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Forums / Relationship and family issues / Ex Jehovah’s Witness ?

Topic: Ex Jehovah’s Witness ?

  1. Gj1
    Gj1 avatar
    2 posts
    29 September 2018

    Hey guys my first post here😊

    To start off with I want to say that I was born and raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and left the faith when I was able to move and support myself. Leaving and coming out to normal society has been pretty tough tho. I just feel like there’s a really distinctive loneliness of being an ex Witness that a lot of people won’t ever understand.

    I’m wondering if there are any ex Jehovah’s Witnesses on these forums that have been able to sort of overcome those feelings and find happiness outside the organization.

    Could really use some good stories that it does get better because at the moment it feels like I’m seeing the world from behind glass

    5 people found this helpful
  2. Croix
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    30 September 2018 in reply to Gj1

    Dear Gj1~

    I'd like to welcome you here to the Forum, which is an inclusive sort of place. I do not know the exact problems you have to face though I might be able to imagine some.

    If you don't mind my asking what are the main difficulties you are finding in your new life?

    I came from a very religious upbringing (father a clergyman) and eventually broke with his faith. Of course this is rather different as you would be coming from a close-kit prescriptive environment and may in fact no longer have access to the people who were large in your life. To leave and go into a different world is not easy.

    I guess in a somewhat similar way when invalided out of my life as a policeman I entered a society that was new, leaving behind a sort of rather closed community.

    Making that adjustment does take work. I went on a course of study, which gave me identity, direction and daily contact with others. This in turn lead to a new occupation. I'd guess the daily contact was one of the most important things.

    I do hope you come back and say more

    Croix

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Gj1
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    2 posts
    30 September 2018 in reply to Croix

    Hey croix thanks for the reply 😊

    I think the big difficulties are building relationships and friendships. Having a up bringing that was so different to everyone around me is sometimes hard to explain and even a little embarrassing. I do have issues with the “Us and Them” mentality still. Like I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness but I’m not a normal person either. It hits at random times the feeling like I’m an outsider even if I’m out at work or with some mates and it can be pretty hard to shake.

    Also probably doesn’t help that I was told constantly that non-witnesses were all untrustworthy then only to be messed around by the eleders (sort like church leaders) makes it hard to know who to trust and rely.

    Yeah daily contact at work has helped me come a massive way and keeping busy not thinking about it does too

    4 people found this helpful
  4. Croix
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    30 September 2018 in reply to Gj1

    Dear Gj1~

    Thanks for coming back and saying more. Unfortunately there is no easy way to know who you can rely upon, there is no group of people from the FBI to Elders who can see inside others, there is just an individual's own experience - which you are gaining in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. That's as good as it gets.

    As for trustworthiness in a population, If I can say so without causing any distress you are now one of the non-witnesses, but if you look inside yourself, have you changed? I would think you are just as trustworthy now as before.

    Please do not feel embarrassed about your upbringing, for all of us it is a springboard from which we develop. I'm sure there would have been aspects of it that are worth retaining, and now with experience and maturity they will be more recognizable. In my own case an early emphasis on honesty, charity and steadfastness have remained and are assets.

    There really is no rush to do or feel anything, living in society is a lifetime occupation after all. I have the feeling you are going to be fine

    Croix

    1 person found this helpful
  5. Bluenpink
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    1 posts
    30 September 2018 in reply to Gj1

    Hello,

    Im an ex jw. Ive been out about 7 yrs and it does get easier. Ive been able to celebrate my childrens birthdays and enjoyed Christmas with my partners family. Even been able to let go of a lot of guilt from being an imperfect human.

    I understand the 'us n them' mentality. I was born and raised in the faith too.

    Can I ask what were the cicumstances in which you got out? Were you disfellowshipped or faded? I was disfellowshipped and I think being "kicked out" is pretty hard to recover from but it is possible once you are able to readjust your thinking.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. ElainesWay
    ElainesWay avatar
    1 posts
    29 May 2019 in reply to Gj1

    Hi Gj, Have just joined Beyond Blue so only just seen your post. There's a couple of good online exJW forums.

