This episode is heavier than the first two as I delve into the personal life at home in my family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You will learn some of what really went on, as opposed to the appearances that were always kept up, as that is what Jehovah’s Witnesses often tend to focus on.
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All right so now let’s go and talk about home life not the bugs and such that I mentioned were a problem for me when we first moved but the actual dynamics of our house I’m going to say now that I’m going to try to keep this story as close to the whole Jehovah’s Witness narrative as possible. My family was dysfunctional as can be. But I’m going to do what I can to stick to the witness story here not the personal one though obviously they’re intertwined. Some parts are going to be necessary to the story and I’ll get into those. But out of respect for my family I’ll leave a lot of things out that aren’t necessarily pertinent to the subject at hand for some reason I still have respect for them even though they’re shun me and act like I no longer exist. My goal is to be better than that. As a loving human being something that I’ve actually been able to become since I left the call.
[00:02:45] So let’s get to it. I already mentioned that holidays went away. And I believe that last Christmas that I refer to previously was truly my last holiday period. That was it. What the absence of holidays that meant that we no longer saw our extended family much if you think about it. That’s actually when everyone usually gets together. I didn’t see many of them for decades. In the end they weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses and were therefore not really the best Association anyway we could do better. Doesn’t that sound horrible. But that’s actually how you kind of start to feel the US versus them attitude is a race to the bottom and someone starts being seen as almost inhuman in order to justify the behavior. Us versus Them or paranoia about them being against us is the hallmark of any good cult though. As I stated before I was told that my parents no longer needed an excuse to get me gifts and that I could get them any time not just on specific dates so we didn’t need holidays anymore. Well I’ll let you guess how many presents I got after that. Even birthdays went away. No celebrations no presents nothing. Speaking of presents let’s talk about toys. Things like my GI Joes having guns or weapons on other toys suddenly became an issue. Even water guns are a thing that many Jehovah’s Witnesses never have. Toys also aren’t supposed to be anything that they might deem spiritist like wizards or sorcerers or ghosts or anything like that. Entertainment suddenly became a big deal as well Joe.
[00:04:33] Witnesses aren’t supposed to watch anything that might even suggest sexuality violence or obscene language. So you learn to really watch what music you listen to the lyrics and to judge for yourself that liking that song with the great music and lyrics because one line says something that quote Jehovah or God in their eyes won’t approve of you start to judge yourself for for what you’re drawn to. I remember one talk at the Kingdom Hall about how we should consider that if we wouldn’t listen to or watch whatever entertainment it is if Jesus was in the room then we really shouldn’t be entertained by it period. This applies to any entertainment videogames as well. We did have games throughout the years but they were usually just sports games for the most part and games like Mario. Things that are fairly innocuous though I guess. Actually if you’ve got deep enough into the Mario game I’m sure you can find something wrong with it. I borrowed a game that had I had to give back at one time because it was too violent and it was very mild but I don’t know maybe you had like an army scene or something like that. We’re talking eight in Tendo here so it couldn’t have been very graphic or gory. My parents also decided that country music was the only acceptable music they deemed it clean enough to listen to now myself. I love pop and rap music before then leaning toward rap. That’s something I always enjoyed.
[00:06:10] But that that went away. My parents would no longer let me listen to that. After that it was it was all of my achy breaky heart. So I remember one time my grandparents actually I don’t know exactly how old I was but the same mid-teens I remember.
[00:06:31] For some reason they had bought me a Walkman or we went out shopping and I bought a Walkman and they paid for it.
[00:06:42] But I remember that my mom and dad when I got home and they found out that I had a Walkman. They made me take it back because they quote couldn’t know what I was listening to. So again we go back to that level of control over your children. I think it was that last spring that I was talking about on the last episode that needs to be crushed. I had to be controlled. And so even what I listened to in private had to be controlled if at all possible. Again we had to watch anything that could be seen as spirit cystic as well. Like I think Scooby-Doo even though I think it was obviously just someone in a ghost costume that was usually the culprit but things like Scooby Doo with ghosts in it are more notably things like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.
