There comes a point in life when you know too much to ever go back to the person you once were, or to the cult that you once called home. Unfortunately there are no easy ways to leave a cult. This is my journey out and I detail the price that was paid for my freedom.
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[00:01:52] If you notice the title of this week’s episode and you were never one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you may be wondering what it’s all about. Get out of her my people. It all comes crumbling down. Is a shout out to the scripture in Revelation 18 that Jehovah’s Witnesses like to point at all the other religions of the world and Revelation 18 verse 2. We see that the subject of all these proclamations is Babylon the Great Jove’s. This is believed to be the world empire of false religion as Babylon in ancient times was a hub of false religion. So they end these verses at false religion today. Jehovah’s Witnesses have again the truth. They believe that it applies to everyone else. For those of us that learn the truth about the truth we can just as easily point this back at them. The Scriptures read Revelation 18 for through a and I heard another voice out of heaven say get out of her my people. If you do not want to share with her in her sins and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues for her sins of mass together clear up to heaven and God has called her acts of injustice to mind repay her in the way she treated others yes pay her back double for the things she has done in the cup she has mixed for a double portion for her to the extent that she has glorified herself. I live in Shameless luxury.
[00:03:16] To that extent give her torments and mourning for SECU saying in her heart I sit as queen and I am not a widow and I will never see MORNING.
[00:03:25] That is why and one day her plagues will come death and mourning and famine as she will be completely burned with fire because Jehovah God who judged her is strong so I took these verses and pointed them right back at Jehovah’s Witnesses and this is my account of how it all came crumbling down for me and for my wife as well.
[00:03:48] Jehovah’s Witnesses like to project a lot they love to point out that straw in the eyes of others while ignoring the rafter in their own.
[00:03:55] Another call back to scripture.
[00:03:58] So by now you have a working understanding of how Jehovah’s Witnesses think and feel about the world around them.
[00:04:06] You’ve seen how they use their teachings to control and manipulate those that are subjected to them. You’ve seen how they brought me to my knees.
[00:04:14] And you’ve also seen the information that helps to start wake me up now it’s time to show you how things progressed as I was learning all this new information. You’ll see how we got out of that debt that we had amassed how my relationship with my dad changed and how everything really started changing for the better. But eventually came there was a hefty price to pay for that. So let’s go back a bit to where I left off with my story. I was depressed I was suicidal ideations and my life was a wreck. I started to become enlightened and I was getting deep into the realm of self-help and psychology and was realizing that this organization that I was taught to look to for everything didn’t have everything that I or others needed. This was my awakening process during this process. I got healthier and decided that I wanted to be the one to right some wrongs even if I wasn’t the one that started them. I wanted to help others and to have better relationships. For starters I wanted to give my youngest brother and my sister that is 20 years younger than me. A better life. So I would take them out and buy them clothes. My wife and I would help decorate my sister’s room.
[00:05:24] We gave them things like on our Nintendo we we bought them skateboards and things we tried to give them things that maybe I would have gotten like when my grandfather was alive he would bias things.
[00:05:39] Not that you know buying something for someone is the end all be all to a relationship or that someone was trying to buy my love.
[00:05:48] But he had the ability to make some things happen for us that you know growing up kind of poor we we really didn’t have those opportunities. So I wanted to you know grandfather my grandpa wasn’t around anymore so I wanted to help out where I could. It’s tough when you grow up without the money to do fun things or you just don’t have much. So my wife and I use some of our money to try to give them things that maybe I didn’t have when I was a kid or or that others had given me like my grandfather. Aside from that I wanted to make sure that I did things with my younger siblings. We took them places and had a good time. So a it came about when I found out something about how things were going at my family’s home with my dad and my youngest brother.
[00:06:32] My mom would tell me things I had and I wasn’t going to just let it happen and continue on like it was it was it was you know nobody likes to see somebody get bullied.
[00:06:46] And at this point in my life I didn’t I didn’t live at home I didn’t have to put up with this anymore. So I told my mom that I was coming to get my dad and we were going to go for a drive. Something we had never done before. My wife and I went over on a Saturday and while she and my mom took bets on who would come back alive. I invited my dad to go for a ride. I took him to a nearby park parked the car and we got out. It was honestly one of the harder things I had to do up to that point because my dad was very authoritarian. He generally refused to be questioned in any way to be challenged his answer was No to everything. He didn’t want to hear what you had to say. And that was that it was his way or the highway only in this case I held all the cards he was in my car and I took him out and I didn’t live under his roof anymore. So the power balance has shifted. Well basically I told him everything from how I felt as a child to how my brothers felt. I told him what a jerk he was to be quite honest and that it needed a change and this is his wakeup call. It was I guess a jerk intervention of sorts. I didn’t really mince words.
[00:07:54] In fact that’s something that I kind of started to put into an earlier episode here and left out because I didn’t really feel safe being that vulnerable at that point when I was doing that episode but I’m going to go ahead and throw it out here. Now this is something I had to tell my dad when I was a kid I would leave these notes to my dad at times I’m sure my mom probably threw them away and I’m sure he probably never saw them. I don’t know. Nothing was ever said to me about it. But admittedly his emotional abuse was getting to me.
[00:08:25] I would cry myself to sleep at night.
[00:08:27] A lot of times when I was a little kid there was just not really not really a lot of love in my family. Now people typically have one or two responses to a given challenge. We have the fight or flight response.
[00:08:43] I’m not really one to flee. I’m just not wired that way. And it wasn’t like I had anywhere to go to as a kid anyway.
[00:08:51] So fight it was in one particularly disturbed moment as a kid. I actually got up in the middle of the night with tears in my eyes after a particularly bad day with my dad and went into the kitchen and had plans on or at least impulsive thoughts on putting an end to his abuse.
[00:09:14] I went into bed or went to bed. What is the kitchen. I grab the knife and I obviously couldn’t go through with it which is for his benefit and from hide as well.
[00:09:27] As a kid but I just ended up going back to bed but I told my dad this and this moment if that doesn’t wake a person up to the realities of their impact on other people then I don’t know what in the world could well my dad said all the right things.
[00:09:49] He apologized for things he told me a bit about his own upbringing. And I have to say that his own upbringing was pretty messed up from what he told me and facts.
[00:10:02] You know I think one of the things any parent wants to do is be a better parent than their parents. And to be honest though were it doesn’t sound like we’re setting a very high bar here.
[00:10:15] I think he may have done that from some of the things that he told me. But anyway when it came to us he just thought we were moody teenagers so we were staying away.
[00:10:26] He didn’t know that we truly despised him so much that we actually went to a doctor and I and if you know my dad next shall be telling you a little bit more about him later. My dad did not volunteer volunteer to go to doctors. You’ll understand more about that later. But he actually went of his own volition and got medication for depression.
[00:10:49] Now from what I was told by my mom he changed for the better. But it wasn’t long before he went off the meds and decided that he didn’t need them anymore and that everything was fine before.
[00:10:59] So whatever good was done there. I don’t I don’t know what the impact was kind of it was always kind of a tough thing with my dad to tell where he really stood on things.
[00:11:14] But my relationship with my dad did start to change because I mean I realized he was never going to make it better on his own. So if I wanted something better it was up to me. I reached out to him invite and invited him to do things. I’d take him fishing to baseball games. We went out and ate. At times we had fun. I even took him to his first ever University of Kentucky basketball game.
[00:11:38] Despite my love for the rival school and my loathing for all things blue or cats I told them that I would make a deal.
[00:11:48] I wouldn’t clap for them but at least refrain from booing actually. You know I tease. But it was the one time that I ever really rooted for them. I wanted them to win for my dad. In fact I picked the game. I mean you know props to Kentucky they have a great basketball team. They do pretty much year in and year out. But I wanted to make sure that we went to the game that they were going to win. There weren’t a lot of opportunities for this. So I hope there’s no Gamecocks fans listening but I pick the South Carolina game because their basketball team at least back then. Right last year. So props to them again. But back then they were terrible. So I picked this game. We went to Kentucky blew them out. My dad had a great time. I had a good time. And you know that’s what it was about it was about trying to have fun. In fact I kind of started to get to know him better. Like I mentioned before I found out a few things about his upbringing. But I started learning some about his past how he grew up. You know what he did things he was interested in because he had never spoken a word about any of that in my entire life. And although he wasn’t extremely open about things he was pretty reserved.
[00:13:11] He did you know begin to open up even works for me at a point as I mentioned before he and my wife and I would get to be pretty good friends or so we thought we’d go out and eat lunch together at work if we were at the same property as he was that day we went.
[00:13:31] My wife went fishing with us when we would go to baseball games together. You see though the problem as I mentioned earlier you never really knew where you stood with my dad. I do remember that one time he told me he was proud of me when he was working for me. And that was cool. I mean it was very strange and off the cuff was a response to something that was going on and he was. He said he was proud that I created the business that I had back then. And that’s that’s pretty much the only time I can remember my dad ever saying anything positive to me.
[00:14:07] However he you know he and I would have these great conversations and he would say all the right things. But then later my mom would tell me that he got home and trashed what we had talked about it was really messed up and hard to figure out what was real with him he was he was just a really hard person to ever pin down and a great actor. Now as I mentioned before I don’t drink because I was told that alcoholism runs in my family and my dad never drank.
[00:14:34] However my dad did have a problem with sugar and I’m not talking about eating one too many brownies and putting on a few pounds.
[00:14:42] He had a real problem apparently when he was 20 years old. He was drafted into the military and he was turned away because he had crazy blood sugar and high blood pressure.
[00:14:54] And in fact they told him they weren’t going to take him or that he should go take care of himself. He never did at 50 years old. His body was wasting away and in an elder at the Kingdom Hall cornered him and invited him to take his blood sugar with them. It was something I don’t know it was an astronomical figure like 400 or 500 or something.
