I Survived The Cult But Still Bear Battle Scars

I'm not certain why I was so compelled to type 'Jehovah's Witness' into google tonight and see what stuck, but I'm glad I did. Otherwise, I never would have known of a group like this. I poured over every survivor account and shook my head at the ones with the wool still pulled over their eyes, defending this hideous organization. I'm not certain where to start with my own story, so I'll begin, I suppose, with the beginning...

I'm the fourth generation in a family of on-again, off-again witnesses. It seems they attended the meetings when it was convenient for them, such as when they didn't want to spend the money on their children's Christmas presents, or when their daughters began to approach puberty. Until I was forced to go to the meetings, I was a very sheltered child with no knowledge of organized religion, dogma or doctrine. I had only heard of 'god' perfunctorily. So I was incredibly confused when my mother forced me to do home bible studies and go to meetings. I was home-schooled and not accustomed to getting up early, and I was a tomboy and refused to wear dresses. My father was against me going to the Kingdom Hall (hereafter to be referred to as KH) and it inhibited many of our routines together. I was involved in many competitive things with my father that the JWs disapproved of. I didn't understand why. But I was a quick study and soon became a favorite at the KH.

I was always very fond of (and very good at) science. Many of their teachings contradicted what I knew to be scientific truth. When I would question this, they never had an answer for me. 'We just don't know. God hasn't revealed it to us' was one I heard often and really abhorred. It was a really unacceptable answer to me. And I would question their views on women and get quoted ancient verse that I felt was not applicable or appropriate. It made me very resentful. What I got from and still feel sums up their message is 'praise god and die'. Do not go to college. Do not have children. Do not make something of yourself. Be our brainless little door-knocker unless you want to be dead for all eternity.

The ironic thing is that it was the JWs that introduced me to concepts I had been sheltered from, such as religions other than Christianity, sex and ************, rock music...these concepts had been foreign in my life. They have a small red book that covers snippets of many world religions, and through that, I was introduced to Hinduism. I studied about it in secret. Sex was very uninteresting to me, but it always boggled my mind that they would discourage their members from marrying and procreating. It seemed counter-intuitive. But boy, did I love that rock music.

And then...my father died. I felt it was all a cruel joke; the one person who understood and fought for me was gone and so was everything we did together, because my mother refused to allow me to participate. She forced me to wear dresses and to go to the meetings three days a week, even as she began drifting away. I could not bear the thought that my father was just dead and that was all. Heaven made no sense to me either, but I couldn't understand why he wouldn't have a shot at an eternity, too. I developed a severe phobia of death and at the same time, became suicidal.

A few years later, my mother was disfellowshipped for remarrying outside the organization. I had thrown myself hard and fast into the organization, desperately seeking acceptance. But when my questions were so easily brushed aside and I could no longer stand their stance on women, I left and began to explore other religions of all sorts.

My religious stance these days? Atheist, though I do appreciate and explore Buddhist principles and philosophy. After twenty years, The wounds have mostly healed, but I'm still left with deep battle scars. I still have an occasional panic attack in regards to death. And I panic when my door is knocked on. I'm something of a recluse, and I blame them for that. I also have little contact with my family. While I'll always be resentful of the time wasted there, I don't let it control my life, though writing this little snippet has been quite cathartic.

And I feel fortunate in the fact that the people at the KH I went to were all decent people. It was only in recent years I learned of the molestation occurring in some KHs, and I feel so sad and mortified for the victims. In that regard, my story is pretty tame. Thank you for reading.
BaronessCRaven BaronessCRaven
26-30, F
3 Responses Dec 12, 2012

I liken it to this...let's say a building is infested with mold. You're tearing it down because it's too infested but trying to keep the basement and first floor? No, you'd tear down the entire building! That's what I see a lot of people doing in their heads who leave the Jehovah Witnesses. Trying to hold onto some of the teachings.

These guys have been claiming to be religious God inspired scholars since the beginning. How can that be? They only graduate high school and only read their own literature believing everything in it is perfect. I've shown countless times their own religions screw ups in their own words. It's often dismissed as "being the times" but the Jehovah Witnesses still make a claim to this very day that defies that. They claim and always have that the words found in their literature is info directly from GOD! So nowadays instead of saying they were wrong they try to claim GOD made mistakes? They say it's "new light" pulling that weak excuse from one obscure scripture on a man gaining more wisdom as he gets older, which has nothing to do with granting a pass for organizational views being wrong and corrupt, but they also claim GOD is their editor. There's no way around it, they in effect are saying they somehow got things wrong, from...GOD! I've been to meetings in the past ten years where they still use the word PERFECT over and over to describe their..religion..the faithful..their information..you can't have it both ways. You can't claim to be 100% accurate to this day 2015, and then say when confronted, we weren't wrong, we just didn't fully understand. No no, you'll see..in the future 2+2 will equal 7! We just don't understand it now.

For instance..
God inspired them to say black men sprang from Cain? OK now tell me how the new light sheds revelation on that? They won't because there's no way to defend that statement! God didn't say it, God didn't put it in their minds God didn't make their pens write it, they did! Them being big BSers making something up inspired them to pronounce that. Not God. Are they trying to blame it on God? In a way, yes.

