It has been a journey leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses and moving into a space where I feel healthy and balanced mentally and emotionally . Most of all I aim to be healed from the scars that I had when I was in the religion. It’s been hard living without my family who are shunning me since my excommunication from the religion . It’s also been hard living without a central figure in my life, my mother, who not only birthed me, but gave me all of the values that I have including the values of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The dark and toxic dynamic of my relationship with my Jehovah’s Witness mom prepared me for a toxic dynamic and relationship with the leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I felt the the rule of seven leaders here in America although they were many miles away. I felt their rule through my mother who would remind me often of the Governing Body in our home. She had a tumultuous upbringing and had absent parents herself. She no doubt felt that the Jehovah’s Witnesses filled in that gap and taught her to be the parent she sadly never had. However , much in the same way that the leaders of the Jehovah’s Witnesses would treat their members at times she would perpetuate the same abusive behavior to her children namely , me. For example she would tell me that I could not serve God or Jehovah apart from her . This is the mindset of most Jehovah’s witnesses – that they cannot serve God without the organization. I believed that too and it led me to be deeply insecure about my own thoughts , ideas and I was deeply insecure about my own decision making. My mother also told me if I left home that I would be in grave danger ” spiritually”. This led to me believing that outside of my parents and the organization that the world was a dangerous place. I also understood that to be a physical threat that if I left home and somehow strayed from “the truth” I would end up dead or worse killed by God’s hand in a war against mankind. After all, they taught that “spiritual death” leads to a physical death at Armageddon.
In the grand scheme of things It was really important for her to instill those Jehovah’s Witness values in me because she thought that these values would save my life. Being in an oppressive highly controlled religion , often called a cult , has shaped my worldview in such a way that upon leaving I am critical and skeptical of information that I’ve been given.
There are special challenges with being born in Christianity (let alone a cult) you don’t have a chance to form your own ideas about God and religion outside of the viewpoint that you’ve been given from your parents. It is a more precarious situation for those born in the cult or “born in darkness”. As a born in Jehovah’s Witness I had no concept of “light” outside of what I had been born in with. I had no real awareness of the world around me because of the “lens” or worldview that I was indoctrinated with at such a young age. What if you were given such a lens at a young age and not only did you see the world the way you were told to see it, but you were also told that you were blind and that without this lens that you could and would never see?
So why did I leave Christianity ? For many of the same reasons that I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Once I was able to think critically about the indoctrination that I received once I was able to strip away from cultlike version of Christianity. I was able to immerse myself in mainstream Christianity and I found some of the same problems fallacies and dilemmas that I was confronted with as a Jehovah’s Witness.
In the next installment of I will dive into what changed my mind and how changing my mind again has impacted my life.