Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Advice From Those Who Left the Watchtower Society

Responses, when various Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses were asked, "What advice would you give to anyone considering leaving the Watchtower Society?"

Tammy Reimer - Have as much emotional support ready as you can because they will try to destroy you mentally.

Blake Anderson:  My parents kicked me out of home.  I had no full time job; no home.  Friends supported me and now I have a home, car, amazing job, friends that love me unconditionally and reasons to live.  I still suffer psychologically, but I'm getting help with that too.
Lance Goller:  Got my masters degree. Got married, got divorced. Married again. Had a baby.
Richard Glenn - I just walked away.  Never explained myself to anybody. It's the best way. I think they were happy I went, if I'm honest so they didn't try to stop me.  Therapy is a personal choice.  I never had any myself, but I have a "shit happens" kind of attitude to life.  Am I angry at not having a normal life opportunities?  Yes, definitely.  Can I change it?  No.  So I've just gotten on with life now.  Though if somebody feels they would benefit from therapy, then certainly seek it.
Elizabeth House-Coffin - Walk away.  If you ignore them, stop claiming to be a Jehovah's Witness, and walk away....even by their own policy they can not disfellowship you for being 'inactive'.  I know this as FACT, because they tried to disfellowship me for having a gay roomate, after I'd been inactive for 2 years.  My father, who is an elder, helped me pull up their own policy written by the Watchtower.. ....that they are to leave us inactive alone, as if we were no longer JWs.  As long as you don't proclaim to be one, don't associate with them, and don't show up for their meetings/functions.  Don't give them the power by sitting down with them or writing them a letter.  Those are JW formalities that you do not have to do!  Walking away is easier also on any family members that may still may be under their control. (the JWs) While they will still have decreased their association with you, they do not have to full out shun you!

Shelly De - You are FREE!  Learn to live in the world without the constant brain washing!
Claudia Barlow - Walk away.  If a JW harasses you to come back, call the cops.  Harassment is against the law. 

Dan Johnson - For all those leaving the WTBS I recommend you read the Bible itself without any Watchtower Society aids. READ A RECOGNIZED BIBLE VERSION - NOT the New World Translation that is ONLY RECOGNIZED BY THE SOCIETY. Read something like the New King James because it does not have the "thee"'s and "thou"'s of 16th-Century English in it. MOST OF ALL, as you read PRAY AND ASK GOD TO SHOW YOU HIS TRUTH. (Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, an it shall be opened unto you:" --Matthew 7:7 God's inspired word promises that "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."-- Hebrews 11:6 Remember that Christianity is about A RELATIONSHIP with God through His Son Jesus--it is not about A RELIGION. It is about A PERSON, not a program. It is about A SAVIOR, not a Society--LIBERATION, not legalism. It is about PEACE, not performance--FORGIVENESS, not fear. It is about GOD'S NEVER-CHANGING LOVE, not a group's ever-changing light.
Kristina Wrona - Tell them that they will never have to lie to anyone about religion or how they feel again, and that almost everything they were told by the JW's IS a lie, and that MOST people? In the WORLD?....are really pretty cool.  It's the JW's that are the evil people.  And congratulate them for leaving a doomsday cult!

Kenda Kei Caloroso - You are not bound by their rules.  It's ironic that even while they are kicking us out of the group, they expect us to respectfully abide by their rules.  We choose not to participate, and whether it's, "We kicked you out FIRST!," or, "Well you CAN'T kick me out, because I left FIRST!"-- the overarching truth is that we CHOOSE NOT TO BE IN THEIR GAME, WE CHOOSE OUR OWN RULES.  We choose.  They are NOT the arbiters of our fate, nor our judge and jury.  We choose otherwise.
Shane Hubenig - Everyone leaves in the way that makes sense for them. Some need some form of closure; others feel they need to make some kind of statement, and that is fine for them.  I would not want to write a letter myself, because I resent the very implication they have any jurisdiction over my life or choices in any ways. I owe them nothing.
Antonio Aguilar - Run!  Run away !!  Fast.  Don't look back!...

Havoc M Pandemonium - Just stop going ; screw cults...

Nel Nel Elnel - My advice, leave, never look back and do what makes you happy... no letters are needed.

