This time of year is more difficult for families dealing with JW stuff, so can I just say…. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Yule, a Rockin’ Saturnalia, Groovy Kwansaa, and whatever else you feel like celebrating! Have a “Winter” party – call it whatever you like – have a “lights” party. Reach out to others in good will and kindness.
I don’t mean at all to be glib, but one of the things JWs can’t understand very well is actual love, forgiveness, happiness and especially celebration. They will tell you that they celebrate every day but of course they don’t. Humans respond to ritual and repetition – we are part of a world of cycles and circles and repetitions.
This entry is dedicated to the memory of my father, who died two years ago today. Rest in peace, Daddy. We hold you close in our hearts.
Here are some selections from the JW mailbag. Some have requested that I not post their questions, others have been edited somewhat for privacy. This first is from a personal friend as well as a former JW – I would really like for him to write back (hear me, L?).
Could you please contact me? I’m just lost and in pain right now. All I ask is for your kindness and compassion? Please? L
L, dear friend. Don’t disappear again. Please please write me back and tell me what’s going on. I have no contact information for you. I’m here for you as always.
what an amazing article. i have a partner who quite recently came out of the jw cult. he still hasnt found his way and suffers low self esteem and feels as if he’s an outsider to the rest of the world. i would love to send him your article as an aid in his recovery. many thanks – w
He needs all your support. Let me know if I can help in any way.
I’ll try to make it short… (i’ll try) ExJW. was born and raised in religion, quit when i was 16 and have never gone back despite of enormous pressure from family. I read a book that helped me tremendously and did not see it on your list. It’s called When God Becomes a Drug. Don’t know if you’ve read it but it deals with religion as an addictive family problem. It’s written by Father (yes, catholic priest) Leo Booth. Check it out.
Thanks for the recommendation!
I appreciate all the information on your website. I would also appreciate very much your including “Captives of a Concept” in your list of books.
Six Million Jehovah’s Witnesses Held Captive
Captives of a Concept is designed to help the reader understand the illusionary concept that holds millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses captive by molding their thinking and actions without them realizing it. Those who understand this concept and how it is maintained will never make the same mistake that has already caused millions of people to become captives of it.
The book offers suggestions that eliminate debating with Jehovah’s Witnesses about the Bible does or doesn’t teach. It is available in PDF Download and Print versions. There is additional information at www.CaptivesOfaConcept.com
It was added to the books page. This press release includes a good description of the major point: “The author narrows the matter down to just one thing that needs to be known about their Watchtower Society: Is it what it claims to be, “God’s organization;” God’s sole “channel of communication” to all mankind? The book answers this question by comparing the Watchtower’s interpretation of Matthew 24:45-47 with the organization’s recorded history that relates to their interpretation. Cameron explains the reason why there are six million Jehovah’s Witnesses today is because they all made the same mistake of not making this examination before they decided to join this religion. One of the things that makes the book different is that it doesn’t try to compare the Bible’s teachings with Watchtower teachings. Therefore it isn’t necessary to know anything about the Bible (or even believe the Bible for that matter) This is because it isn’t what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe about the Bible that is holding them captive. It is what they believe about the Watchtower Society that does it.”
I discovered your site last night and I felt relieved to read some of the things I read. I have never met another ex witness. I was born and raised a witness baptized at 12 and left when I was 18. I have never quite recovered and have recently started to rebuild my life. M
Hang in there M! Here if you need to talk.
Hardworking and driven but caring, family man. Been through “hell” in the last 12 months resulting in a near divorce/nervous breakdown. Councelling has established that a JW upbringing has accounted for much of my low self esteem as an adult.
Low self-esteem is a common thread. I hope that you are (productively) building it back up. Let me know if you discover especially good strategies for doing so and I’ll pass them on.
help..I’ve seen some bad hypocrisy..how do I leave..how do I chnage a lifetime of views….my head is so messed up, I don’t know what I think anymore. M
M – Stop – take a deep breath. I’m reading this as a distress call, and if that’s the case, please get some help now. If it was a momentary thing, tell me how you’re feeling and what you need to get through for the next little bit and let’s see if we can’t lay out a plan. Tell me more about what has happened. Do you have a good friend (non_jw) to support you at this time – someone you can really talk to? Pray for guidance and wisdom. Take it one little step at a time.
I came across the article you wrote on being an ex JW and have to say it was one of the best I’ve read to date and I really appreciate it. I found it to be very balanced and overall great advice for getting on with one’s life.
It’s been nine years out for me, but even now I still struggle daily with my new & old beliefs (even after 2 years of therapy); Is the world really going to be destroyed? Am I an apostate now for having an opinion? Am I just a prideful person who needs to admit my own mistakes and repent? etc.
