I was born into the Watchtower Society (WTS) of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), in Denver, Colorado. Before I was born, my parents met at the Kingdom Hall, when my mother was studying with the witnesses. I guess my father had his eye on her and studied around the same time. My father was exposed to JWs, because his mother was a JW. Both of my parents were baptized and later, they married at the Kingdom Hall (KH). I've heard that some JWs, including my older sister, did not like my father, nor his mother. They begged my mother not to marry him, but she did anyway. My father has six other boys from previous marriages, but I never knew exactly why the JWs did not want my mother to marry him.
I was always that good little "Shirley Temple" girl, until I reached my pre-teenage years. I couldn't fit in with the other girls, because I always had questions and more often did whatever I wanted outside of "church." When I turned thirteen years of age, I met a girl, with whom I finally made friends. I had a huge crush on her brother, too, but I never told them everything or my full story or my full opinions.
That's when some other girls came along. We were still little outcasts from the elders' daughters, as if we were not good enough. I did not care. We had fun. We had code names for boys, so we could pass notes to each other during the meetings. By this time, I had already made friends with a JW girl. She was my best friend, who hurt my feelings. Afterward, my mother and her mother suddenly stopped talking and so did my best friend and I. I didn't know why.....yet.
There I was with new friends, who, like me, were living "double lives." I still had non-JW friends, too. As my JW friends were getting baptized and becoming publishers (ministers, door-to-door), I finally began to get involved in the Thursday night ministry school (Escuela ministerial). We were in the Spanish congregation and I was not as fluent in Spanish as I am now. When I became a publisher, I could then speak, when going door-to-door in the field ministry. I was so nervous and secretly wished NOT to ever bump into my friends from school.
I met a boy and we began dating secretly. His parents were studying to become JWs at this time and I believe his mother was recently baptized. I ended up, after making him wait, losing my virginity to him at age sixteen years. Later, I discovered that one of my good friends, who was the daughter of an elder had been involved with my boyfriend, too! She used to tell me that she was studying the bible with him over the phone, because sometimes I was there to hear them. Of course, that was an act, when I was around. She was twenty-one years old and would hang out with the sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, as she had trouble fitting in, despite being an elder's daughter. I stopped talking to her and I was so heart-broken. She could not have cared less.
One day, an elder cornered me and asked to speak with me in the other room with another elder present. I knew right away the reason he wanted to talk to me. I stopped him and said, "I have not even told my mother and father and before I speak to you, I would like to tell them first." He agreed and let me go. That day, I told my sister, who is eighteen years older than me and a non-JW. She did not get mad at all. I told my father, who was disappointed, but also did not yell at me or ground me. I just could not tell my mother. I was afraid she would never talk to me again.
I began going separately to the meetings and my sister would drive me. We planned it so that I would arrive late and leave early, all to avoid the elders. At first, I wanted to do things right. I wanted to tell my mother, tell the elders that I was repentant and pay the consequences of losing my "privileges," including being labeled as a "bad influence." But when that elder came to talk to me, I had looked at him with his smiling face and judgmental eyes cornering me, not as a loving "brother," an elder trying to help, but as a man, a creepy man, who I knew was going to ask me details about my sexual sin. Then I remembered another elder, who had just been disfellowshipped for cheating on his wife, and I became disgusted, confused about what I really wanted to do.
Throughout those years, I had become a Jehovah's Witness to please my grandmother, a Witness for fifty years, a cute little old lady, whom everyone loved, the one with the cute, curly-haired, dimpled Shirley Temple granddaughter and to please and obey my mother. Deep down though, I always knew I did not agree. I hated not getting to celebrate anything, but at the same time, I never knew what it felt like, so I was rather blind and naive to it all. To this day, I could not care less about Christmas, because I have been so disconnected from a normal life. I did know that I never felt comfortable or loving for Jehovah. I also had been going to the Spanish congregation all my life and English was my first language. I learned to read Spanish at the meetings, but the translation was never very clear to me. When I grew older and heard a talk at a meeting at the English congregation, then It was "all Greek" to me! It sounded so fanatic and it was so creepy.
As I was leaving early one day, a sister ran out of the hall behind me and begged me to please not stop coming to the meetings. Apparently, she was the one who betrayed me to the brothers. One day my mother called me at my sister's house. The elders had told her about what I had done and she was very upset, crying, and yelling at me. I felt as if I were the scum of the earth. Afterwards, we never spoke about it, and following that,
I simply stopped attending meetings. For a year or two, I only went to the memorials and still carried my "no blood" card.
After I turned eighteen years of age, my mother had several strokes and eventually became paralyzed and brain damaged. She was diagnosed with Central Nervous System Vasculitis. At first only a handful of sisters came to see her. No brothers ever, no elders. We never got calls for her, either. They knew my father, sister, brother (who was in juvenile hall) and I were not witnesses. My grandmother had passed away when I was sixteen years old and missed the whole debacle of her lovely granddaughter committing a sexual sin with a boy. Whew, for that, huh!
