourselves for getting married so quickly.

We began to attend the Kingdom Hall where we lived. Our meeting attendance was not the greatest, but we were trying. I called several elders to come to our home to make a shepherding call. They never came. Finally, one elder did show up. He turned out to be terrible. He would call if I was not at the meeting, but he would call during the meeting. I got tired of this and told him not to call anymore. Then a situation arose which turned out to be the end of it all.

A sister who was a friend of mine was disfellowshipped. I was close to the entire family. Her husband called me for comfort and this placed me in an uncomfortable position. I did not want to talk to this man about his intimate marital life, yet he insisted on calling me. I knew he liked me, and did not respect the fact that I was married and so was he. I went to the elders about this, to no avail. They just told me not to talk to the man. Well, time went by and his wife was re-instated. I was told by her of her intentions to once again leave her husband for another man. I was told intimate details of the events, knew of this ongoing affair. I encouraged her to tell the elders but she would not. I felt I had no choice but to go to them my self. I went to them to let them know they had a problem with her but did not want to go into detail. They told me if I did not tell all, they would disfellowship me for lying. I believed them, so I told. Well, this sister got wind of what I had done, so as revenge, she spread malicious rumors about my family. The elders just said they knew it wasn't true and forgot about it. That was it, that was the end. I decided that I had taken enough of this. I didn't want it anymore.

This was the fall of 1994. I just became inactive for a while and tried to figure out what to do. I wanted justice for all of the wrong doing and lies. I tried to go to the congregation overseer and district overseer, but to no avail. I did not want to leave the organization, yet I could not be a part of it. I felt lost and abandoned. A year had passed and we had only been to the memorial. I still had a love for Christ and what he had done for us. I just couldn't understand how Jehovah could allow all of this to go on. I still secede answers. By now it is early 1996 and my husband and I are moving into our new home. We still wanted to belong to the organization, both of our families are Witnesses and we did not want to be outcast, We tried, but just could not get over all of the wrong doing, so we just coasted for another year.

Now it is April 1997. My mother-in-law caused the final decision to be made. She called one night all upset over a situation at the Kingdom Hall, ready to commit suicide. This cause a chain reaction. My husband could not stand anymore. He went ballistic. He begged me to take him to the mental health hospital or he was leaving me. We began therapy to figure out how to deal with all of the emotions of the situation.

While in therapy we learned that our situation could be overcome. We were in a deep depression because all of our values had been lost. We were being rejected by his family, my family had quit going to the meetings already, had lost all of our friends, and had to find out just who we were and what we wanted out of life. It has not been an easy path to take. We have come upon much opposition from his family. Things are not as strained as they once were, but it will never be a close nit relationship. We did find out that if your family really loves you, they will continue to associate with you. We also found out that you can live with out the restraints of the "Witness" way. You can still be a good person. We are happier than we have ever been in our entire lives. We are both going to college, we go out with friends, and this past year we celebrated all of the holidays. It felt good to be normal. We have been released from therapy and are happy to say it was all worth it.

We have had to rebuild our values of right and wrong. Our entire belief system has been lost. It is easier for my husband than myself. I want to believe in God, Christ, and the bible, but just can't trust that there is any truth to it at all. I may never again be able to worship a God, but at least now I do have my life, and for that I don't need a Godlike organization to rule my life.

To everyone who may read my account, please be sure that you will make it through the transition from "life in and out of the 'truth'".

