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Episode 9 – Let’s Send This Thing Out Right – Where We Ended Up

After leaving the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses we learned even more eye-opening things about it. Then we applied the same scrutiny to the book that everything we ever believed was based on. Where did we end up? How is our life now? How will I end this last episode of my story? Listen to find out.



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[00:01:59] I’m going to break down the nearly two years since my wife and I left the call in different sections to tie up some loose ends and and report on what life has been like after the call. So let’s just jump right in. First section we’re going to talk about is what I’ve learned since leaving the cold about the cold admittedly Jehovah’s Witnesses know very little about the religion that they pledged their loyalty to. As far as history goes and they also honestly don’t know a lot about what is involved in it. Presently you see a good magician only shows you what they want you to see. They don’t slow things down and show you the sleight of hand used to make the allusion appear seamless to your naked eye. I’ve had time now to slow things down to get away from the indoctrination and to get that detailed look at things that I never even had any clue were going on. Around the time that I was coming out there were two big events that happened in the Colts. First the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again these are the leaders of the cult. They started coming out from behind the curtain. Now when I was growing up. One of the selling points of the cult was that our leaders were unknown to us. So it couldn’t be a call right. You know these people were behind the scenes they weren’t doing it for personal glory. So it wasn’t like we were following some man. Well those men have now decided to make themselves known. And it is glorious.

[00:03:28] Now I’m just going to sit here and take shots at them unnecessarily. But if you’ve ever seen a picture of them or if you ever hear them speak the mental illness in them just drips off their words one of them looks like a caricature of Cecil the turtle from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons and speaks about like him. It is so creepy. Others have he’s really flat facts as though they are dead inside something that kind of tends to do anyway to people by robbing them of their humanity. But they are truly caricatures. Now one day around when I left there was a huge meeting that was broadcast throughout all the congregations. This was a big deal.

[00:04:11] It was a special thing and everyone flocked to their kingdom halls to watch this live stream on video screens of the governing body during a special meeting. This

[00:04:21] wasn’t something that the average Jehovah’s Witness ever got to see.

[00:04:26] There were these annual meetings that were held up at Bethel or the headquarters in New York in New York City. But this wasn’t something that the average person got to participate in. But they took the opportunity to come out pretty much to great fanfare to be seen on these video screens that each congregation would either buy or rent so that they could show the members this live stream now this is a great chance.

[00:04:58] The governing body could speak to anything they wanted anything in the world. They had their subs subjects were captive they could encourage them in any way they wanted. Would you like to know what the highlight from that meeting was Anthony Morris one of the governing body members used his 15 minutes of fame to go on a rant about tight pants tight pants.

[00:05:25] In fact he is no now as tight pants Tony he could have talked about anything he could have encouraged single parents that were going through tough times. He could have encouraged young people that had to live a messed up life in the cold. But instead he chose to harp on things like how tight the pants were that people were wearing. And if you don’t like it as he is so fond of saying take it up with God because you know that’s right there in the Bible in the book of fashion you know the chapter about how tight your pants should be. He he talked about those Spanx as he called them just to show how out of touch he is. He talked about those Spanx as he called them that women used to work out in. And how appalling it was that they would ever wear those out of the house. Then he went on to talk about how the homosexuals that design men’s pants want to see you in those tight pants the more slender dress pants as opposed to the pleated pans that looked like balloons were. Remember those as I remember when I was younger you’d wear these pleated pants a little balloons in your crotch when you sit down. Well you know these homosexuals they’re just making you wear these tight pants so they can see your bold young men. That’s what it’s about. You could see how out of touch these human beings are what their world view is like in just a few statements. It doesn’t take a lot.

[00:06:51] You don’t have to get to know these men. This man is a God. A G O D or a guardian of doctrine as they literally referred to themselves as at one point. What a shame that instead of helping people. All he did was put more burdens on them like the Pharisees in Jesus day that Jehovah’s Witnesses liked to poke fun at that talk helped to wake a lot of people up. He even went on a rant about the socks that brothers wore with crazy colors on them or designs really now also around that time was the live streaming online of the Australian Royal Commission. The FARC is investigating religions in Australia and how they deal with childhood sexual abuse in their organisations. Now it isn’t just Jehovah’s witnesses that were being investigated but it was the Jehovah’s Witnesses that got special attention not just from those of us that were watching. Ex Jacob’s but from the commission itself you see ANGUS STEWART Now a hero among us ex SJ Dubbs was not fooled by the court’s appearance and persona. He went in prepared in part because the ex Jehovah’s Witness community reached out and gave him things that helped him to prosecute the witnesses in his court. I’ll let you in on a little something regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses and child sexual abuse or honestly abuse of any kind. Let’s say that Little Susie claims that a relative molested her she tells her Jehovah’s Witness parents first her parents will go to the elders not to the police but to the elders as that is pretty much how everything is handled in the creation’s.

[00:08:38] Then once they’re little Susie would have to sit down in front of men elders and tell them what happened. Faced probing questions into it again. I think I mentioned earlier they want to know all the details. Then the elders would call the legal department at Watchtower headquarters for advice on how to proceed. Now Jehovah’s Witnesses will deny that this is the case but the case is that Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been discouraged from going to the police. As a general rule remember they’re concerned more about appearance than anything and they will avoid the courts because they don’t want the organisation to look bad publicly just like they’ll encourage people that seek psychiatric care. So then please don’t disclose that you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses because it reflects badly on them. So Susie has now been through this ordeal and the elders would then go confront the relative in the congregation that was accused of molesting her. Often it would come down to a judicial hearing and the little girl would have to face the person that she accused often an adult and likely a man in this scenario in front of three men in the end unless the accused confessed. There could be nothing done unless there was a second witness. Now how many times do you think someone witnesses such predatory behavior. So the relative goes free to molest others and only if another person comes forward later. Will they then have their two witnesses. They have what’s called the two witness rule. They take it from one particular verse in the Bible out of the mouth of two witnesses and they use it in this particular scenario.

[00:10:27] And because people aren’t going to the police it really causes a lot of problems and there’s a lot of behavior that has repeated There was an elder that was being shaken down by Angus Stewart that was on the stand in the course of questioning Mr. Stewart asked him what he was doing to protect the general public. Her he got all indignant and was like well you know of course we care about other kids but how could we protect everyone. Well Mr. Stewart beautifully pointed out that by keeping everything in-house and avoiding taking matters like this to the police they were at best only trying to protect those in their own cult and that even if the abuser confessed and was disfellowshipped that did nothing to protect the community at large from a predator. The elder as if thinking about this for the first time in his life thinking about other people he turned blood red and was humiliated. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses are so full of themselves that they don’t even consider outsiders. This was an eye opener. In the end over 1000 cases of pedophilia were documented and not one was ever reported to the authorities. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a policy of also destroying notes taken during such questionings of abuse cases and when questioned on the stage on the stand as to whether or not they would continue doing so. They said yeah that’s our policy because again it’s policy over people. Now people have even been threatened with disfellowshipping if they were to take these accusations of abuse to the police. Justice McClellan who was presiding over that court pointed out that Jehovah’s Witnesses were the worst organization that he had seen in dealing with this.

[00:12:22] And the quote was defiance at every turn in areas where they were expected to cooperate. They even hired an outside expert to sing their praises. That was snowed by them as to what the reality was.

[00:12:36] And then when this woman gets up on the stand she looks like a complete tool because she had to admit as their own hired expert that they were not doing what they should be doing at all.

[00:12:49] She didn’t realize what the real situation was and so she got on the stand. She had gone by what the organization had told her. All the flowery things about how wonderful they are and then when she got confronted with the reality of it she had to admit what that reality was she was absolutely taken apart on the stand.

[00:13:11] In fact it’s also funny that they have a woman up there as an expert in the first place.

[00:13:16] We all know as the Jehovah’s Witnesses at least know that only those with a male appendage know anything of use. They’re the only ones who could be an expert for them to actually put a woman up there. It’s just so counter to who Jehovah’s Witnesses are. In fact the court was hoping that the court would allow women to hold a role in these types of abuse cases particularly where girls or women were being abused so that they didn’t have to go speak to men about it. And of course the court declined to consider that I could go on and on. I could do an entire podcast about the RCC alone but I’ll leave it there. The organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses actually has a database of thousands upon thousands of such accusations of pedophilia and even known pedophiles who have confessed to what they did. They have a database of thousands upon thousands of these situations around the globe that they keep secret. The court is not co-operative and holds those databases close even redacting basically any information they want when forced to cooperate by the judicial system. Further showing how little Jehovah’s Witnesses regard outsiders was another event that happened at the time there was a massive earthquake in Nepal that killed thousands and injured tens of thousands. It was a nightmare it was all over the news well the way the witnesses react it bothered me so much as I was waking up. That actually put a post up on one of the SJW forums in a thread entitled they only care about themselves.

[00:15:02] I said I’ve watched the reaction to the Nepal disaster for the first time with eyes open. What do I see.

[00:15:09] Lots of comments about praying for the brothers and sisters affected the official release on the Web site because the witnesses main web site they actually have kind of like a media section where they address things that happen in the world regarding them.

[00:15:26] So there is this official release on their Web site references only the sister and her two children that died along with the impact on the brothers there. That’s it for an organization that is supposed to be marked by love for all of the gum flapping about how much love for neighbor they show. They can’t even be bothered to shout out to the thousands killed and their families and friends. Would it be too much to even acknowledge that other people you know the ones that you supposedly love so much that you go and preach to them door to door even exists.

[00:16:00] I understand taking care of your own but you don’t have to ignore everyone else like calous Narcissus.

[00:16:07] So that’s the end of my post that I had made. I just couldn’t believe how they wouldn’t even acknowledge that other people were impacted. There was literally no mention of those other people. It shows again how little they care about anyone that is outside their group. Here’s some other random things that I’ve learned since being out. I came to realize that there is now no concept of grace in the Colts. They don’t use the term grace. That’s something that I heard for the first time outside of Jehovah’s Witnesses Instead they use the term undeserved kindness so that you always know that you’re not really worth anything. I also realize that they they use a lot of weasel words like the word evidently when about to make a point that requires a huge leap and has no real basis. They like to make leaps tobacco whatever ridiculous thing that they’re about to posit. So they’ll use a word a use word like evidently to get you to make that leap with them. On that. No. They often use the term present truth and the other does speak term present truth to let you know that you have to obey because whatever they’re telling you is true but that truth is subject to change.

[00:17:29] I learned that they are involved in all kinds of things that they would never allow their members to be a part of or even given the appearance of association with. The biggest example of this is the United Nations now. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even supposed to join the local YMCA because it is a Christian organization not affiliated with the cult and thereby it is false religion because remember they and they alone have the truth. But the colt which claims that the United Nations will eventually cause the nations to turn on and shut down religion and which they see as the scarlet colored wild beast in Revelation. They Jehovah’s Witnesses actually became an associate an NGO or a non-governmental organization of the United Nations in 1992 the Guardian and the United Kingdom actually broke the news in October of 2001 that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were a member of this organization that they claim to be the scarlet colored wild beast of Revelation.

[00:18:38] And that very same month the cult withdrew and disassociated as an NGO member of the United Nations. They are hypocrites of the highest order. If you look up the company of Rand cam that’s R.A. in the space s.a.m Aranda cam if you look at their SCC or Securities and Exchange Commission information as a traded company in the United States you’ll see that the Watchtower holds a large stake Rand’s cam makes engines and is involved in the defense industry the war machine something that Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to.

[00:19:16] Do they think do you think that they would have let you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses do anything that even sniffs such an industry of course not years ago Jehovah’s Witnesses aligned themselves with the well-known televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and listing themselves as a quote friend of the court during his case regarding sales tax on books sold. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses used to sell their books and magazines from door to door. We would go and we would sell them we would collect money for them. Well one day we got a notice from the top at one of our meetings that we were so blessed by Jehovah that we were going to start relying on him to make this organization go.

[00:20:01] We would show our trust in him by going to a donation arrangement instead of charging for the literature we were given suggested donations and proof that Jehovah was backing us would be demonstrated as the organization would have an abundance materially under this new system of getting funding through voluntary donations instead of charging for our literature.

[00:20:22] This was God ordained right. Well what they didn’t tell us and what I found out later was that the government decided that selling books like this should be taxed and they didn’t want to pay taxes.

[00:20:34] So that is the real reason that the donation arrangement came about it wasn’t blessing from Almighty God. It was prompting by the almighty dollar. In the end it is the members of the congregation that donate the money for the literature that they then go out and give away for free. Most of the time they jilted their members into funding all of it. Well-played colt. Well played another great play is this. It used to be that every congregation was its own entity and own its own property including the building the local brothers and sisters would donate money to the upkeep of the building. They donate money to pay the mortgage or eventually save money for a down payment on a new building if needed. Well the organization often funded those mortgages and the local congregations would get a loan for their Keenum hall that they would you know them be so proud of well Watchtower headquarters decided that they were going to be nice a few years ago. They sent out a letter only part of which was read to the creation and part of which was for the elders eyes only and which they forgave all the mortgages those congregations that had a loan with the organization we’re now debt free. That’s awesome right.

[00:21:53] I mean really how can you mess that up. Well as with just about anything. Read the fine print. What they actually did was to forgive the loans to be sure but they had all of the properties turned over to them. They now owned everything including Keenum halls that were long since paid for. They scarfed up all the properties.

[00:22:17] They also told the Koreans that since they were taking care of everything now there was no use in the individual congregations having much money in the bank. So they took everything over a certain amount of basic operating costs. There are creations that had tens of thousands of dollars saved up and earmarked for a new building and all that money was just taken to sweeten the deal for the cold even more.

[00:22:42] They told the members that you know what since you’ve proven that you can pay X amount for your mortgage over these years you know whatever they had previously been paying for the mortgage you could just keep donating that amount through a pledge. And what they did is they handed out slips of paper for everyone to write down how much money they would commit to giving each month so that they knew that they would still be getting their money. In other words don’t think you can relax and not keep donating just because you don’t have a mortgage anymore. They weren’t about to take that foot off the throat of their members.

[00:23:15] This new arrangement is forever. So yeah you don’t have a loan anymore but you have a commitment in perpetuity to pay at least the same amount. And oh yeah that’s took all of your money out of the bank and they took your property too. Again well.

[00:23:32] Well played in fact one of the things that Jehovah’s Witness has always bragged about was that every month we would have this accounts report that was read from the platform. A brother would get up the account servant who took care of everything. And you know so how much money was donated he’d tell how much you know went to the electric bill the gas bill the water bill it’s maintenance on the creation. And I mean you know to be honest to you know give them props for this.

[00:23:59] They were very transparent on the local level and when they go to conventions they have a much less detailed accounts report that they go over.

[00:24:11] But has anybody ever seen an accounts report for the entire organization. Has anybody ever seen where all of that money goes. Because all they would ever say at the local level is we had X amount that was donated to the quote worldwide work a catchall for the money that was given to the organization.

[00:24:31] And you know this was beyond the money that was given to the local herniation. So there was a lot of transparency locally.

[00:24:39] But all of the funds that went to Watchtower headquarters said he didn’t know where all that money went.

[00:24:46] But not until 1961.

[00:24:51] Changing the subject. Jehovah’s Witnesses could say blood transfusions without penalty.

[00:24:57] There were brothers and sisters who you know got a blood transfusion that maybe even save their life. In 1961 it was made a disfellowshipping offense. Eventually as I stated in an earlier episode it was deemed to be an automatic disassociation so that they could put the entire blame on you for being out.

[00:25:18] If you took a blood transfusion that saved your life instead of looking bad themselves for kicking you out for taking such a life saving measure over time they have now decided that certain blood fractions are OK to say how many died or were disfellowship during their changes in beliefs. And yet no apology was offered.

[00:25:39] And if you are disfellowshipped for taking a fraction to save your life prior to their change in doctrine you would still remain disfellowshipped because ultimately the real problem is that you didn’t submit to their wishy washy doctrine. I always wondered when they would start letting sex fractions be OK. There are a lot of witnesses who question that fun fact at one point Jehovah’s Witnesses considered organ transplants to be cannibalism.

[00:26:08] Here’s some other fun facts. The cult was started by Charles Taze Russell. He was associated with the millwrights and the Seventh Day Adventists and he bought into their predictions of the end of the world with specific dates. He is rumored to have had involvement with the Knights Templar Freemasons. He used pyramid ology to try to predict things like 1914 using the dimensions of pyramids. Speaking of 1914 they arrive at that date for the beginning of the end of this system of things based on calculations starting from the fall of Jerusalem in 6 0 7 BCE only do a quick Google search and you’ll see that Jerusalem wasn’t destroyed in 6 so seven BCE 587 is the accepted date. For its fall for any exodus out there that haven’t looked that one up yet. Take a look at that that dates 1914 that Jehovah’s Witnesses hold so dear as the date that Jesus took his invisible reign in heaven. Just waiting to come and crush this this world or at least the non Jaida on it. That day was based on 6 0 7 BCE and then other speculative ridiculous calculations but six so seven BCE. Pretty much according to Jehovah’s Witnesses they’re the only ones who say that that’s when Jerusalem fell. I mean it doesn’t really take much research. Anyway back to Russell. Charles says Russell is buried in a cemetery adjacent to Masonic property and there’s a large pyramid monument nearby his grave that Rutherford the second president of the call is rumored to have put their Russell was involved in something that was a scam a called Miracle Wheat as well.

[00:28:00] At one point it was said that God lived on a star in the Pleiades constellation Jehovah’s Witness has purchased two properties under the direction of Rutherford the second president one called Best Seram and one called Beth Shan. Both I believe were in San Diego. Best Seram meant the house of princes princes and these properties were supposedly purchased because they believed that the faithful men of old these princes like Abraham or Mose’s they believed that these men would be resurrected to the earth and they wanted to have a nice place for them to stay. Yes I’m serious. It is well-documented. You see photos of the place. There was rumor that Beth Shan How’s the bomb shelter some sort of bunker for the impending Armageddon. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t know anything about these matters. I never did. Another thing they don’t realize is that they are being played in the literature often the use of an ellipses.

[00:29:05] Those few dots you’ll see something said then dot dot dot and then some more things said. Usually when you see one of those ellipses those few dots indicating that part of something usually a quote we’re left out there often hiding some very real lies and manipulation of quotes for instance Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe that Jesus died on a cross. They believe it to be an upright stake like a pole. Here is a partial quote that the cult gives to support its position on this upright stake taken from the Imperial Bible Dictionary. Now first I’m going to read what Watchtower’s says in their book. Reasoning from the Scriptures on the subject and then I’m going to read what the actual dictionary says. So here’s what Watchtower’s says that this book says the Greek word for cross rose properly signified a steak and upright pole or a piece of paling on which anything might be hung or which might be reused in impaling or fencing in a piece of ground. Dot dot dot dot. Even amongst the Romans the crux from which our cross is derived appears to have been originally an upright pole. All right so if you read this. Sounds like the Greek word for cross-bow star rose. It was a stake and so that would be used in impaling right. Even the Romans appeared to have used a cross that originated from an upright pole. All right. It’s a pole. It’s not a cross Well let’s see what the quote actually says.

[00:30:42] It says the Greek word for cross star rose properly signified a stake an upright pole or a piece of paling on which anything might be hung or which might be used in impaling or fencing in a piece of ground. Now here’s the dot dot dot dot. The ellipses but a modification was introduced as the as the Dominion and usages of Rome extended themselves to Greek speaking countries even amongst the Romans. The crux from which the word crosses derived appears to have been originally an upright pole and always remained the more prominent part but from the time that it began to be used as an instrument of punishment a traverse piece of wood was commonly added. Not however always then there can be no doubt however that the later sort was more common. And that about the period of the Gospel age crucifixion was usually accomplished by suspending the criminal on a cross piece of wood. Honestly if you continue going through the dictionary there there are several places where it talks about the cross and how it was a cross. But the witnesses have manipulated the quotes to mean something else.