I didn’t realize just how screwed up I was and just how far I’ve come until recently. All the years I was a Witness (born into it until age 19), I had doubts about certain things – extreme subordination of women (staying with an abusive partner!), disfellowshipping, views on homosexuality, blood transfusions, limited association & contact with “the world” – but I knew that to question anything was to show a “lack of faith.”
I was also baptized at a very young age (13) – frankly way too young to have a full grasp of what I was doing. I never thought that I’d ever change my mind, so of course losing my entire family and all of my friends at age 19 came as a terrible shock.
I’m very happy with where I am right now, but I know I still have a long way to go.
P.S. Looney Tunes line was hilarious! I completely forgot about that until now. Shared it with a few friends and they remember too. Can’t say I miss the songs very much… B
How pleasant to see brothers.. all dwell in unity. Dah da dah da dadad da dah…
Sometimes a little laughter can help once in a while. I am sorry that you had to rebuild from age 19 – it does sound as though you have found your own voice. Keep on. Here anytime.
Thanks so much for the information. I am doing my best to find out as much as I can. I was raised in “the truth” and I was disfellowshiped when I was 22 after a messy divorce from a man who claimed to be a brother…. long story lol …anyway I am now going to be 30 soon and I have 3 children which I want to make sure they are learning the right things. I don’t want to do to them what my mother did to me. I had a lot of abuse in reguards to the faith mentally. Im just so torn between knowing what I MUST do to survive and then knowing that it may all be lies. The witnesses have the closest thing to the truth about God that I have seen. So its very hard to turn away from that plus the hard pull of the ever preached Death by GOD if you dont carry on doing what they claim God tells them. Anyway Im sure you dont want to hear or read rather me going on and on LOL. I just wanted to say thank you for replying to me and I wish you all the best! M
Best wishes to you, M. Don’t give up on God just yet – think of the image of the mother hen protecting its chicks. All words about God are by necessity metaphorical – find the way you yourself are called to be, in your astounding uniqueness. If there is a God, I believe that this is closer to what might have been intended or hoped-for.
I just wanted to say “kudos” to you for speaking out about your experiences as a Jehovah’s Witness. I used to work with some who also left their community only to be threatened with bodily harm for doing so. As a former Catholic turned Atheist, I find it sad how some people let religion take over their lives in extremes like that. Good luck with your future endeavors. D
I’ve not heard of bodily threats before – well, except for that God himself was going to kill non-JWs. I would like to hear more of your experiences with that. Were the threats from family members or elders or people in the congregation?
hi, i thought id take some time to leave a message, im a 17 year old girl, i was a jehovah’s witness from when i was born i was about 12 years old, after, i started to drift away because my parents divorced and my family moved to another state, lately i have been doing a lot of thinking about what i gave up a few years back, i didnt give it up because i had been wronged or that i didnt agree with the beliefs, i gave it up because my new congregation was hard to get into and i felt like i had no friends, im really not sure why this happened, anyway, since this time, i have gone to all kinds of other churches to try to understand what every other “christian” believes and why. i am still trying to find out what other people think of jehovahs witnesses and why so many people think negatively of them. they are humans and nonetheless flawed. as i drifted away from God and stopped attending the meetings, stopped praying, reading the bible, etc, my life slowly went downhill, i got to a low point last year, this seems to me all because i had turned my back on Jehovah, i feel like i deeply regret it now that i have passed that low point, im not back with Jehovah’s Witnesses yet but i wish to be. you truly must be humble, honest, and hungry for the truth to be a witness, i really believe the kingdom hall is where i need to be going because of all the other churches ive gone to, they are the most factually sound, they dont skim over things, they go into depth, they do the research, they have researched into things unlike every other christian church, maybe if the other churches would do some research they would understand why we call God “Jehovah” or why we dont celebrate holidays …i dont know if this helps you or angers you but i thought i would voice my opinion, thank you
You must follow your own path. If you truly feel that the Kingdom Hall is where you need to be, then perhaps it is. There are other places for the humble and curious, however, and I do not agree that what they do can be considered research. The methods are problematic at best. Still, you are free to make your own judgment. I would only say: Focus on where you see compassion, good will, and caring. Follow your heart. You already know more than you think you do. The fact that you consider these things means that you are already on a religious path of questioning, no matter what you might decide at certain “resting-spots” in your life of faith.
I want to thank you for the exceptional advice that you posted on the Watchtower Information website. Many of the issues that were mentioned in the article pertain to my person almost exactly. However, I found the article to be both positive and inspiring as well.
I had spent about fourteen years in that organisation and I did not further my education because it was prohibited. However, I will graduate college with an associates degree in July of 2006 and I will have accomplished a goal that I wanted to achieve my entire life. At times, I feel very sad at what has happened to persons like myself but I am hoping in time that I will recover and put the organisation behind me once and for all.
