My Story

It has been a little less than four months since the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses announced my disfellowshipping* (April 4, 1012). Apart from the rumor spreading rapidly across the state once convention season began, I have had little backlash. Living in an area where the per capita population of JW’s is quite high, I worried about bumping into ‘old friends’ and being snubbed. That hasn’t happened. In fact, I haven’t seen anybody—which is out of the ordinary. This tells me they are possibly seeing me first and fleeing.

I remember doing that as a JW (Jehovah’s Witness). I would catch sight of a Df’d (disfellowshipped) person and flee in the other direction to avoid a full-frontal snubbing. This was okay with me at the time because I felt more pious and righteous before God since I was doing his will. If that is what is happening in my case, I am thankful because I made the decision I was not going to act ashamed around them. They put their label on me. I am not defined by it, nor do I accept it. I don’t feel like I have changed—I am still me—except, I am a more authentic version of myself.

Which brings me to the reason for this blog—I was discussing with a friend recently my frustration at not being able to share my feelings with those who have labeled me. People who claim to love me, but will no longer speak with me, have no clue what is really going on with me. They must theorize and in so doing use a mountain of logical fallacies to validate their beliefs and prove I am “fornicating with the devil.”

I know this because I did the same thing many times. Whenever someone is disfellowshipped everyone wonders what the reason was and usually the first thing people think of is sex. This is because in puritanical Christian circles everything leads back to sex. What really helps, however, is if the local congregation has the practice of giving a local needs right after a disfellowshipping.  This is a well-meaning talk given to a congregation to warn of the dangers of falling prey to the exact same thing that got so-and-so “disciplined by Jehovah”. This serves the dual purpose of scaring the congregation into submission and putting to rest any speculation.

I’m only assuming this is what happened in my case, because an old roommate who was disfellowshipped 18 years ago (and lives three hours away across a range of mountains) sent me a friend request on Facebook and said she had heard I was worshipping Satan. I was surprised at the relative accuracy of the rumor as it spread. (I would have been flattered if the rumor had been sexual, but apparently the same people who never tried to hook me up with anyone while I was single would never have considered sexual liberty a part of my personality. *sigh*)

I remember the frustration and helplessness of hearing someone’s name announced from the stage, knowing they are beyond help. Average JW’s are prohibited from reaching out to Df’d ones. I remember when my roommate was Df’d; I cried like she had died, because it was a sort of death. I had to pretend she was dead so I would not be tempted to talk to her.  Now we have to make up for all the time that was robbed from us by the doctrine of a self-centered religion.

But I digress…Whenever I heard of someone who was disfellowshipped; I would ask some discreet questions and somehow come to my own logical explanation to explain things in a way that validated my beliefs.  This is called confirmation bias, and I am positive it is being used to explain my own defection.

Three days before my father died, two local elders paid me a visit to warn me of the dangers of Harry Potter. The second to last movie had just been released in theaters the night before. I had taken one of those fun quizzes on Facebook and was told I had the personality of a Dementor. I thought it was pretty funny, so I posted the results. The wife of one of the elders that stood in my living room that day had “Liked” my status and I thought, “Cool! Sharon likes Harry Potter.” Apparently she narced on me to her husband and they felt it important to come and counsel me as my father lay dying in the next room. (I promptly unfriended Sharon [I can’t tolerate tattle-tales] just like I unfriended my husband’s aunt when I found out she shared my anti-JW status updates with my parents-in-law.)

The two elders told me the success Harry Potter was enjoying in the box office was a clear indication of its demonic origins and that Jehovah hates all who love what he hates. “You don’t want Jehovah to hate you, do you?”

A year and half later I was disfellowshipped for witchcraft. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume they have linked the two events. It warms the cockles of my heart to imagine my story has passed into JW legend as a scare tactic to stay away from Harry Potter. Perhaps, my ‘experience’ has even been shared at an assembly or convention. How cool would that be!

So, for anyone who wants to know the truth, it was not Harry Potter…it was Twilight. Haha! Just kidding!

By the time I read the series of Harry Potter I was already out. I knew the warnings against it and choosing to read the books was a beginning of my rebellion. You see, I had been an uber-obedient JW for the better part of two decades. I avoided rated-R movies, never swore, only read literature published by the Watchtower Society, read my Bible every day, learned a foreign language, prepared for every meeting, participated in the field ministry and theocratic school, etc. etc, etc.

I ignored, or suppressed, the anxiety and depression and guilt that rode around on my shoulders year after year. I knew there would come a reckoning. I knew I couldn’t maintain the level of intensity the Watchtower society required indefinitely. Thankfully, I figured I wouldn’t have to. Armageddon was just around the corner.

By the time I got into my thirties I was full on neurotic. I would punish myself for everything I did or said that I perceived as imperfect. I would leave the Kingdom Hall sobbing because I was so flawed.

Marriage and life managed to distract me enough to slow down in my intensity of religious service. Then I went a few months without going to meetings and began to heal. I started seeing a therapist to deal with my extreme anger and resentment that I had carried with me all my life. I began to heal, until I would go back to the Kingdom Hall, then all the neuroses would begin to rear their ugly heads.

I finally realized that mental health existed away from the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses—at least for me.

For anyone still reading this, I am happier than I have ever been. I will never return to that religion, so don’t bother telling yourselves I will come to my senses. I already have. My life finally makes sense to me. I stepped away from that religion and felt like I could take a full breath for the first time in my life. I thought it would be better for me to just fade away and somehow maintain my membership, so friends and family could continue to talk to me. But thanks to another Facebook traitor, I was outed as a practicer of Wicca (not because Harry Potter sold me on witchcraft but because I desire to investigate the sacred feminine and heal through empowerment and meditation). I have only felt profound gratitude since the local congregation decided to disfellowship me. I needed to be cut off from that deep abyss of negativity and have only felt happiness ever since. Thank you, elders of the Terrebonne, Oregon congregation!

I now feel profound pity for anyone remaining under the heavy yoke of the Watchtower Society. I wish that all could become just like me: liberated and grateful for life, optimistic about the future of mankind and non-judgmental.

That is my story.

*For further explanation of the practice of disfellowshipping please visit this website: http://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/disfellowship-shunning.php

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow.. i didnt know JW defellowship their members… thats something new i learn today. I think it isnt fair to you.

  2. Soul sister-I am happy for your healing. The choices I have made are not the same as yours but I celebrate the ability to make your own choices, something we never had while in the “Organization”.

  3. wow…we should start a new group: Oregon ex-JW pagans…haha! I was disfellowshipped in my late teens in the 70s after being raised that way and many in my family are still JW…my Dad recently went back to being JW so we don’t even talk because i am psychic AND openly pagan.

    i hoped perhaps the situation with the elders and treatment of people by them had improved but, especially for women, seems not.

    btw, my son and i just finished a Harry Potter marathon over the holidays….blessed be!


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