Allow the power of uncertainty and curiosity guide you. My story as a Jehovah’s Witness.
Life is made up of an accumulation of decisions. Sometimes these decisions and choices have deeper and more profound meanings, but we don’t see the clear picture until later in life.
Growing up in a very broken home, I wanted nothing more than to feel a sense of calmness, and feel loved.
My home was divided. My mom joined the Jehovah’s Witness religion/cult when I was 6 while my father remained Catholic.
The choice my mom made tore my family apart. But I stuck with her because I wanted to make her happy. My two older sisters went their own ways.
Growing up, I felt isolated throughout school, since the cult doesn’t allow you to have friends outside it. I also didn’t celebrate holidays and birthdays.
This cult brought out the worst side of my father. Causing him not only to become physically abusive to my mom but also verbally abusive.
The cult called this persecution and almost seen in a good way that my mom was putting up with that and sticking with him. She made Jehovah God proud by sticking to her beliefs and not swaying.
My weeks were crammed with studying the cults literature, going to 3 meetings a week, Monday nights, Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. Saturdays were the day for the door to door work or recruiting people. I got baptized into the religion/cult when I was 16(summer of 1996) because it was all I knew and I knew it would bring joy to my mom. As I mentioned, you are not allowed to have any real friends outside of the cult. Jehovahs Witnesses have a term for people outside on the outside, Worldly. Worldly people, if associated with, can distort your way of thinking and can make you question all the beliefs the cult instills in you. You also only dated inside of the cult. My summers and school breaks were a time to show how “spiritual” I was by dedicating more hours to the door to door or recruiting work, by pioneering, which meant I would dedicate 50–60 hours that month in the recruitment work. I was not allowed to partake in any after-school activities like joining the track team since this would mean more time spent with Worldly people then I needed to.
I lived my life in fear, not only because of my father’s rage and all my mom’s rules, but also because there were many rules in the cult, and I, for one did not want to break any of them. Breaking the rules could lead to being shunned, or as they call it Disfellowshipped. When one gets Disfellowshipped, they lose their entire community. NO ONE is allowed to speak to you. Not even their family.
I got married at 24 to a nice Jehovah’s Witness guy with a good family. I craved a calm environment. One that wasn’t filled with rage and chaos. I went from one controlling household, to another. I felt like a bird in a small cage. The rules from the religion, which were my normal and the rules of my husband left me feeling suffocated.
What happened at this point was as I see it, my wake up call. I ended up having sex with someone else… That was July 2011. This made me realize how unhappy I truly was and that I needed a divorce. I was SO scared to tell my husband, also knowing very well this could lead me to lose everything my life was built on.
I knew I needed to talk to my husband and I was terrified to do so. On my drive home at the end of November that year, I decided, this was going to be the day. I was crying, shaking, having a full-on panic attach driving home from work. I calmed myself down before I step foot inside my home.
I told my husband we needed to talk and told him I cheated on him and I wanted a divorce. He was, as you can imagine, SO many emotions. He told me we needed to talk to the elders immediately. So I did that night. But according to the religion, it’s not official unless it’s spoken to three elders. So that week, I had something called a Judicial Meeting. 3 brothers(you are referred to as brother or sister once you get baptized), who were also Elders(elders are similar to priests) were assigned to my situation. I told them exactly what had happened. My husband wanted to stay married, but I did not. With that, the elders said I didn’t have the right to choose since I was not the innocent party in the matter, my husband was. The fact that I refused to stay married meant that I was unrepentant for my actions and led me to get Disfellowshipped.
The following week, around my 32 birthday, I was Disfellowshipped from the Jehovah’s Witness organization. How this works is, in the middle of the weekly meeting, an elder goes on stage, announces your name, and says you no longer are a member. What this means is no one is allowed to speak to you anymore. Not your friends, family, NO ONE in the cult.
In fact, you can get privileges taken away if actively pursue a relationship of any kind with a disfellowshipped individual.
