LONG JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
Peter pumpkin eater had a wife and couldn't keep her, he put her in
a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well."
you even had a strong desire to share some deep truth with someone maybe
even the whole world? Have you ever felt a burning desire to expose
a group or an organization that you feel is steering people down the
road to pain and disappointment? Have you ever felt trapped as if you
were put in a 'pumpkin shell to be kept very well' and did not know
how to find your way out?
have looked and looked on the shelves at libraries and book stores and
have been unable to find anything about a female Jehovah's Witness who
has left and her experiences. I found I was asking myself 'why isn't
this exposed to the whole world from a female's point of view?'
am here to expose the 'truth' and to face the lies and dream world created
by Jehovah's Witnesses. I lived it, breathed it, and it was a way of
life for me. I am ready and willing to tell the truth to the world of
what it is really like to be a member. This is my story of my life and
it is completely true.
the fear and do it anyways"
was born a white female in 1959, in Pomona, California. My mother tells
me that she and my father were so thrilled that I was a girl as it rounded
out the family having a daughter and two sons before me. My parents
were the typical family in the fifties. I think they both really tried
to live the family lifestyle and make it work. But, as things go, they
divorced when I was only seven in the state of Washington where we lived
at the time. We were living in 'white suburbia' at that time. After
my parents divorced we lost everything and my mother and all four of
us children ended up living in the projects downtown Seattle, Washington.
Soon after Martin Luther King was assassinated. That was a horrible
time for us as we were the minority living mainly amongst all African
Americans. Therefore, we were put in foster homes while my mother worked
hard to get enough money together to get us all back as a family living
in a safe environment once again. As time went on my two brothers moved
in with our father in southern California and I followed at the age
of eleven. My sister opted to stay with our mother in Washington. I
remember how much I missed my mom and my sister both! I settled into
the southern California lifestyle and enjoyed it very much! I was always
at the beach, swimming in a pool, being outdoors, wearing bikinis and
wasn't all happy, happy, for me however. My father worked long hours
to support us all and I was left alone and on my own. I didn't know
where to turn and was at a time in my life that I was very vulnerable.
I had questions that kept nagging at me. 'Why does one die? Why am I
here? Where am I going?' I have learned since that these are normal
feelings and questions, however, I was open to various teachings and
beliefs that would come my way.
was home sick one day from school at the age of twelve. There was a
knock at the door and I answered it. It was a woman who had a book called
'The truth that leads to eternal life.' She then showed me a picture
as to 'whet my appetite' of a paradise where everyone was at peace.
She says to me: 'Would you like to live in a place where no one ever
dies, living on earth in a paradise?' What could I say? Of course I
said 'yes!' It felt like my answers to my questions had finally come
true! I would never die and everything and everyone would be at peace!
On my, how I had wanted that all along! We immediately set up a time
and date for a 'bible study.' Low and behold within four months I was
a full fledged, devoted, baptized Jehovah's Witness. I really didn't
know what hit me but I was soon to find out. (I was twelve years old...wow,
what a big decision that changed my course of life forever!)
religion taught that you need to keep studying and learning, attending
three meetings a week. If everything else fails in your life your utmost
responsibility as a 'Christian' is to the 'mother organization' and
to 'Jehovah God.' We were not to doubt or questions the teachings. Seems
like there was a ready made answer for everything. You dutifully took
the beliefs and made them as your way of life. I did this very willingly
and eagerly. The main focus was going door-to-door which I shard in
often. We were to 'place' the Watchtower and Awake magazines with the
householders. I became quite good at it even though at times I didn't
know why I was doing this nor did I question my fierce dedication to
this. The 'truth' (as it is referred to) became my life, my security,
my all encompassing everything!
continued doing all the things we were admonished to do even though
I had some nagging doubts inside of me. I remember one time going to
the public library shortly after I was baptized. I looked up the word
'Jehovah's Witnesses' and the book: 'Thirty years as a Watchtower slave'
came up. I was excited to read some good experiences about the 'work',
I thought. It turned out to be a book by a 'brother' who served for
thirty years at the headquarters and then left. In the book a lot was
exposed about the organization. I cried and cried praying to God to
"let it all be lies!" I was so scared! I had some anxiety
attacks that I was not able to explain.
was in the ninth grade by now and I was not doing well in my schooling.