[00:15:16] And my dad went to the hospital the doctors basically told him that his kidneys should shut down years ago with his medical history and that he was very lucky. They gave him a new diet. They gave him some pills to help manage his blood sugar well.
[00:15:34] Denial was my dad’s middle name. He lived a life full of it. In this case he didn’t really change his diet.
[00:15:41] He was fairly non-compliant on the meds as well. Just like he was with the depression meds and like he was honestly with everything in his late 50s he was wasting away again. My mom caught him throwing up in the bathroom she had noticed that he wasn’t eating much but apparently it had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even hold down water. She asked how long it had been. You know that he had had this issue with vomiting and he said a month.
[00:16:06] He refused to go to the doctor. So I was called to be the adult to be the dad to come in and make him go to the doctor. So I did I told him that basically he’s going to go one of three ways he could either go on his own. I could pick his weak self up and take him or he would go when he fell out and an ambulance was called.
[00:16:27] It was his choice and he went voluntarily Well what had happened is his kidneys finally shut down. He was in end stage renal failure and they said that he would have died within 48 hours had he not come in right then he was put on dialysis and his life completely changed this time.
[00:16:46] You see he had the change because when you do dialysis you can’t hide what you are doing. You go in and get hooked up to a machine three times a week Monday Wednesday and Friday for him and they know all of your levels. They knew what he was eating. They knew what he was doing. There was there was no hiding anymore. And you know his life was also changed. He felt so stupid and and he knew that he had done it to himself. He said so. He was a sugar addict. And you know if you think about it what does alcohol if not sugar ought to be honest I struggle with sugar myself. It’s not just like sweets sweets literally calm me down. The opposite of the effect it has on many. You know I could go drink a mountain dew and go to bed. Sugar is a stimulant and the meds that they give to people with ADHD are stimulants and they have the opposite impact on our brain chemistry as they do on the average person. Of course you know I don’t I don’t know exactly 100 percent what is it from my dad. We had some talks and it seemed like he kind of had some of the same issues but again he would tell me that and then go deny it to somebody else. Who knows.
[00:18:05] But my dad ended up having to quit his job and go on disability his life for the next six years or so would consist of going to dialysis in the morning sleeping the rest of the day away as it was very tough on his body resting the next day. And then the following morning getting up and doing it all over again. Sad to say the only day that he ever even felt decent was Sunday because that was the farthest he ever got from a dialysis treatment. So you know he would go. Friday morning he would recuperate. That day Saturday he would he would rest but he at least you know be up and around some. And then he had that extra day of Sunday where he would finally start feeling decent again. And then of course Monday morning he started over again. But you know regardless it didn’t matter. None of this slowed his Jehovah’s Witness activities down. I mean I guess it did a little bit but you know he still gave public talks from the stage. He still would go visit other corrugations and give talks he still went out door to door.
[00:19:09] Nothing could stop that oh I guess I forgot to mention that apparently my dad was also blind in one eye. We went out to eat with him one night and he always drove and after eating he got in the car and forgot to defrost the windshield. I asked if he was going to do so or not as he started to leave because I could barely see out of it and I was sitting up front with them and he played it off. It turns out that that’s how everything looked to him. You’ve heard the term. You know he’s blind in one eye and can’t see out the other. My dad was literally blind in one eye I had never told anyone and he literally could not see out of the other one because he had a cataract on it. That did I mention something about denial earlier.
[00:20:01] He also had neuropathy in his legs where his nerves and everything were dying from poor circulation. He would stumble around a lot because he couldn’t feel his lower extremities very well. Yes. There he was though going up steps going from door to door knocking you know out in the field ministry. He fell off a porch at least once. I think a few times I know he was bruised up a few times. He had issues while he was giving public talks to other Keenum halls where he had to stop and talk.
[00:20:31] I think he almost passed out one time there were there were issues but it didn’t matter. No matter what that man’s compulsion to do anything that Jehovah’s Witness has asked him came first. Remember he told me when I was young if they asked you to do something just say yes. And that was my dad. Anything they asked him to do. He said yes. It didn’t matter what his physical capabilities were. In fact want to hear something ironic. And every summer convention My dad was assigned to be the head of a department. So there are these various departments at these regional or district conventions. You know they have 10 departments they have departments for information or media relations you know cleaning things like that one. Guess what department. My dad was the head of hope not cleaning. Even though he cleaned for us not the attendance to help people find where they’re going to the convention center. My dad was the head of the freaking First Aid Department’s just let that soak in.
[00:21:42] Year after year they made that man the head of health care while he was killing himself and doing nothing about it and they knew about it. He was falling out while giving talks a total trainwreck physically.
[00:21:57] Do you know how that made us feel to see him set up as the head of first aid rushing to go take care of people or handing out meds while he destroyed himself for that awful cold. I mean not to mention that if you were not going to the doctor at my house unless something was super super wrong I believe I’ve had it. I can only do this in retrospect at least two lives Frank injuries.
[00:22:29] In retrospect that’s what I think they were. That’s essentially the ligament in your arch pulling off from the bone. My foot turned to black twice when I was a kid. Well once in each foot and my dad had actually had similar injuries playing basketball when he was young. There were pictures of him with casse but me when I got hurt there was no going to a doctor. We didn’t go to the doctor for that stuff. And here’s my dad handing out meds like candy to people and being like compassionate with people. Again another exact opposite of who he was at home.
[00:23:14] So you know that happened as well.
[00:23:18] And you know despite it all I have to hand it to my dad that man just kept plugging away. He got his cataract removed and he drove everywhere one eye with his glasses. I mean really that Manser bullet after bullet and just kept on going of course. Ultimately nobody was truly bulletproof and things had caught up in dialysis patients don’t last forever.
[00:23:46] There was a very poignant moment where my dad had complications while he was on dialysis now and he was in denial.
[00:23:54] I have been called in to help in some way I can’t remember but his poor that he would get dialysis in and his arm something had gone wrong with it so dialysis wasn’t really doing its thing and the toxins were building up in his bloodstream and he was he was becoming delirious. We were cleaning a house and I was thinking about things and kind of upset. I was just thinking about how my dad never really lived. He never really seemed to want to live so I was thinking about how I mean is morbid as it sounds I really should just let them die the last time. Because ultimately that’s what it seemed like he always wanted. I mean he really kind of did everything he could to manifest that in his life who was I to push him to stay alive when he clearly didn’t really want to. It wasn’t fair to expect him to live for me or my mom or anyone else. He had always been depressed anyway.
[00:24:54] My sister texted me and told me that my dad was delirious and singing something that I mean he never did. I don’t think he had ever done in his life. I’ll spare you my city voice. But the song was the gambler by Kenny Rogers. I guess he was an old school country. So let’s look at the lyrics that my dad was singing while I was sitting there thinking about this and this is literally what my sister tightens in that text you’ve got to know when to hold them know when to fold them know when to walk away and know when to run.
[00:25:30] Now that’s all I even knew of the song but let’s play it out and read the rest of that part of the song as if it wasn’t poignant enough just given the thoughts I was having and what I just told you the lyrics were you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be plenty and there’ll be time enough for counting when that deal ends.
[00:25:50] Every gambler knows that the secret to surviving has no on what to throw away and know what to keep cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser and the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep.
[00:26:05] I kind of broke down when I when I heard what he was singing. I never even knew that last part until just just now when I was researching this. I knew the first part and that was enough to hit me hard.
[00:26:18] Seeing the rest of that was even more poignant. It was exactly what I was thinking back then and it was exactly what he seemed to want my dad did get better for a while and I’ll come back to how the saga saga ended.
[00:26:35] Eventually I guess there’s no good segue but anyway other areas of my life were changing too. My marriage is becoming better and better as we both became more healthy and learned the lessons mentioned in last week’s episodes. A relationship can only be as good as the weakest link and we both had a lot of weaknesses.
[00:26:56] So it just got better and better the more we learned and the stronger we became.
[00:27:02] And as we became more of who each of us was individually I heard a quote once that I like that said If two people are in a relationship are the same.
[00:27:12] The one of you is unnecessary I don’t want my wife to be a carbon copy of me but she has been so sheltered that she had no idea who she was either her family or the cult had dictated that and and now it was me doing it and I didn’t know what to do. I was fighting doing so she was starting to become herself starting to figure out who she was because she really just didn’t know at all and that was helping me to have confidence that if I backed off she could contribute to the relationship. Looking back we weren’t ready to get married when we did. Not at all. That’s probably an obvious statement for people that grow up in the normal world but we didn’t. If you weren’t married by your early twenties the chances of finding someone got slimmer and slimmer in the cold. Nobody is really ready then your brain isn’t even fully developed until you’re like 25 years old.
[00:28:07] We had no clue who we were individually so we couldn’t have been a very good couple somewhere around 2008 where I’d gotten to my lowest point. We stopped going out the door to door ministry work as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[00:28:20] We were both pretty unhappy and we just couldn’t go invite people to become witnesses and you know learn the truth in a more I could never saw anything that I didn’t believe in and this wouldn’t feel in the courts anymore. It wasn’t making me happy. So how could I justify inviting other people to it now. I still thought it was the truth. But as I’ve been told you know there must have been something wrong with me and I was trying very hard clearly to work on that side of things. Me That was a happy mistake we also started missing meetings more. It just didn’t seem as important anymore. I wanted to opt out of lives and the media is just it make me feel better about things. In fact I would get terrible anxiety about going to meetings just just you know even being present. There was something that didn’t feel good.
[00:29:14] It’s like my body knew something that I hadn’t consciously caught up to yet that those meetings were not good for me at all.