[00:07:40] That stuff was seen as being linked with demons so it was out you really weren’t supposed to watch those things. In fact there were entire articles in the Watchtower publications devoted to things like that.
[00:07:55] So let’s talk about demons real quick. Jehovah’s Witnesses were often afraid of buying things at yard sales because they might be demon possessed. You know maybe the person who owns that piece of furniture or whatever.
[00:08:10] I also had a Ouija board and they they practice that.
[00:08:13] And so they invited demons into their house and in demons inhabited this piece of furniture there was actually this is going to sound farfetched but there was actually a story that circulated through many congregations about a smurf doll you see Smurfs weren’t really something we were supposed to be watching anyway. I guess I don’t remember the narrative of that story. I watched Smurfs when I was little but I guess somehow it was seen as spiritist But regardless the legend was that a child brought a smurf doll purchased at a yard sale to the Kingdom Hall or the witnesses church and this poor kid was about to have to sit through two hours of an indoctrination session aimed at adults. But he brought this also. He could have his little toy as the legend has it the Smurf doll supposedly jumped out of his hands ran up the aisle and out of the Kingdom Hall. Yes. This was actually circulated. And yes grown human adults actually take this seriously and perpetuated the myth. Our next door neighbors the Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed to have a chair. I think it was a chair that they thought had demons. I remember that once as an adult. My wife and I went to eat dinner with friends an older couple from our congregation.
[00:09:45] We were in our thirties.
[00:09:48] They were in their let’s say 50s.
[00:09:53] It was Father’s Day it just happened to be Father’s Day when we went out to eat and that kind of caused an issue because people were come home the waiters would come by our table and they thought maybe the husband of this other couple was one of either my father or my wife’s father.
[00:10:12] And so you know of course we can’t celebrate Father’s Day so there was a little trepidation over all that but this particular restaurant had hired a magician and this magician came by our table and he joked around with this little bit and then he.
[00:10:31] He wanted to tell our fortune and he threw down something on the table called Between my wife and I think we’ve determined it was called a fortune fish. I couldn’t honestly tell you what it really was at this point. It might as well have been a live rattlesnake because the couple that we were with Again grown people in their 50s would not touch this fortune fish. It was some sort of little piece of paper or a toy or something. And so my wife seeing that they were completely freaked out. Quickly I reached over grabbed the fortune fish and cooler heads prevailed. But you would have literally thought that they threw a live snake on the table because they were absolutely petrified of this. In fact I remember there was a big thing among Jehovah’s Witnesses if you go to a Chinese restaurant will you eat the fortune cookie or not because that’s a pretty big deal there. If you read that fortune so demons were a huge scare for us as Jehovah’s Witnesses. But think about it as kids we were having this stuffed drum this stuff drummed into our psyches. My parents were studying one of the publications with a family they had met while knocking doors and the family was telling us all kinds of things about how they thought they had demons. And I remember as a kid sitting in their living room while my parents would study with this couple strangers and I would think I saw stuff move in the house obviously it was just confirmation bias.
[00:12:08] I’m sure the heating and air conditioning system kicked on some air was blown in the house and some leaves moved on a plant or something and I’m sure I thought that was demans because that’s what I had been told. I’ll get into more teachings as such in the next sections about my life actually at the kingdom hall meetings as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But it was applicable to this part of life at home and how things changed. Everything is kind of so intertwined that it’s hard to separate these different issues fully in these episodes. Back to our family. Our parents had to start studying the Bible with us each week. Well not the Bible necessarily but one of Jehovah’s Witnesses publications and they were supposed to study with us weekly.
[00:12:56] But in the end it ended up being pretty sporadic. My dad as the husband was to take the lead in this our studies were excruciating. My mom never knew when it was her turn to read a paragraph out of whatever book or magazine it was what we were studying. Then my dad would get upset with or we kids would answer questions to show that we were learning to the best of whatever ability we had. My mom was very emotional and she was really into this information. My dad was an emotional desert and he pretty much just seemed like he wanted to get it over with and do his duty as a Jehovah’s Witness father. If everyone wasn’t pissed off by the end of this study or someone hadn’t cried chances are we weren’t doing it right. It was absolutely miserable. When I got older my dad liked to wait until I was about to go out and do something with my friends.