Sam David - Have your publisher's card moved to a new hall that is out of your territory. When it comes to the new Kingdom Hall, disappear. When you start attending the new hall, don't be social. Don't make friends. You don't want anyone to miss you.
Tim Slabiak - All I would say is this, if you just don't care what they think or do, go the disfellowshipping or disassociation letter route.  If you want to maintain your family relations, take the fading route.  Irregardless of how you're going to leave, you're in for a rough ride, unless you take control of your brain and determine to remove all of the JW programming out of your UN-conscious mind.  You are being programmed, now un-program yourself.  Do the research and find out who and what they really are.
Shurod Daniels - Just fade.  I never heard of any other religious organizations that require a formal letter.
Monica N Chad Owens - I would say for them to not take the shunning personally and get overly hurt by it.  Just consider the fact that the people still in the cult are being influenced by it and thus will behave accordingly.  I would also say don't second guess your decision.  Continue to do research on the society and its many blunders and contradictions over the years and feel comforted in the knowledge that you are no longer blinded.  These people are master manipulators, so I would tell the person leaving to not expect the cult programming to go away overnight.  You may feel a generalized anxiety or sense of dread at times that you cannot pinpoint.  This is due to the constant programming that Jah will destroy non-witnesses soon, so very soon...   Take heart, be brave, never look back.

Jay Hess - Decide clearly why you are leaving.  Put your reasons down in writing, rewrite if necessary to make it clear without referring to anger (with which people cannot empathize) but use terms that refer to your sadness, fear and discouragement.  Also refer to their cruelty, hate, and lies rather than referring to the Watchtower Society's control and prohibitions.  That letter will serve you better over time.  
If you strongly desire to keep in touch with JW family and friends, it is best to fade away, especially if you plan on getting some of them out.  
If you decide you really don't care about losing blinded family & friends, then I recommend letting them DF you so those who might be 'on the fence' will blame the Society, rather than blaming you for walking away.  
However if you really don't care about what other people think and you want to make a statement to HQ, then write a long letter of DA and list all the cruel things the WT has done and their lies.  Several elders and people at Bethel will be required to read it.  Then it will be placed into a permanent file.

Susan Barrett-Carter Finazzo - I'd remind them that each individual was given a mind to make their own decisions.  I'd encourage them to read the new testament and pray for God's guidance in understanding what the words mean.  I'd also tell them that they are loved, even if they don't feel that love just yet.

GĂ©rard Erdue - Once you leave don't ever return to that vomit and live your life without fear.
Michael Ess - Disappear.  Don't play by their rules.  Don't speak to them if they ring; don't answer the door if they knock. Therapy with someone who has had experience with high control religious groups is helpful.
Teresa Garcia - Just dissappear. It's not anyone's business but your own.  I see writing a letter, or "confessing" to the elders so you get disfellowshipped as almost asking for their permission to leave.  Take control and walk away on your own terms.
Babs Mason - Cold turkey is best, a quick clean break and get thyself into therapy ASAP!

Sophia Stultz - Just leave, be optimistic about the journey of self discovery and remain prayerful.
Dan Engstrom - Good god! Just leave it and forget it!

Brand Cedrone - Just realize you don't have to play by their rules, they hold NO AUTHORITY over you. Become true to yourself!

Jon Webster - I would first commend them for having the strength and awakened presence of mind to leave this very oppressive organization.  I would assume that they have already researched or discovered the truth about the so called "truth."  If not, I would uge them to do so, as we all need to know what is really behind the curtain.  
That being said, my advice would be to encourage them to be a member of a support group, such as one of the online XJW groups.  Even more so, I would encourage them to inform others about the dangers and consequences of cults.  As we know, this can be life altering in the most devastating ways.  In the end, it has destroyed many people's belief in God.  I don't think I would have to say that from this moment on that we never place so much loyalty to a religion again.  My best advice is to focus on Jesus.  He is "the way, the truth and the life."