[00:29:22] I would literally get up on a Sunday morning get dressed up in my suit and get all my materials together. I get in the car with my wife drive all the way to the Kingdom Hall in another town turn into the parking lot do a 180 and drive back home because I could not make myself go into that place.
[00:29:45] The sense of relief when I would leave that parking lot and head home was magical. My wife felt it too.
[00:29:53] Maybe not on the same level maybe it wasn’t her you know objecting to going in. Like like I was but she felt the same. She felt relief when we would leave.
[00:30:07] I would be so anxious walking into that place somewhere deep inside I just must have known that it was messed up and not healthy. I just couldn’t bring myself to consciously accept that yet. Now I’ve been telling you that cleaning ultimately ended up saving me and that one day we got a bill for $50000 in the mail that we owed in back taxes. I’ve been telling you in the intro that you know that we paid it off and I also told you that it wasn’t even the biggest thing that come of that Tom. Now I’m going to break that down for you now. Now you’re going finally going to understand what that means. As I mentioned in the last episode that $50000 bill hit me hard. I guess that’s kind of Mr. obvious moment there. I buried my head in the sand for a long time and my wife just never cared about money whatsoever. Well this bill came during our awakening process and I was seeing progress in my relationships with my dad with my siblings with my wife. Things were getting better. So like I mentioned before I told my wife that although there were no such things as debtors prisons we were going to be in for some hard time. Dave Ramsey said most people only get out of debt by focusing solely on it. Like a gazelle running from a cheetah that is trying to run it down.
[00:31:33] I knew that the way I worked was kind of in an all or nothing manner. They’re not real great. The space in between. And I knew that the debt was so large that this was it.
[00:31:44] We had to go all in or else there was you know it would eventually just consume us.
[00:31:52] So I told my mom that we were going to go all in and like the crabs in a bucket example given last week she told me that I’d fail and that eventually even if I did succeed it would be short lived and something would satisfy well that fueled me even more naturally the type of person that if you told me I can’t do something and I don’t mean like you know I can’t do something like try to jump out of a moving car.
[00:32:19] But if you tell me I’m not capable of doing something that you know seems seems like it’s within reach not only will I do it but I will do it faster and better than ever imagine again when it comes down to fight or flight.
[00:32:33] I’m a fighter. I will take on challenges and don’t often back down. I’ve watched people back down my whole life. Live in denial. And I’ve seen the fruits of that.
[00:32:44] And it’s just not something that I stomach. Well so my wife and I prayed and told God that we basically leave it in his hands.
[00:32:54] All right. God you bring the work. We’ll do whatever it takes. That was the deal again. Watch what you ask for life. The word came from everywhere. Of course you know we made ourselves available for literally whatever came our way. And I used every opportunity to tell people what we did. Cross-promote at our cleaning services with our auto detailing business so that we could get more clients on either side.
[00:33:19] And over the next 18 months just a year and a half we worked like crazy people at one point we weren’t 34 straight days often 12 to 14 hour days. We cleaned houses and detail cars and we also house set for clients where we’d actually live in their house while they were maybe out of town and watched their pets.
[00:33:42] And that happened quite a bit. We were amazed at how many opportunities arose out of making ourselves available for that but that was tough to do.
[00:33:51] You know living and operating our business out of someone else’s house while watching their dogs or cats we’d have to pack our van with supplies and clothes for everything.
[00:34:00] It was very tough as if it wasn’t tough enough spending most weeks working six days out of seven again long days I guess with the House sitting it sounds we were pretty much working 24 hours a day. We also did some pressure washing. We painted rooms for people. We washed windows. We even sealed a bunch of concrete a driveway and several large patios for a client. First time we’d ever done anything like that. We really felt you know God was helping us. That’s how we felt. Things would happen like a client would have to go off the schedule for some reason. And of course that would you know make my scarcity response act up you know because we were so focused on trying to pay this off and didn’t really need to lose clients. In fact in one summer we lost something like 10 families. They all just moved away. You know they didn’t even move within the area we live. They literally moved away. It was crazy. And you would think that it would be hard to maintain momentum while losing those clients.
[00:35:06] I guess it was a good real estate market that summer Well anyway the way things went.
[00:35:12] Anytime somebody would cancel some would call out of the blue what to get on the schedule. We never missed a beat. In fact sometimes even simple things like a client having to you know cancel one cleaning because of some reason someone would call out of the blue. You know we had never talked to you before and one at a one time cleaning on that same day. It was uncanny. I remember one day we were just absolutely exhausted. We still had one more house to clean and honestly I was so tired I wanted to throw up we decided to stop at a store and get some Gatorade to see if that would give us a boost. And while we were at that store late at the last house of the day called my wife to say that our air conditioning had gone out and it has to reschedule. It felt like a miracle at the time and we got to go home.
[00:36:07] We also had this van at the time that we bought that was recommended to us by a friend and the van turned out to be a horrific buy. Up until this time it had not gone a month straight without something going wrong. We even had to put a transmission in it. I think it was like the fourth transmission that VAM was on. It was just a joke well for the entire 18 month stretch that van never broke down. We had a flat tire once while house sitting for a client. But the neighbor helped us with an air pump and they got it the tire place had it plugged and went about our day never skipped a beat. Over those 18 months of working nonstop We also were spending very little.
[00:36:51] It’s kind of hard to spend money when you do nothing but work and sleep.
[00:36:56] We got our fifty thousand dollars saved to pay off the debt and then found out that we owed $55000 because time it passed an interest and fees that accrued and it really was depressing.
[00:37:10] So you know you think you’re right there at the finish line and then the finish line gets moved. So I went out and got a pair of neon green and neon orange shoelaces I had each write the word finish on each of them and we each wore one green one and one orange lace on our shoes during the final push that way when we were tired and if we started to hang our heads we could look down at our shoes and feel a little inspired.
[00:37:37] In fact during what we thought was our last week of paying off the debt we came home.
[00:37:43] Her water heater had started to bust so we had to drop like a grand you know a thousand dollars or so to replace that which set us back yet another little bit in the end though it was 18 months. We made it through. We had thousand dollars in the bank that we could throw at the IRS.
[00:38:04] When I called the IRS they could not believe that I was paying off the debt.
[00:38:10] In fact we were so far behind that the IRS has a 10 year threshold basically for which they can collect and our debt was so old at this point that some of it could have started to fall off our record but ultimately you know we owed the money. We wanted to make it right. You know we were getting healthier and it was just it was just time to get to right that wrong. It just didn’t feel right to use their rules against them which I know will make some people upset because the IRS and everybody hates them. Now average person or a lot of people would use anything against them. But you know just given our our sense of ethics or I guess our integrity is just didn’t do it for them I did it for me.
[00:39:06] But remember in order to pay that $55000 off we couldn’t just make $55000 because we still had to pay taxes on the 55000 that we made. Right. So all in all we had to make basically over that 18 months we made about an extra $80000 so that we could clear that 55 grand. Give that to the IRS and then have the rest of the money left over to pay the current taxes on the money that we earned to pay back taxes.
[00:39:41] That is a lot of cleaning and I’ll be honest that was awesome. However like I mentioned that was not looking back even close to the best thing that comes from this time really sped up our awakening process. You see we started to realize why had you attend so many meetings and constantly read their books and participate in their activities. It’s essentially a form of brainwashing yourself.
[00:40:14] It’s like for the first time ever we had time away from the meetings to think about the things that we have been taught and our brain started processing what we had learned our entire lives.
[00:40:26] We had a lot of deep conversations during that 18 month period about things that just didn’t add up to us. You know I’d look at my wife and say you know what about this.
[00:40:37] Or she’d say You know people kind of do this and that’s weird. Now we still believe it was the truth but we were starting to have doubts about some things. And in fact one such doubt came from the very fact that things went as well as they did in paying off the debts. My mom told me that we would fail people at the Keenum all were appalled at what we were doing. We were always taught to believe that Jehovah couldn’t bless us if we weren’t going to all the meetings and spending the required time and field service and yet here it appeared that we were being blessed immensely by God. In fact it was the first time ever in my life that I really thought we were being blessed and we were doing the opposite of. Everything I had been taught. My entire life to do it didn’t add up. Not only that but during this time we got to see the lives of those that we clean for. Remember we were starting to get more emotionally healthy and we started waking up to the fact that we cleaned for a lot of great people and great families. They were far more functional than the families that we grew up with including our own. How could that be. I mean after all we claim there’s Jehovah’s witnesses that have the happiest families on earth. We had the truth and lived what we called quote the real life. Another piece of double speak to real life but here these quote worldly people were happy and so much healthier than we were.
[00:42:16] We also realized that we had no real friends. You see during the 18 months away nobody ever even called to see if we were alive. The elders the supposed shepherds of the flock never bother with us. There were no shepherding calls to encourage us. Nobody cared. We had families that we worked for that would invite us to do things with them and we’d have to turn them down you know because we weren’t supposed to do things with them. We were praying for friends and turning down those that were friendly to us because the cult taught us that they were the wrong kind of friends. In fact there is a time that Jehovah’s Witnesses actually use for each other and other doublespeak the friends you see when discussing the group of people at their Keenum all those say the friends did this or the friends did that or are let’s go see the friends. It’s just more cult speak that was starting to wake us up though to the realities of what we were in and that are you know the friends you know weren’t really such good friends. So you can see why that was even bigger that the awakening from being away from meetings was far better for our life than the money that we paid off. Now let’s not discount the freedom that being debt free brings. That was our only debt. Aside from the house. But the more important thing here was the time spent away from the undocks indoctrination sessions.
[00:43:46] In fact since we’ve been out we have come across many stories of people in fact some you know kind of it’s kind of funny some incarcerations in English speaking congregations will actually leave the English speaking to go to let’s say a Spanish speaking congregation or a Russian speaking creation where maybe they need brothers to help out.