[00:13:51] And then he announced that now it was time for us to sit down as a family and have our family study. I hated it. And honestly by that time I hated him. My dad was a very emotionally abusive man.
[00:14:09] I remember being told once that his own mother told my mom before they got married that quote that boy has never loved anything or anyone. And you think he loves you. Now he never hit us or anything. He was just an absolutely miserable man that made everyone else absolutely miserable in his house. However he was a totally different person at home that he was in public and especially at the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He would be happy and everyone at the Kingdom Hall loved him. They thought he was great. He was a great Jehovah’s Witness. He moved up through the ranks he became an elder in the congregation. Again one taking the lead. The only problem is that one taking the lead was supposed to quote and then this is according to Scripture the Scriptures that they use as qualifications for those taking the lead as elders. He should have been presiding over his household in a fine manner Well I’ll tell you. My dad never fit that description. He treated us like garbage. Then he would be assigned a public talk. The 45 minute discourses that are given on Sundays for the public and of course. Well primarily the witnesses at the Keenum hall he will be given a talk to give and an outline on how to have a happy family life then he would get up and he would give his talk about how wonderful family was while of course we kids. We sat in the audience and rolled her eyes. My mom It got so bad at times she would have to get up and physically leave the auditorium.
[00:15:51] It was easy to see that even as a kid Jehovah’s Witnesses valued performance and appearance over substance one of the first memories I have as a Jehovah’s Witness is that we were up on stage at a big assembly in front of thousands.
[00:16:08] And when I say we I mean myself I know I had at least one younger brother at that point maybe two.
[00:16:17] In the end there were three of us brothers. I was the eldest had two younger than me and also had a sister who had it up to 20 years younger than me.
[00:16:28] But anyway here we were our perfect little Jehovah’s Witness family in front of thousands at this assembly and we were giving a well-rehearsed demonstration of how our family was a great example of a young Jehovah’s Witness family. We were sitting there with some brother who was interviewing us or performing an example of how a family study should be handled.
[00:16:59] And of course it was all a farce. I was a kid. I don’t know how old I was but even then I knew it was just an act. My mom would get upset about my dad and she would go to the congregation elders about him. That’s something that you need to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses so the elders in the congregation are essentially they’ve been set up as who you are to go to with any of your problems. So if you have marital problems you go to the elders. If your child has told you that someone in the congregation molested them you go to the elders not the police. You go to the elders.
[00:17:42] Everything is funneled through the congregation first and that is seen. I mean that’s just so indicative of the cult mentality that they had. So in this case my parents are having issues between them. My mom would get so upset about my dad she would go to the corrugation elders about him. She was hoping that they would either help him or at least take action to remove him as an elder which they had the power to do.
[00:18:13] However my dad did anything the elder elders wanted him to do. You know if there were little jobs to be done around the corrugation or a talk to do at the last second or anything my dad could not say the word no to them. In fact he once told me that if I was ever asked to do anything I should just say yes without even thinking about it because I should want to show that I wanted to serve Jehovah.
[00:18:41] Of course this wasn’t really about serving Jehovah or the name for God as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. This was about serving the organization serving the elders serving the congregation.
[00:18:57] It is really a lot of it was just petty work. It was a lot of it was busy work.
[00:19:04] So think about that just just think about what it tells a kid to watch his parents completely submit to this organization and to be taught explicitly that your needs don’t matter your desires don’t matter whatever you are asked to do. That is what you need to do.
[00:19:31] It’s something I still struggle with today giving weight to my own needs and wants in life.
[00:19:40] So my mom is talking to the elders about my dad. And guess what they want to talk to me. They weren’t going to just take my mom’s word for it. They need a corroboration of some of the stories she told. Well I told them all kinds of things. They didn’t care. They didn’t care for years when I was in my late teens maybe 18.
