Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses is more than just losing your religion. When you are prepared to die for something, mentally geared up for the end of the world, it is more than culture shock. The ground giving way beneath your feet as you fall down a rabbit hole is more apt. This blog is summing up that experience with links to further blogs that cover that aspect.
Why people leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses will differ (you can read my experience here) yet there will be similarities in the readjustment to life outside of the Watchtower and Bible Tract Society – hereafter called Society.
The first, and most telling, is you are cut off from the people you would have socialised with 2-4 times a week at various meetings. The conversations and socialising outside the Kingdom Hall and study groups are very different. Plus having been warned “bad associations spoil useful habits” it takes time not to have an inner feeling that you will be led astray if not ever watchful.
That leads on to the habitual energy that comes from being a Jehovah’s Witness. To defend teaching against any line of argument and to think what the Society said on matters is second nature. Always on the lookout for the evil one. This mindset takes time to cast off.
So what to believe now? I remember reading a book that had all the photocopies of old Society publications that proved past prophecies were not only wrong but down right ludicrous. Yet after such excellent source material it tried to convince that the Trinity was true. Attempting deprograming in preparation for another belief system is not what you are after. Ideally you want support to come to terms with your past and how you feel now.
The advice I can give there is within the Society we were taught only everything published by them was true. Their false prophecies made me more skeptical of the printed word. I thus advocate a healthy skepticism of what something really proves, ask how do they know, and what would prove them wrong. This is not a negative outlook, but looking at the validity of claims and counter claims.
Leaving can mean being bereft of company, family members, even perhaps the presence of Jehovah in your life. This is what can haunt long after you have come to terms with the world and what you now believe or do not believe. Talking to those that have gone through the same experience may help. The Internet and social media is a tool, which may give the confidence to actually get back into real life like never before. There is no substitute for a family that accept you, but we have to move on with our lives. We need to recognise that as social beings best not done alone.
Being a Jehovah’s Witness is a full time job in terms of study, let alone how you think and what you do. You cannot just push that to one side. Take your time, and use those study skills to find out about life, the universe and everything.
Above all have fun. Cook yourself a lovely meal, buy that dress, rest on the couch and do nothing without feeling guilty. Whatever helps you get back in touch with yourself, community activism, water painting, or writing a blog, pursue and see where it takes you.
A purpose driven life, that does not involve the end of the world, awaits you. You have the right to find it. All the best on your onward journey.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog