Telling my story is something that has made my heart race for 8 years now. I left in 2003, at 23 years old. My husband and I had been dating and pioneering since high school. We married at 19 and after a year, transferred to a local Spanish congregation to try and do more. I was SO in it.
I grew up in it. My dad was an Elder since I was like 6. Mom pioneered when she could. My little sister and I were home schooled. Mom networked with other jdub families so we had this little home school circle we did stuff with. Dad being an elder and owning his own aviation business and mom homeschooling us set us apart in our little 80 publisher congregation in southwest michigan. Plus we had a pool and horses. Dad totally made us aware of his responsibility to run his family in accordance with jehovah's standards. One of my earliest memories is going to a door with my dad at like 4 and the woman saying no. I was raised to choose a career that would help me serve jehovah full time. I worked for Dad doing drafting. I was really smart and very good at art. After I graduated I got a part time job drafting and pioneered. I moved out because my family is crazy and I was determined to make it myself. I had a blast with all of my 'brothers' and 'sisters'. Life was fun.
Of course I was married less than a year later. Of course we had been doing it since we were 16. I was horny! Growing up I remember thinking that it wasn't fair that everyone we talked to at the door had a chance at everlasting life even after getting to experience life how ever THEY believed. They could live out every fantasy and at some point hear the message and be moved to join Jehovah's people. I was raised in it. If I ever left my family wouldn't talk to me and if Armageddon came I would be killed because I was one of the ones that knew better. Even if I was living a life of a (not jw) saint! Supposedly good people at Armageddon are allowed to live if they never got the chance to see the 'Truth'. But if you had known the truth and left, being a good person didn't matter.
I was tore up as a married woman. Every few months I would have breakdowns and cry to my husband about how we wouldn't make it if Armageddon came anyway because we had fornicated before we got married and had lied to the elders so that we could still have them marry us. So finally we told. after 3 yrs. The elder we told was an ass about it but oh well. According to him we would have been df'ed if he hadn't pulled some strings or something. My husband was a MS but after that they had him step down. We were allowed to continue pioneering. But I had already begun to see the full picture, even though I was YEARS away from understanding it at all.
When your whole life is submersed in a belief system it can be very hard to find the reasons why it's not good and you need to leave. Conflicting information is never presented. In fact your told to avoid it at all costs. So I struggled to find a tangible reason why I could leave. It took a while for my observations to find the trend I was looking for.
At a circuit assembly I finally heard the words I was looking for. Our CO was up giving one of the main parts of the day. He was talking about what it is like 'in the world' and began describing what the 'world' does to people. Have you ever seen little wads of gum under stadium chairs? They used to be bright blue, green, red. Now they are all wrinkly and Grey. We clean all those off before conventions. One time he saw a big jug of all the gum they had collected. It was disgusting. But that's what the world does to people. Chews them up and spits them out after sucking all of their flavor out.
Now, I had recently gotten a part time job at the local art center. I had really been thinking for the last year. I knew in my heart that what he was saying was not ALWAYS true. sure, that happens to some people. I felt like I had watched that happen to my mom over the last 2 years (one family tragedy after another left her majorly depressed). She was in "the truth". But I knew I was seeing beauty in this world around me.
So i came back to the hotel with my husband and told him I was leaving. The religion, not him. Even though I knew that was next. "Why?" he lamented to me "What do you want to do that you can't do as a JW?" "Ummm...smoke?" I replied. It was on the to-do list. We tried over the next few months. Rather, he tried to read the bible out loud every night. I would lay for an hr then 'take the puppy for a midnight walk' for 2 hrs. and talk to people I had met on the internet.
Finally I left after he said that he was getting rid of the internet. I wasn't on any apostate sites. I was a gamer with a mac and had found people from all over the world to play games with. So I crashed on an old high school buddies couch for a few weeks before my parents convinced me to live with them for a while. I got df'ed because my parents convinced me to go to a committee meeting and they asked me if I believed that the jw's were god's acting organization on earth and I had to say that I didn't really know. My mom would cry to me to go back to my wonderful husband. She told me how I would never find someone to love me the way he did. Eventually they made me move out after I obviously had a boyfriend.
I was really alone. My dog may have saved my life at that point. I didn't know what I believed. I felt like I had lost my identity. I loved my friends so much. and I had tons of them. Now I had no one. A boyfriend that really frustrated me. Fortunately I had a fun job at the art center still and I used my depression to channel creativity. I've thought often how thankful I am for having art. Things slowly got better.
Then I met the most awesome loving man you could imagine. And he showed me a love that blew anything I had known in the truth out of the water. He loved everyone. No strings attached. People that do that are rare indeed. But you definitely won't find them in the truth.
And I read 'the chalice and the blade' by riane eisler and I found my faith again. Now we are about to pop out baby #2 at home. Here's a little video about us...
I still hold dear teachings like caring for your neighbor and reaching out. They did have some good ideas, those jdubs... In fact, my husband and I still go door to door to promote the classes. It's surreal.
Well, I didn't need tequila, but I did make some cinnamon rolls while I wrote this..
Peace and Love Brothers and Sisters.