Sincerely,
Gwen Page-Suter

 


Comments: I was born October 21,1969 and raised a JW. I was kind of lucky as a real young child because before the 80's came along in my congregation we had this reform-minded JW for a main elder. We shall call him brother Homes. Brother Homes did a lot of unorthodox things from a non-reformed JW point of view. He would actually design special parts of the meetings for kids, having them come up on the stage and show their drawings and then he would have them sing songs he also through Bible character themed dress-up parties out of his own pocket. Thanks to Brother Homes my past religious upbringing thoughts are partly positive. There are also pleasant memories of my mother reading me stories about Jesus and other Bible stories which had a great positive effect on my spirituality today. I am sorry to say however that these types of pleasant memories would not continue later in connection to my association with the JWs. By 1980 a bunch of pious elders got together and deemed brother Home's ways as too unorthodox and a detour away from more important things and so basically they gave him such a hard time that finally transfered up north. At age 17 I attended the Memorial of the Lord's Evening Meal and heard a really moving talk about the love of Jesus (rare for JW speakers...most of them have a speaker style of actor Ben Stein... Buler?... Buler?... Anyone?... Anyone?...) and at last I became stoked on Jehovah.

So I went through the usual newcomer's over-zealous holy phase and was lead to believe that all the non-JW kids at school were unspiritual and that I must avoid all association with all of them. But who would I be friends with? I tried going to JW social gatherings but all the kids shunned me because I was not giving talks in the ministry school and did not speak of wanting to aspire becoming a pioneer. With none my age, I pick a new JW who was in her early 30's. I thought this would be a great idea and that because she was shy acting, young and new in the truth that she would not be trying to boss me around. At first I was right and she was very kind to me. However, all she ever invited me to do is study and her idea of recreation was sitting in the house and drinking tea. I began to get real lonely and miss companionship with young people who like to do fun and normal things and yet none in the religion seemed to care. Everyone in the congergation would tell me that what mattered was my relationship with Jehovah and not just having fun with people my age. I lost zeal. I still believe in Jah and paradise but came to find the meetings boring and not helpful to my personal relationship with Jah and the same with field service which I never liked or felt spiritually motivated or inspired by. Four years would go by before I ever made one single friend. In 1991 two girls moved into my congregation and they made friends with the women I was studing with. The one Cristy was my age and altough she claimed to be a pioneer, she had a hairstyle and dress that was very unorthodox and alternative. I asked the women I was studying with to help me meet her. My study instructor felt this would be a great way to get me to become more theocratic so she agreed. I did not know it at the time, but my study teacher basically asked Cristy to talk me into going out in service and try and talk me into going the ministry school. However, when Cristy and her sister Clara actually met me, they liked me right away.

Cristy asked me to be her service partner and if I would be her workout walking partner since I was all into exercise. I did not like the idea of going out in service but I agreed so that she and the others would think well of me and mainly so Cristy would want to be my friend. Cristy was very spirited and we both had the same since of humor. We became best friends. However, so my study teacher began to get anoyed with me because all this time had passed and I had not made her look like a good Bible teacher by joining the school and giving public talks or being a regular pioneer. One day my study teacher and Cristy and I were studying the Bible when my teacher brings out the book on the WT Society's organization and how it opperates and she says, "Now we are going to more spiritually mature things". To this I said that I would prefer to learn about Jesus or the last days or the Bible. This really p*#**ed her off and she got really mad and said I has a rebellious attitude and that I was not progressing fast enough. She asked me why I had not joined the ministry school and told her that I did not want to do public speaking. This did not set well with her. I got really depressed and confused untill I finally told Cristy. She seemed deeply concerned for me and said that say would pray for me for help. Basically, not knowing what to do, she told my study teacher who went nuts and was all like,"Oh,no! Her thinking is apostate!" Without even telling me, my study teacher runs to the elders and tells them, "I must stop my study with Renee! Her additude has turned apostate and she is negative towards the organization!" So basically an elder automatically agrees with her without even asking for my side of the story. It took me an hour before he listened to me and admitted that my teacher jumped the gun. He told me to thank her for all her time spent studing with me and to not speak of the to anyone and so I did as he requested.