Tuga G. - I tried to fade away, but my mother went to the elders and told them I was in a lesbian relationship.  So I basically was forced to the DF path.  It was so hard at first, especially the fact that I had no friends and family outside of the organization.  But in time, I learned it was what needed to happen in my path of being able to be happy with who I am and have become.  I did not have any support in my journey, but I think being part of the online XJW communities will help in yours.  I think fading may have worked out a little better, but hey, the end result is the main goal.  Separation!  I'm sending thoughts of light and love your way as we all know this can be a difficult time in your life.
Trina Craig - I should have faded, but after coming to my mother and step-father, I knew they wouldn't accept me, so I just got disfellowshipped.  I thought I would feel guilty, if I just faded away, because I was born and raised in the religion.  Now I'm taking therapy cause my mother isn't talking to me at all, but I'm doing okay, because I found someone who is helping me through.
Ty Ryan - Try to avoid converting others out and just stay under the radar.  Makes things much easier until the person is much stronger.

Willis West - I personally did the fade away thing, but it was pretty much a cut & dry decision.  I didn't necessarily have a support group so much personal strength and ability to deal with being alone for a while, until one acclimates to the 'outside' is key to survival.  I'm with the other guys though - i believe it's important not to give men anymore power than they think they have.  I was never contacted or chased by the elders or a committee or anyone.  Who knows where my records are anymore, it's been so long.  If you have family within the organization that don't seem to be any sort of free-thinkers, then if you plan on DA or DF approach, be ready that you'll lose them and not be reliant on them.  You can't change them, you can't attempt to change how they believe.  If one leaves, no sense in making such a big deal about it.  The show won't be to anyone's benefit but your own and typically, it's not worth all the effort.
I'm not part of the organization anymore, but I still have all my family and we still associate together and i just try not to be forceful about my own feelings of it all.  If you want to be accepted for your choices in life, then you gotta accept that others will be different too, including your own family.  Live & let live.  Perhaps it's a passive approach, but certainly without all the drama seems a little more wise.

Allan Campbell - If at all possible, do the fade.  Do not let the committee have control.  If you are feeling guilt, do not let that override your good sense.  The guilt will fade over time, when you come to realize that it was manufactured by controlling men.  The negative consequences on familial relations of official DF or DA, however, can last a lifetime.
Maybe the best way is to move far enough away, stop attending, and they simply lose track of you.
Sometimes we get caught in circumstances that force the issue.  The dam broke for me when I admitted my sexuality to my wife, having been out to a few bars and bedrooms over a couple of weeks.  Not a matter that I could hide, since she left me promptly and informed her family.  I suppose I could have just dissed the committee and let them do their thing, but I decided to make a date with them and get it over with.  My regret about that, is the smug satisfaction that one or two of the members got out of acting like righteous pricks.
Aidan Grey - I agree with Allen. However once fading they did a conference call and took my privileges via voice mail, so change your phone number! 
Leon Wilborn - Have a support system in place!

Nicole Yvonne - My advice for the individual who wishes to end their affiliation with the WTBS would be to simply stand up and walk out and discontinue participation.  The minute you decide to be free, you are free and can be free.  This means that you need not play into the JW inquisition-psychodrama of writing letters, giving explanations or engaging in any other dynamic which would require confessions, disclosures of personal information, or questioning.  This also means that, after you claim your freedom, there undoubtedly will be confusion/inquiry among "the friends."  If they are true "friends," they will accept and respect your decision.  Chances are they will show their true colors which, while painful, will be a step forward in leading a life of authenticity.  If the JW leaders contact you, or, in any other way harass you, contact your local law enforcement and file a police report.  If you have already participated in aspects of this JW psychodrama and felt harassed, especially sexually, please report this event to law enforcement.  You have the right to your freedom from organized bullying/intimidation.  JW leaders do not recognize that fact.

James C. Payne - Join The Salvation Army.

Meghan Portillo - Don't jump into a relationship immediately after leaving!!! Apparently, a lot of unresolved shtuff pops up after the "honeymoon" period ...