[00:31:53] In fact I remember one time this isn’t actually in my notes. I tried to find it but at one time there was an expert that they used. You know he was some scientist that they used to explain something.

[00:32:11] I don’t know about how you know things were really here by creation not by evolution. You know this former evolutionist or something. What they failed to mention was the person that they quoted was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who used to be a science as that’s what it was.

[00:32:28] And then when caught on it they took the entire part about that out. So you know they have no qualms in bending the truth and claiming to have the truth if they are changing the words of others to fit what they want they will do the same in their own publications. If you were to go look at their publications today the cult keeps them online for easy access part of that easy access that they can change things in their own written word without anyone noticing. In fact if you go look at what they allow people to see now they only allow you to go back to like the year 2000. Everything before then is gone as though it didn’t happen. All the crazy things that they said are just gone.

[00:33:18] In fact they often will try to get rid of older books and try to destroy them so that the average person can’t come across them you see with all the books that they’ve produced over the years.

[00:33:32] They were caught on a lot of things that they predicted and got wrong. For example the cult said over and over and in many ways that the world would end in 1975. There was even a saying stay alive till 75 people were encouraged to give up their worldly possessions and to spend more time preaching the message of salvation. Door to door because the time was near for Armageddon the biggest increases the organization ever had were during the years leading up to this. People sold off everything. They quit their jobs they quit basic education like high school and devoted everything to the cause. I’m guessing you realize that since we’re still here they were wrong yet again. Let’s look though at how they change the past through their written word.

[00:34:22] There was a book released in 1968 around the time when they kind of started pushing the rhetoric about this 1975 thing and the book on page 88 paragraph 11 says during and after World War II widespread. Now I should say first sorry the title of this chapter.

[00:34:46] This book is called the truth that leads to eternal life. The title of this chapter is God’s Kingdom comes to power. OK. So supporting the when God’s kingdom will come in. And of course God’s Kingdom coming in means Armageddon the end of this current system of things subparagraph 11 says that during and after World War 2 widespread food shortages added to the distress.

[00:35:09] Shortly after the war look magazine observed a fourth of the world is starving today. Tomorrow will be even worse. Famine over most of the world now is more terrible than most of us can imagine.

[00:35:22] I wonder what it says there anyway. There are now more people hunting desperately for food than at any other time in history. More recently the book entitled famine in 1975 said concerning today’s food shortages. Hunger is rampant throughout country after country continent after continent around the undeveloped belt of the tropics and subtropics.

[00:35:45] Today’s crisis can move in only one direction toward catastrophe. Today Hungary Nations tomorrow starving nations by 1975 civil disorder Anarky military dictatorships runaway inflation transportation breakdown and chaotic unrest will be the order of the day in many of the hungry nations.

[00:36:08] So you see there they were already starting to point to 1975 is this time when all these bad things are going to happen right. Well and I think it was like 1980 they revised this book. So let’s look at what it said after 1975 during and after World War 2.

[00:36:31] Well I’ll just skip the first part. Shortly after the war.

[00:36:35] Look magazine observed and then it goes on about how the world is starving today. And to me it just goes. More recent reports have shown that a constant lack of adequate food resulting in chronic malnutrition has become the major world hunger problem today.

[00:36:49] The London Times reported and then it just goes off into some you know random quote having nothing to do with 1975.

[00:36:59] So the previous the original iteration there was a quote from a book entitled famine 1975. And in that book it actually pointed to 1975 as when chaos would ensue. So they will do anything they can to try to avoid admission of being wrong even changing their own written word.

[00:37:21] And now they can do it with impunity because they can do it online on their own Web site where they control everything.

[00:37:30] Now I initially they blamed the members of the organization for making up the whole 1975 thing on their own and they blame them for running with it when it was actually them the organization that mentioned it over and over suddenly putting it out there like the manipulative people that they are. Speaking of books through a crisis of conscience by Ray Franz the former Governing Body member I learned that beliefs and policies are actually voted on now. I mean he kind of makes some sense is not a huge revelation you know but let’s play that out. That means that there are members of the governing body today that don’t even believe their own teachings. If you or I believe something different and others found out it could be grounds for a ruling of apostasy and we could be disfellowshipped.

[00:38:19] However those men are voting on things that impact people’s lives their real everyday lives the decision not to allow the brothers and sisters in Malawi to purchase a party card because of their stand on political neutrality cost thousands their lives and they were brutally raped and mutilated and tortured because the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses would not allow the brothers and sisters in Malawi to purchase this party card. They said it would not be showing neutrality as it turns out. Malawi only had one party so they wouldn’t have been taking sides. And this car costs very little it was like getting an ID and the brothers pleaded with Jehovah’s Witness headquarters because the ruling made no sense. In the end a lot of people were slaughtered. Lives were ruined. People were tortured and Jehovah’s Witnesses have a lot of blood on their hands. I came to realize that that whole field service work that we always did it’s not to make converts.

[00:39:26] It’s to keep you the publisher going from door to door so that you stay in the colt.

[00:39:33] You see human beings have a need for internal consistency we need our thoughts and our actions to align or or we’ll start going a different path because they don’t match up. But if they can get us to go knock on doors investing so much time and energy when they’re teaching can’t come up in our head that maybe it makes sense or or the cold asks us to do something ridiculous. We were more inclined to just brush it aside because we were investing so much into this. In fact the Jehovah’s Witnesses and I looked this up. I forgot about it just now come to mind. But there’s a quote in a recent magazine where essentially the governing body has written that there’s going to likely come a time in the future when the governing body is going to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses to do something that may not seem prudent or may not seem to be the smartest decision given the circumstances. But it’s a matter of obedience and salvation to go ahead and follow that direction.

[00:40:46] They they basically have set them up to tell their people anything they want and people can’t question it. They’re supposed to just go along with it. I mean how sick is that. Additionally there are a lot of people that leave the cold that end up going Buchwald. Why.

[00:41:09] Well you might think it’s because they’ve been pent up for so long in a restrictive call and you know you’d be at least partially right in some cases.

[00:41:16] However if you think about it the cult tells people that those on the outside are basically having sex with anything that moves taking every drug getting drunk constantly just leaving and living the the life of every sort all the time so when a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses leave the Colts they think that’s what’s expected of them to fit in. They often go far wilder than anyone around them because they’ve been told that’s how it is and they’re just trying to fit in and they’ve been given a false vision of what that means. The hope is that yeah they’ll go wild and ultimately they’ll implode and come back to the Colts. So coming and going they’ve got you brainwashed. They then use those people on convention parts as examples of of the person that went out into the evil world and found that there was nothing good out there for them. Well it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy inserted into the consciousness of members that is then played out when they leave. If you want to know what it’s like to live in a cult I would encourage you to read the book 1984 by George Orwell.

[00:42:29] I’m not going to spoil it for you but there are so many phrases that are used in daily life like Big Brother is watching those phrases come from this book. If you are an ex Jehovah’s Witness you have to read this book. It is a very dystopian novel.

[00:42:45] And honestly once I was done reading it I felt dirty like I needed a shower.

[00:42:51] Realizing that it was largely the life that I had lived didn’t quite help that feeling a whole lot. It’s just gross. The manipulation of human beings all right now we’re going to move on to Section 2. This is something that that people actually often ask me and that’s all you know where are you now spiritually or you know what do you believe now. So I’m going to talk about where I am spiritually and how I got there. In fact if you think about it just the end of last episode when I came out I was seeing God’s praises I even said that I was closer to Jehovah then than I’d ever been in my entire life.

[00:43:34] I saw I thought I saw God’s hand in so much of what was changing my life for the better. I thought I was being blessed and it blew my mind that I was doing things differently than what I had been told I needed to do in order to be blessed. The coach said that I could be blessed for things that I was doing that were now turning out in my favor as my life was changing dramatically for the better.

[00:43:58] Jehovah’s Witness who can quote quote scripture the scriptures as they’ve been shown and the narrative that has been woven through disparate verses is something that they’re very good at.

[00:44:08] However they don’t know much about the book itself or at least I didn’t and I know a lot more now than I ever did as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Just like with with the cold itself. I have gone deep on a lot of things after leaving. So after taking apart the cult that I pledged my allegiance to for so long I realized that my faith was all built upon the Bible which you know makes sense.

[00:44:35] But the same thing that was true of my religious faith was true of this book that it was all founded upon.

[00:44:42] I never really examined the book itself. And so I sat down and looked at it with fresh eyes. Now while I woke up in large part because of how the cult was so unloving and harsh and how it was mentally and emotionally unhealthy my wife if she was telling her own story right now she would tell you that it was actually the Bible itself that woke her up while I was diving deep into the side of things.

[00:45:07] She was trying to double down on her Bible reading so that she could prove the truth to herself and God’s word. We really approach things differently. But there’s a saying that atheists are atheists because they’ve never read the Bible. They are atheists because they actually did.

[00:45:24] Now this is where I’m going to relate a part of my journey that could be somewhat uncomfortable for some of you. It’s not my goal to attack anyone’s faith.

[00:45:34] You have a right to feel or believe anything that you want to believe or look at the evidence however you want to look at it.

[00:45:47] I’m going to keep this somewhat brief because my goal isn’t just to tear down the beliefs your beliefs but this is a part of my journey. This is my story. This is real and I’m going to share it. This is this is the progression of everything for me.

[00:46:02] For those of you who are out there that feel a need to save me through your faith I will respectfully tell you that although I appreciate where you’re coming from and your intent because we’ve had many people since we left to have something else that they want us to get in I’m not really interested unless you can come to me with evidence.

[00:46:20] You see I lived a faith based life for three decades and then it was actually different facts that started waking me up to things that I actually had faith in so it was now time for me to really take a look at this book and the facts of what it contained and the facts surrounding its composition. These were things I never really looked.

[00:46:42] I just kind of accepted on faith that the Bible was true from day one. I mean that was a foundation that was something that was given to me. And I mean I never even had a chance to look at that.

[00:46:55] So I’m going to be blunt. I’m going to be quick here and then we’ll move on to my life after the cold and what my life afterward has been been like including some key events that happened there.

[00:47:06] So these are the things that my faith in the Bible the way first of all in Genesis the plants are created before the light sources. That’s bass ackwards God. That’s kind of the wrong way. There is a literal talking snake but the creative days were supposed to be figurative. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden there was an angel placed to guard it with a flaming sword swords weren’t even invented back then if you take Bible History is written if all of the scientific evidence is right and man has been here much longer than 5000 years. Then there was no Adam and Eve according to Bible chronology and thus no original sin and no real need for a redeemer. And the whole narrative falls apart. The Marians also had very similar stories before the Bible was written and the Bible is very similar to many of those because I was curious as to how I had always been told basically that the Bible was the original not necessarily the facts Noah’s Ark. I mean come on.

[00:48:15] There are too many species of animals to take them all and not only to but to you. But if you read on some were taken by sevens it depended on clean versus unclean.

[00:48:25] Really they all fit on that ark. What about the dinosaurs. Where were they in any of this. How did all of the aquatic life not die.

[00:48:36] Because if the waters really rose above the entire surface of the earth as stated then the mixing of salt and fresh waters would have killed everything in the sea and destroyed their habitat.

[00:48:49] Afterward where did all that water go. So they had to go somewhere and the last time I checked I’m not living in Atlantis underwater. Why did God kill all of his creation that wouldn’t fit on the ark. Isn’t that cruel. Why are we supposed to respect his creation when he doesn’t. Why is there no fossil record of kangaroos anywhere but Australia to know a swing by there and drop them off at some point.

[00:49:14] Or how did they get there.

[00:49:17] Another thing that woke me was that Scripture were 40 something kids make fun of a Lycia was saying go up you baldhead.

[00:49:24] And then God sends two she bears out of the woods to tear the kids to pieces. Really God really was that really necessary it let’s face it. The old testament god wasn’t very kind. He ordered his people to dash the children of a conquered nation on the rocks they would conquer and take the virgins as their own. I’m pretty sure they weren’t taking them just because they wanted to give them a better life. Women were concubines and those with God’s favor that led his nation. Lot of the Kings had lots of concubines violence. Massage any infanticide all at God’s direction. It has been pointed out that God kills way more people in the Bible and say it never did.

[00:50:11] The Messiah was supposed to come through the line of David. Joseph was indeed in that line but Mary wasn’t and apparently old Joseph had no hand in the matter as far as the pregnancy with wit and for that matter Mary was a virgin. So how was Jesus through that lineage. I mean if it was so important and would prove that he was the Messiah shouldn’t God make sure that Joseph was involved in some way if you know what I mean. I mean like that’s one of the main prophecies.

[00:50:41] How can it not be straightforward. Read the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 28 1 through 10 and open another Bible and read the account of the resurrection of Jesus and John 20 1 through 18.

[00:50:59] Read those two accounts together side by side and compare them. They aren’t quite the same. There are scriptures in the Bible with clear direction on everything from not mixing certain materials and fabric to how long a woman was ceremonially unclean with the flow of blood to warnings against beast reality in very specific language. Yet I’ve never found any scriptures specifically protecting children the most vulnerable human beings against sexual abuse and this kind of hit me one day and it kind of seems like a big oversight there God. I mean where is it.

[00:51:40] You point to a scripture about fornication or something like that. But I mean if that’s the case and it’s just about how not having sex with some one you’re not married to the while the Scriptures on reality. I don’t think you’re married to your dog or whatever.

[00:51:54] Where are the verses to specifically condemn child sexual abuse when so much else is spoken about.

[00:52:09] The Bible was voted on to see what books would be included. It was written by men and the accounts of Jesus were written well after the fact Mark was written first and the original copies did not contain mentions of the virgin birth or anyone seeing Jesus after his death. Though it appears the latter was added and some translations later it is as though other things were added by later writers to make the story more appealing. Romans Chapter 9 talks of God as a potter and starting at verse 20 it says. But who are you O man to be answering back to God. Does the thing molded say to it’s older. Why did you make me this way. What does not the potter have authority over that collates to make from the same Lumpe one vessel for an honorable use another for a dishonorable use. Just think about those words. It kind of sounds a lot like that whole free will thing. Was it quite so free. If you can’t you know God can make you this person a vessel for honorable use this one for dishonorable use. How is that fair. And then you know another thing that always caught me was the book of Revelation.

[00:53:25] But that doesn’t mean all the book of Revelation I mean come on. If our salvation is Shearman’s hangs in the balance of understanding the Bible. Why put such insane riddles in it. God has been described as a loving father. The superlative example and the bible is supposed to be his love letter to us. If that’s the case then why couldn’t he make it more clear. Shouldn’t any good father understand what his kids need in order to understand something. Shouldn’t he know our abilities and limitations as humans if he created us.

[00:53:58] And what good father gives his book gives his kids a book of riddles and then if they can’t figure it out to his liking destroys them.

[00:54:09] The final thing that I’ll say is there’s a lot of circular logic used when discussing the Bible like well we know the Bible is true. Just read this scripture here at well that’s not a basis for belief. You can’t use the bible to prove the Bible that that’s that’s bad logic is circular logic. That doesn’t mean it’s true just because it says it is. So where am I now own I guess pretty much my wife too though I guess I got let her speak for herself. As far as myself I simply can’t have faith in the Bible or the God of it. I just can’t. Now does that mean there is no God. Well not necessarily though. It absolutely could mean that there is no God. And you know at this point I’m not seeing a lot of evidence of it. But you know I don’t claim to know everything anymore. See I I spent my entire life thinking I had the truth about my entire life thinking that I didn’t know at all that I didn’t know that there was a God that this book was his word too was. But as I’ve gotten to examine those things with fresh eyes it just doesn’t add up. Now there might be a God that loves us and wants to offer us everything we’ve ever dreamed of on this earth or maybe in heaven or some other planet. I don’t know. Maybe I can believe in possibilities. I can believe that I don’t know everything and maybe there is something else there also might be a god that just walked away and is indifferent.

[00:55:47] Or there could be a god that’s malevolent and hates us and wants bad things for us. We look around there’s a lot of bad stuff that goes on. You know it’s always funny. Always look that you know what I called creation for evidence of this loving god. You know I would talk about the beauty of creation. It shows there must be this god of love.

[00:56:08] But what I never bothered to look at was the absolute cruelty of the animal kingdom and the parasites and diseases the critters that get an utter critters and eat them from the inside out that are just as much a part of that creation.

[00:56:25] There’s there’s a yin and yang to a lot of life. There’s there’s you know these different extremes.

[00:56:34] Now at this point I guess I’d have to say that I’m basically an atheist. Some might call it an agnostic atheist I mean I’m open to possibilities and I’m open if there is a god out there and you can open my eyes and I can have some evidence not faith. Not just the faith that I have my entire life where I have to make leaps. But if he if I could find any easy evidence that there is truly this god I’m open to that. But there just has to be more proof for me to ever put my belief in something again.

[00:57:16] I just can’t do it.

[00:57:18] Now you might say. But what about all those blessings that you just said. You know in the last episode you said you experienced all those blessings firsthand while you were exiting the coal the van that was running the you know the things that happened as you made yourself available to get more work and all that.

[00:57:35] Well here’s what I’ll say. I learned better things I did better things and better things happened in my life. It would be just like if I played a game of basketball but didn’t know how to play the game would be pretty ugly for me wouldn’t it. But if I concentrated on my handles I’d learned how to dribble. Then I worked on my form I learned how to shoot if I figured out how to position my body on defense so as to limit the mobility of the player in front of me. I’d have a much easier time on the court. Now God didn’t help me I help to me. I finally reached out for better tools. I worked on my life. I did better things and therefore I got better results. Just like if I worked out or anything else if God was helping me and I have left God and basically become an atheist why hasn’t my life spiraled again. It hasn’t because it wasn’t God in the first place or at least that’s my take on it. You’re you know you’re welcome to have your own. And I can appreciate that now. We don’t all have to think of field together. I’m no longer the same. I’m no longer in a Colts so we can have those differences and that’s fine. We’re part of the beauty of this world is that we don’t all have to be the same and we aren’t all the same. In fact I now appreciate the beauty of each day. I still appreciate the life around me.

[00:59:06] In fact I can look at my life today as the miracle that I was waiting for my whole life to happen to me at some point in the future after death or when the world ended or whatever. I’m so much more in tune with life now around me. I realize it just for me to be here today doing this podcast there was such a statistically improbable scenario that the sperm and egg that made that happen made it happen that time. Just the fact that I survived two full term birth that I was born without complications that nothing catastrophic happened in my childhood that I learned to drive and drove like an idiot as a teenager without disaster that I didn’t take my own life in my darkest moments and that I made it out of a cult. I am in heaven now. I mean I’m not really you know I don’t believe in a heaven but so to speak. I’m in heaven now I’ve experienced hell. I made it out. I’m not going to spend my time now dedicated to things that have no real proof attached to them. I can’t. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t marvel at the complexity of everything. I was listening to a podcast or something. I believe it was Adams but it was said that scientists could put an atom in one room and another atom in another room. They can stimulate the one add them to vibrate at a certain frequency and the other one in the other isolated room were spawned by very vibrating at the same frequency. That is amazing stuff there. I can still marvel at things bigger than me.

[01:00:50] Like the universe and I don’t claim to know everything but a lack of answers doesn’t mean that the answer is God.

[01:01:00] I live a beautiful life now.

[01:01:02] Now speaking of that let’s go ahead now. We’re going to go to section three and I’m going to talk about my life after the colt. All right. So when we first left the coke it was like my wife and I were aliens being dropped in this planet and we had to figure out a lot of things we are still doing that at times. For instance someone gave me a birthday card and a present the other day because this Saturday August 12th I turned 40 years old and it was so cool and unexpected. I thanked the person personally while I was there very sincerely Oh am I supposed to send a thank you card as well. I don’t know. I don’t know if you bring presents to a birthday party for an adult. I mean people did to ours but like or from our wives. But it was you know her for her first birthday. I’ve heard different things. There are so many things that we have to figure out. We decided this year to celebrate the Fourth of July here. You know here in America I don’t know where everybody is listening from. And we want work walked into a a large fireworks superstore and we had absolutely no clue what anything was in that store other than sparklies those labels might as well been in a foreign language to us. We didn’t know what a jumping this was or a fountain or whatever it was we had no clue.