    I left 'the organisation' in 1980, but didn't find out TTATT (the truth about the Truth) till 1999. Know what you mean about the baggage from high demand control. It does take years to re-learn new attitudes and discard old, in many cases toxic, believe systems.

    Having fabulous never-been-JW friends played a big part in getting me through.

    Many exJWs join meetup groups to start their new lives.

    Hope you're doing ok.

  7. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    29 May 2019 in reply to ElainesWay

    Hi ElainesWay and Bluenpink,

    welcome both of you to beyond blue.

    I am not a JW but a Christian, and I was listening to a podcast today about faith and sexuality. You might wonder what the relationship between this and your post - the guy they were speaking with is a gay Christian and he spoke about the issues he faced/faces. Like you have all mentioned there is a us and the mentality, and while this person is OK with himself, the healing is ongoing and for some may never truly happen.

    Remember that you are person first and foremost, and deserving of love and support for those around you. There are a couple of other threads that reference JWs and a google search like

    Jehovah Witness beyond blue

    will give you the links to these. I wish you well on this journey and if you want to chat some more....

    Peace and comfort to you all,

    Tim

    2 people found this helpful
  8. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    10 July 2019 in reply to Gj1

    Hi there,

    This is my first post on any forum. I've been a bit nervous but someone recommended I just go on and have a look and reading your story made me feel like i'm not alone. I'm in a very similar boat. At the moment I am living two lives which is very stressful. I've been disfellowshipped before so I guess the thing that scares me is being kicked out again and having to deal with the trauma and letting my family down again. It really is tough.

    anyway good to know there's others out there that understand what it's like.

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Croix
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    10 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Dear Rolled oats~

    I would like to welcome you here, you can be assure of a positive and understanding approach from us all. While many will not have had exactly the same expereices you have we have all had problems, many wiht families we thought were reservoirs of love, that help us see some of the trials you have had to face.

    I'm glad you were able to post here, a feat in itself.

    Living in a close-knit community and then being rejected, as you were in the past, is pretty devastating and I would imagine not only are there feelings of loss and grief, but also of self doubt. As someone who was disinherited from his family I may catch just a gimps of what you are going though worrying about what may happen.

    I can see from your post, having survived disfellowship before you have resilience and courage, even if you think otherwise.

    If you would like to talk more you are most welcome, another perspective can be a comfort and source of stability.

    May I ask if there is anyone in your life that does give you the care and support one needs, regardless of others?

    Croix

    3 people found this helpful
  10. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    11 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Hello,

    It sounds like a big decision for you to make.

    I am saddened that just because someone might not have the same beliefs they might become "unloved", At the same it must be hard trying to live to separate lives. While I have an idea of what disfellowship is, I am unsure of the impact of it, aside from your mentioning trauma and letting your family down. What things you cannot do, or how you can or cannot interact with? Perhaps you could educate me.

    If I may ask one question... being able to write this post on the forums, how did you feel? (for myself, this space is somewhere I can write down things knowing that I will not be judged by others)

    Tim


    2 people found this helpful
  11. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    11 July 2019 in reply to Croix

    Thank you for your response. It is nice to have some support from people who genuinely understand.

    I've actually been disfellowshipped twice before so this is why I'm particularly finding it hard to muster up the strength to go through this again.

    I do however have the support of my loving boyfriend which really helps.

    Yes, i agree! i think this forum is such a great way to connect without being judged.

    1 person found this helpful
  12. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    11 July 2019 in reply to smallwolf

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for your reply. Yeah it's so hard when i wish my family and close friends would just accept my decisions even if they don't agree with them.

    The impact of being disfellowshipped (or expelled) is hard because you're completely cut off from everyone you love and having grown up as a JW, it's really hard to make new friends outside the community, it just doesn't feel the same.

    I guess i would liken it to going through a grieving process that you never really get over but hopefully it does get easier as I build a support network.