Admittedly, I am now the “enemy” of my former friends and associates and that is a difficulty I am still trying to contend with…
Why do individuals like myself get taken into such “religions” without checking the references or doing a background check? I must admit I hold anger at myself for not having done the basic fundamentals of critical thinking and a historicity check of the organisation.
I would like to conclude with words of appreciation and thanks, I hope that you continue to write as many inspiring articles as your last one. – Richard
Thank you Richard. Many join up with JWs at times in their lives when critical thinking is not at the top of a list of priorities. Forgive yourself, don’t be angry with yourself. It’s like when you have been conned – use the experience to prevent a repetition of the mistake, but don’t fall into paranoia over it. As for being an enemy – you’ll have to find space to forgive them too. It’s not personal. From our emails following this note, it seems to me that you have really hit your stride and are starting to meet some of your goals. Kudos to you!
Yours is the best Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Site I’ve seen yet. I have to admit that I merely browsed over the site and didn’t go into to too much detail but the spirit of your advice, the little tid-bits I got were very good coaching points I felt. I was recently Disfellowshipped on August 16, 2005. I will more than likely be back to this site whenever I get too “self-centered” or feel sorry for myself. Thanks For The Practical Points,
Thanks Michael. I tried to give small bits of things, since everyone’s experiences are somewhat different. I am hoping that people will send in some things like that – small things – that have helped them. For me, nothing helped more than curiosity, reading, and asking/answering questions to myself as honestly as I possibly could.
This site is very enlightening. I have a close friend who is a JW..she has been for a long time. I am not a JW and never wish to be, but am not sure about her intentions concerning me. She has never ever talked to me about anything religious and I never have introduced anything “religious” into our relationship as friends either. I love her and don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I always feel like I am borrowing her time. I am also afraid I wouldn’t know what to say to her if she ever approached me in a religious conversation…what should I say to her? I don’t agree with her beliefs. Can I just tell her that and it be cool? R
R -If your JW friend has never mentioned much about the religion, you may be a refuge! If you start asking her about it, you may activate her internal warnings about worldly associations – if she wants to talk about it, she will. Otherwise, I’d leave it be. If she did bring it up, I think you have the right idea. Without making a big issue, you can just say “I don’t believe that” or “that’s not what I can believe.” She will have heard it before, believe me. And if she was going to end the friendship over religion, it would have ended before now. Don’t worry about it overmuch. Just give your friend a friend! She needs one. I’m here if you ever have any concerns, issues, questions – but the best thing you can do is simply see who she is and accept her and really be her friend, which is what you are.
I have let down my guard with my friend a lot because I don’t want her to feel like I am one of those that just passes judgment on everyone who isn’t like them or doesn’t share their beliefs. I am not one who says I am a “Baptist, Methodist, whatever…” I am a Christian and do my best to try to treat folks the way I think Jesus would treat them. You can get closer to folks with love than any other thing you can try…and that’s it…I love this person and her family very much. They have become like family to me, but there is that wall…I don’t understand the JW ways, but have been friends long enough with these folks to understand that they make conscience effort to make sure you don’t get too close b/c you are not one of them, after all. While these things bother me a lot, sometimes I think it’s God’s way of helping not to get sucked into the crazy JW mentality. I don’t want to be like them. She seems so unprogrammed when we just hang out together as friends, but as soon as her “brothers and sisters” are around, I can see and feel the difference. I am not used to that in my friendships…it’s just weird.
I feel guilty a lot even about contacting her in anyway outside of work. We are co-workers. As you probably know, she always talks about how busy she is and I know this is true b/c I have done some reading and know how busy that lifestyle is outside of other things people want to do in life. I literally do feel like I borrow time from her family, her religious obligations, and yes, I have even mistakenly called her during study times at her home. She answers most anytime I call, but I can tell that it annoys her when I do that. I just apologize and tell her we’ll talk later. It is hard to be friends w/ a JW who is all up into it. This is normal behavior for the JW community, right? I am not wrong about the busy life the society places upon them, am I? That is just the society’s part of trying to keep them away from people outside of their own lifestyle and beliefs unless, of course, they are doing field service. Am I mistaken about this? R
R-Yes, you are right that the JW lifestyle is a busy one. There are multiple weekly meetings as well as “going out in service.” If your friend has a “study” time, it may mean that she has folks to her house at a regular time each week (most likely a Tues or Thursday night for the book study, they sometimes do this at people’s houses instead of the Kingdom Hall). If she is married, the husband may mandate additional study times as a family – although that is a little bit rarer now than when I was a child. It may simply be that she wants to minimize the appearance of your friendship to others – she’s supposed to limit “worldly associations” – but the fact that she considers you a friend means that she truly cares about you. If she is able to let down her guard a little bit, I am sure that you are a refuge for her, a place where she can be herself. As you notice – JWs tend not to really be themselves in front of their own. It is a very judgmental and gossipy sort of group, and they foster a kind of self-policing paranoia. You might ask her privately – without making a big deal about it – when a good time to contact her outside of work might be. You will be able to judge pretty well from her response where things stand at the moment. Meanwhile, model what acceptance and forgiveness and compassion are all about. If nothing else, it gives an alternative to the society’s stranglehold on the psyche, which all religions have to one extent or another. It is good for her to know that non-JWs are good people, and if she ever gets shunned and disfellowshipped, she won’t be entirely alone in the world as so many are.