[01:02:24] Though you know we experimented and we know a few things now but there are so many things that I think other people take for granted that we just don’t know. I can still remember going to our first cocktail party.

[01:02:37] I didn’t know how we should dress or what we should expect to do. We don’t drink so I didn’t know what.

[01:02:45] You know how we were going to fit in but we ended up having a great sob. We’ve had to do so many new things and it’s scary. Like when you go just to do you know do anything for the first time. But as we do more and more new things and they continue to work out we’ve had greater comfort as we’ve done other new things. I want to say this what we called worldly people those people outside of the call there are nothing like what we were told. I just want to take this moment right now to thank all of the beautiful people that have helped us that have been on this journey with us not just watching but actually taking an active interest in helping us. Thank you so much. We have the best friends and you know we would call many people family.

[01:03:36] We disassociated from the call in September of 2015 and that November we celebrated our first Thanksgiving one amazing family that we work with invited us to their Thanksgiving to be a part of their family. And that was huge for us. In fact we now have two families that we visit on Thanksgiving that we’ve been adopted by. I can’t tell you what that means when you’ve lost everyone that meant anything to you.

[01:04:02] We’ve had people take us on trips like pay for our meals and drive us to places and share their lives with us. These were people that we cleaned for just another amazing worldly family.

[01:04:17] You know I hate that term but I’m using it just to show the contrast.

[01:04:22] We’ve also reconnected with extra witnesses that we knew back in the day.

[01:04:26] And it’s so great to have those links to our past as everything was stolen from us by the Kalt other groups of friends that you know maybe weren’t people we cleaned for links to our past as Jehovah’s Witnesses have become friends too. It’s really cool to look at our friends list and see people that we made friends with that we didn’t already have some sort of connection to now with that said among others there is a struggle that my wife and I both face and it seems to hurt my wife the most.

[01:05:00] And that is that we just don’t have roots anymore those people like your family that you know that you could just go talk to and reminisce about the past with just relax with be transported back in time for my wife and I.

[01:05:15] There is no back in time. Well I guess this podcast is a version of back in and I’m sharing it with you but I can’t share it with the people who were there. They’re all gone.

[01:05:27] There’s like this it’s like the foundation to our lives that just disappeared one day. It’s like waking up one day and everyone you knew was killed in a car accident only They’re still actually out there. But they’re unwilling to even say hi to you. Imagine that all of your friends from high school or college and your family was gone tomorrow who would be your friends.

[01:05:51] Who would you talk to who would you go for who would you go to for things. It’s so strange and it’s it’s hard to convey what that feels like. Unfortunately because we had a family in the coal it will always be a part of us if nothing else. I once heard that leaving a coal and de-programming. It’s kind of like if you have an image on your computer and you delete it well you may have deleted it or sent it to the trash bin or whatever but it isn’t really gone. It’s somewhere in the background and on your hard drive and new data is written over it bit by bit little by little but it’s still there and it’s retrievable. If you have the right software the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses will always be a part of us. It will always be with us.

[01:06:44] We’re linked through family that is still in. And you can’t have your formative years co-opted by a cult without certain neural pathways being built in and emotional pathways.

[01:06:56] The one major struggle for me since being out is the thought of death. Honestly a lot of times before I go to bed at night when my my mind is quiet I think about dying.

[01:07:13] It’s not the thought of being dead that is the big deal or at least the way I see it. I think it was like a man I’m blanking on who wrote it Tom Sawyer or something. We’ve all been dead already before we were ever born. So I like that thought but the thought of there being an end to all of this that I might not wake up tomorrow at some point. That’s that’s pretty hard to swallow. Realizing that I wasted so much time probably half my life in a cold. You know assuming my life continues to go well physically you know the fact that I wasted so much time in a hole with time being you know the real precious commodity of life that’s pretty hard to swallow. The fear that we had when we were Jehovah’s Witnesses It was never of a fiery hell. The fear we actually had was of dying and just being dead forever. That was the punishment. Either you become a good Jehovah’s Witness and live forever on this paradise earth or you die forever and there is nothing else which was always a terrifying thought to me. And honestly now I know that the only evidence there is out there is that’s what it is. One day I’ll die I’ll be worm food and that’s it. There’s there’s no do overs there’s no to be continued. There’s there’s nothing there still you know these feelings while real they’re not enough for me to reach out.

[01:08:52] You know for faith in something that you know just to me feels unsubstantiated just to make myself feel better or give myself some sort of prospects for the future. The Buddhists actually teach impermanence from the start. And

[01:09:07] I was actually taught the complete opposite I was taught absolute permanence that I wouldn’t ever have to die that I will walk right into a paradise earth where I could live forever and I was taught this since I was a child. I wish I had been taught impermanence it would have would have been so much more healthy for where I am today. It’s so hard to shake that fear of nothingness when that was always the fear that I had above all others and now I’m about to turn the big 4 0 this weekend something that I never really ascribed a lot to because age didn’t mean anything to us. We didn’t even celebrate birthdays so we didn’t even pay that much attention.

[01:09:49] And you know now I realize that yeah I’m about to be 40 and you know if I if I can stay healthy you know maybe I make it to 80 or so.

[01:10:02] You know that would be cool. So at least I’ve got to have a life to do it over. But it’s still just a tough thing to to face it’s like for the first time I’m facing my mortality. It’s like I left the call and I found out I was going to die. You know I mean how would you feel if you found out you were going to die in X amount of time. Well that’s that’s kind of what I found out which seems so odd. I’m sure that the average normal person out there. But when you’ve been taught your whole life something else it is tough to contend with still.

[01:10:39] You know despite all that you know we do have struggles from it but our lives are beautiful. We’ve heard so many beautiful lessons. My wife and I still work together we still clean for amazing human beings every day. We try to start out every day in the van by doing two things. First we discuss where we are that day you know kind of like what our moods like what side of the bed we woke up on how we’re feeling. Things like that so that we know where each other is coming from for the day.

[01:11:08] It kind of helps to head off misunderstandings when you work together every day.

[01:11:12] And you know you’re married to after that we do our Happy’s what we do is you know in our happiness we just go back and forth trying to name things that we’re happy for. Whether it’s you know big or general things like you know I’m happy we’re out of a cold to small things like I’m glad I can fill up my gas tank now and not have to look at the amount of worry that I can’t pay it. Or it might be something you know just around us like man I’m so glad the sun is out this morning or or we’re going over the river to work and there’s a fog over the river just trying to be present and appreciate life around us in that moment. It’s a really great way to start the day. Now people were there to support me in April of 2016.

[01:12:04] That was a rough little rough patch for me after we we’d gotten out of the call just seven months after we left it.

[01:12:11] I got a call from my mom that my dad was in hospice care. I was cleaning a house and I mean the phone rang. I was shocked to hear from her in the first place. In fact not 100 percent sure I knew it was her. But nobody ever calls me.

[01:12:26] So I just let it go to voicemail. Figured it was just a telemarketer. But she left a message and told me that I was able to come up if I wanted to to see my dad one last time. I have to admit that that was a very difficult decision by that point I’d been officially shunned for seven months.

[01:12:48] But unofficially I’ve been Shaun for I don’t know probably about a year or so. My wife called my mom to get the details. My head spun with the possibilities.

[01:12:58] And what I should do. I appreciate the opportunity. There are many ex Jehovah’s Witnesses that never even get that. Some actual witnesses actually find out after the fact that a parent is that often you know from someone else because that’s how cruel the cult is. But I really wasn’t sure what to do with this opportunity. I really thought about it a lot. And in the end I decided that you know this is a new path I was on was one of being authentic. So I decided to be me. I didn’t want to let external things like the Colts or whatever dictate my reaction or my family than what I wanted to react to in a way that was just purely me. So I decided to go.

[01:13:50] I wanted to be a good person. I wanted to show love where it hadn’t been shown to me. I wanted to end on a better note than that horrible conversation where my dad yelled at me for defending the gays.

[01:14:03] So my wife and I went to a hospice and there were some Jehovah’s Witnesses there already. Mom had told us on the phone that they had said that they wouldn’t be there if we were there.

[01:14:16] What a horrible thing to do to leave like that. So we arrived on the floor. My dad was on and my mom kind of seemed to try to get my wife and I to go around the corner from the elevator to talk you know the one elevator everybody goes up and down. Well I didn’t quite move where she wanted me to and there I saw a brother and sister leaving down the elevator away from my dad.

[01:14:41] These people that wouldn’t be there if I was present that wouldn’t be there if I was in the room with my dying father where people when I was a kid would buy me clothes at times because we were poor so I would have something cool to wear.

[01:14:57] They were friends and now they wouldn’t even look at me. And in this time even in a hospice. Jehovah’s Witnesses are enforcing their rules and can’t be human.

[01:15:09] In fact that my mom caught a bunch of crap from those people over letting me come up in the first place.

[01:15:15] She later told me that she might have even lost a friend over it. So props to my mom for letting her humanity went out even if only temporarily and oh screw those other people to say it was awkward to go in and see my dad is the biggest understatement ever.

[01:15:34] I mean come on what were we going to talk about. They didn’t want to know what we were up to. It was not like we were up to anything they would or even THEY would you an object to. We didn’t leave the coat and go off and you know like that spring that I think I mentioned in one of the first episodes where you crush the spring you let it off. It just bounces all while we didn’t go wild when we left. We just weren’t in the cold anymore. That’s it. We’re still up. Actually we’re a better version of us with much more kindness and humanity and love. But anyway so we stood there in the room with my dad.

[01:16:13] We we watched TV game shows a bit. We caught up on the fact that my dad had to go into the hospital. I don’t remember a couple of months earlier for a heart attack.

[01:16:25] Apparently he had actually had many heart attacks but because of the neuropathy from his diabetes. My dad never felt any of them.

[01:16:33] They had done tests on his heart and it was operating very minimally. Now my dad was alert and honestly he was pretty much himself when we visited him. He was pretty much just what you would expect but well. I guess I should say he was himself in public. He wasn’t the other version of himself. But anyway he had fallen and broken his thumb while he was in rehab for the hard stuff.

[01:17:04] And my dad had basically just decided to go ahead and give up. He said he didn’t want to do dialysis anymore.

[01:17:12] Dialysis is very hard on your heart anyway. And he just he was just done. So he chose to go off dialysis and end his life. Now while we were in the room in hospice joking about some things and you know we were all doing our best version of acting I guess trying to keep the mood light. You know painful and just then I don’t know.

[01:17:39] An awkward situation to be in a hospice room with somebody you know whether no matter how you feel about the person or if you had to go into hospice and talk to a complete stranger it’s just not it’s not easy.

[01:17:53] So we were trying to keep it light.

[01:17:57] I’m not sure why but the nurses walked in to go over some of life stuff. It’s almost like we were purposely included in that somehow. It’s very strange. I really don’t know why. Anyway one of the nurses spoke up and said that she just could feel the unity and love in the room because we have been laughing and joking and I guess she had heard us when she came in or maybe she says that to everybody I don’t know. But you know if I had been drinking water at that time I could have done an amazing spit take because when she said that I just it just struck me in the moment in this awkward uncomfortable horrible moment.

[01:18:39] And I just literally snickered aloud. I was caught off guard and I ended up getting dirty looks from the family. Come on. Like there is no unity there and there was very little love. You know I was I felt like at least I was the only one trying to come out of love.

[01:18:59] I’m not I don’t know I’m not even 100 percent sure. Why they left me up there. I was actually talking to a client about it and a friend. Not long after that and she said you know it kind of shows that they know shunning is wrong because if they didn’t why let you back in at that moment in time if if shunning was the right thing to do then she should be the right thing to do.

[01:19:33] Even in a moment like that even in this moment where my dad is in hospice they’re shunning is the thing that I should have been shouldn’t I shouldn’t have been asked to come up there.

[01:19:44] But I think it’s just again just that little glimpse of humanity that lays beyond or behind the cult personality.

[01:19:54] So after they left the nurses left I asked my mom and sister to leave as well. My wife stayed in the room. I told my dad that we had to go but that I respected his decision to go ahead and accept his fate. I told him that we all had our choices to make in life some that weren’t easy. Obviously referring to my own choices that I had to make and that all we could do was respect each other’s autonomy and free will. I told them I was sorry it had to end the way it did for him and me. It for the first time probably ever. I gave him a hug told him I loved him.

[01:20:31] I left the room and I was in with him went back to work.

[01:20:38] I felt good that you know I had been authentically me and that I try to take the high road in this situation. However I kind of alluded to the possibility of coming back again.

[01:20:49] You know when I was there in that room and I thought you know you know maybe maybe if I had another day and he was still around in a hospice you know maybe maybe tomorrow I could go by as a thought about things.

[01:21:02] I realized that I pretty much left this the best possible way and that going back couldn’t really serve any good. I left it pretty much perfectly and I should just leave it alone. So I texted my mom to let her know that we probably wouldn’t come back only to be told that basically nobody expected me to do so anyway and it seemed like I wasn’t welcome back. So basically I was accepted back for that 30 minutes to an hour and then it was back to being shunned. In hindsight that really messed with me emotionally.

[01:21:38] I mean not like it wasn’t bad enough that you know my dad was dying. No matter how I felt about him he was my dad. And you know I had quite a history with them. And you know to have this in and out shunning thing going on as well this is really messed up while I am glad that I went on the one hand. I’m not 100 percent sure that I’d do it again if given the chance. On April 11th 2016 my dad died.

[01:22:10] I was not invited to my dad’s memorial service. My mom called me rather than inviting me to the service. She called me to ask if the speaker could use my name and that of my wife. In the talk where they you know kind of go over who he was survived by and I said well yeah I mean that is factual you know kind of in the tone of yeah. Like it or not I am your son and she is your daughter in law. But anyway so yeah they could use my name it was an odd request. Now my mom was never a very direct person.

[01:22:45] Very. A lot of passive aggression. But she made it clear that we talk again sometime probably soon. And that was it. She didn’t tell us anything about the memorial. And it was pretty clear she didn’t want us there and look I could have gone.

[01:23:02] It’s a public place. I’m sure I could have shown up. However all eyes would have been on me if I had gone. It would have been remarkably uncomfortable the first. Mom didn’t seem to want me there. She’d invited all kinds of people but she didn’t speak a word to me about the time or date of location. Though I knew where it would be. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a penchant for for saying the ugliest thing to people like me in situations like this I’m sure to have heard what a disappointment I was to my dad how I needed to return to Jehovah. How they they thought I was better than that. That wouldn’t have gone over well especially with the emotions of the circumstance. I also didn’t want to go back to the Keenum hall where it all started to hear the service which is nothing more than a sales pitch for the call usually with very little personal information about the deceased. And there were a few elders there that would have caused me to lose it if they spoke to me because they were just awful human beings and all that would have taken with a quip from the wrong one.

[01:24:16] One or two and something very probably would have happened.

[01:24:20] So on the flip side of this treatment though so you know. That’s Jehovah’s Witnesses. There you go. There you have them again in a nutshell. That’s what they do to people. On the flip side we have been invited to go camping with some friends that said that Sunday when my dad’s memorial service was going on and my wife and I decided let’s go you know let’s just let’s just go we hung out. We made a new friend who came along to it got our minds off the things that were going on back home with our family my dad’s death service all that. It was still on my mind. But at least I wasn’t alone. The next day Monday you know we went to work as per usual that week two clients though really did things that I’ll never forget.

[01:25:11] One family texted us on a Wednesday and where we cleaned three houses their house is the middle house. The day they texted us and told us to keep the check for the week. They have theirs sent automatically from the bank. But they told us just keep the check and take the time off. Just don’t come clean. They did not want me to come clean. They wanted me to take some time now now it only gave us you know it gave us a couple hours off in the middle of the day and I was like well you know I don’t know maybe I’d just rather work because you know kind of keeps my mind off things.

[01:25:48] But boy did I need that. A couple hours off. I had no clue what I needed at that time. I didn’t know that I even what to do with that time off but my wife and I just drove to a restaurant that I’d always wanted to try. We ate we just relax.

[01:26:06] I couldn’t believe that they had done that for me and I made sure I didn’t waste that opportunity. Later that week on Friday a lady stayed home at the last house just to give me some once talked to. In fact she was under the weather that day. She had some errands to run that day but this kind soul stayed home just to give me an outlet again. I didn’t know that I needed it but I did. She’s dealt with a lot of death in her family and also her friends throughout the years and she gave me the listening ear that I needed maybe more importantly she asked questions. She drew me out which I needed and she let me talk. I had no clue what to do with everything that was inside. The fact she she would later give us a rosebush as a gift and to commemorate you know everything in my dad’s. So I planted that rosebush at the corner of our house and you know it’s something that I see every day. And and I remember where that rosebush came from. It has been well over a year since that time. Honestly you know not believe me I’m not living in denial. I wouldn’t. I hate that. And so I wouldn’t do that. I am truly moved on very well from all of it. I’ve never heard from my family again other than seeing my brother at the concert that I had mentioned him being shunned by them.

[01:27:45] When my mom called me one time she actually did call me one more time to let me know that she needed some paper signed for the estate. So legal documents. So that was nice. And you know I signed those papers and sent them on in. My wife has never heard one word from her family since we went to see my brother in May of 2015. They never had the guts to say anything to her. They never tried to to you know tell her that they loved her. They never tried to save her. Nothing. She’s never heard anything from her family even before we disassociated.

[01:28:33] But you know again life moves on. My wife has been able to connect with some of her extended family that you know maybe she had lost contact with aunts uncles grandparents whatever that has been awesome. I know. I’ve enjoyed getting to connect with those people too. I’ve also been able to reconnect with with some of my family and that’s helped in July of 2016 my wife had her first ever birthday. We were out a space and together we threw her the best birthday party we could as two people that had never thrown a birthday party in our lives.

[01:29:09] We invited everyone we could and we had about 70 people show up. I was so happy that people brought gifts because everyone should get to open presents at least once in their life and I wanted to see my wife get to experience that I had that as a kid.

[01:29:28] My wife never ever got that chance. My wife got all kinds of cards for 1 year olds.

[01:29:36] She got you know gifts ranging from things for little kids to like you know strawberry shortcake dolls practical gifts. You know she would like and it was just so cool to get to see my wife enjoy herself like that. She had a huge cake that she picked out. We had a photo set up where people could use mass and and take photos and we had some games out there as well. People seemed to have fun and it was the first ever party that we had ever thrown of any type.

[01:30:08] Beyond that we had my birthday and then we did our first ever Halloween and Christmas celebrations all in 2016. We made lots of friends.

[01:30:18] And honestly we just had a great time. I mean life is amazing when you’re not living in what is basically the dystopian society of the book 1984 that I mentioned earlier. Just yesterday my wife and I went to our first ever a pasta fest. It took place near Indianapolis and it was a gathering of Jehovah’s witnesses from all over. We had people from Pennsylvania Ohio Florida Georgia Indiana just a good group of people. And it was a diverse group of people. I mean we had people of different races social statuses sexual orientations. It was just the icing on the cake.

[01:30:55] This journey to sit with people that understood where we had been I would take the second will give a shout out to Alex as he was asking if he kept asking if if know this was going to be mentioned on the podcast so you’ve made it on this J.W. life podcast. Alex you are a star. I look forward to going again next year maybe meeting new people.

[01:31:20] You know it’s just cool too. One of the really cool things about leaving a call is seeing other people who have left the call that are also having these happy lives.

[01:31:31] And you know it’s it’s not like everything I’m mentioning here is just about you know Jehovah’s Witnesses or actual witnesses again remember you know most of our friends are not actually witnesses. You can get out in this world and make friends of all types and people want to know your story.

[01:31:55] You know as I implored you before please tell your story. You can you can connect with other human beings when you’re vulnerable like that. And I don’t know. I just I just want what I have had and what my wife has had I want that for everyone.