  13. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    11 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats
    Hello again,

    I read on a wiki page what constitutes a serious sin that could result in excommunication.

    How would you feel if you did not go through with this conversation that results in disfellowshipping? And continuing to live 2 lives.

    I noticed you said you were supported by your boyfriend, so does his family also support you?

    I cannot imagine what it would be like not to be able to talk to family again if that is one of the consequences. At the same time be able to make a decision you are happy with or can live with.

    Peace and comforting thoughts,
    Tim
    I
  14. Croix
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    11 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Dear Rolled Oats

    The people you grow up with will -right or wrong - have a special place in one's heart, no matter what they do. That special place simply means they have more influence than one might imagine.

    Even now, 50+ years later I feel a pang for my family, even thought it was them that severed the connection. I wonder too could I have been different? Then I look at how they behaved -an absolute template of how not to be a parent, something that has helped me enormously as one myself. I look at all the people I have met since, two wonderful partners, a career, friends, and an acknowledgment that love can - and should - overcome an awful lot.

    Plus a reliance in myself.

    Not quick, much heartache, much wondering what is right, what is wrong. Perhaps the hardest thing is to realise what is instinctive, but not necessarily right. Instinct is insidious, making one take for granted things that should be examined.

    I'm very glad you are not facing this all alone. As time goes on your will -like me- get more that a support network, but a full life where you both give and receive love and support. You have the strength to do this.

    Talk here as much as you like, you are as we originally said, welcome

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  15. rolled oats
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    14 posts
    16 July 2019 in reply to Croix

    Thanks Croix.

    That's so true, I will feel sad that they cut me off, even though i know why they're doing it. They think they're helping me see the light but in reality, it's just so devastating for everyone involved that they can't just let me live my life and be happy with my choices (if it's not hurting anyone).

    Nice to know you also experience this pain but have managed to get through it and have a reliance on yourself.

    Just need to build up the courage to start living my own life, no matter what the consequences. I am half doing that now but need to bite the bullet and live 100% one life, instead of 50% living two lives.

    Hopefully that makes sense.

    1 person found this helpful
  16. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    16 July 2019 in reply to smallwolf

    Thanks Tim.

    It is tricky, yes.

    On one hand, i could keep living two lives but i think that would just eat me up inside and I would end up a serious mess just to try and keep everyone happy.

    On the other hand, it is going to be a lot of heartache giving up my family and friends and starting a new life but in the long term, hopefully i will experience nothing but happiness.

    I think i will just have to keep up the double life for as long as i can till it really get's too hard.

    1 person found this helpful
  17. Croix
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    16 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Dear Rolled Oats~

    Now I am not trying to give you advice, I'm simply reflecting back on my early days.

    I tried to lead a double life, please the parents, do what I needed. Eventually it became a straight choice, really hurt the person who became my partner and keep on going as is, or force the issue, which led to me being dis-inherited (yes I know, old-fashioned, but that was then)

    I gained my partner's absolute confidence and had a weight I did not realise had been pressing me down lifted.

    My circumstances were no doubt different from yours, but I beleive the double life bit to be true.You cannot serve two masters.

    Croix

    2 people found this helpful
  18. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    17 July 2019 in reply to Croix

    wow i think that is the encouragement i needed to help make with my choice

    i do believe that a huge weight will be lifted and i might even be able to start sleeping properly

    thank you, it will be tough but will work out in the long run i'm sure

    cheers

    1 person found this helpful
  19. Intronaut
    Intronaut avatar
    7 posts
    30 July 2019 in reply to Gj1

    Hey Gj1,

    I was sitting up late and asking Google if there was anyone else wandering between the two plains of "those in the truth" and "the wordly".

    Then I stumbled upon your first post and felt like I found another drifter like myself. It struck a nerve with me. I have been "out" for ten years now but still struggle with the unique loneliness that only an ex jw can feel.