[00:44:09] And so they’ll try to learn Spanish or Russian or whatever and go to that Curry station. And in doing so they’re now sitting at meetings where those indoctrination sessions aren’t really hitting them quite as hard because they can’t understand it on the same level that they could when they were going to the English you know their native tongue.
[00:44:32] And so that time spent in a foreign language actually helps wake people up sometimes because the indoctrination sessions are given them to let up and they are given time to process things to really think about what they’ve learned.
[00:44:53] So you know that’s why the call encourages members to go to meetings. You know even even if you’re on vacation in some other place you got to you know haul your suits and dresses and dress shoes so that you could book bags and books and just everything so that you know you don’t want to miss a spiritual meal while you’re you know you’re out on a vacation having a good time. That would be horrible. They want you to know. No they don’t want you to know. They know the organization knows the cult knows that their hold on you is tenuous. It’s just like an abusive spouse that you know doesn’t want their husband or wife to have friends outside of the relationship.
[00:45:39] They have to keep you close so that they can keep you under their spell. They would give me they would give examples of people that you know that missed meetings and left thus losing their hope of eternal life being tricked by Satan’s wicked world outside the cult. Of course they did of course those are the examples they would give after getting out of debt.
[00:46:02] I set my sights on dropping the weight that I accumulated. I decided that I would go sugarfree. Well sweets free a human body does kind of require some measure of sugar. I’m not sugar free today. And just like an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic whether they drink or not. I’m always going to be a sugar addict though I’m sure. No no no no. I’m way better than I ever was. I’m much more moderate for a time though I avoided all of the treats and sweets. In fact I started using the at my fitness pal on my phone and used my fitness pal. You can just put in whatever food you see and tally up the calories. And you know kind of log what you eat. It was it was really eye opening to see how many calories were in things. There’s this one restaurant that I really really love and I’d go eat there and they bring bread out before you even get your meal in. And I realized that the rolls alone that I was eating you know when I would go to this restaurant those were about my calories for the entire day. And I had no clue. So it was really a matter of learning how to eat like I’ve had to learn so many other things. Knowledge is power and by being honest with myself I saw why I had gotten so 250 pounds I would eventually get down to £199 which was so cool. I was excited to see that one as the first number.
[00:47:32] I’m now more like 210 you know several years later seem to have her around there. But you know whatever I’m 40 to 50 pounds lighter than I was. And now I work out my body composition has changed as well. So you know things things got better on that front and I’m a lot healthier.
[00:47:49] Physically you know in addition to mentally and emotionally I had noticed that we kind of had the year and a half of focus on that and it worked.
[00:48:01] And then I had a year where I kind of focused on my way. You know not eating sugar so much and it worked. So I realized that having a singular focus while maintaining the rest of life seemed to kind of be the way to go for me this ADHD guy finally found a way to sustain some sort of focus in some way.
[00:48:19] So my wife and I started adopting an official theme for each year starting in 2015. In fact I started a little journal on my phone that I kept track of what I did and little did I know I was chronicling the end of our lives as Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was in the beginning of an entirely new life. So you know I was able to go back in and go through some of this in 2014 a few things happened of note that I don’t have them journal that was before us started. We had come off the years of getting out of debt and losing weight and were trying to work on our quote you know our spirituality as Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact maybe that was the theme for that you don’t remember but we started going back to meeting some was started making a push to get back out in field service after being in an active for some time.
[00:49:11] After all we were getting unhealthier in other ways so you know let’s get healthy spiritually as well as we saw it. However there was there was something that was brewing under the surface. Like I said we went back to meetings. But again it was a struggle sometimes I didn’t make it. We turn around and go home. I would start having outburst after meetings on the way home with my wife in the car about things that were said at the meetings. This was this was dangerous. You see people sometimes wonder how this topic got brought up. My wife Anna and really bought me attacking what was said like that at the meetings. Honestly my wife could have and should have turned me into the elders making your doubts known as dangerous even to your spouse. People turn their husband or wife in or their kids. My Dad I believe was behind what happened to my brother. People turned their family in all the time. If it’s found out that you have doubts and the elders meet with you and you insist on your new way of thinking it all they can disfellowship you for apostasy. I mean it’s like it’s like literal thoughtcrime. They want to know that your allegiance is to the organization. And if it’s compromised they may cut you off before you impact anyone else. A lot of times when this happens in a marriage it ends up in divorce.
[00:50:40] Now I was very lucky my wife knew that I had a good heart and that she could trust me. She knew that I wouldn’t bring something up as there wasn’t a good reason for it. Admittedly I should have been more strategic with the way I brought things up. But I would just get so upset about the lack of love shown in the congregation especially as I was learning what real love was. And you know healthy love would get so upset about the comments they would make about other people on the outside. It was it was eating me up inside. It was evil. And I just couldn’t hold it in.
[00:51:15] It was a fire inside of me that I had to let out well one day while we were driving we were crossing some railroad tracks. And according to my wife this is when I finally got through to her.
[00:51:29] I told her that you know in the end look we all have doubts. And if you admit your doubts it doesn’t change anything because they already exist. It just puts it out in the open. And if you don’t like it you can pack your doubts up and put them back where they were. She said that you know she didn’t really like me talking about my doubts and that it bothered her but she figured that she could participate this one time. Give it a try and if she didn’t like it she could go back and tell me hey look you know me she told me she was ready to tell me keep your doubts to yourself keep my doubts to myself and let’s just carry on.
[00:52:11] But instead she let out a few of her own doubts and things went well. We would then have. Many conversations over time. There was one time when the circuit overseer was visiting and we were sitting in the front row of the Keenum hall because we didn’t get there early enough to show off like most people. He was standing in front of us just a few steps away and he was talking about a recent tornado that we had had in Henryville Indiana nearby.
[00:52:38] You know probably like 10 or 20 miles away he was talking about how the brothers went up there from the congregation to help and how awesome Jehovah’s organization was for doing it. He then went on to talk about how all the worldly people went out there just to be seen or you know some went to even steal or pilfer from the wreckage.
[00:52:59] But how blessed we were in Jehovah’s organization to have such loving brothers Well we cleaned in a neighborhood not far from there for years.
[00:53:11] We personally knew people that watched the tornadoes go over their house in the sky and then it ended up landing in Henryville we knew these people that were among the first that were up there helping that donated even like you know extra trucks you know extra vehicles their money their time their effort that went up there and this guy the circuit overseer was talking about them like they were human garbage. I also knew that yeah you know Jehovah’s Witnesses did go up there but they were even later than usual to do so. And they only go up there to help their own. I mean they don’t even offer to help anyone else. I was livid.
[00:53:56] It was all I could do NOT to stand up in front of the congregation and shout his ignorance down. But I didn’t. I was literally sick over his description of others and that that us versus them ugliness that he was bringing you know to the congregation.
[00:54:12] So the time came when I stepped up my awakening game and asked my wife for permission for something huge in this process. I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page. And I was I was trying not to do anything that would hurt her. She was trying not to do anything that would hurt me. We were allowing each other to go each other’s pace but checking in with the other to make sure no one got too far ahead. You know we were we were really trying to do this together as much as we could. We each had to individually process so much.
[00:54:48] You see there are Web sites on the Internet that are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now we were always warned against going there. You know as if it would put us at a seat at the table with Satan himself as they would say I couldn’t resist any more I had to see what they had to say. I wanted to know what these Jehovah’s Witnesses say. So I asked my wife it was if it was OK with her that I went down that path.
[00:55:20] I knew I couldn’t unring that bell. Once you opened Pandora’s box so to speak it’s kind of hard to go back.
[00:55:27] Well we had always been told that people on those sites those apostates as they were called were mentally diseased. Well if that’s the case then I was sick too because a large part of what I saw was exactly the same things that I had noticed every time I got to see the man behind the curtain in the cold they saw many of the same things that I did now.
[00:55:49] Now some were super angry or hateful Some were pushy with how they saw things and aggressive and the Middle East some of that you know some people’s personal personal feelings on it I guess turned me off I wasn’t ready for that yet. However I could see that they were actually telling the truth about the truth. Something I learned was an actual term in the SJW community. T T T T. The truth about the truth Mizer opening even more though I still saw them organizationally as having a lot of problems I still believe the basic doctrine at that time was sure on May 21st of 2013. I took my first big step toward a new life. I had actually reached out to my disfellowship brother on Facebook. I found him on there. I just sent him a private message. It was a shot in the dark but I apologize sincerely for how I had treated him. I would have understood it if he never wanted to talk to me again. But I had to at least do my part and put an apology out there for shunning him and you know for other feelings that we had over the years. He was forgiving as you know he was raised in the cold and he knew the game. He knew what the deal was and we reconnected. I can’t tell you what that meant to me and now here we were just chatting here and there on messenger email. But you know it was something to at least be able to speak to my brother.
[00:57:27] Then in January of 2014 you know just what seven months later a friend from my past that had disassociated from the cult finally reached out to me on Facebook and sent me a friend request. Now a good fully indoctrinated Jehovah’s Witness would just dismiss it without a thought.
[00:57:46] But remember my humanity was waking up underneath the cult indoctrination. So I want to send him a nice message though I told him that I couldn’t be Facebook friends with them. It would have been trouble for me in the cold if I had friends who were you know knowingly disassociated. I still got all the messages on messenger and it’s interesting to see now how I thought by then I was clearly doubting things because you know I challenged how unfair it was to see kids making this decision to the colt you know to get baptized.
[00:58:21] You know this. You know infinite long contract with the organization. I knew that was wrong.