My teacher went around saying bad things about me to others in the congergation and still I kept my word and said nothing. When I confronted Cristy over this she got all mad and said, "I will not be dragged into this or take sides!" I said, "Well too bad because YOU already dragged yourself into this." After this Cristy would not talk to me. Her sister was very mad at her and felt that she was treating me unfairly and told her so, but Cristy blew her off as being as "worldly" as me. I did not want to deal with the JW organization anymore, but I had my parents to deal with who were very hardcore about all their kids HAVING to be JWs or else live with the guilt of being bad perents and failing Jehovah. My father and mother thought that the Kingdom Hall was thee answer to EVERY problem in life. When I acted like I did not want to go the Hall my father would VERY mad and call me names and said I had a horrible attitude and he would say I was a stupid ass*#*! I got where I would get up and leave to avoid fighting, but he would follow me. These fights got so bad that I got where I dreaded having to come home.

My father died two summers ago. My mother had the memorial service in the K.Hall. My mother wanted the elder giving the talk for my father to talk about how he did kind things for the neighbors and was well liked by his workmates but the elder told her that he was more concerned with the way my father served the congregation so as to win converts into the truth. My mother got very offended at this until the elder finally came around and agreed somewhat. During the service, however, the elder did an infomercial for JWs by holding up JW tracks and saying, "these are available-just ask a JW." I never went to any K.Hall again nor any other JW functions and I can honestly tell you that I am VERY glad I left JW and felt such an overwelming feeling of freedom. Cristy has since left the JW religion but still will not talk to me to this day. However her sister Clara is one of my best friends and she too has left JWs but still maintains a strong spirituality and we write to each other often, we hope and pray for one another. I have another best friend who unfortunately is still in the organization but came to open his eyes to the truth of the JWs' manmade rules. The three of us hold to belief in Jah and in the concept of the restored/renewed earth to come but we now believe that this hope is for ALL God-loving humanity and NOT to only those who are JW, nor do we believe in the WT society's burdensome man-made rules/opions/A.K.A="suggestions". We also reject the concept of male headship. You can write to me at:

Renee Hartley

 


Subj:    **SUBMIT STORY**
Date:    2/10/98 10:15:46 AM Pacific Standard Time
From:    DGis3774@aol.com


Subject: growing up in WT

Comments: Hi, my name is C.C. I grew up in the Watchtower ever since I was a baby. I had one sister, two brothers and two cousins that attended. My mother left the four of us to the custody of my grandparents. And my aunt left custody as well of her two children. My experience is one I wish I never experienced. Abuse started as soon as I was able to walk. I got spanked a lot during Kingdom Hall meetings because either I had to use the restroom, drink of water or because I was restless. I was whisked away by either my uncle or his wife. Around 5 or 6 years old, my grandfather started sexually abusing me, my sister and my cousin. This he did regularly... seemed almost every night. The physical abuse the same... I started lying more just to save my own skin. My uncle did not live with us. But he would do surprise inspections to see whether or not our homework and chores were done. I remember one time that it has been raining for almost a week. My uncle could not go up the hill in his little truck. The day the rain stopped, I knew he was coming. I was hoping he wasn't, but I knew. I quickly ran to the other kids and told them to clean up their room because ____ was coming. The three boys listened to me and they cleaned it, but my sister and cousin thought I was lying. It must have been an hour or so because I heard a humming in the distance. It was my uncle. He got out of the car and walked inside. He grabbed a beer and went directly to our room . My sister and cousin didn't pick up their side of the room. He unbuckled his belt and shut the door. I began to cry. I told him that I had picked up my side and did my homework. But he didn't listen. I ran between his legs to reach my grandmother. He tried to hit me with the belt but I already told my grandmother that I had cleaned my room. I was spared. But I heard the screams of my sister and cousin. I have never forgiven myself for that. I should have done something to help them. I was 9 years old, my sister 8 my cousin 6.