[01:32:17] You know I am going to take a minute though I’ve got to speak to my ex Jaida peeps out there. I think it was two episodes ago when I was telling you to share your story.

[01:32:27] I just told you to share your story you know with others who were never x Jehovah’s Witnesses.

[01:32:36] But what I also want to do is take a second. And I really I just want to tell you do meet with other extra witnesses as well.

[01:32:47] My first year that we were out of the coal I tried to do something for my first official show on a nursery in September of 2016.

[01:32:55] I tried to have a get together for that and only one person came and I have to say that you know honestly it kind of hurt.

[01:33:05] I was hoping for some support and I kind of felt like I needed it from the show was what this community but as I’ve been in this community I’ve seen a lot of people just try to walk away and they don’t really deal with their stuff. They just want to forget it. Move along. Live their new life. If that is you I just want to tell you that you can run but you can’t hide.

[01:33:32] You went through something that was awful. And of course you want to run from it. It’s traumatic but it’s not healthy to run from that trauma. Now I can’t speak for you know for anyone you know who’s out there. Everyone has their own circumstances. But if there is a group like an apostrophe in your area or if you just sign up on Meet up dot com and try to get a group together. And if enough x Jehovah’s Witnesses who are listening to me right now would go and experience something like that and share their stories it can help you to walk away and leave some of that behind. Don’t try to carry the burden yourself. Don’t try to live in denial like I watched my family do. That is still in the cold.

[01:34:22] That’s what that’s what I’ll do. It’ll get you in a coal.

[01:34:26] Now whatever you are carrying. Start to look at it. And as you look at it you can gain the strength to put it down. Reach out online at various ex-state of sites or are Facebook groups that cater to Jehovah’s Witnesses or get reach out to me. I’ll be there. Just don’t try to go it alone.

[01:34:50] I know that it might not seem like a big deal at times because it was just your life and what you went through. It probably felt you know it felt normal to you probably while you were going through it. It was just your life. I get it.

[01:35:03] It doesn’t seem special but it is special. It was messed up from any normal human standpoint. And once you can see that and you can start tearing down those foundations that were so messed up you can start to put new and healthy foundations in and those foundations will help serve you for your new life. You know it’s hard.

[01:35:26] Oh I hate to do this because you know it’s reminiscent I feel like I’m preaching from the Bible and being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But you know it’s the illustration of the house that’s built on the different foundations. You know you build it on it on sand and it’s not going to do real well. You have to build it on you know a firm foundation.

[01:35:47] That’s honestly the way life is. You’ve got to get healthy tools. You’ve got to get healthy ways of being healthy perspectives.

[01:35:57] And then when you put those things in and you start rooting out all of the garbage that was fed to us as Jehovah’s Witnesses you can find happiness. You can find beauty in this life and you can even accept it. You know if it’s how you choose to see things that this is all we’ve got. So go make the most of it. I hate to stop talking here but I guess it’s time. I’m never going to feel like I said everything that I had to say. There’s always going to be some other point that I want to bring out or some other way I want to help. Today when I dropped this last episode of my story there are more than eight thousand two hundred downloads this podcast. I am so thankful that so many of you have taken the time to drop me a note on everywhere from Reddit to Facebook Instagram Twitter even you know my own site of your life dotcom or the Jehovah’s Witness dotcom forum that I’m a member of.

[01:36:53] Everywhere I’ve posted and shared this to try to reach people I really hope that this has helped you specifically in some way.

[01:37:01] Even if I never hear from you I won’t be taking this podcast down. This is here to stay. This is my story and it can help people and I will pay to keep it hosted an up on the various podcast sites so that more people can find it. Share this with others that it can help. Please please give this positive reviews on iTunes so that others can find it if the algorithms hit and notice that I’m getting some momentum and that will help it spread. Because you know I can only do so much to spread the word and so many people need to hear this.

[01:37:37] And you know once I quit producing podcasts under this name then you know I just don’t want to see it just completely die out.

[01:37:48] If we continue to spread the word I will continue to share it on various sites over the you know over the coming years so that new visitors can can you know find it enjoy it. Be helped by it. In fact stay subscribed to this podcast. I know I said this is the last episode but not quite. There’s going to be one more episode.

[01:38:11] It’s not going to be about my story anymore but in this 10th episode that will come out I’m going to let you know about where I’m taking this. I’ve had so many people reach out hoping that I’ll continue.

[01:38:24] And you know obviously I can’t keep going with my own story.

[01:38:30] But I do have an idea for another podcast that I’m going to spin off of this where I’ll help other people to tell their stories again. Details will come in episode 10 of this although episodes about my story you know maybe kind of done for now. My story certainly isn’t done so stay subscribed. Maybe I’ll also release updates as time goes by as something happens you know my life goes on and it’s great already. I can’t wait to see where it goes. I’ve learned so much I’ve grown so much and I have such a beautiful life now with beautiful people and it on this coming Saturday August 12th I will turn 40 my wife and I are going to go backpacking the Adirondack Mountains of New York for the first time ever to have a little adventure. We picked that area because afterward we’re going to swing by Manhattan to see my brother and his wife for the first time since we’ve been out of the cold. Last time had just got to shun this it can be a celebration. I had a shirt made that says on the back it says eight million people shun me. My story at and then uttered it has the logo for this podcast with Dot dotcom under it. New York was the home of the headquarters for Jehovah’s Witnesses for a century or so until they recently moved away. They still have their literature cards littering the city everywhere and I am looking forward to walking around with my shirt on and New York City the former headquarters of Jehovah’s witnesses maybe visiting a quarter to and seeing what attention it draws.

[01:40:04] Remember I’m not a guy that likes attention normally but I don’t know there’s just something bigger going on here. This whole podcast has opened up things to me. I’ve made so many new friends and if you are in New York and you see a bald 40 year old walking around in a T-shirt with a logo on it that says this Jaida of your life that’s me. Come up and say hi. Now for the like the last week or two. I’ve been trying to figure out you know how am I going to send this podcast out. How am I going to end it. This should have an obvious. I want to thank my wife for being by my side through this whole ordeal from my depressed state where I’m sure I wasn’t the absolute joy that I am today to live with to where we are now. I want to thank her for trusting in me when I brought up my doubts and knowing that I wouldn’t have done so without good reason and for being willing to be open enough to start dissecting our lives and to go for this bumpy ride with me. I want to thank her for taking the leap to find herself because I know that is a scary process when everything you thought you were is taken away.

[01:41:15] I now get to experience her as her true self not the cold version just like she does with me. Life is beautiful and I’m glad I get to finish this right out with you Jenny and our newfound freedom and that we can finish this thing out. However we decide.

Episode 8 – Get Out Of Her, My People – It All Comes Tumbling Down

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.

Episode 7 – Getting Healthy and Waking Up

Learn how I went from an unhealthy and suicidal Jehovah’s Witness to a happy and healthy human being. I list exact books and podcasts that helped me in my journey to overcome the toxic and dysfunctional life that I had been given from my cult upbringing. Whether you’re a recovering cult member or just your average person that has been blessed to never go through my experience, you can learn from this episode. This healthy information is something that everyone can benefit from, and I hope that you find something that improves your life in this episode.



Direct Download Here

Resources Mentioned (in no particular order):

Books-
Driven To Distraction – Edward Hallowell and John Ratey

Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl

Necessary Endings – Henry Cloud

The Power of Vulnerability – Brene Brown

Brene Brown TED Talk on Vulnerability

Healing the Shame That Binds You– John Bradshaw

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship – Beverly Engel

The Narcissistic Family – Robert Pressman and Stephanie Donaldson Pressman

A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller

Boundaries – Henry Cloud

Happier – Tal Ben-shahar

Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

Podcasts –

Mental Illness Happy Hour

Dave Ramsey Show

Click Here To Show Transcript
[00:01:52] Before we get started I’d like to give thanks for the iTunes reviews that I’ve received. They mean a lot to me personally and they kind of give the show credibility for those who are looking for shows like this. I had asked for some a few weeks ago and some of you responded and I really appreciate that also. Just hit a little mark. We’re hitting 5000 downloads today. Just a week and a half ago to give you some idea. We hit 3000. So it seems like things are really picking up which is pretty cool and something that I really hadn’t expected. This has gone far better than I could have anticipated. Now today I’d like to start with a little public service announcement something happened this week that hit me after last week’s episode. The singer for the band Linkin Park Chester Bennington committed suicide. That kind of hit me hard for two reasons. One I just kind of got done reliving my own story and my own suicidal ideations and things and putting that out into the world. On the last episode to his music personally helps me on my journey. Their music ran the gamut from screaming to let out rage to these beautiful compassionate messages that mean he could sing at all different vocal ranges. They sing about things like codependents and depression and overcoming things. I could be totally frustrated with my life. Listen to one of their songs and feel like I either got the rage out or that I was understood. Sadly his own issues presented themselves in the end. Often it is those that hurt the most.

[00:03:27] That kind of churn out some of the most beautiful art. If you’re listening and you’re hurting I mean I don’t know how many people are listening I know. You know with 5000 downloads maybe there is somebody out there that’s hurting. I just want to say that there are better ways out. Sometimes the disease wins as in his case and it is profoundly sad. However many do beat these thoughts and feelings. Our stories just don’t make the news because shocking will triumph inspiring for ratings any day. I’m one such person and I know that there are many others. If you need help reach out with an open mind. You can find new ways of living and you can find what all of us are ultimately chasing which is happiness. The suicide prevention hotline can be called any time. 1 800 2 7 3 8 2 5 5. In fact if you google suicide prevention hotline It appears that they even have an online chat which is pretty cool. Just just reach out. Just please reach out. People do care about you and you can learn to care about yourself.

[00:04:34] At the end of last week’s episode I discussed this newfound revelation that I might have been dealing with some sort of ADHD for my whole life. This revelation was huge for me because it took away the moralization of my struggles that I’ve been giving my whole life and showed me that the cult that I have been taught to turn to for everything didn’t really have the answers to everything. In fact there was a famous talk that made the rounds by a brother Mack in the organization that highlighted how we’re all just getting by on pills and prayers brothers pills and prayers. This world is so wicked that it’s on the way out and it’s so hard to make it through well. That never sounded like a good life to me. It sounds more like an existence not a way to live. So I took this opportunity to dive farther into things I wanted to learn more about ADHD of course. And I dove headfirst into some online forums about it. I wanted to see how other people lived with it and kind of see how I fit in. I mean after all it is a spectrum. So you can’t. So not everyone is going to have the same experience. I would spend the next couple of years heavily involved in that community not only receiving help but I also stuck around and tried to help others as much as I could. What I learned was that ADHD is an executive function disorder. That’s exactly what it sounds like.

[00:06:03] It’s a difficulty in executing things in such a disorder you may face some measure of impulsivity and difficulty carrying out what you want to do unlike what the elders in the corrugation had just told me which I mentioned last week we all do what we want to do and it all comes down to choice. Well I was learning that our brains are often hijacked by many chemical imbalances and different disorders and sometimes just situational things. It doesn’t mean that we have no choice in this world but it does mean that life doesn’t merely come down to a matter of choices. If it did and we had this total control and all we needed to do or make better choices in life then we could be perfect for and if we could be perfect you know as this Christian I thought I was why would there be a need for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that I held in such high esteem. Why would he need to sacrifice himself because we could overcome our sinful or imperfect natures simply by making better choices right. Speaking of choices I ended up having one to make here. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses ridicule self-help they also for many years pretty much condemned any kind of psychology. After all the only thing that you really needed was prayer and faith. Faith could move mountains and if you did go to the realm of psychology just don’t mention that you’re a Jehovah’s Witness is ok. I mean if you do so and then talk about all your problems you might make Jehovah or Jehovah’s Witnesses which is what they’re really concerned about look bad and we can’t have that. You see you can see here how they are all about appearances which I’ve mentioned before the outward appearance.

[00:07:50] They like to talk about a scripture that references whitewashed graves that look good from the outside but inside we’re full of dead men’s bones and they would apply that outward to other religions. They did a lot of projecting. In reality they often claim things about others that were just as true if not more so within their own call. I was quickly realizing that I needed to look outside for some things. After all this one revelation was changing my worldview. It made me have some compassion for myself for once instead of self-hatred I had to accept that I might not be able to do everything that I wanted to do because I like every human being have limitations. Now that doesn’t mean that those limitations have to destroy my life or dominate it. It just means that I might need some coping tools or strategies to manage it. In the end I did end up leaving that 80 forum that I was a member of for so many years at a point I realized that we all play roles in life. Some are the victors some are the victims but your attitude about things impacts your experience. I knew that I couldn’t get rid of ADHD but I could better my life with it. A man without arms might not be able to catch a ball in his hands like everyone else. But that doesn’t mean that he can’t find some way to catch a ball. Humanity seems to find a way if it looks hard enough. Again don’t don’t take this in a perfectionistic way like what I would have back in the day.

[00:09:23] I’m not saying that we can all do everything because we can’t but we can all live happy and productive lives even if they aren’t exactly everything that we thought we wanted. My goal with this episode is to show you what I learned over the next seven years from audio books and podcasts that changed my perspective that open my eyes and it gave me a new and healthy life. It got me out of this cult mindset away from the dysfunction and the toxic ways of being.

[00:09:52] I learn so much and I want to share it because whether you were in a cold or not. This stuff can help everyone. I mean these aren’t cults or anti-coal books these are just books and podcasts. I listen to that were healthy for anyone. This is what I learned that turn my life around from a narcissistic suicidal self-loathing guy that was putting on pounds in debt with ease to a person that has empathy for others and acceptance for myself and that has dropped the weight gotten out of that and is actually happy and healthy.

[00:10:29] On my website this J.W. life dot com you’ll find links to these books and other resources under this particular episode. Episode number 7. They aren’t affiliate links. I’m not in the bookselling business or anything here I’m just trying to make this easy on people. If you need help you can find this help that you need as well. We can all learn and grow no matter our lot in life. It is difficult to look back over those years and to figure out exactly in what order I learned these things so I can look through. I have an account with audible dot com which is an Amazon company and see in what order I bought the books from them. Unfortunately though not all came from there I believe I bought some also Barnes and Noble has a good selection or at least they did have a good selection of audio books on their site so I’m going to kind of do my best to reconstruct this period of life. What I learned. I do think in a way the order did matter somewhat because you know one book would kind of build off the next day. I would learn something in one book and realize that maybe I was having you know this other issue that was kind of really preventing me from from applying it. And so I would get a book on that issue after learning about ADHD. I realized that I had a big problem with perfectionism So I started looking into books on the subject. The one that made the greatest impact was a book called happier by Talb been Shahar.

[00:12:05] My biggest takeaway was this one phrase happiness is the ultimate currency. In other words that’s what we’re all striving for. We think that once we get to a certain place we’ll be happy. For instance you might go to college and you’re pushing so hard to achieve and you think that once you get that degree you’re going to be happy. Then you get a degree and you’re not. Now you have this job that you need to get. So now you’re looking for this job that you’re going to get. And you say that once you get that dream job then you’ll be happy then you get that dream job and you’re still not happy. Well you know once I get that dream car that dream house or that family whatever whatever it is for you that goal becomes happiness postponed. We have a distorted view of goals in the western world. Goals are there just to give us a direction. They tell us where we’re headed. But in the end it isn’t about that goal or that and it is the journey there that really matters and that’s where we find our joy. By you know sometimes literally stopping to smell the roses. In fact there was an example in this book that actually impacted me very specifically. Happiness isn’t about what you do as much as it is about why you do it. So I did a study on people that clean and hospitals those people were studied. And it was found that they were very happy people. Why.

[00:13:40] I mean after all they’re surrounded by people that are sick or dying and they have to clean up things like surgery rooms and other areas behind profoundly sick individuals every day. It seems from the outside like those people would maybe hate their jobs. In reality though those people didn’t see what they did as just cleaning up blood or vomit. They were helping people. They got to know people and saw what they did for what it was instead of just the act that they were performing well this really hit me because back when I was listening to the book I was cleaning. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I didn’t clean because I liked cleaning. I mean let’s face it the janitor cleaner is the butt of all the jokes. Sometimes people treat you as a servant and see you as nothing more and you don’t always clean up the most pleasant things. But why did I clean. Well for the same reasons that many Jehovah’s Witnesses have cleaning businesses it’s all we could do to make more money than a minimum wage job because we couldn’t go to college. It gives many Jehovah’s Witnesses a flexible schedule to work around so that they can devote more time to pioneering and other Jehovah’s Witness interests. For me I kept trying to get away from it but I kept getting sucked back in because we needed the money. Now I did like working with my wife. But here’s another secret all of our clients today will notice that I clean all of the bathrooms in every house. Want to know why. It’s because I had bad social anxiety and if I clean bathrooms nobody would talk to me.

[00:15:18] I wasn’t out and about in the House of course now people know me well and maybe wish I would start talking at times but it’s better than where I once was. So I learned how to find the joy and happiness in life or in my work even I literally became happier just like the title of the book. It was such a contrast to the way the cult taught me to see the world. I was taught to see it as bad and awful and to look toward the future for happiness rather than today. I started to see our own cleaning business for what it was which was helping people which I’d love to do. In fact I started to realize how good cleaning was for me. Being a perfectionist it gives me an outlet for some of those tendencies. It helps me to work physically while I listen to audio books and podcasts that expand expand my mind every day. Now I actually love what I do and the people that we do it for. In fact he’s in the intro and we’ll do here again cleaning kind of save my life and I’ll explain why in the next episodes about our journey out of the call another book that hit me was the book mankind’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl in it. It is his tale of surviving the horrors of concentration camps. The quote that is famous from this book rings true. His famous quote is everything can be taken from a man except the one thing the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances to choose one’s own way.

[00:16:53] Now as with everything nothing is absolute and through other things I’ve learned since reading this book and I’ve I’ve come to understand that although we do have that choice we may or may not have the tools needed to make a healthy choice but if we have healthy tools we can choose to see things differently. There are people in those camps that lack the tools and that gave up and died or that turn into people that they wouldn’t have wanted to be otherwise. Frankel observed this and was able to see beyond those immediate circumstances. Clearly he had tools that others didn’t around him. Nobody with the tools for something better would have chosen death just like those that commit suicide wouldn’t choose such a course if they had better tools so as to see a way out or is I believe the depression or whatever actually blunts these tools. But I digress. It does help though not to get wrapped up in the present situation when it is negative. And to look for the good in the book boundaries by Henry Cloud I learned how to set proper boundaries with other people. This is big for both me and my wife. When you’re in a cult it is difficult to have proper boundaries when the overreaches those boundaries on a daily basis dictating how to believe how to think how to behave how to feel. Back to that bite model I discussed an episode about the fog. There are a lot of narcissists and codependent people in the cult which makes sense when you think about what it takes to make a call. My wife was super codependent with me and I had my narcissistic tendencies.

[00:18:33] I bought this book to help put things back in order where they should be in a healthier place. I guess actually if you think about the shows that I wasn’t a true narcissist because a true narcissist would never admit that they had a problem in the first place or look for a solution. So like I said I had narcissistic tendencies. Another good book by Henry Cloud was called necessary endings. I read this probably a little too early in my awakening process to see where it really could have applied. And exiting the cult sooner. But the lesson is so good for everyone. How do you get a rosebush to grow. Do you just let it run wild and never touch it. No. You have to prune it. There are things that are dead that you have to remove so that the plant has energy to devote to new life. The same is true for our lives. There are often things that we’re involved in or people that we’re involved with that are sucking us dry. I like the term vampires for people like that but they really just take from us without offering us anything in return. Maybe it’s a job a person or a hobby or some other commitment that just really shouldn’t have a place in your life anymore because it’s just not giving you anything so that you can grow by getting rid of it. You will have the energy to grow. Just like those roses I remember at one point years later looking at my wife and pointing out that the cold just took and took and took from us and it never gave us anything in return.