The religion did not encourage school but rather being out in the door-to-door
work. College was unheard of and was frowned upon. Why go to college
and learn man's teachings when it is all going to end anyhow? This reasoning
I believed and so to further my religious life and 'work' I slowly cut
my schedule back until my junior year I dropped out completely. You
get a lot of pats on the back when you 'put Jehovah first.' Everyone
praises you and you have such a comrade. It truly felt good to have
nice things said about me and to me.
doubts were still with me and nagged at me constantly. I kept wondering:
"Why is it that only Jehovah's Witnesses would be survivors at
Armageddon (God's war and cleansing of the earth) and why do only a
very small number of one hundred and forty four thousand go to heaven?
How do we know? Who is deciding all this?" Oh how my doubts were
so strong, however, I wanted to stay in the religion and within the
'fold.' It was an awful fear for me that maybe this really wasn't the
truth. So, after a brief time I left but came right back with even more
of a fury. I felt 'safe' once again as though I had come 'home.'
time went on my father and I moved up to central California as my two
brothers had moved out by then. It was just he and I and at this point
I was sixteen years old. By now I was very entrenched in the whole religion
and knew the workings inside and out. (I thought) I immediately got
in with the local kingdom hall there and continued on with my 'life
purpose.' I met a fellow Jehovah's Witness who himself had become a
member on his own. At the ripe age of seventeen and he nineteen we were
married. I look back on that now and can hardly believe it!
husband and I had a son and at the age of one month we picked up 'lock,
stock, and barrel' and moved to the pacific northwest. I missed the
green trees and the beautiful lakes and rivers after living there in
my childhood. My husband was young enough to be up for an adventure
so we went! We did not know a soul and we ended up in Oregon. Of course
we started up with the local kingdom hall there immediately. You see...being
a Jehovah's Witness is like family. Your real blood family is not that
important. Your 'brothers and sisters' (as all members are referred
to) in the 'truth' were more valued and were to be cherished above all.
We were to only associate within the organization and not to get close
to 'worldly' relatives or anyone who was not a Jehovah's Witness. So,
we settled into life in Oregon as a young family of Jehovah's Witnesses.
my doubts were still with me. I wanted so bad to truly believe everything
that was taught from the pulpit.
When our son was three I had another child, a daughter. Oh how happy
and thrilled we were to have a girl because we had the 'perfect' family
with one boy and one girl!
remember I would have bad nightmares that my children were in an accident
or had a life threatening illness and needed a blood transfusion. As
one of Jehovah's Witness blood transfusions are forbidden for yourself
or your children even in the face of death! Oh how I hated those nightmares.
I hated the fears and phobias I developed over the years. I now refer
to them as the 'Watchtower phobia.' Fear to leave the organization,
fear to question, fear to ever consider that maybe something else out
there may be your 'calling', fear at ever corner.
children were growing up and I was raising them in the 'truth.' I really
feel now that I raised them within spiritual abuse and religious oppression.
They didn't experience a normal childhood. No holidays, no school sports,
no after school activities, and certainly no college. Never, never would
I send my children to college as we were taught that college is bad
with only 'worldly' teachings and would ruin you to the core! They were
to only associate with like members of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Oh how
I 'bought' into the whole teachings and tried to indoctrinate my children!
doubts were getting so strong that now I could not ignore them anymore.
I kept asking myself so many, many, questions.
Why can't my children play school sports?
* Why can't my daughter be a cheerleader?
* Why can't my son play football on the school team?
* Why can't we celebrate the holidays?
* Why can't I read the books I want?
* Why is all mankind going to die except Jehovah's Witnesses?
* Who makes the rules and makes the decisions for all these members
* Why can't females head the church and give sermons?
* Why are there all males that are elders, leaders, ones in authority,
and no females are allowed to have these positions?
* Why can't I associate and have a good friend of one that is a non-
* Why can't I leave the religion without feeling massive guilt and be
* Why can't we vote or salute the American flag?
* Why do we reap the benefits of modern society such as cars, stylish
clothing, and yet talk and preach against this society?
* Why is it God is going to destroy all human government and all other
* Why do I have to obey the organization and be in subjection?
* Why does my husband get to make the final decision?
* Why do I have to be in a subjective state to my husband?
* If I am to obey my husband and the church then who am I and where
is my strengths and my individuality?
* Why can't we accept blood transfusions?
* Why does the organization continuously emphasize: 'discipline, discipline,
* Why do we force our children to sit quiet for hours when this is not
their natural state?
* How can I continue on in practicing this religion when I don't even
believe it anymore?
why, why?' My head was hurting and spinning with all these questions!
I could not stop them. I had reached the point when I could no longer
'put a lid on it.' I had to find out what was really going on and I
needed answers now!
Right before I left for good I went to the elders and had a meeting
with them. I had terrible doubts and I was so confused. I asked them
what to do and how do I get myself back believing the whole 'truth?'