Jse Hll - What ever you do, DO NOT PLAY BY THEIR RULES!  If you feel a DA letter is necessary for closure, then send it to all of the sisters in the congregation.  This way you can let let everyone know why you are leaving.  Not to mention, it would be a massive slap in the face for the elders to not have received the info first.
Ray Smalley - Just do it!  You'll feel so free but be sure you have enough natural supports outside of the organization (friends, family, hobbies, basically positive things in your life).  Try to line up these natural supports before leaving.  Do it the way that works best for you (I.e. you do you).   Find yourself!  
Also, just because you can do something after you leave, doesn't mean you should. The first people you befriend outside the JWs might not actually be what is considered normal by the general public and what they do might not be what everyone does. 

Sondra Dumont - I suggest fading to allow emotional healing and to build up strength in order to deal with the shunning that goes with Disfellowshipping and/or Disassociating, of which, both can be inevitable.
The Puzzler - There is no easy answer for this question. Each person's situation is going to be different. One person may choose to fade quietly, because they have family members, children, spouses and parents that they still want to be in contact with.   
Others may only have been a JW themselves, with the rest of their family having remained non-members ("worldly" in JW lingo). Those individuals may choose to cut their ties with a letter stating so. Others may decide that they are free to do things their own way and don't have to notify anyone, nor answer to anyone. They may get disfellowshipped (excommunicated) by the organization, or they just be forgotten about altogether. 
Here is a simple 7 step process you can use to sort out what's right for you:

1. Do you have any family members that are still involved in the JW org?

2. Does your job or home situation depend on an active JW?

3. Do you have a good support system outside of the org? Most people probably don't, since you're told to stay away from "wordly" people. Can you begin to reach out to other people on the outside to help you through this process?

4. What's the worst that could happen? Write it out in detail. Try to cover every possible scenario.

5. What's the ideal situation that could happen? Write out in detail the best possible scenario you can imagine.

6. Cost-Benefit Analysis - list all pros and all cons for DA, DF, and for fading. Compare and as you look at all three with their respective pros and cons, you'll be able to get a clearer picture of how this could work.

7. Reality check - even with the best of planning and the best of intention, you could very likely end up being completely shunned, abandoned, and reject by remaining JW friends and family. People could "coincidentally" see you somewhere or just decide that since you haven't attended meetings you're suspect and untrustworthy.   

Try to reach out for some good people that you can have there as moral support for you. Mental health counselors and group exit counseling can be a great way to set up moral support for you. In the end, whatever decision you make will be the right one for you. The roads to freedom are infinite.
Jeffrey Ritter - After your exit, do not be in a hurry to fill any void created as a result of your withdrawal from the JW's. Allow yourself time to decompress. Take time to try to develop or locate your ideas, philosophy and spiritual center. Do not let anyone persuade you to embrace new truths in a hurry. After time passes you will sense what is right for you. It may be quite different than what is right for another ex-JW. Trust your inner voice and do not trust anyone who claims they can guide you.
Chandra Shuck - Fading for sure...many will shun anyway, but at least it gives still active ones the ability to talk with you without fear of getting into trouble which can be very helpful in some family situations.
Steve LaMonte - Do what you feel you should do. Don't dissapoint yourself morally or ethically.
Lance Goller - Once you leave you're not subject to their stupid rules.  Fuck them. You can quote me.  (Ex-Gilead Missionary)
Bill Pavloff - Just leave. You don't write a letter telling people you're done with dinner, do you?  No.  You push away from the table and walk away.  Get on with your life and quit playing to their rules.
You also have to understand that the JWs are a business with lots of legal-eeze stuff going on.  They want letters so they can have a defense against the backlash on their shunning.  Once you put something in writing, they can use that against you for anything they need.  The treatment of people who quit them needs to have a legal defense, so a letter is best for them.  The legal angle is also why you have to stand before a huge group of JWs and make the public declaration before you can get baptised.  They have hundreds, if not thousands, of witnesses to your declaration as a legal means to count you as an official member.  It's shaky, since they allow children to do this, but it is all they have, so far.  Why play into that?  Just walk away.

Rikki Marie - I am in total agreement with Bill.  I remember being bullied into writing a letter when I was leaving at age 18 years.  12 years later, I would give that suggestion the bird.
Sarah Seelen Keirsey -  I think that is a very individual decision, whatever empowers you. For me, I felt writing a letter took my power back from them.

