I have told this story many times, to many people. I knew when I was a child, very young in fact, that I was not interested in being "in the truth". In fact, I knew it wasn't the truth at all. I remember the exact moment when I realized it didn't make any sense to me, and that when I was old enough, I'd get away. At 6 years old, these thoughts were much simpler and less defined than they are now. But I knew them to be true, and I have not for a second thought that I was wrong.
It was not easy growing up being in my family. My parents were unnecessarily strict. When asked by those with no knowledge of the JWs, I often describe them as the extremes of the extremists. It was imprisoning, suffocating, even paralyzing to be raised in a land with too many rules, only to have more rules heaped on top of them. Most of these rules had no real founding. I believe my father always thought he understood things better than even the wackos who were interpreting the NWT. My sisters and I were not allowed to pierce our ears, were forced to have long hair (based on some scripture I can't recall... something about it being a woman's beauty or something.??)... etc. Small, obscure things, but odd nonetheless. And as all know, feeling like an individual in that religion is next to impossible... it was worse. In my last attempt to prove to myself what the truth really was (or wasn't), I did take a bible study with an older sister when I was 18 or 19. I'm not sure why I did it. Because I just stopped after a while, realizing that having an individual study wasn't different from any other bible-based gathering or study group. I still felt like a robot repeating the things I was 'supposed' to underline in paragraphs. After that, I think I told my parents for a while that I had questions about the truth. And eventually, it faded to nothing.
Needless to say, I never got baptized. I always feared that I was going to be forced into it, but somehow dodged it by half-assing most things. Fudging service hours (pretty sure I'm not the only one who ever did that), answering once in a while, and I did take the step to be an unbaptized publisher.
There are a lot of members on this forum who were true believers in the religion, and had these shocking revelations, through research or just, well, plain common sense, that this was not "the truth". I wish I could relate to that. I don't consider myself an extremely religious person. I was always skeptical. I think it was seeing that most other people didn't live the way the Witnesses did, and that these "guidelines" didn't really seem to change anything. People were still people. And Witnesses were no exception. They still lied, stole, cheated, got married, got divorced, eat, slept, worked, were born, lived, and died. Not that I'm saying everyone is evil. Everyone was just human. And I don't mean to put down anyone who has faith or does believe in the Bible. It just was never my thing.
My grandmother recently died. She was 93, and had been an exemplary JW til the day she died. When she passed, I knew I was going to have to do something I'd been dreading for years: step foot in a KH again. Around the same time, I decided to watch the series Big Love. It was random, but the beliefs of the Mormon church and their weird way of being that fake kind of "happy" all the time reminded me very much of the Witnesses (check out their website and then the JW one if you wanna compare). These things led me to look up some of the more known scriptures that the JWs use to swear their interpretation is more on point than other religions. It had been years, but reading without the rhetoric of the GB behind it, made me read them differently. I'm no scholar, and I'm not saying that I understand something that was written a bazillion years ago by some dude in a dress with a long beard, but... the words they choose to pull out and emphasize to make their points just seemed to fade into the entire sentence. The faithful and discreet slave scripture stands out to me more than others. It was just a story... about a master and how his slave served him well. I mean, I get it. But I guess my point is that the main ideas were being lost by narrowing in on these weird details.
Although I was never a believer and this was solely based on my skepticism, I later learned of the truth behind the truth. The true beginnings and root of the religion. The lies and the cover-ups. And the best part is that you don't even have to look outside the WT's literature. I mean, I've never done it, but you can probably walk into the library of any Kingdom Hall and find some pretty surprising things in the old books. Like I said, I've never done it. But maybe... I remember as a kid seeing a picture somewhere that (I believe it was) Bethel was decorated for Christmas. That they at one time celebrated Christmas. Man was I jealous I didn't live through that 'belief period'. Anyway, I think that it's awful what this religion does to people. It ruins lives. It takes lives away. That is the worst, saddest part. The people who believe it so whole-heartedly, and then the world is shattered.
It is a struggle every day to live in the "world" and keep yourself separated from the strange ideas you are taught by the JWs. It's really hard when you first break free. But every once in a while, when I say "Happy Birthday" or "Merry Christmas" or the forbidden "God Bless You!" when someone sneezes, I remember where I was and that I'm happy I'm not there anymore. It's hard because I can never be completely honest with my family about how I feel because it would completely crush them. The fact that I never got baptized is the sole reason they still speak to me. It's difficult to live what is essentially a lie because they will never know who I am, not really. I'm very thankful that this place exists where not only I but anyone can talk about this. Everyone's experience is different, and it's been great reading other Ex-JW's stories.
And to anyone who actually read through to this end line through all of my long-winded sentences and wordiness (if wordiness is a real word), I apologize. I'm kinda known for that. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.