[00:20:02] They finally removed him as an elder in the congregation. I don’t know why but they did. Nothing seemed to have changed. Maybe there was something that happened that they couldn’t overlook anymore and had to take action. I don’t know really what forced their hand there. I was never aware of anything though. In the end it was all a farce because he was removed as an elder. And then within X amount of time I don’t know how long exactly but give it a year or two.
[00:20:31] He was an elder again.
[00:20:36] So this being caught in between an emotionally abusive father and my mom not to mention my own relationship with each of them was extremely stressful. We were a part of an organization that claims to have the happiest families on earth because they all know the quote truth from the Bible. But we were not happy. And frankly neither were most of the other families that we knew. There is so much drama in those congregations. Most are just completely unaware of it. Now I did have some friends at the Kingdom Hall.
[00:21:13] I couldn’t have any school of course but I was lucky to have other young people in my congregation.
[00:21:21] My wife on the other hand grew up in a congregation without any other young people other than her four sisters four younger sisters and she never really had any friends to speak of. Well there was one girl but that girl moved in and was only her friend for a couple of years before ditching her.
[00:21:38] I on the other hand had a good group of guys.
[00:21:41] Notice though that I said guys you see boys and girls if they were to get together then they’re going to fornicate. I mean sex is immanence. Something that has to happen if a male and female are in the same room. So there are really no reasons no good reasons for people of the opposite sex to be friends. It just really wasn’t ok in my corrugation and it was a feeling through most of them though very varying levels of the extreme. I was probably in my late teens before I even spoke to a girl at our Kingdom Hall and it was just to give her some books or magazines or something that you know some job that I had in the congregation.
[00:22:25] They really kept us apart.
[00:22:29] I was lucky enough to have a great friend who lived right next door. You see the Jehovah’s Witnesses that introduced us to the call that a son my age we did just about everything together and we would you know play toys out in the backyard.
[00:22:42] We played basketball. We’d make games we’d when we when I got older I drove I had a car. We go places together. We did all kinds of things together it was awesome. I’m glad that I had him. Or it would have been so lonely although I had other friends at the Kingdom Hall Like I said I did have a group of guys. It isn’t like we could just get together all the time. Having a friend next door was awesome.
[00:23:10] It thinking back I remember that my grandfather bought us a basketball go. I loved basketball. I would have played all day everyday if I could.
[00:23:22] But I remember that the goal that he bought us was sitting in a box for a long time at our house. I think it sat for so long the box was getting torn out probably from us kids just playing around or maybe wondering what’s inside that box.
[00:23:38] I would ask my dad to put it up. And of course he never would.
[00:23:43] So I remember one time a neighbor across the alley put up a hoop on the garage in the alley so I wasn’t even in their yard.
[00:23:50] It was in the alley. Some kids were playing on it and I wanted to play so bad. I remember going in. I asked my parents you know can I go out there and play ball with them. I was told no I can’t remember crying and being devastated. I wanted to play basketball. I didn’t care that those other kids weren’t witnesses. I just wanted to play but that’s all the cult cares about. If you weren’t one of us we simply couldn’t associate with you without absolute necessity.
[00:24:21] Sure. Now we could come to your door and preach to you. But really that’s all any of you were there for. We had a name for you. Yeah you. Whoever’s listening to this you were called worldly people. Now in the real world worldly is a term that is that is looked upon with some measure of admiration. You know a worldly person is a person who maybe is well-traveled has great perspective on life has learned a lot of things are done a lot of things worldly people for Jehovah’s Witnesses or people of the world people outside of our little group Jesus had said in the Bible to be no part of the world. And that’s what we were trying to do. We were no part of you so you couldn’t be any part of us. So a kid might not be able to play basketball with your kid depending on how strict His parents were interpreting such things. Most would at a minimum most are going to stay away as much as possible.
