Hey There Fellow Ex Jws,G'day from Australia my nickname is apples but since it was taken I chose red delicious, and I am an ex-mind control cult member and heres a little of my story.
Its been 5 years since I have set foot in a kingdom hall, but since I was born into "the truth" I have wasted 25 years of my life living by its tenants and twisted meanings and doomsday prophecy. I am writing this now because I realise that it is important for other people with similar experiences to at least have some feeling that they are not alone, as this is still one of the lynchpins of the control these cult entities use on the individual.
My story starts with my familly I was born into a JW family so that makes me a 3rd or 4th generation witness depending on what side of my family tree you look at, I was what one would call a "miracle" baby as by this time my family had quite a number of children the closest of which is still 6 years my senior, My father was a blue collar construction worker and my mother worked in public health.
Our family had very little much of anything, no toys in the house hold and the only books and magazines we had were all witness related, we attended the meetings every day while I was growing up and later on I started attending book studies, a total of 3-4 evenings a week plus the saturday or sunday morning service. Back on topic, my family had very little of anything including time for their own children. To entertain my self whilst growing up I used to beg scraps of paper from the local butcher, this became a sort of ritual when I got to go with my mother to do the shopping (this was only rarely, as we lived in a rented run down farm house far outside of the town limits, and my parents stored the food in the deep freeze) I look back on it fondly now and recall the kind butcher who always used to run me off reams of paper by the meter from the large roll behind the counter. So needless to say I became a good drawer and mastered oragami, even to this day I can make a profusion of toys with a simple scrap of paper, boats, hats, birds, frogs and figures. These are some of the memories I cherish most of growing up.
As you may have guess I grew up in a rural environment, where our nearest neighbor was some 2-3 miles down the road, And I knew the world was going to end soon, I also new that I shouldnt celebrate birthdays because to do so was celebrating the decapitation of John the baptiste, easter was a pagan devil worshipping rite of fertility & christmas was an invention of Babylon the great the harlot as we knew all organised major faiths were, to mislead the righteous. I had no pocket money and no presents or toys, something using hindsight I can attribute my lack of hand eye coordination and financial sense directly to it. I also beleive such strictures are placed in the doctrine to this day to rob the individual of their sense of self and the opportunity to socialise with ones peers, the theft of a child hood and identity if one would care to call it anything.
Obviously my home life was not a happy one (but compared to others that I have met it wasn't as bad as it could have been) My mother was and still is a devout witness as are most of her siblings, my father on the other hand by the time I came onto the scene had struck his true colors unfortunately for my mother and all of my siblings ,he was a completely deranged self absorbed narcissist of the highest order, a coward and a bully. He drank heavily and what ever spare money our family had that wasn't placed into one of the 2 donations boxes in the kindom hall was gambled upon dogs and horses. I still remember reaching up and putting 100 dollars into the quick build box with a trembling hand on my fathers instruction, after having just been flogged with a strap on the side of the road for having the tremerity of raising the subject of pocket money for my chores.
I was witness and recipient to numerous beatings, stranglings and some of the most disgusting verbal confrontations anyone should endure in the "sanctuary' of the family home. I bore all of this in silence (I think it was a coping mechanism from an early age) In the meetings they constantly stressed how the patriarch was to be obeyed, and the readings from the old testament certainly seemed to back all of this up. A s the years rolled by and my brothers and sister (blood) succumbed to delinquincey and/or mental illness, I kept on striving quitely to be the best witness and son one could be. Always contriving to ignore and forget my mothers screams as her 5'1" fr
My home work surprisingly didn't suffer, even though of course as the loner at school with no friends or aquantainces I was soon easy meat for the local bullies, something they seemed to relish was my willingness to "turn the other cheek" So through my first years and up into primary I was an A grade student, it was only when I came into the later stages of primary that things got bad, by this time my elder siblings had begun to move out, therby leaving me exposed more and more to my fathers abuse, it all came to a head when one night he kicked in the door to my bed room and switched my light off, while I was bent over my home work assignment. Plunging my room into darkness, when I asked what he was doing he said it was time I went to sleep, (It was 830 pm) I looked at him and said look this isnt a time for joking around I need to finish this assignment for school. He sneered at me, (yes it shocks me even to this day at how indoctrinated to follow I was) well why didnt you finish it sooner.
"It's a 2 week assignment I have been working on it for 5 days now"
"Should have started sooner then shouldnt you he gloated", he then raised his fist under my nose and said "if this light goes on, and your assignment gets done I'll drive your head through the wall". In case you didn't guess my father was and still is a **** of a man, the complete opposite of what anyone should be striving to make of themselves as an adult.
When he was sober enough to string a sentence together it was usually to recite the long list of people who had wronged him, and how choices in his life had always been out of his hands, how he didn't want children but we all still owed him etc etc ad infintum.
The reason I am raising all of this on a forum about witnesses is not to blame the witnesses for his bahavior as you may think, it is to highlight how the indoctrination ,fear mongering destruction of the individuals sense of self inportance can so horribly effect an entire family unit into paralysis and inaction. I know now there was a multitude of help available when I was growing up (1980s) but my family were so isolated ,fear wracked and deluded to be un-able to seek this help.