Life as a young JW was not pretty. If I wasn't getting spanked by my uncle, my grandfather was enjoying himself by using his three grandaughters. We weren't the only ones that got abused. My two brothers and one cousin had the worst of it. I remember when they didn't get a good progress report. My uncle was working on building an apartment on top of the garage where he and his wife could move in. He took three lassos and a 2x4, and a lamp. All four of them climbed the ladder. The three of us watched in horror on what we saw from the shadow that was cast upon the wall. He tied their wrists above their heads and began hitting them with the board. We cried at the same time, while he was hitting them with the board. I heard this scripture being repeated,. "DON'T SPARE THE ROD." I was a young JW slave. Well, my cousin finally told her fourth grade teacher about the abuse. After school as I got home we were whisked away to Northern California. My grandfather did not serve jail time because my aunt labeled me as a "liar." I was the oldest and because of it, they did not let me testify. I was living with my mom, I tried suicide five times. Finally in 1989, I moved to Oregon with my aunt, she married my uncle who grew up as a JW. There I began "deprogramming" sessions. My aunt told my counselor what had happend and protected me from the Trinity issue. She wanted the counselor to teach me more about the bible. This went on for almost a year. I finally moved back to my mother in 1990. Then in 1992 I moved back to my grandparents. I know that may sound insane, but I had no other choice. I missed them greatly. I wanted to accept Christ into my heart. But I didn't know how. It wasn't until 1996 that I met a young man on a Air Force Base that I finally opened up and told me everything. He showed me bible verses about how merciful Jesus is. Then in August of 1996 I accepted him into my life!
and have been happy ever since.

My Uncle died three years ago due to lack of a blood transfusion. I did not attend the funeral or weep. To this day, my grandfather still denies that he has done any wrongdoing.   My brother is still a JW. My male cousin became a Baptist. His sister is an agnostic. MY sister and older brother both became athiests, and my grandmother recently accepted Christ in her life.


Subject: growing up in WT

Comments: I was raised as a good little witness. My mother always took me out in service and we never missed the meetings. I was also abused (physically) by a family friend who was a witness. For the past 10 years we (my mother and myself) have not been to the meetings. The elders would come to our house and one  of them told my mother that we didn't know what problems were, that they had a busted water pipe. My mother was going through such mental problems at that time and none of the so-called brothers or sisters would help us!!!! She is not ready to talk about the subject of leaving the witnesses yet as she is still baptized but hasn't been to the meetings for years. I wish that some one could write and encourage me as I am very troubled by all that has happened.