[00:25:31] Now although I had friends you have to know something about Jehovah’s Witnesses you see people often think that we must have had a great community as witnesses. I mean especially you’ve got that whole US versus them mentality. So US must have been awesome us must have been so close.
[00:25:48] We called each other brother sister so it must have been like a family. Well no we weren’t. Because remember this is a performance based cult. People were constantly trying to one up another. I’ve actually heard a term called Jesus juking that somebody mentioned in another religion once just trying to outmaneuver the next person to look better. You have to think this is a world where everyone is pretty much being forced to be the same. So how do you feel special. Well you feel special by maybe getting to know someone with a position in the congregation or maybe attaining that position yourself maybe you put in more hours and knocking on doors than somebody else or you have more Bible studies or you give better talks or you comment more at the meetings. Just any little thing that could be done in Jaida life if you could do it just a little better a little more maybe you commented at the meetings in your own words instead of reading it from a paragraph. And so you showed that that you know you really believed you know just little things like that to try to one up one another.
[00:27:08] There are also a lot of big families in the cold and different areas. And those families tend to gain prominence and Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for being very cliquey.
[00:27:18] There are a lot of cliques in the corrugations there’s always an in crowd and then everybody else is picking up the crumbs trying to fit in the cool club.
[00:27:28] The flipside of that is that everyone is watching everyone else you see there is necessity laid upon the brothers and sisters to quote keep the congregation clean.
[00:27:41] So we can’t have any bad influences in the congregation so friends might turn in friends to the elders if they listen to a bad song or maybe if I saw you coming out of a movie theater where some rated R movie was playing well it’s not just I’m supposed to keep the corrugation clean but they use different scriptures to essentially say that if I don’t tell on you that I am a sharer in your wicked deeds. So you know I don’t want God to be mad at me. And I want to keep the congregation clean. So yeah I’m going to go tell the elders that I saw you doing this thing. And yeah I did it. Of I think everybody did at some point it’s just what you do and especially if you’re trying to be a good many people actually feel so much shame over things that you will wait for somebody else to turn them so turn them in they turn themselves in. And now we’re not talking about kids here we’re talking about grown people going to corrugation elders and telling them what we did and when we’re not talking about a confessional where you’re sitting in a booth or maybe you don’t see somebody you don’t know who’s on the other side or whatever. We’re talking face to face. I did this. If you don’t want to be punished for whatever it is you have to show repentance. You have to show that you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.
[00:29:12] And of course that gives those men those elders tremendous power because they get to determine whether you’re sorry or not as if there’s any way they could actually tell you are at their mercy. So just let that sink in for a minute. Think about the indoctrination it takes and how powerful it is to make grown people go grovel because they watched a movie they shouldn’t have watched or had. There were people I knew a young brother who had he had a quote problem with porn. So he he would go Tumwater himself to the elders and be like I watched porn. And then he would they would deal with him. However I don’t know the details don’t care. It’s creepy. So there was a ton of pressure for me as a kid with my family dynamics but adding in all this cult stuff made it horrific as a kid in middle school I was under so much stress that I developed shingles. I had a that my right cheek burst out with all these fever blister looking things I don’t know if my mom didn’t want me to know that it was shingles or if she was just being weird but she would always talk about my herpes zoster outbreak. That’s the technical term for shingles. I have to wonder if for some reason she didn’t want to say the word shingles out loud because it made it real. It literally wasn’t until a couple years ago that I looked up the term that she was using to find out that shingles is what it is. I didn’t even know until a couple of years ago.
[00:31:05] So imagine going to a middle school with a side of your face blown up with what looked like fever blisters all over as if I wasn’t weird enough already by not being able to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and just all the things that I mentioned in the school episode had now had this looking back those teacher I had some teachers who kind of gave me a looks of pity. And you know at the time I figured it was just because I looked like a freak. But maybe they actually realize that I was a kid with shingles and knew that there had to be some reason behind it. And usually what brings on shingles is tremendous stress.
[00:31:46] To give you an idea of the environment in my house I like to say that we had the three ups. These were favorite terms from my dad.
