Jenny's Story
I can't believe I found you all. What a relief it is to find so many of you with the same experiences I have had with JW's. I knew you were out there. I didn't know how to find you. What a miracle, the Internet, who knew? I'm grateful that I've read your stories, and I now know, that I'm not crazy. Here's my story...

I was raised a JW by a converted Methodist mother and an unbelieving father. I'm in my late 20's and I have a younger sibling almost half my age. My mother and father were married a few years before she converted. My father said he didn't mind but he didn't want to join. So my mother pretty much raised me on her own (as far as any religious matters).

I remember seeing pictures of me participating in holiday functions at our home as a young child. I'd ask my mom why that was. She said that since my dad wasn't a JW, he wasn't giving up holidays just because she had. Well that all stopped eventually. He just gave up and only celebrated things in private by sending and receiving cards and gifts from his family. I always questioned why we couldn't get anything. My mom was very strict with me. My relatives would send gifts to me and my younger sibling at holidays and on birthdays. My mom would call them and tell them how we don't celebrate and would not be able to accept the gifts. My relatives got smart though. They would not wrap the gifts and would send them a few weeks before or after the holidays. This my mother would agree to. We could open unwrapped gifts that had no card stating for any kind of holiday.

All was not well at home, school or the kingdom hall for me either. At school being an outcast was overwhelming. First of all I was the ONLY JW in the whole school. I remember getting ready for art classes and having the teachers say "Oh yeah, you can't do this project. You'll have to go to the library and read. Instead, your project will be a book report." Talk about a let down. All the other kids would ask if I'd done something wrong to be sent away. The teacher would try to explain that my moms religion said I couldn't do anything like that. Then there was the flag salute. Same problem. New teachers would stop the whole class and point to me and start yelling " Why aren't you doing it?" You're gonna get in trouble. I'd just stand there petrified. In trouble with mom if you do it and in trouble with the teacher and embarrassed in front of the whole class if you don't. Because of the religion I was excluded from other children's play time. They would never include me saying I was weird. Imagine Kindergarten through 6th then 7th and 8th grades with no friends in school. It got worse every year. One year I was shocked to find Valentine's cards in my desk as I returned to school the day after the holiday. Wow they really did like me, I thought. I took them home to show mom how much they liked me and that I did have friends. She made me throw them all away. I was about 9 I think. Then one year all the kids were making mothers day gifts. I told the teacher I did not celebrate holidays and she said it wasn't a holiday and that my mom would like a gift. So I made her this gift, and took it home to show her. I was very proud of my project and was yearning for her approval. Well she frowned and told me that she could not accept the gift and made me give it to someone else. Talk about a let down. She explained that because we were JWs and don't celebrate ANYTHING, that she could not accept the gift. Of course I cried. Not understanding.

I was told that it was not right to have worldly association and thus of course could not have friends at school even if they liked me. I was told that the only friends I could have where at the kingdom hall. Well I had a few friends there at first but only for a few years. Those were good times as far as I can remember. It got bad as soon as I was to go to High School. First my best friend in the kingdom hall was moving away before high school. Then I tried to make other friends with some of the older girls in the Kingdom Hall. Well one told me that she was not used to hanging out with younger people and couldn't find it in her to hang out with me and declined any invitation I'd given her to hang out with me. What's a girl to do when she can't have worldly association and now other girls in the JW religion wont be her friend either. Hmmmpfff. So off to High School I went. The biggest dork ever.

I lasted 4 years of pure hell in high school. When you're taught everyday that the world might be coming to an end any time now it's hard to have any kind of goals. When you're in high school all they ever ask you to do is write papers on what you want to be when you grow up. They pound it into your head to get good grades and apply at colleges and apply for grants and do extra curricular activities. Anything that will look good on an application. Well all I ever saw anyone do was NOT go to college. It was frowned upon as you may know. Most of the male's I knew of grew up and graduated, pioneered for a few years and applied to Bethel. If they didn't get in, they'd try to get on with a locally owned (JW owned) business as to accommodate for all the Kingdom Hall meetings, service and assemblies. If you were a female, you were to graduate, then pioneer forever, get a job cleaning houses, make a meek salary and wait for one of the brothers to finish their duty at Bethel and return home to marry you. Then the two of you could live a meek little life, open your own self employed type business and live on a measly income. Well that's what I saw and that's all I ever had as a goal. Goals were not discussed. Why? If this system of things was about to end then why have any other goal but to pioneer.

For me this seemed ridiculous. But of course I could not tell my mom that. She was a very strict mom. She searched my room every time I seemed a bit odd to her. Teen age years do odd things to young people. I remember asking questions about mythology. Devils work of course. I remember questioning scriptures. All I ever got was flack. If you love Jehovah you will accept what he tells you and this is the truth.