It is sad that you are putting so much information about Jehovah’s Witnesses and yet you know so little about them. Quoting Watchtowers is not what it means to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. ExJWs never learn that. – Gr
Gr – Unfortunately, I know only too well what it means to be a JW. I finally realized that they did not in fact exhibit the fruits of the spirit as a group (individual people did, of course, as they do everywhere). My posts are an endless testimony to that, from questions I get to items in the news, to situations that people face. I know that JWs are mostly very decent people – I only feel they have been misled. I feel that you wrote from a good motivation – I wish you well.
There are no words to express the gratitude I feel for what you are doing here! From the bottom of my heart..THANK YOU! I just don’t have the time to tell you my story but here it is on another site..lot’s of love! Anthony
Thank you Anthony! I’ve posted the link here so others can read it too.
thanks for your virushead site. My wife and son ( 11 yrs ) are big time into JWs, and I’m ….where ? out of the circle…can’t get started. Just tell me…is everything I do or say worthless ? do I have ANY value ? J
J -Of course you have value! Even by the viewpoint of JWs, you are the head of the household. Yours is an extremely difficult situation and it pulls everyone’s love for one another to the very edges. Your wife and son will be attempting to bring you in to the JWs at all times – to save you. Your son is into it because he can’t sort through the truth/falsehoods – and because it’s a way to bond with mom – and because it makes him feel superior to you. He’s 11 – so you’ll have to probably let that go for now and focus on your wife. You must start to understand why your wife has been drawn in. You probably know how, but do you know _why_? Can you offer her a better alternative – is it social needs? attention? boredom? a friend of hers made her feel special? If you figure out how it started and what reward she is getting right now – outside of any beliefs or anything like that – you will have gone a long way already.
Think about how this all started, how you got left out of the loop, and how long this has all been going on. Depending on the circumstances, you might be wise to attend a couple of meetings a month with them just to keep tabs on what is happening and to be able to discuss with your wife – and also so the congregation sees you as a strong presence.
This religion, and it’s not the only one, is a little bit like a drug addiction. Keep your head in reality and see if you can help your wife and son rather than seeing it as their separating themselves from you. They need your strong example, your compassion, and your strength.
I recommend checking the “Meetup” site for former JWs in your area – other Dads. I feel as though they might have better things to tell you from their experience than I would – just because I think some of the issues dovetail in with a lot of other gender-role issues today.
Do not allow yourself to be out of the loop of your own family – you are very central!!!
I’m trying to offer as much help as I can without knowing you or really anything much about the situation. I’m here as a resource in any way that I can help – even if it’s only to listen or to offer the occasional suggestion. You sound very overwhelmed and depressed. I might be able to give you some strategies or help in talking to your wife about these issues. Without being domineering, insist that you talk some of this out, if not in therapy than on your own – and not in front of your son.
Is there any sense in which either of them might be involved just for reasons of independence from you? Are you insecure, abusive, passive, whiny, a control freak – anything like that? Please don’t be offended – and don’t answer! The questions are for you to ask yourself! If there are things to “own up to” and start to change – this is the time. It might really jumpstart the whole conversation.
However, if things are really serious, I recommend trying to get into couple’s therapy. She will resist it because she will have been “infected” with the paranoia of outsiders. You might even resist the idea too (many men do although I’m not sure why) – but a good counsellor is really only a kind of “referree” who will sit you down and make you speak truth to one another, making sure that it’s fair and respects everyone’s viewpoint and feelings. You can find recommendations for short-term issues-based therapy in your area, and it’s usually on a sliding scale. Sometimes it can be helpful, especially if you are having troubles communicating with one another.
Try not to be overwhelmed or too discouraged! This is very common – and you are not alone!!!
It sounds like we all need a little extra love and compassion this season. Reach out to the people who you love and who love you. Get involved in working on something that means something to you – meet new people. In the cold of winter, find warmth and light – and create it.