Deo John Persad - What I'm doing now, which I should have done long time ago, is to get counseling, as it affects you for a long time.  I was brought up in the religion, but I've been out for a while.  I have to get counseling for what my mother did.  She is still in it and thinks it's going to happen, even after they have changed a lot of stuff, saying we wouldn't get old when we were children. 
Go out and enjoy mother nature at the beach and parks.  Do things that make you happy and de-stress.
Derek McCallum - Personally, I wrote a letter to the elders informing them I no longer considered myself to be a JW and that I no longer wished to have any contact. But in my case it wouldn't have made a difference if I just faded away because by the time I was ready to leave I was on the fringes and my leaving would be unnoticed. My advice to anyone wishing to leave would be to just get the hell out, fade away, don't comunicate except with family, live quietly, live free.
Sylvia J Smith - Yes, fading is the best way to do it.

Dayna Hickman - I would recommend via fading because my brother and sister although disfellowshipped left the door open for occasional communication with family members.  I, on the other hand, wrote a letter to the Society asking to be removed from their members list and I don't even get an email about my brother who is dying of cancer.  She has emailed my disfellowshipped sister who just faded away and she has communicated my brother's health situation. Many leaving the JW’s are confused, angry, guilty, lacking self-esteem, and lose a support system in family and friends. I found it necessary to educate myself about abusive religions. However, some find it helpful to talk with others who have left an abusive religion. Some may seek counseling from health professionals to understand and help the recovery process. Reading both books by Raymond Franz and former member of the Governing Body really helped to put to rest the possibility that I left the "Truth". I like the familiarity of his writing since he was on writing committee and the fact that he was not angry with the individual people of the organization, but the organization run by a few at the top who made the ultimate decisions and would never take any suggestions from others.
Elliott Hibbard - Forgive yourself.  I forgave myself, but it's the org I think I have a hard time forgiving. Not sure how to do that.
Kelly Shuler - Biblical counseling, and my spiritual family at church has helped me.  Telling others and making new friends...good friends is needed.
Also, being able to forgive yourself and focus on positives in life.
I have to remind myself that holding onto bitterness toward the org only hurts me. When you let go and let God, you will find peace.  It takes time.  I have to continually let go.  I still have family in the org.  I must resist the devil's temptation to hold on and blame the org, when it's actually Satan himself. So I remnd him where he's going and move on.  I pray for my family daily. 
A. Nona Miss - I faded and moved to another city. Though moving wasn't my initial plan when I left the WTBS, but if you can afford to move away to start fresh then do it. I still maintain a pretty good relationship with my JW mom but discussing religion is off the table. However I have no contact with the friends from my former congregation and I'm okay with that. It is really helpful if you have a support system outside of the JW bubble too be that family, friends or social network of exJWs.
Jana Houston - Have a good therapist on speed dial!

Morgan Caleigh - I think it depends on whether you want to be bothered or not.  Fading out is great because you don't have to necessarily lose everything and be publicly shamed but you also get regular visits to help you "find your way back."  I would do that if I could go back and do it again.  I lost everyone... At least when you're inactive you're not a total outcast.
Christopher Johns - I think disassociation. Because if the person still believes in God then They aren't going to want to commit a bad sin to get disfellowshipped. If you just fade away and are still listed as an active member of the congregation then it makes it easier for them to go back. I think disassociation.
Bill Hahn - There are plenty of websites for help like - Best one for examples of others experiencing the same doubts, etc.
Mickey Hudson - Just sharing stuff I've heard over the years. I left the hard way, I have no personal advice to give.  
Choosing to leave?  Have an exit strategy.  Even if it means sticking around a bit longer, have a plan.   
Start a new social circle. A great resource for after you leave, is your return visits.  Go back to them and tell them why you won't be returning.  You may spark up a friendship along the way.  NOT advised for the fader.  This may help as well, if one finds themselves suddenly tossed out without warning.  
Writing letters to those in the congregation and informing them of what is going on. That way, despite any announcement, folks know what really happened. 
I've heard of people disassociating themselves during a talk they are giving. 
Bonnie Poole - I faded.   I took well over a year to do it.  Short of slowly (ever so slowly) tapering off meeting and field service, here are a few things that might help a fader fade easier.