How do I help my children? I explained the panic attacks, I explained
my fears. I really believed they would help me as we were taught that
the body of elder is what God works through. You know what they told
me? 'Study more, pray more, go out in the door-to-door work more, associate
only with the strong ones,' and so on. I left feeling worse than before.
was it so hard to leave? What was I going to do? I started counseling
with a licensed Psychologist and was put on medicine for panic attacks.
I remember feeling like I was falling off the earth. If there is no
'Jehovah', no organization, then who is holding up the earth? Who is
making sure that we are all okay? I had sensations of falling and dying
almost all the time. I have learned since that all these were just feelings
and they don't really hurt you.
The 'last straw' was when I was at a weekly meeting (as I was still
faithfully attending) one evening and one of my son's best friends he
had grown up with said he wasn't allowed to hang out or associate with
him anymore. My son came to me and told me this. I approached the father
(who is an elder) and asked him about it. He made up some excuse but
I got the 'real picture'. You see, my children were teenagers now and
I let my son be on the high school football team and go to school dances.
I also let my daughter be a cheerleader and I loved going to the games
and events. I loved watching my children perform and do normal healthy
activities! They were being shunned now and we were 'marked' as weak
and 'bad association'. That was it! I am happy to say I never went back!
husband left, after almost nineteen years of marriage as our marriage
was a total shambles by now. I was going one way and he was going another.
He has since married and I am happy for him and wish him the best.
loved the freedom I have now. I still had some fears but I was working
through them with the help of my counselor. I recall celebrating Halloween
with my children for their first time. I kept thinking God was going
to get me or some devil would. My children and I celebrated all the
holidays and it was such great fun! I loved it all and I loved seeing
my children have a normal life. Neither one of my children are in the
religion I am happy to say.
was disfellowshipped soon after my husband left. When you are disfellowshipped,
you are no longer considered alive or in good standing with God. You
are shunned by the whole church and the whole organization. I was a
Jehovah's Witness for all of twenty four years.
has been six years since I have left. Six years of trying to get my
perspective about life. I have been to counseling for years and I have
challenged myself beyond what I thought possible.
am attending a university where ideas and thoughts are encouraged and
embraced. So much has opened up to me that I never knew were there.
I am learning so much! Humanities, philosophy, sociology, women studies.
Through it all I am seeing that I am a deserving person and it is okay
to question and make my own choices.
am so thankful to be out of the religion. I really consider it to be
a cult now. I consider myself to have been brain washed, indoctrinated,
and misguided at such a young age. I also know now that it is okay to
question and speak up! That's why I tell this, that's why I want the
world to know. My hopes are that this will help others who have left
or are trying to leave.
am considered 'apostate' by the organization and a small part of my
family as I speak out against the belief's now. My former 'friends'
(which I had so, so, many, up and down the west coast) now look upon
me as 'dead' and do not speak to me or look at me in passing. I lost
all my 'friends' in an instant, in one instant when I was disfellowshipped.
I have experienced the pain of shunning, isolation, and helplessness
that comes with losing all virtually 'overnight'!
REPERCUSSIONS OF LEAVING
I was disfellowshipped and went through my divorce I was really feeling
all alone one day and so decided to call a close, close, friend I had
in the 'truth'. We were at one time great friends for about ten years.
Her children played with my children, we all went camping together,
inner tubing in the winter, out dancing as couples, BBQ's and so on.
I guess I knew it was coming but when it actually did it was a shock!
When I called her, I was so excited to just hear her voice and I know
she could tell that I was. She said to me: 'Susan....you're disfellowshipped,
don't ever call here again.' I was stunned and hurt as I hung up the
phone and cried and cried.
also had a childhood friend that I was very close to and who became
a Jehovah's Witness through me as I introduced it to her when she was
a young adult. So, I called her as I so wanted to hear her kind words
as I was really feeling low. She said: 'Susan.....don't ever call me
again! Don't try to contact me or see me!' That was it, that's all she
said. A lifelong friend gone in an instant.
sat at the table for a long time. I pondered on the fact that I was
a faithful Jehovah's Witness for twenty four years. I did everything
I was 'suppose' to do and supported and maintained my membership in
the organization in the way expected. Now that I was disfellowshipped
none of my former 'friends' that I use to associate with even acknowledge
my existence. They were my whole group of friends, my whole social world,
and my whole support system was gone and no help was offered. No one,
and I mean not one person, called me or checked up on me after my husband
left me. As I pondered this I wondered 'what kind of religion is this?
