Friday, April 17, 2015

Disfellowshipped Twice, But There is Hope for My Family by Melanie Curry Ottinger

My family weren't always Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs).  We would hide when they came to our door.  When I was 3 years old, my parents met a JW family.  We became very good friends with this family, but my parents avoided their urging for our family to become JWs, as well.  My mother began studying and my father wasn't happy about it, but he felt there was nothing he could do.  

In the beginning, my mother didn't really get into it much, and then, when I was around 8 years old, the situation in my house went downhill very badly with my parents.  When both of my parents were home it was like WW III in our house.  Our JW friends convinced my parents to work through things with the help of the JWs.  At that time, we were living in New Mexico.  When I was age 9 years, we moved to California and that was when my parents told me and my brothers, one 4 years older than me and the other 7 years younger, that when we arrived in California, our family would become Jehovah's Witnesses, and basically that was that.  Within a year our JW friends from New Mexico, who had convinced my parents to become Jehovah's Witnesses, also moved to California.  

I was forced for the next 9 years to be a good little JW, but I wasn't very good at it!  My best friend, the JW friends' daughter, was always the goody-goody and always telling me. I was baptized when I was age 17 years, just because it was expected of me.  Of course, my boyfriend was baptized so I needed to do the "right" thing!  

After I graduated high school, I married a non-JW, just to get out of my parents house and get away from the Watchtower Society.  Of course, I was disfellowshipped because my new husband was a non-JW. 

After a little while, I jumped through all of the hoops to get back in for my family.  I was reinstated in March, and by May, my husband and I were done.  Shortly after that, we were divorced.  A few months later, I began seeing someone else and of course, I had to hide our relationship, because he was a non-JW, also.  I got pregnant and the December after I got reinstated, I was disfellowshipped again.  

For a little while, I continued to go to the meetings but eventually, I stopped.  I haven't gone back and don't have any plans to do so.  My son's father and I broke up when I was 7 months pregnant and he has never had anything to do with him.  

When my son was just a few months old, I ran into an old high school friend and we ended up getting together and were married.  We have been married for 13 years.  

Five years ago, when I had our last child, I almost died because of doctor error. The doctor accidentally cut an artery and didn't know.  I bled internally for over 8 hours and almost died.  I would have been dead, had I not accepted blood transfusions.  When my mother found out about the transfusions she really didn't say anything until about a year later and then she began occasionally making snide remarks about it, because JWs do not allow blood transfusions, but they are also "waffle-y," saying that "only blood fractions" are allowed.
Eventually the situation at home became so bad, and I would get so stressed when talking to my mother, that I finally told her to leave me and my family the hell alone until for me to simply be her daughter was enough (More to that story, but it's very long) .  I told her not to call me unless it was an emergency, because I wouldn't answer my phone, if she wanted to contact me she could contact me on Facebook or she knew my email address.  To this day, she follows that.
The last couple of years have been very hard on my family.  All three of my surviving grandparents died within one year's time.  My grandparents were not JW and thought that everything that my parents were doing, as far as I was concerned, was ridiculous.  I'm not sure, but I think that my grandmother actually finally got onto my parents about it, when she was on her death bed.

During the last year to 18 months, I have noticed a little bit of change in my mother's attitude towards me, especially, but even some change in my father's attitude towards me.  

My father has been an elder for quite a few years.  My older brother and I haven't spoken in years, although I have seen and spoken with my younger brother more frequently, until he got married about 3 years ago.  

I paid a visit to my hometown for my children's Easter vacation, since my husband's mother still lives there, as well, and when we visit there, we stay with her, but we usually visit my parents also, so they can see their grandchildren.  

While we were visiting my parents' house, my father was at work, and my husband, myself and my mother were sitting in the living room talking.  Then somehow, the "original JW" friends that brought us into the Watchtower Society as JWs, came up in our conversation.  Apparently the wife, my mother's best friend, was trying to convince my parents not to buy property and build a house 12 miles outside town.  Mind you, my parents live right across the street from them.  

My husband suddenly spoke up and said, "Well, she's given you bad advice in the past."  

Then my mother spoke in agreement and said, "Yes, she has given me a lot of bad advice in the past.  Especially when it came to raising you children.  I really wish that I had thought for myself when making decisions about raising the three of you."  

I know that the only thing my parents did in raising us like their friends had raised their children was raising us by Jehovah's Witnesses' guidelines.  To me, she was saying that she wished she had never become a JW and had thought for herself and raised us to have a normal life, but now she and my father are so far down the rabbit hole, they don't know how to get out.
 They live in a very small town, so fading out really is not an option.  If they were to leave now, they would be forced to lose contact with my brothers and everyone they've known for the past 26 years.  They have nothing, no outside support where they live, because all of their "friends" are JW because as you know they have never made any other non-JW friends. 

I really want to send a text message to my mother to say, "It's not too late," and when she replies, "For what?," I want to answer, " start thinking for yourself."  I was so flabbergasted when she said what she said, that I couldn't get my mouth or my mind to work and say anything about what she'd just said.  There may yet be hope for my family.

Thank you all for reading my story.  I hope it will be encouraging for some of you.