[00:58:28] It’s interesting though to look back and see that even then I told him to keep messaging me and I told him that maybe we could even eventually meet up and grab a bite to eat some time. Now this is two years before officially leaving the cold. But clearly I was waking up and willing to be a good person not just a good Jaida now you know I do have to say that my friend from back in the day did push me too fast. He pretty much immediately offered to have me over for pizza which was super awesome and nice but way too much too quick. I shouldn’t have even been talking to him. So we couldn’t be friends like that.
[00:59:06] I know that’s where he was but he had the benefit of being out for years and I did it. You know he caught me off guard. Still it was the start of something that I needed that summer. In July we had a big deal for Jehovah’s Witnesses happening. It was something called an international convention. It was essentially the district convention that we always had. But instead of it just being our district there were a lot more people so like there were several districts that came and it was a larger facility. There were delegates there that were missionaries from foreign lands. And you know this was a big deal that was held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It was to take place on July 11th 12th and 13th. We had reservations you know at a hotel for it.
[00:59:54] And in fact for the month or so we really you know right before that we really doubled down on things and you know we saw this as a chance to get right spiritually. You know as well so we tried to make the meetings we commented at them. We participated in everything we started. You know we were out in service again. We saw that you know and this convention is our opportunity to get right. After all we kind of felt that Jehovah had done so much for us as our eyes were being opened. You know you know God it really helped us and blessed us on as this better path that we were on. We even got a hotel on Thursday night so that we could be sure to have no problems of Friday morning getting to that convention. We were pawns. We were really excited about it. And you know we didn’t want to drive up that morning. We could have it would have been doable it would have saved us some money on that hotel Thursday night but we were excited and we wanted everything to go right.
[01:00:52] Well we got up Friday morning hours early and we took off for our car to the convention. You know we were in a car.
[01:01:01] We should have arrived around 8:30 according to any reasonable standard doesn’t usually start till like 9:30 9:45. So I mean we would have plenty of time.
[01:01:13] We didn’t even get there. And so after 10 o’clock there was a funeral procession for a fallen police officer. And there is something else going on and we literally sat on the Express expressway for hours. Then when we finally got to the convention there was another issue. You see the cold has to have their hand in everything. So you can’t just stay where you want to stay when you go to these conventions. They arrange supposed deals with hotels and tell you where you can and can’t stay they get kickbacks from doing so on. You know these supposed group rates that they extend to us and they get rooms for their people. So as long as we follow direction and stay in their hotels the organization itself gets a benefit. Well the same applies to parking. They arrange deals parking lots for the convention. Here we were sitting in mind boggling traffic. And then when we finally got there to the stadium we had to pass empty parking lot after empty parking lot right by the stadium so that we could prove to be obedient and stay in the approved lots This lot was probably a mile from the stadium and Gravell great for my wife walking in heels and me and my dress shoes.
[01:02:26] Once we got inside the stadium. That place is cavernous. We walked it seemed like for ever trying to just find a place to sit down. This convention was different. They had these huge video boards up and they would pump in videos for us to watch for the first time ever. They also had members of the governing body giving talks at locations and pump in those talks that was supposed to be so encouraging.
[01:02:56] You know Oasis spiritual refreshments as they would call it. And you know hearing a talk from the actual governing body members was a pretty big deal back then. They were they were just starting to come out from behind the curtain and become superstars Well it wasn’t nearly as refreshing and entertaining or you know as Oasis as they would you know refer to it at times. For us we sat there listening to things watching these emotional videos that they now were making this propaganda. We could see how manipulative they were for the first time.
[01:03:32] So I’m really glad that it corresponded with us waking up and we could see it. We sat through the morning session we ate lunch and my wife was having some issues. As lonely as it is to be the only person around it’s even lonelier to be in a place with tens of thousands of people and realize that nobody really cares about you nobody cares if you’re there. My wife was really struck by this and she felt so alone and was struggling with it. We were sitting by ourselves with strangers and nobody was really being friendly to us. None of our family or anyone contacted us. None of our friends in the congregation. We drove up. You know we were all there by ourselves and this you know see if humanity now on the other hand I was having a different issue during the convention that I can’t remember if it was the morning or afternoon program now what are the governing body members gave a talk about simplifying our lives so that we could do more in Jehovah’s service in it. This man gave an example of a brother that had a six figure job but that simplified his life to work part time in retail or something so he could pioneer in fact that brother found that he had been paying so much in taxes on that six figure income that he was actually making more money now that he was working part time at a low wage job.
[01:04:54] Now I just got done getting out of a tax mess and I knew that what they were saying was patently false. It’s math. It’s not feelings it’s math. Unless that brother with a six figure income was in the 80 to 90 percent tax bracket which doesn’t exist what that member of that governing body was doing was lying he was lying and he was manipulating to get people to do more for their cult. And it disgusted me. About three quarters of the way through the first day my wife was literally in tears and I was super pissed off and dejected at what I just heard come out of a governing body member’s mouth. My wife wanted to leave. So you know in fact she kind of sweeten the deal by saying hey you know if we leave now we could beat the traffic. All right. That’s all I needed to hear. I was in so we packed up our stuff and walked out.
[01:05:51] Yes it was a long walk back to our car. Yes it was super hot in mid-July wearing a suit. Yes. The gravel made the wall tougher yes. We had paid for our hotel and booked in advance might lose the money on two more nights of hotel stay that we had already booked but we didn’t care that drive back to the hotel. I think we were in a little bit of shock but after we told the hotel we were leaving and they didn’t charge us for the future nights. We packed up our things put them in the car. That two hour drive home felt so light and free. It was way better than ever leaving a meeting at the Kingdom Hall or you know driving around doing a 180 in the parking lot. We had never left a convention like that before. I mean that’s a pretty big deal.
[01:06:45] You know the conventions everybody’s at the convention Well not only if we leave the convention it was during that ride home that my wife and I decided we were done July 11th 2014. We decided we were never going to get anything from that cold again.
[01:07:10] Now just to reiterate we still believed it was the truth doctrinally but he noticed a pattern here yet but we knew something was off. We just we just couldn’t handle it anymore. We were done.
[01:07:29] In October of 2014 another big thing happened. My brother and his wife were coming into town for a wedding.
[01:07:36] They wanted to get together. I couldn’t believe it.
[01:07:39] It was so cool that you know my brother was actually coming down from New York. We had seen each other and gosh I don’t know. It was over a decade.
[01:07:50] We set things up. They actually came over to our house. As an aside we actually had a house for them to come over to at this point. You remember that you know when I last left you on this subject our house was a a disaster full of flea market items from the business I tried to start to get us out of debt. The floors were a wreck after pulling up the carpet to find them to be damaged.
[01:08:12] We have essentially fled to the basement to live in the basement. We had a leak.
[01:08:19] I would often get wet and smelled like cat urine because Lady that live for us had cats that peed in various places. And then when the water would come then it would activate you know the urine that had soaked in the whatever and it was just an awful place.
[01:08:34] However after we paid off the taxes we rented a dumpster we threw away lots of things we put flooring down but new furniture we moved back upstairs. And
[01:08:44] you know it was just another healthy change in our life. So my brother and his wife you know had this place to come over to and it was so awesome to see him again and to meet his wife. We had a good time. We just talked and went out and did a few things. I
[01:09:00] don’t know if we were the best hope host. We we’ve never done anything like that before we had no clue what to expect. Honestly we were just amazed at the prospect of even meeting them.
[01:09:14] So after we met after my brother and his wife you know went back to New York I posted some pictures of us all together on Facebook. I wasn’t going to hide this as if I was somehow ashamed of my brother or ashamed of what we had done. I was proud of the people that my brother and his wife were and who we were becoming. And all of us you know just being together felt good. But this this moves it changed things. In fact after this we never seem to get together with my family anymore for a reason that in retrospect I wonder if you know I had been told was it was true. You see my dad had gone into the hospital back to him you know getting home and seeing you in the chorus from the gambler that I mentioned when he was delirious Well I’d email my mom and we were set to come over one Saturday and she gave me a call that told me that we couldn’t because he brought home bedbugs from the hospital and yeah maybe he did. I don’t know. But those bedbugs never seemed to quite go away and we seem to not be able to come over again. This was in late 2014 and it kind of felt like we were being ghosted by our family.
[01:10:25] Well by my family after this we were heading into 2015 and we decided that my wife and I we were going to call it 2015. It was going to be our year of adventure. We were going to make 20:15 bond. After all you know why not try to enjoy life. We knew it was all on us to do because you know things were getting weird otherwise in life and boy was the year of adventure some foreshadowing of an adventure that we had no clue we were about to say.
[01:10:58] The goal was to have fun and try new things. We went to our first ever concert together and saw Linkin Park and rise against in Indianapolis big not just because it was our first show but we even you know pushed ourselves to go to an unfamiliar city for our first show.
[01:11:15] We went to the circus went to the local auto show. We went hiking in New places. I gave up soft drinks for good. We had new restaurants. We went to our first ever worldly wedding. We traveled to other cities and found fun things to do with some more concerts. We watched Lord of the Rings. Something we weren’t really technically supposed to do as Joe was witnesses. Again you know the evil demons would get you. We went to our first ever away football game. We had so much fun. However along with all that fun we had something very serious going on.
[01:11:51] I’ll take you step by step because I actually have this journal. 2015 was the biggest year of our life.
[01:11:59] February the 7th of twenty’s 15 is the day that my family officially died. You see we were making plans to go see my brother in New York in May. I told my mom that I’d like to get some of our brother’s childhood pictures momentos that take out to him when we went. I knew it was a tough ask. I knew it was a risky ask but my sister in law never seen pictures of my brother as a little kid.
[01:12:25] My brother didn’t have anything either. It was like his life before her was completely erased. I thought it would be an awesome gift. Well my mom took it upon herself to contact my sister in law.