Is this based on love or is this based on fear and mind control?' It
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out!
sat there as I was hurting and thinking of all the years I wasted! I
felt pain and anger both. Anger that I gave up the best years of my
life working and doing what I was told for a false sense or security,
a lie, and a deception. I remember when I was a member and I would see
someone who had been disfellowshipped, I always would smile at them
and say 'hi' acknowledging the. I wasn't 'suppose' to according to the
organization but I couldn't go along with that. It felt inhumane, if
felt cruel, and demeaning. Was I better than that person? Was I more
righteous or more 'spiritual' by looking upon them with disdain? Hardly!
haven't mentioned until now that one of my brother's and his wife and
six children are all Jehovah's Witnesses. Well, you can imagine what
that means! I have been informed that I am not to call their house or
contact them as I am an 'apostate'. I am forbidden to share in any of
their children's lives, weddings, childbirths, and even a funeral if
anything should happen. Can you imagine? My own family not allowing
me at my own relations funeral? Is that loving? What does that do to
me and to them? Are they better than me? Do I feel inferior? Yes, I
did and have. When I was informed of this, or how it hurt! I was very
close to my brother and sister-in-law at one time. I love the children,
having five nieces and one nephew through them. This is one of the most
painful repercussions of leaving the organization for me. However, I
knew it was a reality and I had to choose.
two years ago, I was in the town where we raised our children, where
this all took place, the disfellowshipping, my divorce, and so on. I
was visiting a friend (a non-Jehovah's Witness) and I just happened
to stop at a 'sisters' house that I was in the 'truth' with. My whole
family and her whole family were close. We did pretty much the same
things, camping, children, the whole nine yards. She answered the door
and didn't recognize me since she had last seen me four years ago. When
I explained whom I was, excitedly as I was so happy to see her, she
shut the door in my face! Wow, that hurt! I know that this is what they
are taught but I ask myself, 'why do they teach this practice of shunning
and ostracizing?' I am convinced it is a form of control. If you are
not able to be with your former loved ones and friends many have went
back and became a Jehovah's Witness all over again. How sad as to me
they are not genuine friends.
it really matter what religion one is or what political affiliation
one is? Aren't we all pretty much the same anyhow? Do we really think
we can say; 'stop world, I want off?' We are all on this planet together.
We all want to love and be loved. We are all humans in the purest sense.
One of the best things I have learned from all this is to be non-judgmental.
It is something I have to work at everyday as we were so programmed
to judge continuously. However, practicing non-judgment is freeing and
it opens you up to many opportunities to meet a variety of people from
all walks of life without rejecting them.
has been many divorces, suicides, child molestations, and alcoholics
within the organization, even though it is claimed that there is not!
Likewise, I was scared for myself and what I would find 'out there'.
am happy that my fears were unfounded. I have met wonderful, very loving,
giving people who are not Jehovah's Witnesses. I have met wonderful
men that embrace a women's strength and honor it. I have now many wonderful
friends whom I would of considered 'worldly' and 'bad association' and
veered away from them. I had missed out on so much in life. Life is
rich with taste and sounds and love that I had never known.
wonder how many are still members like I was full of doubts but can't
find their way out? Those who are afraid to lose all that they know
and even whole families? I feel so much for them! I will say it is the
hardest thing I ever did in my life, to leave. At such a young age to
be introduced to this, it really became me and I it! I am forty-one
now as I write this. How do I explain the things I sacrificed for the
religion? A career, an education, a retirement, choices, and travel.
How do I make up for all that lost time?
two most wonderful blessings of my life out of all this are my children.
They are my inspiration to keep going, keep learning, keep trying. So
far I have five grandchildren that are darling and I am grateful for
do I believe now? Sometimes it is hard to get a grip on the present.
I see the atrocities and horrible happenings in the world. I do not
have an answer for why these things take place or what to do about them.
I have come to learn to do my part, not harming the earth as much as
possible, showing love to all, to have trust that all is working out
and yes I talk to the universe or God, whatever one chooses to call
it. I actually feel closer to my higher self now and I know that there
is eternal truth's one cannot escape from. 'What goes around comes around,
things happen for a reason, trust the universe, trust the higher power,
and trust yourself.
did I know that all my doubts were actually my friend and that it truly
does pay to listen to yourself. We are too wonderful and this earth
is too perfect to think we just came here by sheer chance, of course,
I do not know the answers still but that's okay. I am out of the 'pumpkin
shell' and free, I am free! I am truly happy to say that I can now have
questions even though I may not know the answers.
could be more rewarding then feeling a warm hand in your hand, observing
a young child laughing and giggling, a beautiful sunset, the green trees
swaying in the wind? I believe that nature truly brings solace in all
TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!