Friday, August 22, 2014

Vicki Burch, Packing a Punch

My story... I wouldn't have thought I would ever tell my story in this type of forum, but seeing as they have taken my mother from me, I will, because I no longer have anything to lose.
 My story began when I was very young.. My mother met a man, who was a Jehovah's Witness of the Watchtower Society.  He soon convinced my mother that this was what she needed to be.  I believe I was four or five years old, at the time and I only have horror stories about the man my mother chose for herself.  He beat and ridiculed my disabled brother, on a daily basis, and tormented us terribly when my mother wasn't around.  I was being sexually abused by him and was terrified to say anything, at the time.  I remember him cleaning his gun at the table and pointing it at us, saying that he would say it went off accidentally while cleaning it.  The day he was murdered by a friend from what I remembered was a huge relief.  I remember my mom taking us to the police station when she heard he was dead, in order to confirm it.  I stood silent, but after hearing he was dead, I was over joyed.  I find it incredibly sad that a child that age was so overjoyed at the news of someone's death.  I just knew the monster was gone!

Life went on and my mother grew in the knowledge of the Watchtower Society's version of "the truth."  I'm not sure why, but when I was ten years old, she decided we were moving from New York to Florida.  We found a congregation here in Florida and to be honest, they were who I called my friends.  With the exception of one worldly friend (still best friends 35 years later) my life revolved around the Jehovah's Witnesses. I can say honestly that while I liked the members and the feeling of family, I never connected or bought into their beliefs.  I was embarrassed all the time and hated the fact that I was different from my schoolmates.  Jealous at the mention of holiday parties and birthday parties, I silently resented the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses' version of "the truth."  I did a good job at faking it and, because I didn't know any better and it was expected of me, I was baptized at age fifteen years.

The end came when I turned age eighteen years and began seeing a "worldly" (non-Jehovah's Witness) man.  I had moved into my own apartment, because my mother remarried and while I loved him, his adult daughter and son in law also lived with us.  I loved having my own space and freedom! 

My sister, who had left years before, got mad at me over some stupid sibling stuff.  I don't even remember what.  She went to the elders and told them I was moving in with this man.  I had no such intentions at the time.. These members who I thought of like family instead of just asking me, listened to rumors and gossip and sent me a letter to formally meet with the elders to answer these charges!  I was CRUSHED!  I felt betrayed and angry at these people, who preached about the sins of gossip and rumors, doing the same to me.  I sent a letter back with scriptures showing where gossip and rumors were a sin.  The next communication I received was from the one elder I truly cared for.  I had stayed with his family during some tough teenager growing pains and looked up to him as a substitute father.  The letter was short and stated no judgement just talk.  I cried for an hour, then wrote just as small of a letter saying, "That should have been your first letter."  I knew I would not return. 

I wasn't disfellowshipped until almost two years later, when my daughters birth announcement was in the paper.  I received the information that I was disfellowshipped in a letter.  I didn't feel the need to respond to it, since I had dissociated myself two years before.

Now I continued to grow and married and raised a family without any organized religion in my life.  I allowed my children to decide where or if they wanted to go to church.  My mother remained a Jehovah's Witness and in the first years, I had very strained, limited contact with her.  She had moved out of state, after I turned eighteen years of age. 

When my mother found out about me needing surgery for my gal bladder, she sent her number so I could call her.  After talking about my surgery, she asked what else was new and when I told her I was seven months pregnant, she became upset and we ended the call.

I can say, during the time I was raising my family, I really never thought about Jehovah's Witnesses unless something triggered a memory or that guilty feeling when I was doing something that was not allowed by them.

Now to current time.  My step father passed soon after my youngest son died and my mother eventually moved back to Florida.  With my mother getting older, her health became compromised.  My husband and I divorced after he tried to kill me and went to prison. 

I met a wonderful man online and he moved from New York to Florida.  I bought my own business and became a pretty successful business owner.  I helped my mother financially and supported her emotionally through some serious health scares.  Though I lived three hours away and I had two sisters that lived near her, I was the one she knew she could count on.  I paid a couple of her bills every month and would give her cash when she ran out before her Social Security funds came.  I never asked for anything back and felt blessed to be in a position to be there for her.  She remained a Jehovah's Witness and when we would have contact, we never brought up anything regarding religion.  I knew where she stood and she knew where I stood and we respected that.

Now a few weeks ago, I found these Ex-Jehovah's Witness websites and was excited to see I wasn't alone with my memories and made a post expressing my joy at finding it.  I admitted I had contact with my mother, which was never a secret and just " knew" nothing would keep us apart.  I received a call about a week ago that truly has devastated me.  My mother said my post was seen by the elders and she was told that if she had any future contact with me, she would be disfellowshipped.  She said that she loved me, but she was not going to risk being disfellowshipped and she wanted no more contact.  I was and still am stunned!  After all I have done and the fact that I know with her health she might not have many years left, I feel like I have had her stolen from me and my grandson who lives with me.  My sisters were never baptized and my older sister left the family a bitter angry woman years ago.  My mother does have my younger sister, but she has battled financial and substance abuse issues and cannot be there to the extent that I have been.  I wrote this no longer fearing someone may read it and say something to my mother.  They successfully have taken that away from me, so I'm telling my story in order to heal from the past and present in order to move forward.  I am grateful for those that gave us a place where we could share our stories and give support to each other.  Thank you all for your bravery and for giving me the ability to share my story.  I apologize for the length of my story but feel each part was important to convey where I am today..
The Punch Line......
I know that someone reading my posts in another group reported back to the elders, so here is a message from me.  If I find out that my mother is in need and/or is not getting what she needs medically or basic needs, I WILL be your worst public relations nightmare!  My mother has dedicated her life to the Watchtower Society and believes your lies, but since you all decided that the one person caring for her needs, is to be out of her life, then YOU are taking full responsibility for her well-being!!