[00:20:04] Eventually we both outgrew it and it was one of the healthiest things we’ve ever done to let it go. Probably my favorite book was a book called A million miles in a thousand years by Donald Miller. Now I don’t know if this book had the greatest impact but I loved listening to this book. The book is all about writing a better story not necessarily a fictional one but your own. It’s about editing your own life taking that 10000 foot view of it all or watching it as an outsider and looking at the roles that you were playing in it. I had notes on this book and many others but they were lost when I had a memory card that got corrupted years ago so. So what I had to do for this book is I went looking for quotes and this one really sums up the book a lot for me. The quote is. And once you live a good story you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life and you can’t go back to being normal. You can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. You think about it. This is so true. I’m at the point now in life free and outside of this cold. I could never go back to what I used to think was normal I want to take this opportunity to beg you if you’re listening to this and you’re unhappy with your life. Expand your mind read books that challenge your way of thinking or being no matter how uncomfortable it is. There is something better out there you just have to find it.

[00:21:41] And by challenging those areas in which you’re unhappy you’re likely to find a way out sooner. If it’s not for you. Find out now. Don’t wait. Find out now. You know Jehovah’s Witnesses often talk about people like me that leave and they say that I left because my feelings got hurt in the congregation or because I just wanted to go live some the botched lifestyle and then in that way they can trivialize it. Well I never sought to leave. I had no intentions I could have never imagined that I would leave Jehovah’s Witnesses. It wasn’t one thing it was a process of learning that took years. And once you learn something good and healthy you can’t go back to that toxic wasteland. It’s over. They shouldn’t fault you for it. But they have to in order to justify staying there themselves. Another quote from this book is this the human body essentially recreates itself every six months nearly every cell of your hair and skin and bone dies. And another is directed to its former place. You are not who you were last November or think about it. Your body is changing so quickly while so many people stay stuck in the same mentality and emotional space what could happen in your life if you took the time to change your perspective on life. Your emotional health by learning new tools or whatever is troubling you in life. So I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you that crabs in a bucket story if you go crabbing and you put crabs in a bucket. Some will try to escape if you don’t have a lid on it.

[00:23:24] However as one gets close to escaping the others will actually grab it and pull it back down. Now there may be simple reasons for this but it’s a good illustration for how humans behave in a group. If you try to escape from your present situation you try to write a better story as the book says there are going to be people that it shines a light on that will try to pull you back down. After all if you can change in your life that makes them feel bad because why can’t they. It’s like you are doing this to them. They take it personally and rather than being happy for you and celebrating with you they might actually try to pull you down. Now that’s not to say that well-meaning people might actually see something that you’re maybe you’re writing a story in which you’re about to drive off a cliff but assuming you’re doing healthy things you may have to do them and leave some people behind. It’s just a fact of life. For example I had mentioned before that we had a mounting tax that I listened to the Dave Ramsey Show for years if you like podcast you can listen to it as a podcast as well. And he also has a number of books. They’re all about how to handle money basically in a nutshell if you have debt. You are the gazelle and Adele is a cheetah trying to run you down you should run as quickly as possible to get away from debt before it gets you. And once you get away from that Cheetah stay away from it.

[00:24:52] Well the time came when we got a bill in the mail for $50000 that we owed in back taxes. It was during our awakening process and I was seeing my efforts pay off in other aspects of life. So I told my wife that although there’s no debtors prisons we were going to have to do some hard time if we were ever going to pay off what we owed. So we discussed our path out. I remember telling my mom that we were going to work super hard to pay off our debt like that gazelle that’s running from the CIDA she told me in no uncertain terms that I would fail and that even if I did manage to get out of things these are just fall apart afterward. In other words your poor get used to it. Things can’t get better. Crabs in a bucket trying to pull me down. I’ll say the story for how all that played out. And so later but let’s just say that she was wrong. And those crabs often are. There was something in my life that was lacking and I could never quite put my finger on it. And so one day it hit me. In fact it was something it was a big issue between my wife and I. She would always ask for this one thing and I could not give it to her empathy. Empathy was a word that was not in my vocabulary. If you had a bad life it was just because you made bad choices. And if you just make better ones than you’d have what you wanted right. I mean basically you’re an idiot. Go fix it and be happy.

[00:26:21] Of course this lack of empathy was directed at myself as well that black and white attitude with no allowance for where people are on life where they came from what tools they might have their mental or emotional makeup and so on is so ugly. Well I learned it I learned a lot about emotional intelligence something of which I had zero. I grew up in an emotional desert where emotions were bad and to be avoided at all costs. I learned the art of perspective taking to try to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Of course that’s something I’ve heard a million times when nobody told me how to do it. And so I learned to try to see things through the eyes of other people something that actually I guess I kind of on a level never even gave any credence to. One book that helped was called the emotionally abusive relationship by Beverly Ingle. It helped me to recognize emotional abuse. Another good book was called it was called Healing the Shame that binds you by John Bradshaw. It was another excellent book that I lost my notes from. But the one thing that I took away from it was to feel compassion for yourself. And whatever happened to you often people that are abused in some way feel shame about it as if it were somehow their fault. The book said to get a picture of yourself at whatever age you were when something happened to you. For me I got pictures from right before my family became Jehovah’s Witnesses and things that changed. I scanned that picture in.

[00:27:56] I put it on my phone so that every time I use my cell phone I saw this picture. Look at that image. If this is if this speaks to you get your own picture of yourself. When when you were a child and something went wrong. Look at that image and feel compassion for that little boy or girl. I remember looking around at other kids and who they were and trying to imagine them up against what I was up against at or around that age. It was a very healing experience. When you see the innocence of a child and to realize that that was once you in fact I’d have to say that this book kind of on some level I think along with these other things I think that in the trajectory of all of this I’ve kind of gone back to where I started as that kid with healthy emotions before everything got shut down in one of the books I read. I don’t remember which one but it referred to emotions as being your emotional state is like a pipe. It’s like plumbing. And so if you have any one of those emotions that is plugged up then the emotions can’t go through that pipe anymore. Like a clogged pipe. So you have to learn to let all of those emotions flow freely if you don’t then it will impact the others. The others will be stifled or plugged up as well. One of the most powerful books that I read have a lot of notes on this one was called the power of vulnerability by Bernay Brown. I first saw one of her TED Talks on vulnerability.

[00:29:42] In fact I’ll have looked for it I found it and I will link it up on the podcast page podcast page 2 in case you want to watch it. It’s a free sneak peek into some of what this book is about. Coming from my world vulnerability was seen as a weakness especially kind of in my family as a male. You weren’t allowed to be vulnerable or have feelings. I was bullied also at home by my dad. And then at school by other kids I felt vulnerable and that vulnerability was never a good thing. But this book changed all of that. I learned that often the tools that we use as children to avoid pain those those coping tools that we have as children like shutting down vulnerability. They end up being our greatest downfalls as adults. While they may work as children they’re dysfunctional but they may work for survival those coping strategies all have an expiration date. So basically the book taught me to see myself and to let others see me. I can tell you from experience from being a guy that clean bathrooms so as not to be seen that hit at home for my dad so as not to be seen that to this day still walks with his head down and somewhat poor posture because I never wanted to be seen allowing myself to be seen has been incredibly freeing. Of course you have to get healthy and find healthy people to be seen by which I didn’t have a choice in as a kid. But I have the opportunity now to make that choice and I have the tools to do it. With this podcast the loan is very vulnerable. People listen to this that know me.

[00:31:24] People listen to this that we clean for and you know I’m putting a lot of very personal things out there but it’s ok. Now they’ll know me better. Don’t be afraid to be known shame hides in the darkness. It thrives in the darkness when exposed to the light of day shame starts to die. Let me take a second here to tell my SJW listeners now tell your story to healthy people. If the experience of telling it is negative you might be surrounded by the wrong people. Think about it when you were in the cold you couldn’t tell your story. People keep their stories to themselves and then they feel alone all the while someone else likely in the same congregation maybe even sitting next to you in a in the mall has the same story and they’re hiding theirs and feeling alone. How can the court claim to have the truth when so much is hidden and discouraged from ever coming to light. Expose your story to the light. I’m thinking that after my story is done here on the podcast maybe I’ll try to help others tell their story. In fact I’ve already had some people reach out that what they’re told and others that just want me to hear their story share it. Tell me tell a friend tell someone own your own story and by doing so you start to take the power back from what happened to you. In the book The Power of vulnerability. There are two classes of people that are discussed the whole hearted and everyone else in a brown study.

[00:33:03] These people that she eventually called The whole hearted these healthy and happy people and she found some differences between them and everyone else. The whole hearted play and rest more while the others see exhaustion and productivity as their self-worth. She is the one that first introduced me to the concept that guilt is it. I did a bad thing and that shame is that I am a bad person which is very unhealthy. It is healthy to have a measure of guilt if you do a bad thing to someone it remore a little bit of remorse is a healthy thing but when you take it to the point where you feel like you’re now a bad person and you feel that shame that is incredibly unhealthy. I had a lot of what she calls shame tapes playing in my head. Unfortunately shame is often used to try to motivate people. It is a horribly unhealthy way to do so. As she explains shaming an addict is like giving a person dying of thirst some salt water to drink. You’re just fueling their fire and sending them in deeper. And this can be applied to so many situations. In fact this was a book where I really started to learn empathy because she teaches empathy as the antidote to shame. And that was huge for me. I needed it for myself and for others. She actually teaches empathy skills in the book to be able to see the world as someone else sees it to learn to be non-judgmental which was a big one for me.

[00:34:34] So not only understand someone else’s feelings but to be able to communicate to them that you understand so that they don’t feel so alone and to be vulnerable ourselves this message absolutely changed my life. It’s hard to have narcissistic tendencies while exhibiting empathy. They are the complete antithesis of one another. I can go on and on about this book if it sounds interesting to you just get it. Actually it’s not an inexpensive book if I remember but I guarantee you it is worth it and nothing else. Watch the free Ted talks. I think she even has some others and see if it’s if she is someone that you that you like and that that you think would challenge you. It was a the book itself actually is very engaging if you listen to it in audio format because it was like a recording of some sort of speaking engagement that she had done over several days. She has other good books too if you prefer the written word. Speaking of empathy and walking in the shoes of somebody else there was a podcast that I have now listened to for years and that has helped me tremendously. And it is by a comedian named Paul Gilmartin. And the show is called the Mental Illness happy hour. Again that’s the mental illness happy hour so if you have a podcast player and you’re listening to this it might be worth taking a look at. I have taken so many lessons away from this podcast. He has one guest on each week that he interviews. And speaking of vulnerability these people get deep into their lives and what they battle with. I will warn you everything that you could imagine could be discussed in these episodes.

[00:36:23] They’re not really something you want to listen to with the kids in the car but you can find one for just about anything that you personally battle. He also has surveys on his Web site that people can fill out and submit them anonymously that help give insight into what people are dealing with. You might even find it cathartic yourself to go through some of those surveys and to to let out some of what you’ve been through. People write about everything from their shame and secrets to their happy moments in life. He then takes those surveys and reads them on the show and comments on them in a very compassionate and emotionally healthy way. He deals with his own issues and he’s very open about them on the show. So you don’t have to feel alone. It can be very healing to people. Now again like I said it can be very dark at times but that darkness is real too. And everything is done with a view to healing and there’s humor thrown in because it’s beautiful to be able to find the humor even in those dark times. That podcast was instrumental in helping me to see how much other people are dealing with behind the scenes. You have no idea what other people are going through just like nobody knew what I was going through. We cleaned for people. The only person that knew what I was going through at my lowest point was my wife. And even then I couldn’t express to her the intensity of what was really going on inside of me.

[00:37:54] No one else can understand exactly where you are but if you look around you you really have no idea what someone else is going through. In fact I remember how thinking thinking how stupid it was that I thought that I could go to somebody door knock on it out of the blue. Offer them some cult propaganda and then if they rejected it think that oh they do them they don’t deserve the truth as if I had any idea who those people really were or what they went through on a daily basis. It was such shallow thinking and listening to the show deepen my appreciation for the human condition. I started seeing the bigger picture not this bigger picture painted by a cult about God and the goings on around us from the prospect of some great war between God and Satan. But my perspective of what was really going on around me was growing. In fact the more I learn in all of these rounds the more I realize that I don’t know near as much as I thought I did. Ignorance is a license for arrogance but once you challenge what you think and start expanding your horizons you really become more humble. In fact through the mental illness Happy Hour podcast I have been introduced to various books that helped. One was called The Narcissistic Family by Robert Pressman and Stephanie Donaldson pressman when he described it I knew this book was for me. I had once told my mom that I felt like I grew up in an alcoholic family without the alcohol. Well this book was actually written as a diagnostic manual for therapists by therapists because they saw these families were the same symptoms were being exhibited as though a parent was an alcoholic but nobody was drinking in the family.

[00:39:44] My dad was that alcoholic though he never touched alcohol. And my mom was codependent with him. I wish I still had the notes on this one. But if that sounds like your family read this book the last book that I’m going to mention that I learned so much from is called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Now this is a deep book that really finished off the last part of me that was in the way of my empathy fully expressing itself. And that was my ego and this book taught me how to just be not to overidentify with things like my religion my close status etc. just be when you strip off all those external things a way that we end up internalizing. We are just ourselves without ego. It is the ego that pushes us to do lots of unhealthy things in the end that religion has its own problems. That material thing will break or be replaced by something better. That job will end that you take that you identify with so much and so on. He actually mentions a scripture that Jesus said that if someone takes your tunic give them your cloak as well. Well the point is that you don’t want to let your ego get in the way. If someone took something from you they took an item not your identity. So rather than taking it personally like it was done to you which I’ll admit I still have a natural tendency to do because of ego and everyone does realize that they took a thing and not over identifying with it helps you stay away from drama. Think about it.

[00:41:31] A person that loses their possessions in a fire while it hurts in that moment they typically realize what really matters their lives and the lives of their loved ones that survived. Those are the things that matter. I learned the ego comes from getting stuck in thought in one’s own mind. I’m sure that with my hyperactive ADHD mind I had a very strong ego because I naturally get anxious about things as my brain tends to ruminate. The whole book is about separating things out. Don’t say I am unhappy say right now I have unhappiness inside me. You see you see the difference there. Separating that. Again don’t identify with your emotions as if they are you. The same goes for roles in life. People treat the CEO different than the janitor. As he pointed out allowing those roles to determine how they identified those people. Well we do the same with ourselves. Parents can identify too much with that role and forget who they are. Or maybe they try to fulfill their egos to their children. You don’t have to ask how to be yourself. Just stop adding baggage to yourself trying to figure out who you are. Like more roles. People keep trying them on and search to find themselves. But the reality is we are who we are.

[00:42:52] Beneath all those external things it really helps me to get me get to get myself out of my head and especially with my identification with the cult roles that were put upon me and that I then took upon myself later a point that you made in the book that struck me was that people enjoy vacations so much because on vacation each moment is new and experiential. It gets you out of your head you’re being more yourself just enjoying this new place and not being dominated by ego or playing some role. I could again go on and on about this book but I just encourage you to read it as well. It is a very personal journey. In reading that book it is deep. I even feel a little out there at times a little woo for some I mean I’ll admit when I read it at first I was like wow I’m not so sure about this but that’s just because it’s so contrary to the ego driven world that we all live in. In fact I’d probably go reread it myself because the ego never stops trying to creep up. It’s something that never goes away it’s just something just like anything else in life like ADHD or something else that best you can manage. It just doesn’t necessarily go away. All right. I’m going to throw one more book out there real quick. If you struggle to figure out what actually matters to you in life I recommend the book The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. This was I don’t even know how long ago it was now but it was years ago. The story made headlines I think he was on Oprah. It’s his story of dying with pancreatic cancer. But it’s a lot more than that is really is a story about living with pancreatic cancer if you struggle to find the beauty in life. Read this book.

[00:44:42] You can also look at the last lecture online and there are various videos that you might find interesting. I believe there is even video of his literal last lecture as professor. So there you have it. Contrast these things here that I was taking in with the fear obligation and guilt that the cult taught me to live my life by. Can you see how a person might start to wake up when exposed to such healthy thinking. I really hope that you found something and what I’ve said here today that can help you. Now you’ll notice that I said that I hope this can help you. I didn’t say that I hope you can help someone else with it. People have to want something better before a change takes place. And that one too isn’t necessarily an internal thing for many like myself. It started because life got so bad that I really only had two choices kill myself or get healthy. I was pushed to that point. Now if you’ve got somebody that is already at that point directing them to healthier thinking might just help. But you don’t get to determine when that point is. That’s not even up to them necessarily. I never consciously sat down and thought about my options. Things looked very bleak to me. That’s all I could see subconsciously though I did want something better. I just didn’t have any idea how to find it. So don’t use this information to point it at someone else and how they need to change. Use this for yourself. If someone else needs to change. Change yourself first and then by your example you might attract them to that change.

[00:46:25] When the airplane is going down you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you’re in a position to ever help anyone else. Remember too that growth is a process. If you want to grow muscle you first have to exercise and break it down to build it back up. It can be a very painful process. You just have to be willing to endure it for what it is. On the other side it isn’t about what you want when it comes to making change. It comes down to what are you willing to endure. And people have different levels of endurance. Life is a race that everyone has to run at their own pace. Next week I’m going to get into the stretch that stretch of my own race. Were these things that I just told you about and that I learned came into play. I’m going to tell you about our journey out. My wife was right there with me in all of this Shih-Tzu enjoyed these books and was influenced by them. We didn’t know how much they would influence us and we could have never predicted where they would eventually lead us. I’m excited to tell you how things worked out how we got there. Some of the odd things that happened on the way.

[00:47:34] 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 WW. This J-ws 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 this ASPI has to make it better. Remember that others are fighting things that you might not realize and give them the benefit of the doubt.

[00:48:58] Love others do no harm and go be happy.

Episode 6 – Life Gets Dark As One Of Jehovah’s Witnesses

In this episode you’re going to see just how dark things can get as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You will see my life as a young person growing up, into adulthood, and into my married life. This is a very personal episode and although it will get dark, you will see where the light came from in a very unexpected way that helped us to eventually exit the cult.

Resources Mentioned:

Driven To Distraction – Edward Hallowell and James Ratey



Direct Download Here

Click Here To Show Transcript

 

[00:01:51] So after the last two episodes you should have a good idea of the influences that were put upon me. And of course other Jehovah’s Witnesses though obviously when you’re young and you’re in your formative years these things weigh heavily on your mind and heart. I myself was also always kind of the kid that took things very seriously. It’s just the way I’m wired and I pay attention to words and words have always had a lot of meaning to me. For example when I was really little my grandpa told me that he was going to take me to the circus.

 

[00:02:24] He said we’re going to have a ball. Well when he showed up without a ball I was crushed. I didn’t know what the circus would be like but I thought that he was going to bring a ball and whether it was a baseball or basketball. When those rubber bouncy balls whatever that was always my favorite toy. So he said we’d have a ball. And then he didn’t produce one. So as a tiny child I had no frame of reference for this phrase that he used and he had to buy me a ball before we could go to the circus.

 

[00:02:58] So you know take that child. And I guess you know I don’t know maybe it was just me. Maybe it’s most children that you tell something like that. When reading this propaganda that Jehovah’s Witnesses produce. When I was at meetings and it was being fed to me from the platform I took it all in and took it very seriously. After all I was told that this meant my life and my happiness. I’ve already spoken as to how my life changed when I was eight or nine and my parents became witnesses and things changed at home and at school. And now I’ve laid out the fog and what I was living in as far as the teachings and the structure of what was expected of us goes. But now I’m going to kind of chart my course as a young Jehovah’s Witness growing up into adulthood so that you can see the progression of things. And as promised I’m going to get to an event in 2008 something that just came out of absolutely nowhere that set my life on a different course a much healthier one. I had no clue that that was going to be the beginning of the end for a lot of things for me at that time. As a kid in the creation I took my first steps as a young Jehovah’s Witness by going out in the field ministry with my parents at first just accompanying them to the doors and then later I would get a knock on the doors myself and give presentations.