[00:31:55] The three ups in no particular order were grow up buck up and shut up.
[00:32:02] Did I mention that he gave talks from a platform as an example of the head of a happy family. Those three ups were the answer to just about anything. I think I mentioned earlier it was a total emotional desert. I believe that I mentioned earlier also that I hated my dad. I truly did.
[00:32:21] I was a sensitive kid and my dad had zero emotional sensitivity as evidenced by the witness the wisdom that he’s dispersed through these three ups at night when I was really little I would cry myself to sleep. I would sometimes write notes and leave them out for my dad to see. I don’t know if he ever did see them but I would leave these notes. My guess is that my mom intercepted them and took them down. Obviously when I was younger. Eventually I just learned to become dead inside and show no emotion. So there were points in my life where the rage started to show through my best friend once told me that I had no heart because he told me something pretty emotional. And I did not react at all. Looking back I can’t remember what it was but I remember what he said. I remember him pointing out that I had no heart. It really hit me. I think maybe somebody had died and I seemingly didn’t care. And you know I don’t know at that time I probably didn’t.
[00:33:23] On the other hand my mom was very emotional. I would say too much. OK. I did say too much so when I was a kid something changed with her at a point in my childhood.
[00:33:38] Now again my goal here isn’t to exploit the personal issues of people that I was close to. I’m trying to only mention things that tie into the plots of the whole Jaida narrative. But I do feel that this relates I’m going to try to write a line here and we’ll see how I do. I’ve actually got this written out pretty much word for word because I’m trying to be sensitive but it does apply. And I think you’ll you’ll see how Suffice it to say that my mom went from a very vibrant person to what could only be described as catatonic when I was in my early teens. I think it was my early teens some around there. She spent some time in some facilities trying to get help for whatever was going on. She would be gone for weeks at a time. I remember being at the meetings and she would just sit and rock during the meeting with a vacant look in her eyes. It was honestly pretty scary as a kid. She would disappear into the back rooms of the Keenum hall during meetings. And I remember watching elders running back there after her. I didn’t really know what was going on but I didn’t know that something had changed things changed. Nobody was talking about it. And we were just expected to sit there and pay attention at meetings like good little Jehovah’s Witness kids like nothing was going on. There was a certain amount of denial that always hung over my family. And honestly Jehovah’s Witnesses in general nothing to see here move along. It’s all about appearances.
[00:35:23] Let’s make it look good. I mentioned already that we had neighbors on one side that had a horded yard and some of the issues that we felt.
[00:35:33] Arose from pests and things like that. I also mentioned that the neighbors on the other side were witnesses and the mother next door study with my mom and they were friends. But what I didn’t say was that the mom next door was pretty abusive to us. At one point she accused my mom of gouging her couch if her kids came home from school or just it just happened that they had lice.
[00:36:03] She would come over and accuse us of giving it to them and wanted to check us all for lice and of course my mom would acquiesce because she couldn’t stand up or because they always talk down to us like a lesser class of people. And the lights must have come from the US those those kids next door. Not that there’s any shame in having lies. I mean it happens it can happen to anybody. It’s just that this is one of those things especially when you have kids at school they get transmitted. But we never had it. Not that that stopped her from blaming. She was going to blame us. It was always our fault. My friend next door and I played too much at my house. Then the complaint was that we were playing too much at her house. There was always some complaint and she was always pushing my mom around. Honestly I could not stand her.
[00:36:57] But my mom always defended her.
[00:37:01] I would say or I have said and my wife and I joke that that she almost worshipped her.
[00:37:08] Now I believe there was a reason for that. I never understood this.
[00:37:15] It always completely baffled me other than maybe you know here’s a person who’s a bully and here’s a person who’s a victim but without getting into the gory details within the last year in reconnecting with people and hearing stories and things like that let’s just say that there was there was abuse.