I'll use their own Bible..."no bad tree produces good fruit". If you start out on flawed premises, then you tear up the paper and start recalculating. You don't go back to the bad foundation. You build a new one. This is a glaring difference between them an other religions. They(the other religions) aren't claiming perfection. The Jehovah Witnesses always have, and still are. They are..unrepentant..about anything they previously held to. They try instead to sweep it all under a rug with this "new light" excuse. This is why I don't like them so much.

This is why this is the religion of arrogance. They never, ever own up to a single mistake. They use that "new light" excuse, or simply deny it was ever their stance. Like they did with being on Nazi Germany's side in the 30's. I showed their own words praising Germanys government back then. Something they simply deny and hope nobody looks up.

Thank you also for sharing this experience. I have been a Christian all my life but started becoming really strict with the Christian lifestyle and joining a really strict Christian group at my school and I started to become more and more unhappy, depressed, confused, overwhelmed, guilty, and stressed each day. Their basic philosophy is do what the bible says and deny any personal happiness or pleasures or even who you are simply because the bible says so. Literally the term I heard all my life is die to yourself and live in christ. Which sounds great at first but if everything you love or enjoy in life is considered a sin then how can you possibly enjoy ypur life? I have bipolar disorder so its very hard for me to stay happy anyway without religious pressure or to feel guilt y for things I do when I actually am happy. The best answer my Christian leader could tell me when I explained this is that worldly happiness is temporary and not true happiness and that I should basically be miserable in this faith so I could be happy in heaven one day. I finally stepped back after years of struggling with doubt and confusion and decided to love God but not follow any religious lifestyle. It's very difficult because I feel scared and guilty sometimes whether or not I should be separating myself from the church or not or if I will go to hell for this. But I truly dont believe God wants us to be unhappy in his name and be so condemned and controlled. He loves us and gave us freedom it sucks people and society puts religion as the "right" or "wrong" decision maker in life and the connection between us and God. Now whoever walks away is mental damaged even when they have been set free from bondage of their religion they are still in a way mentally and emotionally caged.

You are right in the fact that God sent Jesus who died to save us and show us how much He loves us. Knowing that and our personal relationship with God is really the point and the most important thing. Opening up your heart and trust to Him, letting Him know what he means to you and how you love Him is what gives us deeper faith and surpasses all wordly trials knowing we will be with Him in perfect harmony and love when the time comes. I believe that God is in the center of the great universe that bonds us all together. It is the best love affair and one that will last forever. It is a pleasure to read your thoughts and i always enjoy a person who will go deeper and express their true feelings on important things. So reading this again, made me want to respond again :) Thanks ... hapi :) x

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with KH and JHWs. It is always interesting to learn something about a person's particular history with a religion and how it affected them. If anything does not ring true to me or raises red flags with questions, i will usually stay away. It does not however prevent me from being curious or wanting to know more.

Thank you for taking the time to read it and to comment! It's been a very long and difficult road to healing from my experience.

I too like to research religions I'm unfamiliar with and learn about them. That's how I found Buddhism, in fact, and it's always felt 'right', though someone once pointed out to me that it's more a philosophy than a religion and you can be a member of a religion and still adhere to Buddhist principles. I really don't believe in organized religion and consider myself an atheist while still following Buddhism.

Knowledge is power, and understanding is unity. Namaste.

You are so welcome! I was drawn to every word! I know it has been hard for you to survive and heal from that experience and i applaud your bravery and courage in doing so. I'm sure you will give hope to many others who may find themselves in similar situations.

I think the fact that you may believe in some type of higher being spiritually may be that you are not actually an atheist? Even though Buddhism is more of a philosophy, i agree that it can be an avenue to self discovery and becoming a deeper person spiritually therefore leading to a more meaningful life altogether. I don't follow organized religion anymore either. Too tangled up with the things of this world in many respects. Too controlled by man and not by God.

I love your expression of Knowledge is power and understanding is unity, so wise and wonderful and harmony for mankind :) Namaste my friend, Namaste :) x

Sorry for not seeing your reply sooner! Thank you very much. Thing is...I don't really believe in a higher being. Buddhists do not believe in a god, for the most part. There are a couple sects, but they are the exception rather than the rule. That being said, I do believe that the truth (whatever science, religion or philosophy can pullout of their respective hats) is stranger, more profound and more wonderful than anything we could ever imagine. And I do believe there is other life in the universe that, once we find it, we probably won't be able to comprehend what we're experiencing.

I do hope that my story helps and inspires others who are going through the same ordeal. I'm happy that it came out so captivating, too! I'm a freelance writer and I'm always happy when any piece I've written is appreciated! Thank you very much for the kind words.

Again, thank you very much! Occasionally, I'm deep, haha! Namaste! ^_^

My pleasure dear :) I look forward to reading more of your writing :) Have a happy weekend :) Merry Christmas :) Sounds funny considering what we just finished talking about but it is very much a part of my reality as i consider my self a christian :) xoxox hapi :)

Thank you again, and Merry Christmas to you as well! I'm sure I'll be writing more soon, when the mood strikes me. I really need to get to work on my writing that actually makes me money, though! XD

Namaste,
BCR. <3

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