    For the most part, I get by these days fairly well and with little anxiety unlike the first few years, but just recently, an old friend also an ex jw took his life. This is the second friend I've lost over the decade I've been out and it stirs a lot of emotions. I feel destined/doomed to live out my days as an emotional and social anomaly as a result of the conditioning we as jws went through in our formative years.

    I would love to hear some updates or progress reports from you or our ilk, perhaps some notes swapping or tips could be mutually beneficial?

    I hope you and the other jw survivors who have also posted on here are doing well.

    1 person found this helpful
  20. rolled oats
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    14 posts
    31 July 2019 in reply to Intronaut

    Hey Intronaut

    Thanks for sharing... i feel like we're all in the same boat here. Drifting.

    Even though I've been "out" twice before, it doesn't make things any easier this time round.

    It's a very strange life. I have been trying to make new friends, still never the same though.

    But hopefully time will help in building up a support network. I'm not negative or bitter towards the past, just sad I guess that I don't feel "normal".

    1 person found this helpful
  21. Intronaut
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    7 posts
    31 July 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Hey Rolled oats! (Reminds me of the Carl Barron bit)

    I understand your conundrum and empathise with you completely. When you leave or are kicked out from the cult, it feels like leaving the only cabin you know exists for miles in a blizzard. You sometimes feel you have no choice but to crawl back and beg to be allowed return to shelter.

    I have (if I'm totally honest) no friends at all, I'm not out for sympathy or pity it's just how I am I guess. Since leaving and having "friends" turn me away, I guess I've been hesitant to start up any other friendships. But that's all my doing.

    Having said that, how are you and your man finding life this time around? Any tips to pass on?

  22. smallwolf
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    31 July 2019 in reply to Intronaut

    Hi,

    In your second last post you mentioned loneliness and in then in your latest post mentioned not having friends. I hope you don't mind me asking ...

    Is the loneliness because people who were your friends in the community are no longer friends?

    OR

    Are there people you have coffee with (or have lunch with), but you do not consider them friends for some reason, and if so, think there something else missing? (For example, last year I would have made a similar statement to you, that people did not like me, mainly because of what I thought of myself. However, this year, I have found there are people who like me and appreciate what I do etc. I guess it was/is a perspective thing on my part)

    I hope this question is OK

    Tim

  23. Intronaut
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    7 posts
    31 July 2019 in reply to smallwolf

    G'day Tim,

    Of course the question is ok. I think that there is a feeling among ex witnesses (I know I should really only speak for myself but,) of; "how can anybody who has not experienced jw life really understand me?" Therefore "how can I have any real friends?" It's a bit like a war veterans appreciate other war veterans, a kind of shared trauma thing. I guess I do have friends but I wouldn't say I'd leap to take a bullet meant for them.

    The "friends" from the organization never called to catch up with me or came by my house to visit and I don't harbour any ill will towards them for it, they probably feared the draconian reprisals.

    I appreciate the advice and you sharing your story about perspective, it means a lot to me to hear people be real and open about their feelings, to share thoughts instead of being terrified of the consequences if others would discover them.

    3 people found this helpful
  24. rolled oats
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    14 posts
    1 August 2019 in reply to Intronaut

    it's good to know there are others out there (although sad) that can empathise with the hardship of feeling lost

    not feeling like i fit in 100% in either world is a daily struggle

    can i ask, were you kicked out or did you leave of your own accord?

    also, did you grow up in the "truth"?

    sorry to hear about the loneliness, there are definitely genuine people in the "world" who can hopefully help you with no judgement

    2 people found this helpful
  25. Intronaut
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    7 posts
    1 August 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Indeed, I feel for your daily struggle.

    Most days I feel like a bbq shape rolling around in a sack o' marbles.

    I was brought up in the "truth" I would say. I remember having my first study from the "my book of bible stories" book (remember?, the big yellow one) when I was in kindergarten. I was forced into the theocratic ministry school when I was 12, i was never baptized and left on my own accord when I was 21. I forgot that it has been 14 years since I fled.