My best friend, the one I had finally found back when I was age thirteen years, was still my best friend and long story short, she rented an apartment with me and my mother, as I took my mother away from my father, who was having an affair for years already and not helping me with my mother. We moved and he never saw us again. When the few Jehovah's Witnesses who did come to see her about five times in two years, they would make my mother cry, telling her that Jehovah was going to make things right and talking about paradise. My sister became angry and scolded them, telling them to just visit and not to make her cry by telling her those things. They stopped coming and began spreading the word of the evil older daughter. Remember my mother was brain damaged and was mentally like a child.
I did take my mother to the meetings a few times, but it was always so difficult. My sister would drive us, but I would stay with her for the meetings. People would stare and did not understand why I had to hush my mother for talking out loud like a child would. One sister came to me and asked if she could help me. At this point, I was about twenty years old, working full time, supporting my mother and her medical needs and my sister was, as well, but my mother lived with me. I had to grow up quickly. The sister helped at first, taking my mother to the meetings which was great. My mother could go to her Kingdom Hall and I didn't have to. Then that sister began helping me every other weekend, so I could have some breaks and get errands done, groceries etc. Then she offered to have her during the week while I was working a stressful mortgage company job. My mother, by this time, was staying at this sister's home for about a month. I still saw my mother every day.
One day, I was late picking her up and the "sister" brought my mother to me, instead. She scolded me and yelled at me and actually searched my house. I am sure she did that to see if I had any men at my house, causing me to be late picking up my mother. After that, I told her I did not need her help anymore. A few days later, Adult Protective Services came to my house. I was livid! No one could lift, change and take better care of my mother than me! Later, my mother's illness grew much worse and eventually, we had to put her in a nursing home for 24-hour care. She passed away in 2005.
The next day, my best friend's mother, a Jehovah's Witness, called me and asked if an elder could call me and I said, "Yes." The elder called and bombarded me with questions. I was still in tears and devastated! My friend's mother called me again and told me they would have a memorial service for my mother that Sunday and asked if I was planning to go. At that moment, I was so overwhelmed, I said, "Maybe." I would have absolutely gone, because it was the least I could do, I thought. I had no money to have a formal service for her, so I just had a simple get-together at my apartment, where only our non-Jehovah's Witness friends attended. She then called me again and told me they were not going to go through with her service since I was not going to be there. I was so angry and hung up on her. They had NO service for her. Nothing.
My mother was always there for these people. She was always so kind and never had any problems with anyone. It only ocurred to me recently, in this last month, that people must have not associated with my mother very much, because she was the only Jehovah's Witness in the family.
As a child, when I was bad, my mother would threaten me that she was going to tell the elders, and I would beg, "Nooo! Please, nooooo!" My mother never mistreated me, though, and she kindly gave me my freedom to go or not, after the boyfriend incident. She was the best! Even though she did not agree with me, she did not shun me or pressure me to go back.
It took me a long time to rid my thinking of the habits, daily living rituals, and brain-washed thoughts of the Watchtower Society. A few years ago, I finally trashed my "no blood " card and made myself an organ donor on my drivers license. I am twenty-nine years old and I still catch myself thinking, 'I must have something materialistically bad in my home,' when I get scared or have bad dreams or hear creaking sounds at home.
I also feel that because of all the brain-washing I feel a disconnection to religion and God in general. I cannot fathom "falling in love with God or christ," because I simply do not believe in God or have an agnostic point of view. It feels fake to me. I consider myself agnostic/ buddhist/ and a little bit of an atheist sometimes. I believe in compassion, in kindness and love. None of which I felt from being a Jehovah's Witness.
I have been asked questions like, "Don't you want to see your mother again?" And "What will I tell your mother, when we see you did not make it to paradise?" I've always just nodded, but now I feel ready to answer back. They desensitize the grief one goes through, when a loved one passes away. I resent it and I resent them. I believe that my mother is with me, that her soul somehow watches over me. I do not believe in paradise anymore.
I look back and remember the clique-ish girls, the "double lives" almost everyone had, the sister getting involved with her son's fourteen-year-old best friend, which I did not realize was happening back then! The divorces and remarrying within months! The shunning of "brothers" and "sisters" and me wondering why was I giving them bad looks. I did not even know why I was doing it. I was a sheep, but a black sheep, and they knew it. I could not accept their answers to my questions, because there was always something missing. It didn't make sense to me. Why did they not celebrate birthdays, but baby showers were okay? And the mother of my friend, to whom my mother stopped talking? Well, as it turns out, my mother overheard a telephone call between that "sister" and my father flirting and talking badly about my mother. I have come to realize their hypocrisy and see the brainwashed, selfish, fanatical people behind this religion. There is nothing "Godly" about them.
Then there's my friend. I am still friends with her, but we have grown apart and I feel as if my resentment towards her mother, who told the elders to cancel my mother's service, the same one who makes these comments to me about seeing my mother again, and the whole experience growing up with my friend continuing to go back and forth to the religion, has put a strain on our friendship. I will always love her, but I will never go back. I also have had better amazing friendships outside of this religion than within it. Literally, in this past month, it has hit me that I was raised in a CULT. I'm mindblown. That's how I ended up here in the Ex-Jehovah's Witness groups and for the first time, finding that there are others like me! Like us! There is happiness after the Jehovah's Witness cult! Thanks for reading.