[00:37:42] That’s my mom likely or allegedly went through as a child. Well there was also abuse next door. Not only did they treat us poorly but our houses were three feet apart and the walls are paper thin. So we are all kinds that thing is going on. There was always someone screaming or yelling.
[00:38:05] There was a garage in the back where the kids would get punished and you hear some kid get in Scream screaming while he was being hit. The one time I was in the backyard playing with my friend next door and I heard his parents fighting. She was screaming at him like she often did. I believe she slapped him and then I heard a boom and a thud. He hit her back. I jumped the fence went home got my mom and it was handled I don’t remember if the cops are called or what. But but regardless there was a lot of there were a lot of things going on next door.
[00:38:44] That doesn’t mean it was all potentially prosecutable. But abuse doesn’t have to be prosecutable to be abuse. Actually though one child did go to jail for specific abuses Well it just so happens as things sometimes do.
[00:39:08] There’s a certain synchronicity in life abusers and abuse victims seem to find each other somehow.
[00:39:17] I don’t know if it’s an energy they put off or what but it happens all the time. I feel that my mom stuck up for the mom next door so vehemently even though she treated my mom like a dog because she just had that abuser vibe and it made my mom feel at home in some way. It seemed to be almost destiny that led our family down the path of becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses. Everything fits together in one perfect storm of dysfunction and crazy.
[00:39:48] I’m going to take a second here and say that the experience of writing this all out recording it talking about it it’s not real easy. It’s not easy to talk about people that you know. I don’t know that that you care about you.
[00:40:05] You wish things could be different but them’s the facts. This is it.
[00:40:11] And so I’m trying to put it out there and be real because this is the reality behind the appearances that so many of Jehovah’s Witnesses put on.
[00:40:26] It’s kind of hard to see that decades of my life were impacted so deeply because of a chance real estate transaction that led to moving next door to Jehovah’s Witnesses who just happened to play roles that fit with the roles of my parents and then kind of took everything in a horrible direction.
[00:40:47] But moving on we didn’t really have much money. My dad often just worked a low fairly low wage factory job.
[00:41:04] The company he worked for was horrible. He would have nightmares later in life even after quitting working there about that company because of the conditions there they would go on strike quite often so when the company went on strike we would have no income. And honestly if it wasn’t for someone leaving bags of groceries on our car after a meeting one time I’m not sure what we would have had to eat that week. So you know props to the Jehovah’s Witness who did that that reached out like a good human being and did help. Let’s also admit that because your home was with us it would feel well you know of course we did that because we’re this worldwide brotherhood and we take care of our own well and they like to pat themselves on the back. But let let’s just admit that there are lots of nice people out there that if they knew of a situation like that with a family with kids would have helped by sharing some groceries with them as well. So it’s not not specific to Jehovah’s Witnesses but I will give whoever anonymously did that props for doing so. Jehovah’s Witnesses are discouraged from working overtime or giving any more to their employers than necessary because they have responsibilities to the organization or to God as they see it.
[00:42:27] My dad had a ton of things to do in the corrugation. He was an elder. So in addition to working full time he had those meetings for an hour. Tuesday night two hours Thursday night and two hours Sunday morning that we all went to. He also made sure that we went out in field service. That’s the term for going out knocking on doors of field service or field ministry. So we would go out in service knocking on doors on Saturdays from 9:30 to noon or maybe 12:30 because he was an elder Sometimes he would then have special meetings that he had to attend with other elders on Saturday afternoons to handle you know like official corrugation business. And then Sunday after the two hour meeting we would go out in the field ministry again for an hour after eating lunch.
[00:43:15] So it’s not like he had a lot of time or energy to devote to getting us out of the hole to be honest. I’ve often wondered who and what my dad would have been if it wasn’t for the pressures that he was under as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as an elder and as a father of a family that was growing. I don’t know if it’s just a confirmation bias of my own that I remember this this happy year dad before we ever became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maybe that’s not actually true. I don’t know. But things certainly did change and I do not remember a happy. That is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses maybe I was just getting older as well I’m more observant.