[01:12:38] Out of nowhere and tried to work it out with her on Facebook to be friends and get her pictures or you know worked out with her well I was kind of irritated because it was my idea.
[01:12:49] My mom was tried to undercut me. Whatever ultimately as long as my brother got the pictures and he and his wife enjoyed them that’s all I wanted. You know whatever. However my sister in law had a. Great perspective on this. She actually told my mom I’m not going to speak to someone that won’t talk to my husband. You see Jehovah’s love to separate people like that are so freaking tone deaf to the basic humanity that they can’t even see it. They do this stuff all the time. There might be a mom that is disfellowshipped but the grandparents expect her to come drop off the grandkids and disappear in shame. Like she doesn’t exist and show her children what it’s like to be shunned how messed up is that.
[01:13:36] So you know my mom calls me that day to arrange for me to get the photos of my brother after being turned down by my sister in law. It was a move that made me mad to begin with. Only enhanced by the tone deafness. You know my mom seemed to have about it. We arranged things and when she started going in on me about how it all went down with my sister in law I could feel the pressure building inside. I wanted to explode.
[01:14:03] She kept pushing my buttons and kept pushing them and pushing them as I tried to explain to her that my brother’s wife was an actual human being with her own feelings and such.
[01:14:14] And she just kept pushing and pushing and finally I just exploded. Now I want to keep my clean rating on iTunes. So let’s just say I unleashed a primal scream of F for Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[01:14:30] They ruined my effing life and I hung up.
[01:14:35] I can’t explain to you the emotions that came pouring out in that one statement. It’s like I’ve been building up for this for years well I call myself down.
[01:14:48] I thought about things and I realized that I should have cut that conversation off before it ever got to that point. I should have stood up for myself and change the subject or just refused to be taken down that path.
[01:15:00] So I actually called back to apologize for the way that I handled it. But nobody answered so I sent an e-mail over. I didn’t apologize for my feelings because my feelings were valid and real but I could have handled it better.
[01:15:15] Of course there would be no apologies coming from the other direction. A few hours later I was driving home from somewhere with my wife and I got a call from my dad that was literally probably the first time my dad ever called me of his own volition and his entire life.
[01:15:33] He wanted to know if I said what I said Mom and I said yes and began to explain. But my dad never cared about explanations. My dad never care what anybody else had to say or their feelings or anything. They never cared about anyone else. Apparently years ago we were watching a show I don’t know maybe it was modern family or something and he made some remark about gay people to which I responded about how you know they’re probably born that way just like I was born heterosexual and you know I never really sat down and made a conscious choice.
[01:16:07] And you know to be hetero and I’m pretty sure they didn’t just sit down and make this conscious choice between you know same sex or opposite sex. They’re attracted to what they’re attracted to just like I am.
[01:16:22] After all you know why would anyone choose something that would lead to ostracism with so much pain in their lives.
[01:16:27] Well I guess my dad held that statement against me for all those years. So instead of addressing what I even said to my mom he proceeded to scream at me for quote loving the gays and taking their side and saying whatever they wanted me to say I was I was honestly waiting for him to accuse me of being gay. I would try to discuss scripture with them and have many for him to think about. But all they could do is yell at me. It was a very abusive conversation that took me back to my childhood a lot. Basically all I can say is do you believe the Bible or not. And unfortunately although the Bible does say some things about that particular lifestyle choice it also says a lot of other things about love and things that he just really had no use for. When I got off the phone I was shaking. I was flooded with so much from my past again it was just a truly awful experience. Ultimately it was the day my family died. So I held out hope that things could get better.
[01:17:36] So what was that. That was in February the 7th just a couple months later on April 30th we would actually meet my family to get the pictures for my brother as we had plans to go to New York to see my brother in May and my family knew of this or at least my mom did. I don’t know who all knew. I think my sister knew to me. I don’t know if my dad knew or not. But we would meet at a restaurant. Got to meet somewhere in public because we hadn’t been allowed over to their house in a long time and I guess it was still those pesky suppose bed bugs. Literally while I was driving over my brother from New York contacted me to ask me what was going on. It turned out that my sister had a Twitter account that she had that my brother had followed and my sister had been talking all kinds of smack about me she had deemed that night the last supper. And so my brother let me know that and we knew you know kind of what was going in we were friendly and had a decent Sondos sitting next to my dad was a little tense. And when we left my mom went out to the car on purpose while my dad was paying and handed a bag of pictures to my wife. I’m sure she probably didn’t want my dad to know what was up. We all ended up out in the parking lot and she gave my wife of course not me a big hug like I’ve never seen her hug anyone and told her something.
[01:19:06] I can’t remember now and neither can my wife but it was something along the lines of you know be safe and take care of yourself. I could read a lot into that but I can’t remember exactly. I’m sure that in the end my mom lost all hope for me and hope that my wife would at least stay a good little cult victim. I’ve always been the bad guy so whatever. In May we took our first ever 10 day vacation and went to Manhattan to see my brother and his wife and we stayed with them. We had a great trip with him. It was awesome. I love New York. We went to all the boroughs and one sure. And of course we went with pictures for my brother and his wife to enjoy.
[01:19:45] I picked up a lot of other blast from the past to bring with me when I was a kid I had this case of baseball cards that look that looked like a baseball. And it was full of baseball cards and I used to collect and so I gave it to my brother.
[01:19:58] You know when I got older I moved out or whatever well when my family moved at one point after I’d left and I was on my own. My dad made my brothers throw out a lot of things like those baseball cards because he was such an awesome dad. And you know basically he didn’t have material things that he cared about and neither should anyone else. So he made my brother throw that away well I found an old case on e-bay just like it. I bought a bunch of cards. I filled it with some of the cards I had some old unopened packs in there you know from you know back in the late 80s early 90s that he could open you know those open wax packs gave that to him I found other things to pick up some gifts for him and his wife and brought them up he was just it was just amazing. It was so much fun to get to do that.
[01:20:53] So again when we got home we posted photos of our trip on Facebook. I mean really at this point it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot to lose on my part. My wife wanted to actually post the pictures while we were up in New York but I told her it might cause drama and I didn’t want to ruin the trip. She didn’t think that her family would care for anyone else but I’m glad we waited. That day I put the photos up. One of my wife’s sisters the matriarch of the family texted my wife about the trip. She says that my brother or she asked about my brother she asked whether or not he was still disfellowshipped or wife told her that yes he was. But we prayed on it and made her own personal decision to go visit him. Immediately my wife’s sister texted her that she was an apostate and that she could have no further contact with my wife that night my wife watched as are social media following all disappeared. Her sister went and told everyone and people from as far away as Florida drop my wife without a word. She would never hear from any of them again. We so we found ourselves shunned at this point because of a personal decision. I would rather be shunned for doing the loving thing than loved for doing the shunning thing. If that’s what it comes down to so be it. I couldn’t get caught up in that toxic love that Jehovah’s Witnesses show any longer. It’s completely conditional and very sick. The facts after this. There’s a book.
[01:22:22] By Ray Franz Ray Franz was a member of the governing body. And I always heard allusions to this this this brother who had been so high up in the organization and who had left who had you know turned to Satan after knowing the truth and being so high up and how could he well it turns out that Ray Franz was the brother or not the brother nephew. Maybe I can’t remember he was a relation to Fred friends who was once one of the presidents of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and Ray Franz got to the top.
[01:23:09] He got to see everything how everything worked he got to sit in as one of the governing body on those who made decisions on everything from what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe to how they would react to certain things that went on in the world or persecution in certain lands.
[01:23:29] The book is called a crisis of conscience. And that book was just so amazing. It’s not a book that you can find and just go by very freely. There are issues with the copyright. There is someone that it was turned over to who has been dragging their heels on it’s. They have their own reasons for for whatever. Explain why they’re not getting it out while the ex Jehovah’s Witness community clamors for this book.
[01:24:09] There’s even some who believe that maybe it’s possible the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society could have even paid her off. And the book may never come out. I don’t know we don’t know. Who knows how it will go.
[01:24:20] But crisis of conscience is a legend. That book has been read by almost every S.J. of out there. And it really just goes to show what goes on behind closed doors and it confirms so much of what I thought about what this organization really was. So this brought us to a place that many Jehovah’s Witnesses eventually find themselves. There are choices to be made if you want to leave the organization you can do it in different ways. It’s a very personal decision though on how you choose to carry this out. Option number one is to fade away a fader will typically just stop going to meetings become an active and try to disappear. If you’re lucky you can fall through the cracks and the elders will leave you alone. And over time just basically forget about you. The benefit is that maybe you can keep your family and friends. But the drawback is that you usually have to keep playing the game. Not always but often you have to keep up pretenses with friends and family and you have to watch over your shoulders so that if you start doing things like celebrating holidays you don’t post something like a photo that gets the elders on your tail.
[01:25:37] You basically you’re kind of like a double agent. You have to live a double life. You have to play their game went around Jehovah’s Witnesses including those family and friends that you’re wanting to keep. You have to you have to keep pretending to be something that you’re not. But the benefit is that you do get to still have contacts with people that you care about.
[01:25:59] Now some Fader’s the ones that seem to be the most successful will actually move often across country far enough away. They’ll relocate so that their activities can’t be tracked by family so that they can live their own life without worrying that their friends or family will find out that you know they’re not going to meetings or out and service the benefits of this is that they can just go live life. And as long as they don’t establish themselves in a new congregation. The elders out there probably won’t come after them. The drawback is that although they keep some friends and family now there is this physical distance between them. Some people move into a new congregation get burner phones give numbers to the elders that they will drop letters fake and address and disappear. I mean people can go through all types of things to try to get out of this stupid cold. And then there is this association disassociation is basically like disfellowshipping them rather than waiting for them to disfellowship you. It’s a term of Jehovah’s Witnesses and for that reason there’s a large stigma against it which honestly makes me a little irritated. People will say that you’re playing their game if you do this if you choose to disassociate. And you know they want you to disassociate. So don’t do it. And it was an enormous decision from a wife not to go this route but it was our decision. And I honestly think that many people just hate on it because they don’t have what it takes to do so. I disagree that Jehovah’s Witnesses want you to disassociate.