Subject: growing up in WT

Hello fellow unbelievers and soon to be unbelievers,

    I'm very happy to have this chance to share a bit of my story with you. I hope you're not expecting a lot of flames, though, because I've clean run out of negative energy a while ago. I made my exit about a year ago, and I'm proud to tell you that I left by choice. It all went down something like this....
    I was raised as a JW in a very small community in Nova Scotia, and my family still practices. I was a straight A student, although very unstable emotionally and immature socially. There were no people my age in the congregation, I didn't have any friends outside so I was a very lonely guy. Then I made my one decision which worked against the pressure of the "Society" and the "elders"; I went to university on almost full scholarships.
    At first, this strengthened my faith because I finally made contact with other people my age. But "Satan" threw something my way in the form of a beautiful girl in one of my classes, Kathy. She was well thought out, had a warm voice, and... you get the picture. We kept running into each other, always just exchanging a few words, a few smiles. I would look for her, just to refresh my memory, just to see a smile, everyday.
    But I was so strongly conditioned that I never entertained the thought of having a relationship with her, and it never entered my mind to even ask her out. It seemed as remote to me as winning the lottery. I just kept torturing myself, a moth searing its wingtips on the flame.
    I started contemplating how my fate had been laid out in front of me. Eventually I would "get to know some one a little better, to determine whether she would make a good marriage mate." And this girl would go shopping for clothes thinking "is this modest?", she would consult with a "mature sister" if I ever brought up oral sex, and would yield to my decisions like a good subordinate "Christian wife" must. We would get married and start either "pioneering" or cranking out "little sheep." Somehow this all held less magic then any one of Kathy's smiles. I pondered what it would be like to live an eternity like this. Or maybe I would get hit by a car and come back after "Armageddon" as one of those things, and end up a trillion year old virgin. OK I can laugh hilariously at it now, but it used to keep me up at night!
    I still believed - I just didn't think it was worth the price. Deep down, I felt ashamed of who I was, and the rules I was playing by. I fantasized about having myself disfellowshipped just to get me out. Hiring a prostitute would have killed two birds with one stone, so to speak, but before I had the chance my brother handed me the key that opened my escape door. He asked me "You've been slacking off and you're headed for the inactives list. What are you planning to do?" Thanks bro. On impulse I fired off "I really don't think I'm going to continue." And I've been living the consequences ever since.
    I decided to go home to the maritimes and face the music - to confront my parents and lay it on the line, before making it official. I guess one of the main differences in my story is that I wasn't kicked out, so I didn't feel like biting anybody back. I was trying to come to terms with the consequences, and I even burned all my baby pictures to make things disappear. I just didn't have a clue what would happen next, and no friends to support me. I had one aunt here who is an ex-witness, who helped me out, but I still felt overwhelmed.
    At that point I came across a book that packed a punch. I was strolling through the bookstore and spotted Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. I bought it on impulse and started reading it. It was powerful. I started deconditioning myself.
    So I went home and confronted my parents with the truth (the real one). I dried my mother's tears, and told them honestly that I was completely proud of my decision, and that I didn't expect them to respect it. I said it was up to them to choose what to do next, but I would be there for them if they need me. I told them that what they had been taught was wrong *for me*, and that I didn't believe any of it. However, if it was all true and "Armageddon" came tomorrow I would stand by my choice. My mother was faced with a major existential crisis. She couldn't admit it to me, but I heard she thinks I was "the best person I've ever been." She was expecting the devil, and I failed her!
    I have been in touch a few times with my parents since, and they seem to have gone through nearly as many phases as I have. Now, we seem to be on speaking terms, although that means once for two months. I think the key to our relationship, as they've implied is that I've "made a choice." They can't try to despise me as an "unrepentant sinner" because I didn't go out and "fall prey to Satan." To me, it's all the same whether I opened my heart or I unzipped my pants, but to them I think it makes a difference; it's more as if I've come out "clean." I think deep down, they kind of fancy the thought that at some time in their lives, when they were having doubts, they could have gotten up and walked, and forgotten, but they had each other. Nobody in my family has done what I have.
    I want to finish this story with a message of hope. I believed in this religion with my whole heart all my young life, and I still believed when I left. But you must understand how much pain these beliefs will cause if you keep them running in the background of your "normal life." You won't begin seeing the world in a different way, just because you're now part of it. Just reading that sentence probably shook you because they attach a ritual meaning to "the world", and they reinforce and condition it three times a week. Pain and anger will come to you, as it has to all of us. You might feel as I do that your entire childhood was stolen from you. I guarantee you'll have flashbacks. But pouring your energy into hating the Witnesses instead of reinterpreting what has and is happening to you is not the cure.
    I also believe that it only takes a long time to heal if you don't have antibiotics. In my experience, some keys to getting on with my life have been - education. Read up on deprogramming and empowering techniques. By all means read Anthony Robbins. It worked for me. Look up Randall Collins' book called Sociological Insight, and read the chapter on "Sociology of God." Trust me on this one!
    -to not define yourself as an "ex-JW." Focus on "freespirit" or "new life"
    -to connect with other people. New friends eventually mean new conversations, and you'll spill the beans to them. Articulating your thoughts and answering their questions will help sort out your emotions from your memories from the facts, every time.
    If you're trying to sort out your thoughts, I'd be more than glad to get in touch. I know that it would have helped me to have experienced help.