 

[00:04:24] Kids are awesome little weapons for witnesses to use at the door because let’s face it who’s going to turn away a cute little kid in a suit or a dress that is offering some sort of well at the time it was cheap and now it’s free literature. So when you look at it kind of like cements to this child that this door to door ministry thing is actually pretty cool and easy.

 

[00:04:46] People like you and they appreciate you coming to their door when you’re cute and you’re well-dressed you know they’ll look at you and say oh you know look at how well-behaved he is and things like that. You place magazines with them and you feel good.

 

[00:05:05] So then I became an unbaptized publisher. This is where the organization started to get more of a grip on me because you start being able to turn in field service reports of your time and literature placements even though you aren’t yet an official baptized Witness. You kind of almost feel like you’re cheating. It’s like a cheat code. You start feeling like you’re the real deal. You meet with two elders in a back room and they ask you a few questions to make sure that you’re a morally upright person and that you’re you can represent the organization publicly. I’m pretty sure honestly most of the questions probably don’t even apply to a little kid. But you know it’s a big deal it makes you feel like you’re doing something. My parents were still studying with me. I was going to all the meetings developing as a young minister going out publicly declaring the truth. And then I started feeling pressured to get baptized. Now in order to get baptized it’s called actually dedication and baptism. So first you’re expected to dedicate yourself to God Jehovah in prayer water immersion or baptism is the public symbol that a person has dedicated their life to Jehovah or more accurately Jehovah’s Witnesses in prayer. The funny thing is they act like that’s between you and God. But in order to get baptized even though you prayed and dedicated yourself to God you first have to go over these baptism questions with three elders in the congregation. They would determine if you are ready for baptism not some prayer between you and God.

 

[00:06:45] So there’s a book and in the back of our questions for baptism you pore over these questions reading cited material and scriptures. You have to meet with three elders one for each section to show that you have a working knowledge of the truth and what they want you to have a working knowledge of. Most Jehovah’s Witnesses remember who those three brothers were. It’s a very personal thing. I remember the three who met with me. However one thing that I remember is that even as a child I realized that I was smarter than some of them and it made me wonder about some things. For instance a good sign that any Jaida of making the truth their own which is another Jehovah’s Witness time making the truth your own. Or as I like to call it dub speak for brainwashing and that it’s working if you could answer these questions in your own words not from reading from one of their publication that shows that you have made the truth your own well there’s one elder in particular that would ask me questions and what I would answer them in my own words he would tell me that I was wrong and then give a simplified version of my answer.

 

[00:08:00] Word for word out of some publication like he didn’t get it when I put it in my own words. It was a little disconcerting even as a kid. Here I was basically going for extra credit and it was over his head and he was an elder. I thought I was going to fail and not be able to get baptized because he wasn’t the brightest person ultimately though those three brothers got together after going over the questions with me they discussed my worthiness even though I’d already dedicated myself to God in prayer and then they decided what was between me and God was cool with them and approved me in his absence. So

 

[00:08:37] I was able to go get baptized on July 4th 1990 to 14 years old. I was officially baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the district convention that summer at Freedom Hall in Louisville Kentucky. It was in front of probably 10 to 12000 people. Scientologists like to talk about their billion year contract or whatever but I just locked in a forever contract between me and Jehovah’s witnesses they’re going to have a billion years. I call it infinity on it. Things started to change after that. As a baptized brother I was now expected to pray publicly at the meetings to either open or close them as they say a prayer before and after every meeting. So I did that at times. I started getting more talks at the meetings instead of just the bible readings for five minutes. Sometimes I would be given a subject and develop a talk around that subject and give that for five minutes. I forgot to mention this before but after each person gave their talk they were actually graded on it publicly from the platform. By that the Kraddick Ministry School conductor you were always given something to work on like hallways or gestures logical and coherent development and so on. If you didn’t do well you would be told to work on it again. Or if you did you’d be given something else to work on. There is always something you could be doing better.

 

[00:10:02] I was given responsibilities in the congregation like handing out magazines that people would order taking orders from people keeping him in story. I’d help my dad count the money that was donated after the meetings to sign off on it before he took it to the bank. I cut the grass at the Keenum hall every few weeks when it was our turn. I clean the Kingdom Hall after field service on Saturdays when it was our turn. When there was a convention we would volunteer to do something at it. Maybe it was cleaning or do some Once we did security at night and kind of like stayed overnight. We never really took vacations. But once or twice I do remember us taking a long weekend to go to unassigned territory to help some congregation out. For those who are unfamiliar with the term that means that some congregations often in rural areas couldn’t cover the large area that they had to cover. Maybe they had an entire county or maybe there wasn’t even a congregation nearby so groups would form from different congregations and they would go down to these areas that were never hit with our message and we can go on an all out blitz and spread the truth in that area. I guess that was our idea of a vacation. So in addition to meetings three times a week for five hours spending back then probably 10 to 20 hours a month or more knocking on doors and going to school. There were all these other things that I just mentioned that I had to prepare for and do as a young Jehovah’s Witness.

 

[00:11:31] Oh and it’s so hard to capture all the things that I actually forgot to mention the most important day of the year for Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is the memorial of Christ death the one observance that Jehovah’s Witnesses have once a year they get together after sundown on the day that corresponded with his Last Supper and his death and they will do the whole bread and wine thing. Only they don’t partake of any of it. We just literally sit there and pass it around to each other in you know the wine goblets. Or on a little plate for the unleavened bread according to Jehovah’s Witnesses there are two groups of people that are going to live forever. One the vast majority will live on a paradise earth. Remember they kind of believe it’s going to go back to the Garden of Eden that that was God’s original purpose and he’s going to fulfill that. And then the other group will be one hundred and forty four thousand anointed ones that will rule as kings and priests in heaven with Jesus over that paradise earth.

 

[00:12:33] Now how do you know if you’re one of that anointed heavenly class you just know they say I think that God’s Spirit speaks with yours and if you are you and you alone can partake of those emblems at the memorial. Now most corrugations don’t actually have any anointed ones that will partake. This was our one ceremony that we did a Jehovah’s Witnesses and we passed around the bread and we passed around the wine and we just sat there appreciating all that had been given for us to have the hope of salvation. I know that’s not exactly on topic but I mean I’d feel bad if I’d left that out it was. There was one thing that we did each year that was special to us. It was I guess it is kind of like our one holiday or whatever you want to call it.

 

[00:13:24] It was a it was a solemn occasion it was to be taken very seriously now but there was joy because this was what gave us our hope. The death of Jesus Christ and this thing that he instituted there was actually also a large public outreach to the community.

 

[00:13:44] When that comes every year in the spring you’ll see Jehovah’s Witnesses going door to door just leaving these little invitations for everybody to come to the memorial service. All right. Now back to my story. You know once I turn 16 Things started changing even more. I was actually given a car to another brother at the Kingdom Hall. It didn’t run but I got it to run. It was a rusted out beater but it was my first car and I loved it. I hated being at home because of my dad and I knew that a car was my gateway to freedom so I got a job working part time at a Wendy’s near my house that I could walk to save up money fix the car got my license and with that came some measure of sanity and distance from my family. Obviously I didn’t have a ton of time with you know all that being a witness entailed but at least I could you know drive to meetings by myself or go out in the service by myself or even you know do so with my friends. I didn’t have to be at home or honestly be around my dad for the most part and I would do just about anything not to have to. Actually I even still walk to work because it took longer than driving.

 

[00:14:59] So it would save me time for having to be there with that car I was now able to auxilary pioneer in the summer months when we were off school. So I signed up to spin basically 60 hours a month and I signed up for June July and August to go knock on doors. I wanted to be a good Jehovah’s witness and was told that I was setting a great example for other young people in the congregation. I liked that praise it was about all I got so it was a feeling that I was doing something right. I started being asked to read from the platform at the meetings and in the private homes that we went to for book studies. So I would sit up there with the conductor and I would read all of the paragraphs of whatever book or whatever lesson from the Watchtower we were being indoctrinated with that day.

 

[00:15:51] It’s funny because you know although things were changing even throughout my childhood life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is kind of like that movie Groundhog Day where every day is the same. I have to say at that point I was fully and truly brainwashed. I was 100 percent in and I was 100 percent certain that we had the truth.

 

[00:16:18] I had a lot going on but I also started to develop some good friends. Once I got my car I was able to go out and actually get my friends and do things I was kind of one of the first to have a car. We usually just you know went out and played sports. I loved basketball and football. I would play those all day if I could. Honestly I’ll never forget that time.

 

[00:16:42] It was one of the best of my life. Not necessarily the the Jaida stuff that was going along with it but I had friends and we were we were pretty tight.

 

[00:16:52] We go to movies we went fishing we just hanging out playing video games. Just it was it was an awesome time.

 

[00:17:03] I kind of felt like at that point I felt like I really belong. It was great it was a great feeling. Now I’ve already mentioned that I graduated high school and turned down college to regular pioneer but I haven’t mentioned yet is that Jehovah’s Witnesses even pressure you to have a certain type of car. All the ex witnesses now will shake their heads. You had to have a good service car. You see you want to have a Ford or a car or.

 

[00:17:32] I mean if you’re really spiritual You might even have a minivan so that you can use it to drive everyone around out in field service Well it was a good thing that the car I was given had four doors because that’s what I needed for this period of my life and I was a regular pioneer. The only problem is that I always drove and nobody ever chipped in for gas or where tire anything. Eventually my car died. I was working several part time jobs going out knocking on doors for 90 hours a month still doing all the Jadot stuff. I was then appointed as a ministerial servant in the corrugation one step up from where I was as a regular publisher a regular brother in the congregation but also one step under being an elder. I guess you could say I was I was on my way. I conducted various parts at the meetings. I gave talks I ran the literature department I ran the magazines I helped with the sound department.

 

[00:18:34] Oh yeah.

 

[00:18:35] And I was also pioneering doing all the regular JTA stuff and working three part time jobs each month as a ministerial servant I would have shepherding calls to go on a shepherding call is a term for essentially the elders in each congregation are supposed to call on ones that need help each month. That’s why you know so I like look through your field service reports and say oh this brother here didn’t go out last month. We need to go encourage him and have a shepherding call or you know I heard Sister so-and-so is depressed and you know we should go see her what I kind of realized was that a lot of times these calls didn’t actually happen when they did it seemed like we only ever saw the same people. Lots of people never even get such a call. Some people feel intimidated by these calls and think that like the elders are coming to you know get them in some sort of trouble which is kind of funny and know just hit me while I’m talking about it. And this shows that the control of the authoritarian regime of sorts in a congregation where even the shepherding calls that were supposed to be of encouragement. They were supposed to be just coming to tell you what a great person you are and give you some something of building from the Scriptures. And most people were terrified of having these shepherding calls.

 

[00:20:04] So it really kind of shows you know the attitude and the device and the division between the elders in the congregation and the rest of their supposed flock that they’re basically afraid of the elders eventually you know through working all these jobs and doing all this stuff I burned out I stopped pioneering. I was out of money. Car was broken. I was going into debt trying to get another car. A little cheap car to drive around. I kept praying to Jehovah for help. I mean here I am supposedly doing all the right things and everything is going wrong. Of course that’s not a lack of Jehovah’s help that’s Satan bringing me down. So you know here I was trying to do all the right things and Satan was just putting up all these obstacles in my path.

 

[00:21:01] I ended up stepping down as a ministerial servant too. I just I burned out so hard. I needed to go back to square one to start again. Of course when when you step down from any of these positions they even announce that from the platform.

 

[00:21:17] And so you know just like if you were disfellowshipped they’d say brother so-and-so is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses if you’re no longer an elder or a pioneer or a ministerial servant they will go up on stage and let everyone know brother so-and-so is no longer serving as an elder or in my case a ministerial servant and a pioneer in the creation which I honestly like whenever something like that is said it kind of cast a pall over you. Like people start looking at you different. It’s not it’s not that you’re just burned out. There must be something wrong with you. Anyway this is a big deal for me. It was you know one of the first issues of cognitive dissonance I had already always heard these stories these virtual miracles that were performed when people prayed to do the right thing and how Joe would swoop in and make it work out somehow but it wasn’t happening for me. You know here I was doing all the right things. I was praying intently to Jehovah and nothing was happening for me. For me it just meant me working more and more hours you know doing something pioneering or whatever that I was absolutely miserable in.

 

[00:22:28] And I gave up so much to do this. Where was God. Where was my help from hell. I would push it down in China to think about it or think that you know maybe it just wasn’t part of his plan for me. But I tried so hard I just couldn’t make it work. And I wasn’t getting help from anyone and certainly not God. At 19 or 20 I just went ahead. I had the money. I moved out of one side of a duplex. Things were starting to change though as I got older and time passed. Friends started leaving the organization and so I was you know starting to miss some of the people that I had been friends with.

 

[00:23:11] People would just grow apart or you know get busy. I mean this happens with everybody you know as you get older. People grow apart they get busy they get jobs they have families whatever. You know we weren’t kids anymore. We had responsibilities. And so in the end I ended up with more time alone and to be honest I didn’t like it all that much. Looking back now I can see that I probably didn’t really like myself very much. I was bullied relentlessly in school not just because I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and was different in that way. But I was also a super skinny kid with terrible clothes from thrift stores. I wore glasses. I made good grades so you know then I was the nerd and I didn’t really have any friends.

 

[00:23:59] So the cult identity was really all I had. Even though I was a very independent thinker in other aspects of life I don’t remember a lot but I do remember that that feeling that I was pretty lonely another aspect of this is when you’re doing all the right things in the congregation when you’re that young pioneer that is a ministerial servant too. Everyone thinks you’re awesome and likes you. But when you aren’t any more you are nothing to them. It’s like you have fallen off your pedestal. I remember watching my dad during the period where he was no longer an elder. And I mean he was always super depressed anyway. But I guess he was even more super depressed because all that he had was that role where people admired him in the congregation. That’s all he ever really seemed to care about. Again he was a different person there.

 

[00:24:59] And it was taken away from him.

 

[00:25:02] I mean he wasn’t happy at the meetings anymore which he used to be. But of course later he was reappointed an elder for whatever reason and things went back. He was happy at the meetings again and playing that role. But it was something that I noticed even back then that that changed that that would occur in people for me I decided that I needed a fresh start. I prayed about things and said that I would try out congregations across the river in Indiana and if I found one that I liked I’d go there. I ended up trying and liking the Charlestown congregation. It was a good distance from where I grew up controversial as far as some of that territory went. So it was different and I like that idea a total change. People were friendly to me. Of course I didn’t realize at that time that there is a term used for Colts called love bombing. It’s something they tend to do when a new person comes in everyone loves them they love bomb them and they overwhelm you with how happy they are that you’re going to be a part of their group and that lasts for a little while and goes away. And then oftentimes they go on to somebody else. Now I always knew a lot of people but I always struggled to make real friends or maybe I just always had a distorted view of friendship. But it’s always been hard for me to fit in or I don’t know maybe I did fit in but just didn’t feel it. Anyway I got to know a new group of young people.

 

[00:26:43] I remember getting invited to go camping once with this group. We went out with a big group. There was a mix of young people and older ones. Some were even elders in the corrugations it was people from several local congregations that all got together. People were drinking. And although I’ve never been one to drink at all because I’ve been told that alcoholism runs in my family.

 

[00:27:08] I don’t care if other people drink if they drink and enjoy themselves more power to them. But I was watching people drink some getting maybe a little tipsy which really at least in the call. You’re not supposed to do. And then all of a sudden a bunch of these young people ran out into the woods. I thought I don’t know. I didn’t understand why. I thought maybe they were playing a game or something. But what happened is a ranger showed up and he was checking people’s IDs to make sure they were old enough to drink. Here I was camping with elders that brought booze and we’re giving it to young people who were under age. And I guess everybody knew this was going to go down. And it’s something that they did all the time and they just ran off because they didn’t want to get caught. You see the higher I climbed on any ladder in the organization or the more I got to go out with people to see who they really were the more I realize that the man behind the curtain wasn’t what he claimed to be they looked one way but weren’t necessarily that way it was just an appearance.

 

[00:28:13] I knew that some things were like you know my dad giving talks about happy family lives while being a miserable family man. But I didn’t know the extent of other things that were going on.

 

[00:28:26] There was a get together one time at a well-known farm that I went to I played basketball I had a great time. But while I was playing basketball I would noticed that young people were kind of pairing off and going into the woods together. I might see two young ladies walk off and two young guys and so on. Well it wasn’t long after that an announcement started to be made at the. You know that this person was reproved or this person was disfellowshipped or whatever. So I started realizing that things were what they were made out to be. Now I was a true Jehovah’s Witness through and through and I did know plenty who were. But there was always this like seedy underbelly of things going on. Most of the time I’m sure I had no clue about around this time. I actually started dating. Now let me take a minute here to explain Jadot dating to you first you must always have a chaperone and they must be a reasoning age. In other words you can’t just go take a little kid with you on your date and send them off to go play while you two are alone. No. I don’t care if you are 20 years old or 50 years old.

 

[00:29:46] You must have a chaperon at all times. There are many more sisters than there are brothers so brothers have more to choose from. That sounds gross to say it that way but that’s kind of how how it was depending on who you were. Especially dating is to only be undertaken with a view to marriage even engagement engagement is a vow. And what you vow you must pay. So breaking off an engagement is scandalous.

 

[00:30:21] Personally I was super shy. And if you remember brothers and sisters in my congregation didn’t really associate. I had no clue how to talk to a girl much less approach one. I would have never even had the courage to ask anyone out.

 

[00:30:37] With all the bullying that I had endured my self-esteem was my self-esteem was pretty much in the toilet.

 

[00:30:45] Well one day somebody at my Kingdom Hall told me that there was a girl up in Seymour that I needed to meet. I had had this happen to me previously twice and neither time did it go well but I figured what the heck. I had nothing to lose so I went up to meet her. Of course we met where many Jaida meet at Hurricane Hall because everything revolves around being a witness.

 

[00:31:10] I stay the day with her and her family and that kind of started things off. Her parents were nice to me.

 

[00:31:16] I worked pressure washing jobs in a winter and it would get so slow that I could sometimes stay up and see more with her and her family.

 

[00:31:25] I would sleep on their couch and we would get to spend time together don’t worry. There was always a chaperone. She had four younger sisters. Her mom and her dad all in a two bedroom house so there wasn’t anything going on there. There was hardly a moment to breathe without a small child jumping on you.

 

[00:31:46] There wasn’t much to do. Her parents wouldn’t let us go out much so all we really did was talk and get to know each other. It wasn’t ideal but it really forced us to discuss life and how we saw things. And look I mean I was 22. She was 19 so it’s not like we had a lot of depth.

 

[00:32:05] I had at least lived on my own but she was super sheltered.

 

[00:32:10] She was even home schooled in high school so as not to have to deal with worldly kids. So basically all she knew was that little environment in her home. Her parents although nice to me didn’t seem to like me or maybe they just didn’t want her to grow up and leave. Which was something they made pretty clear in different ways. At one point they had my parents. My parents went up there and thought they were just going to hang out and really they were trying to get my parents to go along with them in breaking us up. I don’t know if they thought we were stupid or if their house wasn’t big and we could hear them talking in the kitchen. I mean they were right there. My mom later told me anyway what they had said and discussed. My parents saw me as an adult and had no say in whatever I did hers on the other hand were extremely controlling and she had to live there.

 

[00:33:02] So such was our dating life. We met in November of 1999 in January of 2000. We were talking one day about marriage and that’s again what this was all for.

