Where do I start? I was baptized in 1970 at a convention in Newton Mass. My husband at the time, was a Catholic and not at all interested in the JWs. It was my step-sister and her husband who studied with me. I had my first child who was not even a year old yet. I took her to the meetings with me and to conventions.
Three years later my son was born. Against my husbands wishes, I raised my children in the JWs. My story is typical in that I did all the 'right' things trying to be the good Christian wife and mother always praying that someday my husband too would come and join Jehovah's people. We moved to Maine in 1978 where my third and fourth children were born.I did well in the religion, thought of highly in the congregation. I studied hard and commented regularly at meetings. Sometimes I would even pioneer. I developed close friendships through the years with sisters that likewise had 'unbelieving' mates and we'd travel to conventions together. Sometimes we'd have yard sales to get the money to get there!
We worked hard trying to win over our mates so that they too would want to serve Jehovah. Finally after fifteen years, my husband shocked me and started studying the bible. It didn't take long before he too was baptized and sharing in all that was part of being a Witness.Friends would come up to me and say: "Isn't it nice that Ken (my husband) is a Witness now, too, and you have unity". Little did they know that all hell broke loose! He took that 'headship' principle and let it go straight to his head! There was no stopping him. He was very controlling, and even though he told me that it was my good example that encouraged him to study with the witnesses, he started to criticize me. He really developed a holier than thou attitude.
One time while attending a district convention, we had been arguing in the motel and he said to me : " You've been going around in circles all these years, now that I'm head, things will go right"! He always put me down and caused arguments, especially when we were at assemblies.It was often in front of the brothers that he would criticize and verbally abuse me. He would also pick on the children. And there were times when the abuse became physical. He slapped my oldest daughter one night. Another time he pushed my oldest son down on the floor and yelled at him. And sadly, the kids had to witness their father shoving me around too. Then there was verbal and emotional abuse. For example, He said to my youngest Daughter once: "I can tell that you didn't read the Watchtower and Awake! magazines because they are still in the same place"!
He would go to the elders and tell them that I wasn't giving him his 'due'. He actually lied to them on more than one occasion. There is so much more to tell and I have begun writing a book about my experiences to help others avoid making the same mistakes.I will share this. It got so bad in the marriage that I was slipping spiritually. I was believing that I was not a good Christian wife, as I had been told that by Ken more than once. I started to hate him and Jehovah. I could not understand why god would allow this misery. I feared for my two youngest children who were still living at home at that time.
I started to think about making a plan to leave him, but didn't quite know how or when. One of the final straws however, was when, due to one of our many fights, he was so angry at me that he cancelled our 25th wedding anniversary party that my oldest daughter was planning for us!He was serious! I made him call her to tell her! I had gone and spoke to the elders many times about our marital problems, and especially this time. Even the elder I told this too said that was really bad! But I did not get much satisfaction from them through all the years that I tried to get help. They chose to believe Ken.
Then one night , after a very heated argument earlier, I came home from the video store with my son. My son wanted to watch his movie, but his Dad, seething from the fight earlier, and having had a few beers as well, was just ready to attack! He told his son NO, he couldn't watch the movie rental, because: " I'm watching TV"! I came running out of my room, and in defense of my son, asked why he couldn't watch his movie. Ken just started his yelling and screaming and I said to my son: "Come on, we'll go over your sisters and watch it". Then Ken, who was furious, that I suggested that, screamed: "Well pack your things and stay there until your attitude changes"!He actually told us, both me and my son to get out, he threw our cat out and locked the doors behind us! We left in tears and fled to my daughters house. I was crying when we arrived and I asked her if we could stay for a few days. She assured us that we could stay as long as we needed. I took her up on her kind offer and decided that I wanted to stay away from Ken. This was the 'separation' that I wanted and that Ken would not grant me earlier. ( will tell more on this later)
Through all this turmoil, and pain, I still went to meetings. I did not sit with Ken. The congregation knew what was going on, of course. As if it wasn't bad enough that my marriage was falling apart, I was treated as though I was disfellowshipped by many in the hall.The brothers tried to convince me to get back with Ken. They tried to get me to say that surely the problems were 50/50, right sister? But because I didn't agree, I was a thorn in their sides.
I armed myself with information right from the Watchtowers and Awakes to make my point. There was one about a brother who was an adult child of an alcoholic, that I had Ken read and that I (tried to share) with the elders. I did so much research over those months. I became like a 'spiritual' lawyer to plead my cause. They seemed threatened by the fact that I had done my 'homework' and was able to refer to the Society's own publications to make my point.
But no matter what I presented to the elders, they just didn't get it. I was trying to help them see that my family was being emotionally and spiritually abused by my husband. None the less, I would still keep them updated on things, as they hoped that we would eventually reconcile. This way they could see that I was trying to work things out. I was still living with my oldest daughter at this time. Ken and I would talk on the phone sometimes. One night we even agreed to go to 'worldly' marriage counseling! I made the appointment for us but the night before the appointment Ken phoned me and said that he didn't think it would do any good and he called it off!
This was a real wake up call for me. I thought, if this man really loved me, why, he would do just about anything to make things right for us and the kids. From then on I just focused on getting myself and my young son healthy. We stayed at my daughters for about one year, when I, after lots of prayer, found a cute little apartment that was very affordable. This turned out to be a little haven for us. We had been able to heal from some of the wounds that we suffered. I only continued going to meetings for a few months when I just could not deal with the hypocrisy any longer. So, I wrote my letter disassociating myself in October of 2000. I divorced Ken in November of 2001. My young son lived with me until he turned 19 and then decided to go live with his dad. His choice right now is to remain a Jehovah's Witness . My prayer is that he too will see it for what it really is and make his escape someday. He is the only one of my children that is still 'imprisoned'.
Interestingly, I am more spiritual now then I was all those years that I was a JW! I have never felt better in my life! I have since met someone very wonderful who treats me with respect and dignity. Was it all a waste, those many years as a JW? Not really. I did take away some good things and a few good friends, (who also have left the organization.) The most important thing is that I escaped the bonds of a very controlling organization and have now found the freedom to be myself! My journaling hasn't left me. It kept me 'sane' during the rough years. If you'd like to hear more just let me know, or wait for my book. ( I'm about half done)