[00:44:08] But anyway he did not have the time or energy to get us out of the jam that we were in. In fact it was our tax returns every year when it was tax return. That was our Christmas. There was no celebration. But when we got a tax return it bailed us out of whatever James we were in. Look we can we could finally get an oil change on our car. You know the one annual oil change we could get some used clothing maybe some school supplies. There was other kids that usually kept me afloat in school with like paper and pencils and stuff. I would quote borrow from them. Obviously I never returned it. I couldn’t I didn’t have anything to give them but tax return. There was a good time and we did have fun times though.
[00:45:04] You know like I said it was hard to find time. My dad was pretty militant about us always being at all those things. All those meetings going out in the ministry on Saturday and Sunday none of it was optional. At one point I noticed that it wasn’t really like we made a choice to do any of these things anymore it was just compulsive. It was just what we did. And then if the opportunity came up to go fishing or something. Usually we’d turn it down because you know dad said we had to go out and service Saturday morning so we couldn’t go fishing. Most families I will say that my parents brand of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They took things rather literally. They really they were perfectionistic had some degree in their pursuit of this though that really is the admonition from the organization. There are just some people that blow off certain things eventually my grandfather who bought that basketball goal for us that sat in a box for what seemed like eternity. Eventually grandpa went ahead and paid somebody to come out and install it for us after he saw that my dad would do it on occasion. My dad would actually even come out and play with us. He played basketball. He throw a baseball with us sometimes and that was that was absolute magic to kids who just were looking for any kind of positive attention from their dad. We would go fishing sometimes the local modern league baseball team had free tickets all the time. It was never sold out so we could go to those games.
[00:46:43] My mom was good about trying to make sure we had things to do she’d she’d squirreled away change in and we go on little adventures at times or she just go up the street and get us McDonald’s is a treat. She was the only chance that we had of reasoning with my dad. His answer to pretty much everything in life which actually now that I’m saying this like literally now while I’m recording is ironic because my dad what did he tell me to tell the elders if I’m ever asked to do anything in the congregation. My answer was to be an automatic yes.
[00:47:18] My dad’s answer to him. I don’t say literally everything let’s say 98 percent of things at home hey dad cannot. No no was the answer to everything for him.
[00:47:35] So my mom was a pretty good buffer. She would run interference sometimes. I wish she could see that he was in a bad mood and tried to make life a little better.
[00:47:49] If you saw us outside you’d think things were great if you saw us at the meetings. You would think things were awesome. But it’s behind closed doors that monster hard not out in the open.
[00:48:03] Jehovah’s Witnesses are no different though they put an absolute premium on appearances in the next episode.
[00:48:10] I’m going to get into what actually happened in my life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a young person. What happened at those meetings. What was it like to go knocking on strangers doors. How are we taught to view the world around us.
[00:48:26] There are so many things that we were taught that had lasting impact that there are literally people who have been out of the organization for decades that still struggle and can’t shake certain things that they were indoctrinated with even though they’re free from the cold.
[00:48:48] So I really do appreciate you listening if you like this or think that it might help somebody else please subscribe so that you can get each episode as they come out and tell others about this. I’m putting this out into the world to be of help and it’s not going to help anybody. Obviously people don’t spread the word. I don’t have a big podcast network behind me. I don’t have the cache of Leah Remini. That allowed her to do a series on Scientology. I’m just a guy that lived a certain life that wants to expose what literally millions of other people around the world have gone through. There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses and scores of ex Jehovah’s Witnesses out there. There are millions more that have family or friends that are Jehovah’s Witnesses that they might be concerned about take this to them so that they can see what it’s like. And if nothing else maybe it just helps somebody to feel less alone. Visit my site at w w w dot this J.W. life dot com if you want to discuss this further. I’ll even post some pics and other information there that will add to the story if you like. If you look now you’ll find some of my childhood before things changed. Some pictures from that there will be a place to comment below each episode that I put out so there can be a discussion. Ask questions give suggestions or if you want just say hi I might answer them on another podcast or maybe have fun you know.