 

[00:33:17] We decided that we wanted to get married so I went out one day and bought her a ring. Now I know this is crazy romantic. Actually it wasn’t. There was no allowance for any of that in this situation. Her oldest sister got the kids out of the living room for a couple of minutes and I proposed. We were now engaged that that’s all we had we wanted to go out and eat dinner to celebrate but her father had slaved over a pot of hamburger gravy and threw a fit like a petulant child that we wanted to go out and not eat what he had worked so hard for. So we ended up eating his stupid hamburger gravy. He didn’t want her and would not let her leave the house that night. I do envy those that have great stories about their dating and their engagement. But that was not us. I have a story. We have a story but it’s not a very great one. I’m the kind of person who loves putting together surprises for people and would have probably come up with something elaborate I love doing that stuff. But there was just no opportunity with the situation we had to deal with anyway. In

 

[00:34:31] March of 2000 we were married in the Charlestown Kingdom Hall so there wasn’t very long in between. It was a simple ceremony there were maybe 100 or so in attendance and afterward there was no reception. We went to a restaurant though and did eat with some family and a few close friends. Yes. If you noticed we were married roughly four months after meeting. It’s been over 17 years now.

 

[00:34:58] We knew what we wanted. We didn’t see a reason then waiting. And I’m like a lot of Jehovah’s witnesses especially those that get married young. We didn’t just get married to have sex. We watched so many do that and get divorced in a few years. We were both the type of people who sat back and watched other people’s misery and try to not repeat it. For us the attitude of being willing to work together at life and to enjoy it. That was more important than anything. We were so poor when we first got married. Actually thinking back I think that first year I pay taxes on like I don’t know something ridiculous under the poverty level. It’s like $10000 or something. I have worked a job reading meters and getting chased by dogs all day. Actually the money at that wasn’t bad. But she would stay home and clean the house over and over with nothing else to do. We had like no clue how to how to do life together. I came home one day and asked her if I could quit my job. I was absolutely traumatized from being chased by a pit bulls and rottweilers all day and just could not take it anymore. She was fine with it but I had never quit a job without having another one lined up before so I wasn’t really fine with it but I just couldn’t take it anymore. The day that I quit there was one woman meter reader that works with us and she had gotten mauled in the chest and required reconstructive surgery. That was it for me.

 

[00:36:39] Almost everyone there had been bitten at least one time but me.

 

[00:36:43] I knew it was inevitable and I just could not mentally handle it anymore. My wife’s side of things.

 

[00:36:51] She had been home schooled for high school and her.

 

[00:36:59] Her mom actually used her being home.

 

[00:37:05] My wife ended up watching her youngest sister a lot. In fact she was at one time referred to as little mommy by her sisters and her mom really kind of discouraged her from doing her school work. Would rather her sit and listen to her stories or go hang out with her at Wal-Mart or something like that so.

 

[00:37:30] So on my wife’s side of things she didn’t even have a full high school education. My goal was to help my wife get at least her GED so I told her you know we would need to at least get this for you because you know if you were ever if there was something happened to me and you needed to get a job you’ve got to at least have a high school equivalency. So I helped my wife get her GED. I we sat down and really I mean she knew everything she needed to know just needed a refresher on a few things. Except for the except for in math. So I helped her there I helped her with her math and so she was able to actually go and she took her GED. She passed it got a great grade on it and was super proud of that. She even went to her there called her parents and told them that she got her GED. They didn’t really seem to care. But she was proud of that. So that was a good thing.

 

[00:38:39] So that it would give her more opportunities in the world. And you know everybody should should be able to accomplish that and feel good about it.

 

[00:38:49] There was a sister in an older congregation that needed some cleaners to clean banks and car dealerships that night. So we signed on for her and subcontracted and did that for a while.

 

[00:39:01] Eventually she lost her contracts. So we started our own cleaning business.

 

[00:39:05] We liked working together. We hated working nights. That was terrible. So we talked about it and decided that you know maybe we could clean apartments because apartments could be cleaned during the day and if you could get an apartment complex it’s not like you’re not like getting a house where you clean one house when you get an apartment complex you’re cleaning all of their turnovers each month so you might get you know many depending on the size of the apartment complex. So we had about $500 in the bank. We prayed about it of course because what you do about everything. We bought a few supplies bought some business cards. I had previously there was a point in my life about two or three years where I was a telemarketer and then I managed a marketing large marketing department for a company. And so I just sat down got the phone and started cold calling apartment complexes.

 

[00:40:04] I called five numbers got three appointments with the property managers and we landed two deals out of that. We’ve been cleaning professionally now for about 17 years together. Now we clean people’s individual private homes. Now that was good but it wasn’t all good.

 

[00:40:21] You see I had no clue how to handle money. Growing up poor you actually got a dollar you spent it because you never knew when you get another. I had a scarcity mindset for sure. Through and through my wife on the other hand had an abundance mindset. She had a very sheltered life. Never even had a television. But her dad actually made decent money. So she just knew that things got taken care of and she had no clue what the real world was like. She never had to handle money. She knew she needed something. It’s not like she asked for a lot. Did you have a TV didn’t know what like and didn’t go to school so she didn’t know what was in the real world. But if she needed something you know her parents had the money to get it for. So she kind of had a lot of growing up to do. I did too. I didn’t know how to handle money and she did not care about money whatsoever.

 

[00:41:16] So I handled the finances and honestly I did a terrible job. I did our own taxes for the business and I messed up badly the first couple of years. I did not realize that we had to file self-employment tax which is a huge percentage. The majority of tax that you pay when you own your own self-employed business. The IRS did eventually catch it several years later and sent me a massive bill business was good though. At one point I had the largest property management firm locked down in little and my dad and one of my brothers worked for us. Then one day we showed up to find out that they had sold off all of their local properties to different companies and we lost about 60 percent of our business in one day. I had to let my brother go. I had to let my dad go and my wife and I had to scramble to put the business back together again. Actually I started a mobile auto detailing business out of thin air with no knowledge and no experience whatsoever. And it got us through the summer while we transition to cleaning residential homes and built the clientele.

 

[00:42:23] I also took some contract work performing inspections of properties for commercial mortgage doors while my wife was out cleaning houses. So we did what we needed to do. We cobbled enough things together to make the transition and hustle.

 

[00:42:40] So while all that’s going on something else is about to happen. That was huge. I mean this is a monumental event in my life and I know one that was obviously such from my brother my I was the oldest in my family but my oldest younger brother had moved out of my parents house. And long story short he was this Fellowship’s when he moved. I didn’t know where he lived. And this is before he was his fellowship but I didn’t know where he had lived but I found out where he moved to. I knew something was up but I didn’t know what. So I found out the street that he lived on. So what I do I went knocking on doors. That’s what I was good at right. And so I found him. I was concerned about him because we had been close. I mean those years where I felt lonely living on my own in that duplex. It was he and I we would often go out fishing and we’d have fun together. And now he just kind of like disappeared. So I found him we hung out a few times but I could tell something wasn’t right.

 

[00:43:47] I was trying to encourage him but I could just tell that he just wanted to be left alone. As far as the whole Jaida thing is he was he was kind of choosing another path.

 

[00:43:59] Well one night at a meeting at the Kingdom Hall in the auditorium a particularly abrasive elder that I don’t like a lot came up to me and said that he knew that I knew where my brother lived and that he wanted the address.

 

[00:44:14] I asked why. And then he said well you know the elders were concerned and they wanted to help them. I could tell that was not at all. I was upset and told them Well you know if you’re wanted to help him that time to have done so was to show that you care like a long time ago.

 

[00:44:34] Not now. Like now it’s too late. He clearly wants to do something else and now you care. To me it seemed like this wasn’t so much caring about a person as it was wanting to punish a person. Well he got mad and demanded the address. So I gave him the illustration that they like to use a lot from the platform from the Bible about a shepherd that leaves his 99 sheep to go find that one lost sheep and told him to go find his sheep like I did if he cares so much and wants to help. I mean I found them. So you go find them. Well things got pretty nasty and heated and we were practically shouting at each other in the auditorium. And another elder kind of jumped in to intervene. Well they eventually found him. They waited outside his job if I remember correctly and served him with a letter to come to a judicial meeting a certain time and day. The kicker is if you don’t show up to one of these meetings where you’re requested you are disfellowshipped by default.

 

[00:45:42] My brother didn’t want to have to deal with any of them. He just wanted to be left alone and go his own way. He was disfellowshipped instead. I can’t imagine how horrible that was for him.

 

[00:45:56] So at that time I was forced into a position to have to shun the person that was probably my best friend even though at that point in particular we hadn’t really we kind of gotten away from each other a little bit.

 

[00:46:10] We kind of gone our separate ways. I had moved away. On the other side of the river but it was really hard on me. I left notes on his car a few times I found out where he worked and I go leave a note on his car. But it was to no avail. In one I told him that since I had moved away from the arrogation that we grew up in I knew something was wrong with that one that we grew up in. Of course later in my life I find out it wasn’t just that one. But anyway at that time I thought I knew the secret. You know there was just something messed up in his congregation I was trying to save him. I was grasping at straws to encourage him to come back.

 

[00:46:49] Eventually I heard though that he moved to New York and that was that he was gone. I was pretty devastated. My wife was pretty broken up over it.

 

[00:46:58] I was super depressed as I said before I was bad with money and I started feeling rich now that I was making you know anything about minimum wage. It didn’t take much to make me feel wealthy when I came from nothing. Basically the way it worked out. I just wasn’t saving for taxes. I just really had not figured that aspect out at all. And we already owed more money than I’d ever seen in my hand at the time. So I just kind of buried my head in the sand. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t see any way out. So I self-medicated my depression and everything else by buying things and eating. When we got married I was six feet tall and 125 pounds soaking wet. I had tried everything to gain weight.

 

[00:47:46] I lifted weights I took weight gain a plenty and nothing works. Well the magic to gaining weight for me was depression and eating out constantly while working lots and at my heaviest I got to about 250. Well OK I got to 250 on the scale and then I stopped looking. So it wasn’t just a tax that was ballooning so was my waistline. Oh and our marriage was terrible for a few years too. You see I was a narcissist trained by the best. My parents and the Colts I had been taught my whole life that other people were supposed to be just like me and my wife was nothing like me.

 

[00:48:28] She had grown up in a home where her dad would come home from work frustrated and look for excuses to hit her. He would get mad. Some kid had to do something wrong so that he could go take them back and spank them hit and then afterward he would feel bad and want to play. Now I die. I never hit her. Not that person but I’m sure that the person that I was triggered her we were two very unhappy people for at least a few years. It’s hard to say now but honestly there were talks about going our separate ways. At one point we have a basement so we basically even lives in the house on separate levels. We just really were not getting along very well and honestly I mean I’ll take that upon myself.

 

[00:49:18] It took both of us but I was certainly the aggressor in the situation I was certainly the one I was the narcissist.

 

[00:49:26] I was the one trying to make things a certain way and I just wasn’t clicking in retrospect the reality was that when we got married we both were looking for something.

 

[00:49:43] And I was looking for a person that I could help. I’ve always liked helping other people in various ways unfortunately. Help can quickly become I’m the fixer and I am that that’s who I am. I’m the fixer. Which is not always a good thing. And sometimes it goes too far. And my wife too when she was actually asked what she liked about me and one of the things that she liked was that I was very decisive.

 

[00:50:17] My wife didn’t like to make decisions.

 

[00:50:21] So you can see right there that on some level we were kind of both getting what we asked for. She on one hand wanted someone to basically direct her life and I wanted someone whose life I could help guide. My goal was never to direct you know in every single way.

 

[00:50:44] The fact that I used to you know we had many discussions about this I wasn’t I guess I wasn’t a true true blue eyed narcissist. I just had some narcissistic tendencies because I realized that this was healthy. And it ended up the situation was that I needed to learn to step back and she needed to learn. You know if I did step back she needed to learn to step up. And so at that time we were too and matched and it really just wasn’t a healthy situation. In fact at one point out of frustration I punched our refrigerator. It won sure I then add the freezer but I got a boxer’s fracture out of it. I never broken anything in my life but I knew immediately that something was wrong. I had to go get that taken care of at a local immediate care center.

 

[00:51:38] I’m telling you these things because this is this is the reality. This is this is how things went. You know so let’s just discuss it openly. I’m not proud of that. I’m not proud of that person that I was.

 

[00:51:53] But this is who I was this is who I became through not only my family of origin but the Colts. And I think that it was a very strong influence on all of this and my wife you know wasn’t exactly proud of the ER isn’t exactly proud in retrospect of the person you know she was at that time as well. She

 

[00:52:18] had her own issues that she brought from her own family of origin. I’ve already mentioned just a small example of what went on in their home. And so she she brought her own brand of dysfunction which of course is what we all do to any kind of a relationship. So but I’m just trying to speak more to my own responsibility here than anything.

 

[00:52:45] I know this is my story so I’m trying to speak more to that side. So at the time I was doing inspections which was lucky because I could do those with a cast on my hand if I was cleaning it would would’ve been a lot tougher.

 

[00:53:00] But if you know me I would have done it one way or the other. At some point we decided to take up our carpet in the house because we realized that we had hardwood under it. We checked the different corners it looked beautiful. Well when we took up our carpet we realized that the floors were eaten up in areas by termites and in other areas and have been urinated on so frequently by a dog or cat that someone owned before us that the wood was ruined.

 

[00:53:29] And my desperation to fix our financial state I decided to start selling things that boose and local pedlar’s malls. We set up the booths and sold the peddler’s mall then sold the things for us and we made a chunk of money well eventually we stopped because it just wasn’t enough anymore. And now our house became flooded with unsold goods and large display cases like you may see at a jewelry store like I’m talking like large display cases the big glass ones where you might go to a department store and they have watches and jewelry in them. You had some of those. So let me paint the picture for you. Our house was now basically hoarded was stuff the floors were a disaster but you couldn’t see them anymore from all the stuff that was piled on top of them. We took the living together in the basement to run away from it all tax debt was mounting. We were probably over 30000 at that point. Money that we didn’t have and had no way to obtain. We weren’t getting along in our marriage. Neither of us really had any friends to do anything with business had been a mess. We were starting to get back together. The one bright point we were still busy doing all the data things. Life was pretty ugly and not working out at all.

 

[00:54:51] In fact during this time I actually went to the elders in the current geisha that we attended. I asked for a meeting with them because I knew that our life was a disaster. And again I thought that everybody else had theirs together. So I went to the elders and I asked them sincerely at the time I had a few little things in the congregation that I was doing I was running the sound department and things. And I told them I said I just don’t think I can run the sound department anymore.

 

[00:55:29] I don’t think that I measure up to what it is that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses should be in order to have a privilege like this and the creation of my life is a mess.

 

[00:55:41] I asked these elders I said look you know what is it like. I wish that that I could go live other people’s lives or you know go be a fly on the wall of these other people’s lives so that I could see what they were doing differently because my life was a disaster and I couldn’t keep up with all of the quote spiritual things that I was supposed to do.

 

[00:56:05] I was having a hard time making all of the meetings much less handling all the responsibilities at the Kingdom Hall.

 

[00:56:11] I I couldn’t do the personal study that I was supposed to do where was I going to find time for that or emotional energy so I asked these brothers you know what is it like what is the key and I’ll never forget what they said because it was a pretty big moment for me.

 

[00:56:36] It really set me down a spiraling path that was even uglier than I was already on.

 

[00:56:44] And I’ll explain here in a minute how dark it got. But one of the elders looked at me he said well basically it just comes down to you know what we do shows what we care about.

 

[00:57:02] So clearly he was basically telling me you don’t care enough about this. He was telling me that the fault was mine.

 

[00:57:10] He made me feel even worse than I already felt you know here you had a chance to help me in some way and he did what Jehovah’s Witnesses always do which is to moralize everything. Basically I was just a bad person. I didn’t care enough. You know clearly I didn’t know I was feeling terrible and actually coming to them and asking for help which should have shown that obviously I clearly cared. I was trying everything I could but to them I just didn’t care enough. To make matters worse I had always had suicidal ideations since I was a kid.

 

[00:57:51] I will say that they started at some point after we became Jehovah’s Witnesses which is something I’ve heard from others but I couldn’t tell you for sure. Basically if I was walking down a street or walking down the sidewalk next to a street and this street was super busy I would like visualize myself walking out in front of a car just wondering what that would be like. And it’s almost like there was something pushing me to do so. I don’t know what it was. I hate my home life. I was bullied at school constantly and really all I had in the world was this cold where I fit in as a kid because I was a good kid and I did what I was told well by 2008.

 

[00:58:29] Those little voices in my head were screaming at me as hard as I was on my wife as a narcissist. I was even harder on myself. I was a raging perfectionist. There were standards to be met and by God you had better meet. And I had better meet them too. And those standards that I set from ourselves were impossibly high. I hated myself so much. I can’t really express how deep it was. I would literally yell at myself to get it together. I would call myself names. I would cuss at myself. I would punish myself for not getting things done right. After all everyone else around me it seemed like at the Keenum all had it all together right.

 

[00:59:20] I mean that image of all these perfect lives. Contrast that mind that was just socking it just fueled me to keep reaching for perfection. It seemed like the harder I pushed the worse things got.

 

[00:59:34] It was a good thing that my wife and I worked together because it ultimately kept me from doing what I wanted to do and might have done if left alone. Now I never had a weapon in the house. I’ve never had a gun I’ve never shot a gun and it’s probably a good thing because if I did I can almost guarantee you I would have put a bullet in my head. I can’t tell you how many times when I was driving.

 

[01:00:01] I once had to run headfirst into a concrete wall or pillar or just off a bridge. I mean like these were little rage filled moments internally of complete self-loathing where I just wanted to punish myself for being a worthless piece of crap and for not being able to control my life while everyone else seemed to have theirs together. I saw no way out other than that it was super super dark.

 

[01:00:30] I hated myself no one else seemed to like me. I didn’t get me neither did anyone else. The one person in life that I thought I fit in with my wife seemed to not get me. We were on totally opposite sides of the world. What was the point. I mean I was tormented every day. It seemed like if I ended it. It’s not like I wanted to die but if I ended it somehow violently and in an act of hatred to myself I’m sure it just seemed like a fitting way to go out. It would just make it stop and ultimately that’s what I wanted. Anything to make it stop well. I told you something happened that changed things for me. One little moments that lit the kindling of a fire that would burn bright for the next seven years.

 

[01:01:27] And so I burned my whole life down as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

[01:01:33] I was on the computer as I often was escaping into online forums where I could fit in if just a moment. Sometimes it was just talking to other fans of the local college sports teams. Sometimes it was business subjects. I bounced all over the place. Well one day I was on a forum about small business as per usual. I was talking in circles about all my ideas and my frustrations because I couldn’t execute on all of them some random guy on the forum posted on the forum that he’d like to send me a private message and asked if he could do so I said sure. That he did the contents of that private message would send me on a different course one that I never expected. Now here’s where I thought about leaving you hanging until next week but I can’t do that. I hate to be continued episodes of anything. I won’t be able to detail this whole next chapter of my life in this episode it would take too long and we will get through it obviously but I can tell you what this guy said to me and now I also couldn’t this is dark as it was it it turns out that this guy was a retired ADHD specialist and he saw something in me that led him to believe that I had ADHD.

 

[01:02:52] I’ll admit that I personally thought that ADHD was a made up disease and excuse for bad parents to medicate their children so that they didn’t have to control them themselves. But what did I have to lose by listening to this guy. I mean what was the alternative. Going out in a blaze of self-hatred. So he recommended that I read a book called Driven to Distraction from Dr. Edward Hallowell.

 

[01:03:17] That’s known as kind of like the ADHD Bible it’s of many Well I did it read I still don’t read books like A lot of people with ADHD. I don’t have the focus to read my mind wanders. Well audio books though right up my alley. So listening to them I can listen to an audio book while doing something else especially something physical that helps me to focus.

 

[01:03:43] So I bought the book in audio format one Saturday morning my wife and I were out detailing the car for a client and my wife and I cued up the book on our devices at the same time and we listened separately on our headphones while detailing the car her on the inside of it. She always detailed the inside. And I would detail the outside.

 

[01:04:04] I will never forget listening to this book for the first time in my life somebody understood me and the way my brain works when it was over when the book was over.