1. Switch congregations several times, if possible.  That is, if there are
several Kingdom Halls (KH) in your area with different meeting times.  Don't announce that you're doing it, just do it.   If you're questioned, say that you have job commitments, but that you don't want to miss meetings, or that you want to visit other congregations. Bounce around enough that it becomes difficult for the elders to keep up with you and your attendance.   Of course, this only works if you're not a ministerial servant, elder, or pioneer and tied down to one Kingdom Hall.  Watch the announcement board and keep track of visiting speakers.  You don't want to be spotted by one of the elders from your base KH.  They'll try to corner you. "Gee, we've sure missed you" blah-blah-blah.

2. If you've got the money for it, get a burner cell phone.  Try to route all JW phone calls through the burner phone.  Anymore, elders put together phone trees of everyone in the congregation.  Use that number for that purpose.  When your fade is complete, get rid of the burner phone.  If that's not an option, change your phone number(s) when your fade is complete.

3. During your fade, you'll have to be extra paranoid.  Be careful where you go, who you see, and what you do. If you're spotted, especially doing something the elders might find suspicious, your fade efforts will be for nothing.  Basically, you have to act like the perfect JW, at least publicly, while you're in the process of fading.

4. During the fade, they'll probably send elders around for a shepherding call.  If they do it unannounced, act like you're not home.  Hopefully by this time, you'll have become good at ducking their phone calls.  But if they manage to catch you unawares, get creative (fake the flu, etc.).  Or simply don't be home when they mention to you when they'll be stopping by.  You can offer excuses later.
5. If you rent, move once your fade is done.

Shelley Brammer Truesdell - If you decide to leave, make it known if they make ANY announcement, or if the elders make any type of statement that belittles, or labels you, you will file a lawsuit against each one of them.

Anne O. Nemus - If I could do it all over again I would not have gotten disfellowshipped.  My entire family shuns me.  I said once to my mother that it wouldn't have mattered if I was ever disfellowshipped or not, because if I wasn't living the life of a witness she still would have nothing to do with me.  She told me that I was wrong, and if I had not "broken my vow to Jehovah" things would be very different.  If you are considering disassociating, fading or getting disfellowshipped, you already know that this religion is wrong.  Don't play by their rules.  Don't take the moral high ground and admit to everything you don't believe or everything you've done.  This organization will hold your family hostage.  If you don't want that to happen then try to just fade.  I'm sure everyone and every situation is different, but this is the advice I would've wanted to have gotten when I was faced with a judicial meeting.
Alix Bear Kearney - Remember you don't have to follow their silly rules anymore: you don't have to write a disassociation letter or go to a jc at their request. if you are religious, remember your faith is bigger than the organization, and if you're not, well, you get the picture.

 Kenda Kei Caloroso - Even if you can understand the "logic"-- THEIRS--, and even if you can truthfully say, "I would have done the same thing in their shoes,"... Even SO, it's a hard, hard thing. I told my Elder father, "Nobody gets out without gnawing through body parts, leaving trails of blood and guts and pain." It's like that old Wild West trope, "Nobody gets out of here alive!" Still, we do. We do!.... get out alive, I mean.  If it were legal, they'd be first to be chucking small boulders at our heads, don't think they wouldn't.  As it is, they try to kill our SOULS, because they cannot directly get at our bodies.
Glen Atamanchuk - I fled to Europe for school and was de-salinated in absentia after 5 years.  I guess that HOMO thing about me finally got to them!
Gordon Webb - I left cold turkey, just stopped going to the meetings. Never wrote a letter, or gave the JWs any reason for my decision. After all, if they did not want to hear my complaints when I was attending meetins, they would not want to hear them after I had made my decision. I was not going to talk to them and give them any reasons that they could twist for their own nefarious purpose. I've never looked back in 40 years.
Terrence Adaman - Fading is the best route, in my opinion......since you can avoid being "shunned "....
Paul Johnson - Disfellowship them! Move far away...don't even think of them and never go least you'll be in control and won't keep trying at a relationship with any of them, just to be hurt again and again. Make them hurt instead.
Claire Beecham - It is like leaving an abusive marriage. You have to plan ahead, get your ducks in a row (finances, etc) because they will turn on you overnight.