    I left because I could no longer take the life long feeling of guilt and failure. From as early as primary school I felt that because I hated school, my parents were disappointed in me therefore God hated me and would wipe me out in Armageddon. In high school he still hated me because of my love for heavy metal music, violent video games and movies, but mostly because I hated the door to door work and going to meetings. In my late teens I was a nervous, anxious wreck of a boy with zero self esteem.

    By some stroke of luck, I found a job working with some beautifully kind hearted people that helped me realise I was not worthless, wicked pile of slime, the job and the people gave me the confidence to leave the week of my 21st birthday.

    The first 6 months of being out were great. I pierced things, tattooed other things, watched the Exorcist (not a good idea, lost a lot of sleep for that) grew my hair out finally, listened to some great music and generally went after the forbidden fruits. It wasn't until I entered into relationship with my first girlfriend that I realized I was a little..tainted.

    Sorry for the life story, I hardly ever share let alone over share..

    What is your story of exodus?

    3 people found this helpful
  26. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    1 August 2019 in reply to Intronaut

    @Intronaut,

    Just to let you know that I do not mind sharing my stories. I find that by sharing my stories you (in the plural sense) might find some connection, or get something from it. Not that it should matter, but I am a Christian, and have enough stories where non-Christians have acted better than (so called) Christians.

    @rolled oats,

    you mentioned not fitting in 100% - what would 100% look like?

    Tim

    2 people found this helpful
  27. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    19 August 2019 in reply to smallwolf

    Sorry it's taken me so long to reply!

    Yeah i guess i try to fit in as much as i can with 'wordly' people but i still don't seem to have the connection i do with 'witness' people.

    i'm sure time will fix this.

    i have a very patient fella so he is a huge support with this transition stage.

    i guess i have to allow for an adjusting period, just gotta keep positive!

    1 person found this helpful
  28. smallwolf
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    smallwolf avatar
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    20 August 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    If we skip over the categories of people, when you mention not having a connection, is that because of depth of conversation is not as deep as you might like. For instance, there is a person I talk with (and I won't go into details re her situation) but after hello we can jump into the deep stuff quite easily, and I like that. Others prefer shallow discussions never getting the know the other person. Of course, how deep a conversation can get depends on both persons in the conversation. Well.... at least when you talk about connection that is how it feels to me.

    And we take each day one at a time...

    1 person found this helpful
  29. rolled oats
    rolled oats avatar
    14 posts
    20 August 2019 in reply to smallwolf
    Hi Smallwolf,

    Fortunately for you, you may not have ever experience the sense of close belonging to a community as I (and every other JW) have throughout my life. The JWs’ are an extremely close-knit community that doesn’t encourage its members to associate with non JW people other than in the workplace.

    My dilemma is that I have traditionally only had close trusting relationships with other JW’s, and the basis of those close relationships has always been the JW religion and its associated lifestyle and activities, however I am now facing the rest of my life outside of the JW community and hence I am struggling to find the right tools to build the meaningful connection with non-JW’s (hopefully that makes sense)
    1 person found this helpful
  30. Croix
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    20 August 2019 in reply to rolled oats

    Dear Rolled Oats~

    I can understand waht you mean from two aspect in my own life, the first was being brought up in a very conventional status conscious and religious household, my father was a clergyman, and this ended when I was disinherited. The love I'd always assumed was there, even behind less than admirable parental conduct, was in fact a chimera, never there at all.

    The second was when I was invalided out of the police, and the very close bonds with fellow members facing a common cause in all its aspects meant I lost that sense of kinship and a whole world in fact. There too outsiders were 'other'.

    I mention these becuse with my family, wife, offspring, there is love and closeness, and although it took a long time I've found substitutes for the fellowship in the police.

    Basically there are good people you may well be able to share a common cause with , if not religion then perhaps occupation or purpose.

    You might never have a life exactly the same as your youth - but would you really want it?

    I'm very glad you have that fella there for you, it must make a huge difference.

    Croix

    3 people found this helpful

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