About mid way through primary our family upped and moved to the state capital, one of the last talks I witnessed was delivered by one of the elders about the modern evils of ********** in the catholic church, ironic that years latter I would discover that this same elder at the time was repeatedly sexually molesting his own sons (but thats another story)
Upon getting to the state capital we moved into a nice sea side workers cottage that my family rented, it was in the middle of a public housing area, but the ocean was only a block away, so there was plenty to do, It was at this time that my eldest brother returned home, having become seriosly mentally ill, with schitzophrenia. This greately affected my sister who immediately assumed it was a "demon" attack upon our family she then proceeded to purge our household of worldly publications including the TV guide, all my brothers tapes, records and fiction books and burn them. Inevevatably in such a toxic home environment my brother finally left home and took his own life alone and isolated from every one some months later after our father had him disfellowshiped and took out a police restraining order to prevent him from entering the home.
After this my other brother and sister both left shortly after, my sister to move in with a bunch of pioneer sisters, and my brother moved in with his worldly girlfreinds parents, leaving me in school and at home with my parents, due to the fact that my siblings did get pocket money and I didn't (squeeky wheel gets the grease) I had taken a part time job cleaning out the back room of the local chemist for 3 dollars and hour, not much but certainly nothing to sniff at if you dont have anything. I did this every afternoon 5 days a week whilst going to the local public school, I made some life long friends at this school, despite later on discovering that it had become the dumping ground for "trouble" students in the entire region, of course a parent that cared about their childs education may have been aware of this, but considering that one was a drunk gambler and my mother new the end was nigh, not to mention she had her own problems to worry about. This was over looked.
After finishing my grades and continuing my studies and book study ,I completed my high school grades to a mediocre result, and promptly walked strait out of my exam onto the bus and started my 1st full time job. I continued to do my book studies but flagged off from attending the talks, as I was casting about for a tertiary qualification to persue whilst working full time and doing all the chores around the house to lighten the load on my mother who was also working full time. Between beatings from my father. As I continued to do these book studies with pioneer brothers and on occaission an elder or two, I began to ask questions in a round about way about my fathers behavior and their stance on it, these conversations always grew into a big evasive circle. With them talking about findingthe answers in the truth etc.
I soon discovered tertiary qualification I could persue whilst this was going on, I was going to get a trade qualification and I set my energies to doing so, when I finally started my apprenticeship (and starting to work for half the pay I accustomed ,I returned home to be confronted by my extremely drunk father holding my portly mother above the sink by her hair with a steak knife to her throat. I imediately hastened to my room and pulled out the aluminium ba
"I can still get you in your sleep"
I replied no you cant you fool I've been sleeping with a wedge under my door from the inside for 5 years now and besides I dont live here anymore"
I then added "But i'll give you one piece of information for free, you touch my mother again and I'll come back and kill you, do you hear that?"
I then walked out the door and checked into a boarding house full of drunks and homeless people where I was to remain for the duration of my 4 year apprentischip living on 250 dollars a week in late 90s early millenia sydney. Now some may marvel that I stuck it out on such a measely wage, and honestly I can answer ,because I was scared and had no where else to go, thats how. During this time none of my witness "brothers & sisters" came to visit me, non offered help, to listen or a shoulder to cry upon, hell none of my own blood siblings did either. So I threw myself headlong into my job, And at the end I came out a better man my income was ridiculously high compared to the pittance I had grebbed along on for 4 years, around 6 times as much.
After this I started attending meetings again, I was shocked that all the people who had NOT come to see me were still in the area. This kind of annoyed me, but the biggest thing that annoyed me was when I sat through a talk after seeing on the news that 2 witnesses had just been decaptated in indonesia and their heads sent to thei families, they and their families didn't even get a by word in the after talk minutes at the meeting, (I guess it didn't fit well with the Jehovahs angels looking over you angle they were selling.) I then noticed that in the meetings despited knowing every one and most of the doctrine I felt like an out sider, maybe it was the seeming relish with witch they spoke of calamities as they came, or it was the fact that in the spare time I had , I had availed myself with a hunger of the large public library and had read one or two articles on "indoctrination" and I was finding some frighteneing similarities in the text of the watch tower and also the knowledge book etc. Actually I tell a lie IT WAS WORD FOR WAORD VERBATIM what an indoctrination is. A pefect match, I hastily pulled off my tie some months later and stormed out of the kingdom hall after enduring yet another talk and realising that I was getting enraged at what I was witnessing.
As for recovering, I was never baptised soo I never had to endure the trauma of disfellowship, and the break up of family. I did benifit greatly form seeking out a Psychologist ,who actually helped me greatly with coping with putting things into a normal perspective for day to day life anf relating to people but also in dealing withand identifiying my father as the piece of narcissistic **** that he is.
If you read this thoroughly depressing tirade to this point congratulations are in order as well as a thank you.
And a message to let you know that no you are not alone and there will always be some one out there who cares and can undrstand and sympathise with your own plight.