Alex Silva - If the person still has loved ones in the cult I'd recommend fading. Be careful not to speak to elders as they may use anything said to them as an excuse for df and therefore family ties may be affected. Always show kindness and love to family still in the cult and try to do your best in life, show them the opposite of what they would expect from some one who has left the cult. It will give them some well needed cognitive dissonance.
For those who want to fade... Of course it's not always possible, but a factor that helped me fade successfully was to relocate. What I did, and without planning to fade, was that I relocated and started attending meetings at a congregation that didn't know me. Shortly after my publisher card arrived at the new congregation I started to skip meetings. Since they didn't know me I "fell through the cracks" and the elders never tried to track me down. Sometime after that I moved again. I stop going to meetings towards the end of 1995 and fortunately I never had to face shunning by my family.
Steve Otta - Personally, I went the disfellowshipping route. I felt like I needed a clean break. It made my decision permanent. I was called in to a meeting and I could have just ignored their request to attend but I wanted to tell them what I thought of them. I gave them more than enough ammunition to DF me and when I got up and left, they asked me "you know what this means". I'm sure they expected me to say "I'm disfellowshipped," but I didn't say it.  I said "Yeah, it means you don't have any control over my life any longer". I felt free that night for the first time in my life.
I knew what it was going to mean and I harbor no ill will toward anyone still in. I'm not angry about being shunned because I would have done the same thing when I was in. I can't be angry with someone for doing what I would do. I just can't.

Sondra Dumont - Question everything; assume nothing.  If someone tells you something, do not take it as fact.  Research it, and research it some more.  Never settle for something as truth, just because those around you do.  My entire world was turned upside down when I left.  I thought I had lost everything I ever knew.  

In reality, I gained so much more than I ever knew or dreamed of.  I made new friends and family that do not judge me based on what I believe.  I am now in college, something I was never allowed to even consider.  I tell people that change, even when it is for the better, does not always feel good at the time. Just wait. Your eyes will open and you will truly see for the first time.

Nikki Grant - One day, my story will inspire the world.  One day, my story will soften the hearts of the cold.  One day, my story will help people like me.  One day, I will have the opportunity to tell my story in its completeness.   One day, perhaps your story will help others, too.  
It took me years to believe in myself.  It took me years to find someone who believed in me.  When I accomplished both of those goals, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I am truly blessed to have a supportive husband and incredibly lucky children.  If you feel like you are living a life that is not yours, leave.  If you feel like nothing you do is good enough, it is not your fault.  If you feel lonely, look at who is around you.  
Don't forget what is important.  We have this one life and it's all we get. If you are one of the lucky few, be sure to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.  It's important.  I have so much to offer but often don't know where to start. If you are like me, know that all it takes is one step forward each day.  One step can change your life.  I don't have to tell you what it is.  You already know.  Perhaps you are just too scared to take that step.  Don't be.  Your new life is waiting for you.
Noel Parsons - The revelation that one's whole belief system has proven to be rotten to the core can result in PTSD, combined with an identity crisis and other mental health issues, such as panic attacks, etc.  Combine this with one's sudden departure from the Watchtower Society, whether with one's consent via a disassociation letter or an enforced departure via disfellowshipping, if it is without an outside support system in place and plans for the future, it is tantamount to a catastrophic life event, causing devastating loss of family members and friends who remain ensnared in Watchtower Society tentacles.
Forgive yourself for thinking you or anyone else was stupid enough to be fooled by those false promises. It's the Governing Haughty's fault.  They well know what they're doing and always have.   If it's anything other than them deceiving millions of people and they actually believe all those fantasy-begotten promises themselves, they're seriously deluded and to be pitied.  AND.....  EDUCATE YOURSELF RE: TTATT (The Truth About The Truth)!!!
If you don't have friends and activities to fill the void created by being free of the "borganization," Stepford and its inhabitants, the "Matrix," the pod people, make some!  Get involved in community charitable works, events at your public library, and participate in activities in which you are interested.  You will meet people and soon discover there is a whole wide world of people out there just waiting to appreciate you for who you are and be your friends, without judgment.