[01:27:37] I understand it’s one of their terms. I understand they have a process for it. But if you disassociate you make them feel the pain of what they’re doing and it looks bad on them as opposed to fading where everyone just pretends like things are OK. It is an insanely difficult decision to make. It is not one that should ever be taken lightly. This is another bell that you cannot unring. And it is essentially dropping a nuclear bomb on things it is over. There is no coming back from this decision. But I’d like to say that.
[01:28:15] I’ve said before I suffer from Jade to have PTSD. In fact many Jehovah’s Witnesses are literally diagnosed with PTSD after leaving the call it no matter how they leave. Being in a cold itself is traumatic whether you leave or not leaving it adds to the trauma.
[01:28:34] So even though freedom lies on the other side it’s a very traumatic experience actually told my mom once that I felt like I had Jaida PTSD.
[01:28:46] At that time I didn’t know you know how true that really was.
[01:28:50] So our decision was twofold.
[01:28:53] First we were going to fade though our families had already started the shunning process. But there was no benefit to doing anything else. First let’s just go ahead and try fading. Who knows maybe things could change our families would calm down at some point. And you know at that time too we also didn’t know the benefits of disassociation so fading felt awesome and disassociation was like this huge thing looming in the distance that was scary. Now that you know I know now that I’ve been on both sides I’ll take disassociation any day. But you know we’d already been away from meetings we were done with that part of our lives so we were just going to kind of try to go on move on see where life took us. In fact it was a lesson that we kind of learned from paying off the taxes we were we were trying to control things we didn’t try to control that. That experience of paying off the taxes we just made ourselves available for whatever God or life brought we would do it and move on and what we did the same thing with this we just let it happen and we were going to react to it with new healthy ways of being. And things are going pretty well for a bit. So we’re going to give it a try. The only caveat was that with this whole J.W. PTSD we were not willing to play their games. In other words as we have been left alone for a year or so we were content to leave that be.
[01:30:19] However if they started to come after us for whatever reason we were done. My wife and I made a pact that if it happened that they started coming after us we would write goodbye letters to our families. We would write letters of disassociation to the Cole. We would put a bullet in all of it and you know we would go ahead and walk free.
[01:30:40] Mean to Be honest. My wife and I both wanted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. We wanted that stank off of us. It’s just gotten to the point where I mean the last thing I would have wanted was for somebody to see me and think that I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[01:30:57] It just become repulsive does ironically. Jehovah’s Witnesses had released a brochure that summer at the convention entitled return to Jehovah. It was supposed to be you know this brochure to show how much they loved people who you know weren’t at the meetings anymore or who had left the organization.
[01:31:18] It was supposed to be given to people like us. In fact my wife and I you know during this process we were fading. We placed know wagers on how many we get. I thought we would get to.
[01:31:33] There was one sister at our congregation who was who was a pretty good friend and she was she was kind of obsessed with us a little bit maybe that’s too too big a word but I guess she was worried. So I figure we would maybe get a brochure from her. And I figured you know I’ll throw one more out as a wild card so I figure we might get to. My wife said that she thought we would get you know somewhere north of 10 double digits. We got zero.
[01:32:06] Nobody tried to save us nobody our families didn’t try to save us our friends didn’t try to save us. The elders didn’t try to save us. Nobody did. And I would like to thank them for that. So thank you family for not trying to save us. Thank you to my wife’s family for not trying to save us. Thank you to our friends. Thank you to the organization because had you actually tried to save us had you showed that you cared.
[01:32:38] It might have sucked us back in some way into this horrible cold because we’ve seen people get sucked back into it before and that that that pressure the psychological pressure put on by family at that point might have actually you know done the trick and at least I mean eventually we would have exited we were going down that path already we knew too much. There were too many things we couldn’t unsee year on here.
[01:33:10] But you know it says a lot that our own friends and family didn’t try to save us.
[01:33:20] On July 12th My wife was given a few little birthday presents from people the first time she’d ever gotten anything.
[01:33:29] Now we were still still weren’t officially out but I guess it popped up on Facebook or something you should have you know had made some big deal out of it. It was just coincidence. But you know a few people have her you know a couple little cards. My wife likes to do coloring books and things like that people got her some things. And that meant something. We had started friending people on Facebook who are our cleaning clients and such.
[01:33:55] And so that introduced us or introduced them really I guess to us on August 1st of 2015. I made a post on Facebook about what had been going on. It was just time to be open about it. Now our profiles are locked down with privacy settings. At that point our only friends on there you know we’re pretty much just are a lot of our cleaning clients become you know good friends.
[01:34:25] As this process has gone through this thing has just gotten too big for us to handle higher selves. We really needed people in our corner and once again it was those clients or cleaning business saved us again having people to talk to in our corner over the next few months when we go to people’s houses to clean. Just can’t thank people enough for just being good human beings and being there in our time of need because that is a tremendously hard path to walk alone. You know everyone else has turned their back on you. You don’t have friends outside the real world because you’ve been conditioned to avoid them or be afraid of them. And you’re so isolated. No although everyone you know not everyone could understand what we were up against of course. It just helps to talk about it in any way. There were days where honestly for the first time I didn’t didn’t click care about cleaning at all. I was just completely numb at work. So was my wife it was it was just super hard to have something that big weighing on you on August 2nd just a day after making that post an elder from our congregation called us on the phone wanting to meet with us.
[01:35:52] I don’t know if this was just coincidence or if somehow someone outed us but it was literally the day after that post where where I told people that you know what was going on with us and in our life where I started to pour out what I had found out.
[01:36:12] So you know this was it.
[01:36:15] They were now going to try to make us play their game. My wife and I went home we sat down. And we wrote goodbye letters to our families. We wrote letters of disassociation to the whole and we were going to put them in the mail. That was a very difficult process particularly the letters to our families. We ignored the phone call that the elder had made and the message that was left for us on August 3rd the letters didn’t go out. My wife honestly was struggling to put the addresses on them that morning she just she just wasn’t sure about this associating. You know once you sit down and write those letters. It gets real. So we went on to work well while we were at work. She had time to think. And on the way home from work she says she’s ready to send the letters. So we came home from work and we had two cars a wife and I but one was in the shop that day. So we just had to work fast.
[01:37:21] So my wife says she wanted a pizza so she took the only car that we had that day to get some pizza. Well when she comes home with the pizza she also comes with a story you see as she was driving up our street with a pizza. She saw the elder that had called us driving away from our house. Now I was inside the house because there were no cars in the drive because one was at the shop my wife had the other getting a pizza. I guess they assumed nobody was home and they didn’t come up. It was in that moment that my wife’s decision that they had to go through with this association was completely cemented.
[01:38:03] Thank you starkers for helping to set us free and show us that we were doing the right thing.
[01:38:09] On August 4th the letters go in the mail a week or so later we were going out to meet some friends for dinner. The SJW a friend that I had actually reached out to me back in 2014. So things have progressed to there. And so we’re going to eat with them. And I got a call from Helders. Again they want to arrange to meet us.
[01:38:32] I told them on the phone that we had disassociated and sent in letters and couldn’t believe that he was calling the poor guy I was taken aback but was pleasant and respectful and said he’d check into the letters on August 12th. Eight days later it was my birthday and I got a few notes on Facebook and that was that was really cool.
[01:38:52] It meant a lot to me. You know even though we weren’t officially out yet it just emit a light a lot that you know people were excited about that and would even wish me a happy birthday. It was very cool.
[01:39:08] Well the elders never got our letters. I would find out later that the address listed online for the Kingdom Hall was wrong. They eventually came back to us in the mail. So I got the personal address of the elder that was calling us an elder that I liked and he was always very kind to me. In fact he had been very kind throughout this process so I mailed our letters directly to him this time on August 22nd.
[01:39:34] On August 27th I got a call from a different elder letting me know that I forgot to sign my letter of disassociation.
[01:39:42] Now I had signed the first one that I mailed but it never reached them. And when I sent the copy I forgot to sign it. I had to voice verify over the phone with him and another elder that was on the speaker phone that it was indeed I sent that letter I was proud to do so. Both of them I found the process to be frustrating and legalistic and stupid like the call it always been. Honestly it was kind of fitting in.
[01:40:11] So the big day was on September the 2nd 2015. On that day it was announced publicly to the corrugation in the world that brother Michael shim well junior sister Jennifer Tshombe well are no longer Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[01:40:27] Yes I Mets put my name out there. I don’t care anymore. That’s us. We’re free. It’s beautiful. It’s fine. I don’t mind putting that out there.
[01:40:38] The next day we contacted the elders to confirm that it had been announced and well we were right. We were free. Now of course like I said that freedom came with a cost. For starters all 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide must treat us like we are dead. Not even saying a greeting to us.
[01:40:58] This goes for former friends our own moms dads sisters brothers anyone that is in.
[01:41:06] If we were in a store we came upon one of them they would likely walk the other way. In fact it was just a week and a half ago I was at a concert and I happened to see my brother my younger brother. They’re all younger than me. But anyway I saw my younger brother and his wife. I haven’t seen them since. Like it was July 12th of 2014 I think because it was the day after we came back from that international convention. It happened to be my wedding day for my brother and his wife and we went to their wedding and I’m not sure we might have. Well I think we saw them at my parent’s house once or twice but really hadn’t seen them in years. And I saw them at a concert. I walked up to my brother and his wife because I was determined to be a good human being. And and you know give them a chance to see what they would be. And my wife and I walked up to them. I stepped in front of them. I said hi. I waved really big. They waved at me they said hi they turned beet red and then they literally both cocked their heads to the right and looked away like oh crap. And I said OK whatever. I laughed at it and we walked on. You know we enjoyed the concert but for a moment I made my brother and his wife face what they do when they shun CNN. And when I was when I was younger I think I really ever ran into any body.