    Soon, you can see this religion and all your experiences from the outside and interpret them as it serves you best, in the same way they look at society and interpret everything as suits them best and reinforces their belief systems.
    I may have lost a lot of family and friends, but I believe I've also gained a lot from the whole trip. I've been told I have a Protestant work ethic :) ,and I have very strong values which I don't intend to question. I understand so much more of my own psychology than my friends do. And I think I understand freedom much better than they ever will. I also know every coffee shop in Montreal that has good bagels on Saturday morning. I think I'm in an almost unique position.

romaniuk@hotmail.com

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Subject: growing up in WT

Comments: Wow, very similar to my childhood. I grew up a JW until I was 16 and left home, it was the only way I could get away. As a child I guess I was the perfect little JW, I guess all little children are that way until they start thinking for themselves and experiencing life for what it is.

When I was in the second grade I started to feel left out because I couldn't interact with the other children during holidays. I finally gave in and participated in an Easter thing, I don't remember exactly what it was except that it involved dressing up as a bunny. I was too scared to go home after school, my mom would see my bunny stuff and spank me(anybody who grew up a witness knows what a witness spanking is all about!!) So I started to walk home instead of taking the bus, to make a long story short I got found out, got in trouble but no spanking but instead a very stern lecture.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th grades were pretty rough on me, I was unable to have any friends at schools because they weren't in the "truth." I wasn't able to relate to the other kids, I didn't go to parties, couldn't play in little league(it was to competitive..never mind that life is competitive!) I couldn't watch cartoons Saturday morning, I had to go Door to Door, which usually meant running into the kids from school which always meant ridicule and being pushed around at school later.

Every six weeks it was report card time. I normally failed alot of classes, whether is was due to the "truth" or not I don't know but it happened. That meant I was going to get a spanking, the severity of the spanking would be determined by the number of bad grades, boy did I get spanked alot....Sometimes my dad, an Elder, would put a number on the amount of "licks" I got with the belt(a witnesses favorite punishment tool). It was very common to get 50 to 100 "licks"I would literally have a black and blue butt from the bruising. My sister and mother would be in their room or somewhere in the house when I was getting spanked. Let me tell you it would be very painful and I would scream bloody murder. I always wondered what my sister thought when I was screaming?

One time my dad made me walk home from school as he whipped me from behind counting every lick, in full view of everybody. This alone would put a parent in jail for a long time nowadays but not to mention the mental abuse this caused.

The sixth grade is when things started to really change. I couldn't have hair below my collar, couldn't join football, track or any other sport. I joined the chess club but missed to many matches because I has to go to the book study, the Hall, of something else related to the truth. The grades got worse and so did the spankings. I couldn't associate with the other students, they weren't in the truth! So when it came time to fall in with the certain classes of kids there are in school, there was no place to go. I should mention at this time that my dad was the presiding overseer at this time.

By the 7th grade I was searching for a identity and a sense of belonging, I fell into the group commonly known as the freaks. I started to explore sex, drugs and rock and roll. I was not the only one. A lot of the witness kids I hung around with were in the same boat as I was. Some of us started to smoke pot together and since I didn't care if I got caught anymore it was logical that I supply everyone...more trouble.

I started to like girls, especially naked ones, my parent were always finding pornographic material in my room...more bruises.

High school. I started to use drugs more often before school. I was stoned during most of the day, my mother started to work so there was more time to party. I even went to some meetings stoned, that was a trip! Some of my witness friend kept going back and forth praising me condemning me. People were getting disfellowshipped, people I had know all my life, mostly adultery and fornication and a few for homosexuality. Go figure huh? JW's are a horny lot.

A new family of witnesses moved to the area and joined the congregation. They had 2 daughters who where very beautiful, see where this is going? I started to take a class at school called Human Relations, the New Model Me it changed my life forever. It taught me that I was somebody and that I could have self esteem and alot of it too!

