Isaac J. Harris has written two great articles for About.com on the topic of “fading.” One is descriptive, and the other has some strategies for you. They are located in the atheism/agnosticism section, but of course not everyone leaves the Watchtower Society for those reasons.
Here are a couple of snippets for you:
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the potential problems associated with being disfellowshipped and shunned lead to many choosing instead to just fade away. Disfellowshipping, in Jehovah’s Witness parlance, means they will be excommunicated and shunned by all other Jehovah’s Witnesses in good standing. It is the highest penalty the Watchtower Society can bestow. This is why, when a believer becomes disillusioned with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, they do not feel free to speak out about their doubts — not even to their closest friends and family members. Many are afraid to just get up and walk away like any normal person would because they’re afraid of being disfellowshipped and what this will do to their various relationships. …
Imagine you were raised in a religion where the members are strongly discouraged from associating with any non-believers, or even from associating with members known to be “unevenly yoked” with “worldly” friendships and ways? What if that religion saw the outside world as a place under Satanic control and labeled so-called worldly members as “bad associates” to be avoided? It is likely that you would be reluctant to make friends with anyone who didn’t believe as you do. You wouldn’t have many friends who weren’t part of that religion.
So what would happen if you were suddenly cut off from fellow believers? What if your own mother wouldn’t speak to you, or even acknowledge your existence if you should bump into her in a public place? What if you had to start over, without the support of friends, family, or the religious institution you’ve been a part of your entire life? It would be an extremely lonely and difficult time to get through.
Be wary of persistent Witnesses. Sadly, some may try to trick you into confessing your disbelief. Some Witnesses have even gone to faders and expressed false doubts about the Society, thus inviting the fader to do the same. Then, within weeks or days, the fader gets a call from their Elders. Relatives have even pulled this one on faders, so be careful.
Make new friends. You’ll need new friends for emotional support once you’ve left. Why go it alone?
(Thanks to Danny for sending me the links to the About.com articles)