[01:42:56] Most people were just ashamed and walked away. I never I showed them my brother but he had disappeared and then he ended up moved to New York so I never had a chance somebody face to face. But at this instant I had to go. I went up to my brother and my brother had to shun me. He had to physically literally show me to my face when all I was doing was being polite and saying hi to my brother that I was excited to see ans that moments were there for their faces turned red. That was their humanity kicking in. Funny thing is you know. So my wife and I turned around and walked back to where we had Dan and before we even had a chance to say a word to each other about what had happened. One of her friends our new friends from our new life this smiling young lady appeared behind us saying hi. Being excited to see is there the same concert. We talked to her as we were talking to her. Another one of our new friends from our new life came up was what just happened to be walking by who was talking to some other friends of his. We saw him we said hi we talked to him we would not see another one of our friends really for the rest of that night. Actually I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of our friends was there and was a security guard and she happened to know my brother she’s the one who pointed out my brother to us in the first place.
[01:44:42] And you know she stopped by to talk to us a few times and just the way everything worked it was like the universe giving us a hug after that moment with my brother. And it was just very nice. I’m very proud that we went up and we said hi to him and his wife.
[01:45:04] I’m very proud of the human being that we have become. You know just in basic love and humanity and trying to be a better version than what we were as Jehovah’s Witnesses in that call. So now I’m going to do something I’m going to take a minute here and read my goodbye letter to my family. It’s obviously a personal thing. I’m not going to mention their names. It’s you know this whole thing is about my life and I want to paint the picture here.
[01:45:39] This is very real and so let’s just do this.
[01:45:47] Their mom dad sister and brother there’s a country song that I remember hearing when I was a kid that always stuck in my mind for some reason. I had to look it up but it’s by Patty Loveless and it’s called How can I help you say goodbye. It’s a heart wrenching song and I guess the strong sentiments always stuck with me. I seem to remember it when grandpa died. The one death that really made an impact on me well I guess the time has come and there’s no easy way to say it. Jenny and I have spent the last three years or so in deep research prayer and growth. We worked on ourselves physically emotionally and spiritually. We decided it was time to do what we asked people to do at the doors and that challenge our own beliefs and to prove them to ourselves. Ultimately that’s something that we’re all encouraged to do. Sadly our consciences were troubled by some things and we have to follow those as we see Jehovah guiding them no matter what the cost. You would do the same. Even being willing to die for your beliefs. And here we are willing to sacrifice greatly for ours. We have submitted letters formally dissociating from the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We don’t want it to be that way but there is no room for us in the organization any longer as we simply cannot hold a certain beliefs. We have no desire to influence anyone else’s conscience. First Corinthians 15 29 and 30 it says For why should my freedom be judged by another person’s conscience.
[01:47:20] If I am partaking with thinks why should I be spoken of abusively over that for which I give thanks. I do not wish to speak abusively of anyone else’s conscience but I also realize that the freedom to exercise mine isn’t my own in the organization that I’ve lived in I therefore have no choice but to leave and unfortunately I know the consequences of such action. For the first time in my life I can say that I actually love Jehovah being away from meetings allow me to form a real relationship with him without someone else being in the middle of telling me how to do so. I’ve developed a greater appreciation for Jesus Christ and His qualities that he demonstrated and that we are supposed to imitate his love and mercy were abundant and so beautiful. It will be nice to see those things reflected in humanity someday. So how can I help you to say goodbye. The only thing that I know to do is to be true and speak to what is in my heart. Dad I love you and I know that you think I say for granted that you love me too but I don’t I realize that you went to work everyday in a job that you hated to show your love. I remember how giddy I would get when you feel good enough to come out and play with my brother and I in the back yard throwing grounders and pop floss to us playing basketball taking us fishing the Redbirds games even sitting in the freezing cold watching my high school football team not me play.
[01:48:47] Not to mention some football games and you did those things not because you loved any of those teams or the company that you work for but because you loved us for whatever reason you and I have always had our differences but I spent the last few years trying to create a new relationship with you. I wanted to return that love once I got in the position to do so. Taking you to your first UK basketball game going to land between the lakes taking you fishing going and eating at different restaurants and the like. I remember working for us getting Skyline Chili and sitting out where the ducks were. Plainview at the old abandoned tumbleweed Goodtimes mom. You’ve always been there to talk to and I will miss that. Whether it was sharing music that we both liked or talking about the deep things of life it was a lot of fun. You’ve always been open minded and that’s something I respect so much. Always remember there certainly in Pattie’s you can’t escape that one. And more importantly the laughs you taught me how to drive and really taught me to broaden my perspective as well. I remember you saying change so that we could get some food at McDonald’s when we were kids during the summer is a special treat. I remember going a few times with you as you directed traffic at schools the different hairstyles and colors over the years. You always loved the biggest cars even if you had to sit on a pillow to drive them.
[01:50:06] I think one thing I always remember is how you were just unabashedly you you never told me or you told me to never worry about what other people thought of me that I shouldn’t bottle stuff up inside because it will always come out eventually. Just those two pieces of wisdom were something everyone should live by. Always cherish those things. And I love you too. Sister I’ll always remember you as that adorable little girl that was at our wedding. Cute as could be. Skater girl and baby baby Cratty are gone now and you’re a young lady with makeup and hair extensions. That’s hard to believe how fast time goes by. Always remember that time that I took you fishing just you and me out to Hodgin Ville Salem lake. That was fun. Always remember your obsession with people sitting back in your seat back. Demand’s when we were on the couch I’ve tried to be present even though I’m obviously so much older and not around so much. I wanted you to have some things like a cool room as such since I was able to provide that and I loved to help people or wife sees you as their little sister and you referred to her as your big sister at times but really made her feel good and important. It is such a shame that we have to part ways like this. I want to see you get married and have kids. Come on you might say that you don’t want them but I see how much you love other people’s kids. I want that for you someday if that’s what you want when you get to that place in life you have a good head on your shoulders and Hammami a lot of myself back in the day. But with more hair and it’s red and you’re a girl my wife and I will always love you brother.
[01:51:44] I really wish that I could have been closer with you. Every so many times but it didn’t seem to connect for whatever reason. I had so much fun with you. That’s how we went hiking up at Sharp Springs near corda. Just me and you remember the pic of you running through the tall grass and I put a big eagle or something chasing you behind it on a photo edit. That was some talent on display. I remember playing basketball and going fishing a few times. I remember how proud you were of your skateboarding scars. I really regret that when you were a little kid I didn’t spend much time with you. I had my own drama. Then of course like all teenagers getting ready to go off on their own. I wish we could play video games together on that PlayStation of mine though. Even then you probably would have annihilated me. You were always better at that than I was. I remembered how you stuck it out at different jobs and landed your own store in the end. Always respect hustle. I admire your dedication to working out. Speaking of hustle it’s hard to do something like that and stick with it. I guess now you have to buy your used cars that blow up some time in a fantastic fashion from other people than me. I’m going to say that I love you even though I know you hate it. So if you just pretend like I stood next to you and we were hugging like at your wedding.
[01:53:02] I’m so happy that I got to be there that day and I wish you and your wife nothing but happiness together. It’s a shame I never really got to know your wife. My wife and I always had hopes that maybe we could be good friends someday. I’ll always love you guys. I will always be here for you. And I’m still me just missing a label that is likely to be the wall between us. I’ve always been a person that wants respect and it really hurts to know that my decision will probably cause you to lose all of that for me. I’m certainly not taking an easy way out by any means and it hurts but I have to do it. I sincerely hope that someday someone they reach out to me and we can all grow from this in some way. Even if I know the likelihood is small I’m a dreamer a person full of hope that I’ll never stop hoping and I’ll never turn anyone away. I honestly don’t want to quit riding because when I stop that’s it it’s over. You would die for me yesterday as brothers and sisters. But tomorrow you will never speak to me again and treat me as if it was I who already died. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Here’s how all this time will ease your pain life’s about changing nothing ever stays the same with eternal love and hope for mere temporary goodbyes. MIKE So that is the reality of what Jehovah’s Witnesses do to people. That is what they do to families. That is their legacy. There was a quote that I’d heard as I was waking up that always stuck with me.
[01:54:48] Is the life you’re living worth the price you’re paying. I heard it on a podcast and it just reverberated in my head over these years. Is the life you’re living. Worth the price that you’re paying. For my wife and the life we were living was not worth the price that we had been paying. And although we had to pay a very heavy price here in this instance our new life of freedom and authenticity has been worth the price that we paid. I mean I have to say that looking back it was completely worth it. Next week I’m going to talk about what life has been like since we’ve been out. We’re coming up on our two year anniversary in September. In fact next month in August. Well I guess it’s this month now because I got I got sick last weekend and my voice is just now kind of coming back so that’s why this was put out a little later than usual. So I guess it’s this month here in a couple of weeks I turned 40 and my wife and I are going to celebrate by going to New York to backpack in the Adirondack Mountains for the first time together. And to see my brother again for the first time since May of 2015 before we were even officially out of the cult when you know that one move resulted in our shining from our families.
[01:56:13] 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 this JWH life dot com if you want to discuss this further. 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. Of course I’ll engage in the discussion there but maybe there’s something that can help me to even change it has to make it better. Remember that others are fighting things that you might not realize and give them the benefit of the doubt.
[01:57:37] Love others do no harm and go be happy.