I have been on this site for the past year and decided it's time to join. I will try to keep my testimony short today but I hope to add more to the comments section as time goes on.
I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness as a child. My father was a lukewarm fence sitter who faithfully attended the meetings but didn't do much else. My mother was not a believer and my whole childhood is filled with memories of the many "debates" that took place where my parents each tried to convince each other as to how the other person was wrong. I lived a pretty sheltered life as a child, living in a rural area and being of the mindset that anybody who was not a JW, they were to be avoided as worldly.
I became rebellious as a teen (back in the 70's) and just wanted to have some fun. Started hanging out with worldly friends and got a worldly boyfriend. Even the other JW teens I hung around with just wanted to party. The summer I turned 16 my parents told me I would not be going back to high school in the fall even though I was a honours student. No sense continuing on with school as the end of the world (Armageddon) was just around the corner. I had a big fight with my mother in August of that summer and I left home at 16. I went and lived at my boyfriends parents home. I was a part of that family for about 6 years and still have contact with that family now, mostly funerals. They still accept me and I still feel a connection to them to this day. It was a large family as was my family, however the parents were alcoholics and most of the kids were drinking and using drugs. I went from not being able to really celebrate Christmas as a kid, to Christmas being a big drinking/drugging party. I remember wanting to be hypnotized so I could forget and to get rid of the fear of dying at Armageddon. I didn't get hypnotized but drugs were the next best thing. This was long before the internet. My boyfriend and I split up after about 6 years and we went our own ways. I was out on my own at 22, totally unprepared to face the world.
Hit or miss I survived even though I was very lonely and never felt that I fit in anywhere. Sometime after I left home my mother became a born again christian. By then I knew that JW's were wrong and a cult, but I didn't do much research. I thought that maybe Christians had the answer and maybe my mom had the "truth". I got married in my late 20's and had my first child at 30 and my second child at 32. I started attending a local church (Brethren in Christ) when my kids were young. I continued attending there until my husband and I separated. I quit going because I felt very judged by the church for my marriage ending. I just focused on working, surviving and raising my kids and living life. I decided to go back to church about 5 years ago but by then my kids were teenagers and there was no way they were going to go to church with me, so I went by myself. I was in a long term relationship during that time (he was not religious but did start going to church as he was searching for answers in his life too) and I felt a lot of pressure to be a good Christian and put my children first which didn't bode well for the relationship. Many breakups and emotional turmoil but now we are married (less than a year) after living separately for about 10 years.
I was very concerned about my children not being saved and tried to get them to go to church. I had some conversations with my oldest son regarding religion and he told me he would like to believe but just couldn't believe it. He actually was a part of my de-conversion. He would ask me questions and send me links to look up online which really got me thinking. By then I was going to a different church (Reformed Church of America) with my then fiance. We were both pretty involved in church life(Sundays, weeknight meetings, social outings, etc.) I started really using the internet to find answers to my questions. I decided to read my bible from start to finish. I would ask my pastor questions (for example-- JW's say they are the only true religion but isn't that what Christians and Muslims, etc. say also?) He agreed with me but for the most part just tried to sidestep my questions. Bit by bit I started to think that religion was just man made bullshit.
I had lots of doubts last summer (2012) and I was only going to church every 2nd Sunday because of a seasonal job I had. We ended up getting married in that church last August. It was quite a mix at the reception (JWs, Christians and some other normal people). I got the DJ to play certain music for example "YMCA" which JWs don't have anything to do with. I watched my JW sister-in-law dancing to that probably not even realizing she shouldn't be up dancing to that. Then my pastor up dancing until the song "Raise a little hell" came on and he slowly went and sat down. Just my way of getting a few digs in without anybody really aware. LOL.
I continued going to that church until this past October. It was Thanksgiving weekend (in Canada) and we had communion that Sunday. I remember feeling uncomfortable partaking but it was either partake or go downstairs while it was going on which would have been more uncomfortable.
This past year has been very hard emotionally. I thought the pain would never end some days. I had given up any support and most of my social life by leaving the church. A few days later it just hit me. I can't do this anymore. I sent an email to my pastor telling him I could not do this anymore and I was also giving up my volunteer position I held as a board member on a daycare they run. I also said I would not like to get into any discussions in regards to my decisions and I could not say if or when I would return. My pastor sent me an email back pretty much saying I used him and after getting what I wanted I stabbed him in the back, etc... He said they were not a cult (like JWs) and I was free to come and go. He said my struggles had to do with addictions not any damage caused by religions. All his email did was reassure me that I was making the right decision. He did recant what he said a bit through a few more emails. I think he told the rest of the church that I wouldn't be attending for awhile because of dealing with my JW upbringing. He then passed on a few names of other Christians that had been JWs. It was too late by then. He wasn't that interested in helping me before so I was already moving on.
This past year has been very hard emotionally. I thought the pain would never end some days. I had given up any support and most of my social life by leaving the church. I knew that would be the outcome. I have a few acquaintances that I still talk to a bit but when their solution is to pray for you it doesn't really help. I am now an atheist. I am now 53 years old and have spent my life in low paying jobs and hard physical labour jobs. That is the part of my life I am most angry about. Today I am free to live my life however I decide, with the time I have left. I still have lots of baggage to work through though but it's getting better. My husband also quit attending church and finds it very interesting all the information I come across on the internet. I believe the internet will be the downfall of religion if not in my lifetime, in my children's lifetime. My life would have been very different if I had this knowledge earlier. Thank you all for being here and for all the support I see here.
Filed Under: Testimonials