In all honesty, I felt I was repentant. I confessed my sin and didn’t think I should have gotten disfellowshipped. I could have gotten privately or publicly reproved, which meant, to be brief, getting my privileges taken away, but people could still speak to me. I was not ready to be shunned, nor did I want to be. The cult was all I ever knew.
I also deeply disappointed my mom. She made me promise I would try my hardest to get back in as soon as I could, and I did.
I tried for 2 years to get back in. What this meant was, me still attending all the meetings, even though people ignored me, and also writing letters of repentance. I missed all of my friends and speaking to my mom.
A year after I got disfellowshipped, I moved to Chicago hoping to get a fresh start. There I was still attending the meetings at the local congregation.
I would write a letter, then get a judicial meeting where the elders would read some scriptures and talk to me.
I wrote 4 letters in those 2 years, all of which got rejected. The elders told me that not enough time had passed since my disfellowshipping.
I would leave these meetings feeling abandoned, rejected, alone, isolated, anxious, depressed, scared, worried and suicidal.
Since I was trying to get back into the cult, I was not looking for new World friends, and I couldn’t speak to any of my old friends, so that meant, I had no one. Fortunately, at that time, I spoke to my middle sister, who lived in Vegas. But she was also going through her own issues. Her husband had cheated on her while she was pregnant with their first child. We were each others support system.
I would call her after each meeting with the elders while going through a full-on panic attack in my car.
2012 and 2013 were what I now call my years of Purgatory. My in-between years. I was all over the place and nowhere all at once.
December 2013 I decided I wanted to move to California. The constant summer weather was something my body and mind craved.
December 26, 2013, I made the long drive from Chicago to California(that’s a story in and of itself).
Once I moved to SoCal I decided to NO longer attend the meetings or wanted to actively try to be a Jehovahs Witness anymore.
I was emotionally exhausted.
I had NO idea what life would be like living for myself. How was I even to act around people who were not Jehovahs Witnesses?
I felt like an alien dropped off on this new planet.
I was uncertain of SO much. But my heart was telling me this was the right thing to do.
Uncertainty is scary AF! But you know what’s even scarier? Ignoring it. Pushing your true feelings under the rug.
April of that year I met my now husband. He pointed out how I was still holding on to a lot of my conservative meeting clothes from my Jehovahs Witness days. He asked me if I wanted to go back and I told him I didn’t. This was the summer of 2014. I was still very shaken and unsure about so much. Getting rid of these last things meant the end to a chapter of my life. Although this was scary, again, I listened to my heart and donated all the clothes.
I didn’t realize how brainwashed I really was until August of 2015 when we went to Peru and did ayahuasca. This magical brew made from 2 plants in the Amazon opened up my mind in ways that I had never experienced before.
You see, Jehovahs Witnesses are not allowed to do anything that expands your mind. You are not allowed to meditate or partake in actives such as yoga, for an example. This, as they put it, opens your mind to allow demons to come in.
Little do they know, THEY are the ones with the demons in their heads. By only filling your mind up with things taught by the cult, only associating with people in it, not listening to things like motivational speakers, not being able to even read self-help books or go to traditional therapy, they are limited to a VERY narrow mindset. Its a twisted act of mind control also called being Brainwashed, which I was.
I was in this cult from the age of 6 to 32. Now, at 39, I am grateful for my curiosity about the uncertainty of what freedom looks like and most importantly, acting on it.
I changed what I can control, and let go of things I can’t.
This mental freedom has enriched my life in SO many ways!
I have SO many beautiful REAL friends that are now more like family.
I don’t look at those years as lost ones. They have molded me into the person I am today. Gratitude is one of the easiest and most impactful things anyone can do.
Live a life feeling sorry for yourself or your circumstances, and you will be one miserable human.
Be grateful for it all, even the hard times, and life will continue to bless you in more ways then you can imagine.
Allow your curiosity for the uncertainty to propel you into the direction your heart is telling to go. Ignite the fire that is your fear and watch life change.
Following uncertainty can lead you to a life you have yet to imagine.