L's Story

As I sit here and read other stories of those who have left the JWs; tears form in my eyes. I too am a former JW and would like to share my story.

I remember first going to the meetings when I was about 4 years-old. I guess I can remember this, because this was the last time I remember celebrating my birthday. My mother began studying with the JWs, which meant that me, my brother and sister would also eventually become a JW. My father although he preached a good game, hardly ever attended the meetings. I can only remember him going to the Memorial Services or the Theocratic Ministry School whenever either of us spoke.

It became routine to attend meetings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, field service on Saturdays and Service on Sundays. I have two step brothers who came to visit us during the summer and this became their routine. Needless to say they hated this routine and looked forward to going home after the summer ended.

I was baptized around 14 years old. The only reason I did this was because of the pressure of my mother. It seemed like many mothers and fathers in the congregation used their children to compete. She would always make reference when children younger than myself had gotten baptized or bragged about the number of hours that they served out in the field. My father was against it. He knew that I was only doing it to please my mother. But I did it anyway.

Of course at age 15 I was a young impressionable girl who always did anything to please my parents. But I began to having normal feelings that a teenager would have. I tried to talk with my parents about my feelings. I was only given more scriptures to read or told things like "You will be disfellowshipped if you do this or that." Being disfellowshipped was the same as having a disease in my eyes.

I guess I began to question things when my mother's best friend (Cindy) was disfellowshipped. Cindy and her husband (Jack) had three children and were very good friends with my parents. I loved Cindy like she was my own mother. But soon Jack and Cindy had major problems at home. Jack did not want to work, which left Cindy there to financially care for the family. Jack only wanted to keep Cindy pregnant. Before the divorce Cindy was pregnant a fourth time. Cindy eventually left Jack and since Jack was not working, she had to care for their children. Jack was a Ministerial Servant and the congregation treated him as if he was the victim. Jack was so sorry that he would not pay Cindy child support. At one point and time he was in trouble with the courts for this, but the congregation still treated him as if he was the victim. I had a major problem with them shunning Cindy because she wanted more for her children; but praising Jack even though he was not man enough to take care of his own children...But I digress.

Of course at 15, there were the issues of boys. I was a popular girl in high school even though I was a JW. This was a problem in itself and I was not allowed to associate with my "worldly class mates." Instead I was often compared to the daughters and sons of elder in the congregation. But what my parents failed to realize is that the elders' children were worse than any "worldly" classmate that I knew. Many of them to this day have left just as I have. Some are in prison, on drugs, or still living at home off of their parents.

Since I could not get a decent conversation with my parents, I eventually rebelled as any normal teenager would. I was only calling out for help from my parents. I got sexually involved with a "worldly boy" but instead of my parents talking to me, they took me before a board of elders. It was the most humiliating thing that I've ever had to go through. I felt that my parents did not want to deal with me, so they let complete strangers ridicule me. This only angered me more. Eventually I left home at the age of 17 and moved in with a "worldly classmate" who we will call Sara and her mother. I did this my junior year in high school. My parents were very angry and told other relatives that I was going to get pregnant, I moved out to be with a boy , and that I would not graduate. I graduated at the top 10% of my class and I got a scholarship to college. I had to grow up fast but I did not have a choice. At age 18 I left the JWs for good. For about one year, my mother treated me as if I were no longer her first born. She would invite people from the congregation over and tell me that I had to go to my room until they left. She did this often. My father was just as nasty and this was confusing to me since he was not baptized, never attended meetings, and had never preached from door to door. At that time I realized that I had to leave home. So I left for college.

While in college, I would make rare trips home. Every time I came home for the weekend, there would be at least two elders knocking at my parents door. Each time, my mother claimed that she did not tell them that I would be there. I knew that this was a lie. I often entertained the thought of going back. I think that this was only because this was all that I knew. But when I was told everything that I would have to go through I just said forget it.

In college, I met a man who is now my husband. He had a child from a previous relationship. Ironically the mother of his child was also a former JW. She was disfellowshipped for having a child out of wedlock. When we got together he stated that he would be open to the idea of attending the KH as he had visited in the past. While living together, one of the JWs came to our door and I informed her that I was disfellowshipped. She completely ignored me and began talking to my husband. My husband had major problems with this. I then explained to him the whole shunning process.

This JW's husband came to our door about a month later and invited my husband (not me) to a meeting. We went to the first part of a Sunday service. Of course we came in late and began to leave early. This brother ran my husband down and talked to him but again acted as if I was not there. My husband then stated that he would never become a part of an organization who treats it's members like that!

Right now I'm happily married with one child and one stepchild. My relationship with my parents is still strained. I will always love and respect them. There has been a lot of pain and sorrow with my experience as a JW, but by reading the letters on this site I found that I am not the only who has experienced this. It has been very encouraging to me.