All of this in High School happened over a 1 1/2 year period, in between all this there was trouble with my parents due to my grades, my drugs use, the elders etc..My parents tried to have me arrested for pot possession. I started to steal from my parents for drugs. I was physically hit in the face a few time, bloodied a couple of times. So I started to stand up for my self, and why not? was I going to be pushed around all my life? well not anymore. The last time my father went to hit me I stood up and let it be known that I would not just let it happen. He hasn't touched me since.

I was being blamed for the family problems. My parents thought about divorce, my dad stepped down as the presiding overseer, my mom was having a breakdown all because of me. There were meetings with Elders and I started to date this new girl at the Hall. With this new found self esteem I had decided I was going to be my own man. It took one date to find out that this witness girl was just like me, liked to party and into sex. Well we got pretty involved a few times but never had intercourse, came pretty close though!

I quit school, got a job and started work. After a couple of weeks my parents decided they wanted to charge me rent. I was dumbfounded, rent? their own son? they didn't need it, they do quite well and are pretty savvy when it comes to money. So I countered that if I was paying rent then I should be able to do what I want in my room, a landlord tenant type of thing. Well that didn't go over good, so I moved out and haven't given a damn for Jehovah Witnesses since.

I get along with my parents now, quite well. They have since disassociated themselves from the congregation as well as my sister. Despite what has happened in my life, much more than I've written here, I have know regrets. To this day though I believe very sincerely that the Jehovah Witnesses are nothing but a bunch of hypocrites, they are haughty and self righteous. They abuse their children physically and mentally. Now, i did put my parents through some terrible stuff but not like the beating i endured. I won't go any further as it could get quite lengthy. I encourage all JW children and teenagers to make up thier own mind on what they should call the truth, to resist any organized religion and to stand up for themselves. BTW i'm a 34 year old male.

MAG

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I was baptized along with my Mother and Dad in 1958 at the age of 11. The oldest of three girls, we were fortunate enough to have great
parents and a wonderful childhood, full of love, hugs, laughter, lakes, pets, family and friends. 

My Dad served as a loving elder for many years, caring for all those in the   congregation he cherished; but his family always came first.  A long time after all us kid's were grown, he still had his priorities straight, and was eventually removed as an elder, because of it.

My Mom got sick.  At the time, Dad held several positions in the congregation which took a lot of time.  Although he led his group in
service most Saturdaysand some Sundays, he only stayed out about an hour because he didn't want toleave Mom at home by herself, for to long.  The Circuit Overseer came and Dad was told, he had to be above 10 hours to set a good example.  There were articles in the literature that "said" there were no time quotas anymore and servants may, at times, have little service to report due to extenuating circumstances.  But it became a pride issue with the Circuit Overseer.  When brothers in the congregation said, "But, you can't do this," his reply was, "you have no idea ... how much power I have."  My dad was removed, but the letter removing him was never read to the congregation. None of the elders in the congregation would read it. 

Loosing a position, didn't bother him, "I'm happy to help if I'm needed and if not, that's OK too."  But, many mourned the loss of my father's
presence on the  body of elders.  Several of the other elders, now grown children, privately told me,  that my dad was the closest thing, they
had ever had to a dad. Dad never said anything, but I knew it had to hurt in a way, because he was doing all that was humanly possible and
his offering was still considered, unacceptable.

That episode, although unspoken, was painful for all of us, because we were again reminded that the measure of a Christian ... according to our religion, was reflected not in the abundance of the love and faith in his heart ... but by the numbers on his publishers record card.

When I started to have serious doubts and questions, at nearly 50 years old, my trusted parents were the first ones I went to for counsel.  Mom, Dad my husband  and myself, reasoned and worked as a family team, to find out the truth about the WTBTS.       

When we realized they were not the "bride of Christ, our spiritual mother" but in reality "false prophets," all the abuse we witnessed and
suffered through the years, at their hands, made perfect sense. 
We walked away together, last year.

Love,
Lynn


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