I was baptized at 16. I remember wondering why I wanted to get baptized. Well I didn't want to hurt my moms feelings. I wanted to be her good little Jehovah's Witness. I wanted her approval above all else. I told her I wanted to get baptized. She was thrilled. I remember the questions from elders in the congregation about your faith and why you think you should be baptized. I wondered why in my mind, and I remember just memorizing the right answer, the answer they wanted hear. I didn't really want to do it, but I wanted it because my mom wanted it so badly. I was accepted to be baptized. At the next district assembly I sat in the front row with 3 other friends. I remember not paying much attention to the speech presented for us. I kept sitting there saying to myself, WHY AM I DOING THIS? I should just get up now and tell them I'm not ready. I couldn't. I had to go through with it. So much attention was given to me for putting God first in my life. I would be considered a real woman now. Datable material for potential husbands. Hmmmmm. Everything changed from that point on.

I started dating a boy, he was MORMON. AHHHHH. Well one day he showed me some passages from the bible. I don't remember which ones and he interpreted them to me from his religious point of view. This made me question the integrity of my religion. What? How could it be interpreted that way. My religion is right. It's the truth. Right? Everyone should see it that way. Right? I even looked at my Reasoning on the Scriptures. No answer. So I attended the Mormon church one Sunday with him (mom was out of town and sibling too young to remember that we were supposed to go to the Kingdom Hall). I knew if I was spotted or if anyone at the Mormon Temple, or told any of my JW friends that I was there I could be disfellowshipped at the drop of a hat. Somehow this didn't bother me. Anyway it was like attending the Kingdom Hall. All their families attended and participated and sang songs and loved their religion just as much as JW. They were no different in my opinion. Just another religion who had interpreted the bible differently than the JWs.

That's when I realized it was all in the interpretation. That's when I realized that the way I interpreted the bible was COMPLETELY different than them. Could I say this to my mom. Absolutely not!

Eventually I ended up not going out in service, not going to meetings and I stopped going to friends houses. I ended up committing fornication with a boy I had known. Now 17. I ended up moving away and living my own life. The elders found out about the fornication and disfellowshipped me at 18. My mother was devastated. My younger sibling confused I assume. The disfellowshipping made my family's life miserable I am told. I'd call home to say hello and mom would cry and ask when I was coming back to Jehovah. I would tell her I hadn't planned on it every time. She'd cry and we'd get into arguments. Eventually I ended up not calling at all and when I did I asked specifically for my dad if she answered. Dad would try to ask me if I could just get along with her. I tried to explain it to him. Mom blamed me for her family being torn apart. How am I tearing the family apart? Dad asks me if I'd like to go to an amusement park with the family on a vacation. I wasn't sure. Mom calls up and says that if I plan on going she and my sibling will not go. Because I am disfellowshipped they cannot associate with me, only regarding family matters where they HAVE to because I'm family. Needless to say we still do not have a good relationship. No mother daughter luncheons. No mother daughter phone conversations. I once told her I had gotten certified in a profession and all I got was a "hmmm". Any accomplishments I had made for myself meant nothing to her. I had left home and made it out in the world ON MY OWN for the most part. I never ran home to mommy for help. Not even in my darkest hours. Sink or swim. I chose swim. There is help out there.

When I was growing up several of my aunts and uncles were getting married, unbelievers you know, in churches of course. Well mom and sibling and I would not attend the weddings in churches but would attend the celebration afterwards. Now it is time for my own wedding. I have gone to great lengths to insure that Mom and sibling will attend. This wedding is outdoors and the person performing the ceremony is NOT a religious figure. (In fact in this county you may go to the courthouse and they will appoint anyone you want to be authorized to perform your ceremony for $50). So now I'm told that my mother and sibling will be attending the wedding ceremony but will have to leave after that and not attend MY reception. I'm crushed. Moms are supposed to be a big part of the whole production. Not only did she decline to help me in any of the planning but now she and my sibling are leaving when the reception starts. They'll stay for my other relatives receptions but because I got Df'd they wont stay for mine. All I can say is that I'm grateful for what I am getting out of them, but I'm really upset that my mom cannot and will not compromise. I compromise everyday with her religious beliefs. If it makes her happy to continue believing the way she does, then I'm happy for her. I just wish she could treat me like a normal human being. Or at least like one of her sisters. They get more out of her than I do. I know I'm dead in her eyes.

It's tempting to just tell her it's ALL OR NOTHING with me. But at least I've got something. Is it worth it?

I have been Df'd for 11 years now. I'm NEVER GOING BACK. EVER. I'm not even interested in the least with any organized religious group.