 

[01:04:16] I cried because I didn’t want it to end. I mean this this was magical for me. It was finally feeling understood and finally being able to understand myself on some level. Since we started listening at the same time there were so many times where my wife would get out of the car and just look at me with her eyes wide and shake her head in amazement and I mean I was doing the same thing to her. It explains so much of my adult life. And if I think back I think were recluse when I was younger too. I think it might explain some things then unlike a lot of people with ADHD I excelled academically. But like anything it’s on a spectrum and where I would have flunked out of high school if I had to read books if I’d been given books and I had to like just read those and like go do the assignments by myself.

 

[01:05:12] I would have failed but I was very good at listening in class. Remember I learned very good with something as auditory and so I just listened in class. I paid attention and my brain worked super fast. So I mean it just all came in and stuck. I believe what I have is called ADHD overfocused. So first let’s understand and establish that ADHD isn’t necessarily an attention deficit. It can be somewhere more inattentive but for some of us it is that we actually pay attention to literally everything around us and we get distracted easily.

 

[01:05:58] But it’s not for lack of attention it’s actually for a lack of focus. I notice everything when driving I know where every car around me is I’ve never been in a wreck and I have narrowly avoided some really close calls where people almost hit me because I caught something out of the corner of my eye or I knew where they were and I was able to move really fast. It’s like this weird super. Unfortunately a side of being overly focused could be near obsession almost OCD like tendencies which perfectionism is one combine that with a cult that is pushing perfectionistic messages constantly and it is a perfect storm for self-hatred. Heck the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As I said earlier leaves most people with the prevailing theme of feeling like they’re never good enough.

 

[01:06:54] So I had kind of a double whammy here. When I look back at that past years while I was listening to the book while I look back at that adult life that I had honestly it’s like this book woke me up from some sort of deep sleep some sort of autopilot. I don’t know what I was doing over those years. I mean I was doing the best that I could. I was hustling. I was trying really hard. I was pushin the heck out of things. And I know that it was hard and painful and horrible. But I think that on some level maybe it was just the depression but I was just checked out. I mean I was there. I was grasping at straws but it’s almost like it was at me like looking back I kind of had no clue what I had really been doing even. But now I had a new direction. I was I was woke. As they say on some new level and I didn’t know it but that was about to take me down an amazing road that unfortunately though this road would take me through hell. But it was a productive hell. And then there would be some heartbreak.

 

[01:08:13] But on the other side of that was a freedom that I’m experiencing now that is unlike anything that I ever had in my entire life. So I’m going to go ahead and stop here. But next week I’m going to go through those next seven years. And what I learned these things that I learned are just things that I needed to hear. They’re things that so many people need to hear. I

 

[01:08:36] hope that the next episode is inspiring to others. I hope that it will give other people something to look into to help them with their own problems in life whatever they may be. I learn so many beautiful things and my life was completely changed. We’re going to see in this next episode. I don’t know. We’ll see if it it’s one or two episodes we’ll see how long it ends up being and how it breaks down. I also have some research I may have to do and some of the titles of books I’m going to give some specifics because I want to help other people give them something that might help them in their life. That being you know you the listener. So we’ll see if I can get that one out on time. I’m going to try. But it’s going to be worth it whenever it comes out so hopefully it’ll come out next weekend. Oftentimes on Sunday. But if it doesn’t it will come out soon I promise. And it will be worth it.

 

[01:09:39] 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 a 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 J.W. 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 this has to make it better. Remember that others are fighting things that you might not realize and give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

[01:11:03] Love others do no harm and go be happy.

Episode 5 – Enter The FOG – The Culture Of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The most damaging part of Jehovah’s Witnesses is their culture that keeps people held captive to a concept. You will learn about the FOG and BITE models of control in this episode, and how JWs use it specifically.



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[00:01:51] Last week I went over some of the structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the general narrative. However that’s just a fraction of the story and like I said that isn’t even the most damaging part. The culture of Jehovah’s Witnesses is where the real story lies. Because what you believe is one thing what you live on a daily basis is an entire different level.

 

[00:02:13] So now I’m going to discuss the call through to cold models that are often used in abusive relationships of any type. First let’s dive into the fog fear obligation and guilt if you can get people into the fog. They tend to find it hard to ever see their way out. I’ll take this one by one and break down how Jehovah’s Witnesses use the fog. With some examples. So let’s start with if or fear now. I’ve already discussed in previous episodes the fear of demons. And obviously that’s one pretty big fear. Another fear is the almost paranoia that you are constantly being watched. Jehovah is watching you judging your every move. And he can read your heart and innermost thoughts. So are openly exposed at all times. Satan is watching you. Roving about like a roaring lion seeking to devour someone as they like to quote from scripture.

 

[00:03:15] Now according to them beliefs he can’t read your thoughts but he is watching your actions and always studying you looking for a chink in your spiritual armor to exploit every time you go knocking on doors to the grocery school work or anywhere in the world people are watching you.

 

[00:03:35] And we were told that someone likely has seen us before and knows that we are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

[00:03:40] Are you being a good ambassador for Jehovah could whatever you’re doing right now bring reproach upon Jehovah’s name members of the congregation are watching you to making sure that you stay in line. Your family is watching you.

 

[00:03:58] And of course probably the most damaging of all you are watching you are relentless internal struggle that can be worse than anything.

 

[00:04:08] So this gets us to crime and punishment and the congregation. What if you do slip up what’s going to happen. Well it depends on who finds out and how bad it was having sex with someone’s wife is different than getting caught watching porn or a movie with some violence in it. So there’s a spectrum first. Whatever happened will be reported to the elders through which everything in life has funneled you will then be talked to by two elders. Usually after a meeting in a private room in the back of the Kingdom Hall It’s never a good feeling when someone comes up to you and says hey could you come back here I’d like to talk to you about something.

 

[00:04:50] Doesn’t matter how big or how small. It’s just never a good feeling. I guess it’s it’s kind of reminiscent of going to the principal’s office let’s say in school. It’s not a good feeling. They’re not usually calling you back to tell you how great you are. So when you go back into this room it’s usually going to be a fact finding mission. A preliminary investigation of sorts. It might be that what you did was a minor offense and you’ll just receive some counsel right then and there. They’ll rageous some scriptures and make a big deal out of a minor offense but tell you to do better and how you’ve disappointed Jehovah right now. If it’s a bit major There may be more meetings with those same elders and you could be reproved. This can be done either publicly or privately. Private reproof means that there’s no announcement made to the congregation through a talk but maybe you can’t do something anymore for a time like raise your hand and comment at the meetings or give a talk from the platform or even go out door to door. Which is funny because they see going door to door does ministry work. They see that as a biblical mandate. Yet somehow they get to take that away. So God is said has commanded that you go do this but if you piss off the wrong person in the organization they can actually take that that right that command that responsibility away from you which is something that never really made sense to me.

 

[00:06:18] Now rest assured that although this proof may be private remember people are watching you so others will notice that you’re not commenting or you know your brother or sister or so-and-so I overheard them comment a while.

 

[00:06:32] I haven’t seen them give a talker. I don’t see them at the meetings for field service so people will be talking and although it’s supposedly probably that somebody is going to know something about you. Jehovah’s Witnesses are kings and queens of gossip as could be expected from such a small and tight community public reproof usually happened if someone in the congregation knew about what you had done and it was out already. So they have to make a little more public spectacle out of you. They have to let other people know that they’re dealing with it. So in addition to whatever limitations of what you could do in the congregation they might give a talk about avoiding whatever it was that you fell into and then people can surmise what you did. That’s that’s a great thing to do to a human being. If what you did was serious enough you were then put before a judicial committee if you remember it was on a last episode I mentioned. Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own judicial process. So in this three elders would determine your fate you would be super detail questions about whatever it was you did about everything they want all of the details.

 

[00:07:46] From what I’ve heard if it was something sexual they want all of the details who did what. How many times did anyone enjoy it. Did someone climax. What happened. Who who initiated like they would like every detail so they can determine if you were really repentant or sorry for what you had done. Because everything hangs on your repentance you’re proving to these men that you are truly sorry.

 

[00:08:19] Now were you just caught up in a moment of passion or was it something willful unplanned. I’ve read so many stories of this it’s truly horrifying. And I think as much as it is these men trying to figure out if you’re repentant Honestly I think it a sexually repressed culture. It’s dirty old men getting off on the details. And I’m not the only person that think this. It’s really very creepy. Now again remember though this doesn’t have to be a sexual thing though let’s face it. And this community of Jehovah’s Witnesses that’s often what it is. It could be something like lying stealing. There could have been violence. Maybe somebody was caught out and was drunk and other people saw it. Anything that they deem to be a major sin. You can end up with your fate resting in the hand of three men that you have to go before and plead your case if they find you repentance.

 

[00:09:19] You may be subject to it or that private or public reproof depending on who knows what. If you’re found unrepentant you will be disfellowshipped.

 

[00:09:30] And when you are disfellowshipped they will read your name at the next meeting announced the brothers sisters Smith is no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and then the shining will start and we’re talking absolute shunning here.

 

[00:09:44] You are dead to them and they are not to even say a greeting to you even if you’re there who your son your daughter your mom your dad your husband your wife they are not to even utter a greeting to you.

 

[00:10:00] Family Sean’s family even if you’re in the same home there’s going to be some degree of shunning though. You know if you have a husband and a wife oftentimes they just you’re maybe not supposed to have any spiritual conversations because they don’t want that this fellowship person to influence negatively the quote spirituality of the person who’s still in the only real reason that witnesses are ever really supposed to talk to you if you’re disfellowshipped is what’s called quote necessary family business. This is a term that they’ve coined so you know what exactly that means is left to some degree of interpretation. Essentially they really just don’t want you to talk to that other person but there might be some reason for many Jehovah’s Witnesses that I’ve known what that actually means is that the Jehovah’s Witness family member can come to you the disfellowshipped person if they need help for whatever reason. So that would be deemed necessary family business. But of course if you needed something from them if the disfellowshipped person were let’s say to become homeless they’re not going to help you. This is a one way street as far as who gets to determine what necessary family business is. There are often times where these still end Jehovah’s Witness maybe needs some money so they go to the disfellowshipped person and ask for money or they need a job or they need just some some thing in life some legality that they need help with they might go and ask the disfellowshipped person for that. But I guarantee you when the disfellowshipped person ends up homeless and ask the witness for something it will be seen as well.

 

[00:11:53] You brought that on yourself. You know you should never left the truth. Your insight and system of things now and whatever happens to you happens. Honestly they’re going to kind of hope that you as this disfellowshipped person hit rock bottom because if you do then they’re hoping that you’ll come crawling back myself after my dad died my mom reached out to me to get me to sign some legal documents for the estate essentially I guess it released whatever it’s my mom because she needed that signature but I’ve never heard from her again. So now let me go ahead and explain. So you’ve been disfellowshipped and you want to come back. Well there is a process for reinstatement. You know as I said it’s a process. Now we all know the prodigal son story in the Bible son goes out acts a fool does some bad things comes back home and his dad immediately runs out to greet him and accepts him back simply because he retired not here not in the cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

[00:12:54] You must come back meet with the elders and then do whatever they say. A person has to come back to the meetings and it’s and all of them and they will watch him make a note of her attendance of course when you arrive you should arrive when it starts that way you don’t make everybody else uncomfortable with your disfellowship presence and they don’t have to shun you as hard. Now you’re going to sit back in the back row. That way nobody has to see you. And when it leaves you are to leave immediately. Obviously speaking to nobody.

 

[00:13:28] Usually you’re going to have to do this along with meeting with the elders to discuss your improving spiritual state for at least six months. I mean six months would be a pretty short time usually at least a year or more if you do what they want. They will eventually announce that Brother Sister Smith has been reinstated and is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the shining ends.

 

[00:13:48] So can you see why this fear looms daily over Jehovah’s Witnesses. You better not slip up. Oh and you see this play out. You get accustomed to watching people disappear and never come back.

 

[00:14:03] They also like to tell stories about how you can’t hide from what you’ve done. For instance there was this one brother that was doing something. I don’t remember now what they said he was doing but a story that circulates that supposedly while he was giving a talk from the platform he broke down and admitted he admitted his guilt. God’s Spirit has worked on him in front of everyone to keep the congregation clean. He just admitted something awful up there in front of everybody. They just want you to know that it will come out whatever it is that you are hiding. So that way they can keep that fear in you. If that’s not bad enough we were constantly told stories of how world situations can change on a change on a dime. There are countries like Russia where Jehovah’s Witnesses have been banned. In those cases persecution occurs in some countries. I think there was a big deal in Malawi in the 70s or 80s I can’t remember but people were displaced from their homes they were raped they were killed etc. just just because of their stand as Jehovah’s Witnesses on some particular ground.

 

[00:15:20] If a country bans them they will continue to do whatever they do underground and if caught they may be jailed or worse. Jehovah’s witnesses refuse military service even in countries where that’s mandatory. So in those countries they’re imprisoned even in the United States where it isn’t mandatory they would tell us how that could change that could change any day now. They’re always harping on that fear it could change. They love to promote fear and a persecution complex. It could come at any day now you have to be ready to give up everything even your life. The Nazi persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses was often used as just one example. There’s there’s nothing so innocent as scaring little children into believing that they might have to lose mommy or daddy some time and go be faithful little Jehovah’s Witnesses on their own in a concentration camp somewhere. Isn’t that nice. And of course as I’ve already mentioned there is the impending Great Tribulation which will come in our lifetime during which all religion is destroyed and Jehovah’s Witnesses will have to shine and stand out and be persecuted.

 

[00:16:32] After that is Armageddon which is depicted in horrific hardest illustrations throughout their publications. From the time you’re a child you are shown these horrible things that will occur when fire and brimstone comes down from the heavens to kill everyone on earth but you. You are supposed to stand tall during this knowing that your deliverance is here. I don’t know about you but if you can stand tall and proud while everyone around you has slaughtered you are a psychopath. They try to deaden your normal human feelings though and honestly they do a very good job of it. Armageddon is always coming tomorrow. Obviously that can’t happen in their timeline but the feeling is always there. They like to talk about how you wouldn’t want to slip up today and do something you’d regret. If Armageddon came tomorrow because you know you can be a faithful servant for decades and do all the right things. But if your imperfections shines through. One time on the day of Armageddon you will be destroyed forever.

 

[00:17:37] So fear rules. Jehovah’s Witnesses. All right so now let’s discuss Oh for obligacion as I mentioned before Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that they have the truth by default. Everything else is false and from Satan so your obligation is to do whatever they deem necessary for survival through Armageddon to be counted as righteous Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t supposed to go to weddings or funerals that take place in churches. Those are houses of false worship their obligation is to the organization that they’re a part of only as the Scriptures say for what fellowship does the light have with darkness. If you want a freakin Jehovah’s Witness out when it come to your door ask them to pray with you or take some of your religious literature. They hate that they don’t believe that you’re praying to the true God and they can’t mix them with you and your worship. Although of course it’s OK for them to come to your door and offer you their literature. They’re not going to take yours if they do they’re just going to they’re just going throw it away. Then again of course let’s admit it. What is it you did when I left the Watchtower and Awake with you. You probably threw it away too so I guess I can’t really blame you. I used to though when I was a kid my grandpa had a solid gold antique Hamilton pocket watch that had a gold chain and a gold knife and he had promised that to me when I graduated from high school.

 

[00:19:10] Unfortunately he died before I reached that age. So my parents kept watch for me in their top dresser drawer. I loved that watch. I loved what it stood for love that it was my grandpa’s. I would go pull it out of its little velvet palette and just look at it open the knife wind it watch it run well the day came when I earned that watch. I graduated high school when I went to go get it the watch was gone. I immediately went and asked my mom where it went.

 

[00:19:40] She told me a story that she found amusing and that I didn’t so much and still don’t. She told me that one day she thought it had a false religious symbol on it. I don’t know what it could have been. Maybe it was like a cross or something. I don’t know Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in the cross.

 

[00:19:57] She never specified whatsoever what it was she she thought it had a false religious symbol on it. So she she grabbed the watch and she threw it in the front yard. That makes sense right. Well when she later realized that she was wrong and went out to get I to take it. Imagine that. I’ll just leave it there. I’m not going to elaborate it on much more because I can’t do so without getting a little hateful. But so that is how deep the ingrained notion is that you have to stay away from anything that could be deemed false religion. If you think something might have a false religious symbol on it you better throw it out. In fact I remember there were people who would be criticized for having fluorides. So we had some friends who had these curtain rods and at the end the knobs were like these Fluor Diddley’s. And I guess that was seen as like a fertility symbol. And I don’t know some culture and people they would get criticized because someone came over to their house and noticed they had a flu or Dilley at the end of their curtain rod.

 

[00:21:06] That’s how petty and stupid it gets. So we were obligated to stick with what we saw to be true worship only. Here are some other obligations that Suppose a true worship involves. There was strong pressure to be at every meeting. Children had nothing to do at the meetings but were obliged to sit there and sit still for two hours and be bored. All Jehovah’s Witnesses are obligated to abstain from blood transfusions. Basically they take in a few verses in the Bible that were about specific situations in Bible times and made modern day laws about bought blood transfusions. Even children are obligated to know this doctrine and how to explain it and you better. Because if you should ever need a transfusion as a child you might have to explain to doctors or a judge why you cannot take one. This is serious business. Many people die because of this refusal. Children and adults alike especially pregnant women. There is a lot of risk there and at times blood is needed and if they refuse them both they and the baby may die. All Jehovah’s Witnesses carry a card in their wallet that acts as a legal document says on it. Real big no blood so they refuse blood. If they can’t speak for themselves in the case of an emergency this legal document essentially speaks for them. It is one of the most despicable and dangerous doctrine doctrines that they teach.

 

[00:22:40] In fact they have a hospital liaison committee or HLC a group of brothers that visits Jehovah’s Witnesses and the hospital to help them or watch over them to make sure that they don’t give in and take blood and that if they do they find out so that they can disfellowship that person.

 

[00:22:59] Actually I believe that this is seen as an automatic disassociation. I haven’t talked about disassociation yet. I will add my own story because that’s what we did. It’s an interesting concept but for the purposes of this subject let’s just say that if a person does something like take blood to save their life or maybe join in military and military service that is mandatory in some country. Something that would make Jehovah’s Witnesses look bad if they disfellowshipped a person for that.

 

[00:23:27] I mean come on you know like here’s a pregnant woman in labor and she needs a blood transfusion. And she takes one to save herself and her baby and she’s disfellowshipped for that. I mean how awful is that going to look to any outsider. Of course it’s going to look horrific and it is horrific. And they know that. So what they say is that person has taken it upon themselves to disassociate by that action and then that way they can save a little face as an organization and put all the blame on that person for what they did.

 

[00:24:05] One that takes blood is seen as being blood guilty. This is an actual term blood guilt. One can also be guilty by not preaching to someone shrinking back from taking an opportunity to witness to them. Also if your car was in disrepair and you were in a wreck and hurt or killed someone you could be bled guilty in some cases like taking blood you would be kicked out of the organization. But in other cases like shrinking back from witnessing to somebody because you were dissed you were not comfortable in doing so at the moment.

 

[00:24:39] It will be strictly between you and joho. But either way you’re you’re always at the mercy of someone else. There’s always this obligation and you’re trying not to be a guilty Jehovah’s Witnesses are also to engage in what is called spiritual warfare. Again this is an actual term.

 

[00:24:59] In other words if it is necessary to lie to protect the organization you are obligated to do so. Yes it happens yes. Again that is the term Here’s another fun time. New Light new light. So basically whenever Jehovah’s Witnesses find out that they are wrong about something rather than admitting they were wrong they come out with an article about quote new light as they claimed the light gets brighter as we go throughout the end of this system of things towards Armageddon. Jehovah opens their eyes to more and more. And when they have to change some doctrine often some place where they predicted something that didn’t come true and they look stupid income’s new light. Jehovah’s Witnesses are obligated to accept new light whatever they believed yesterday must change today even if they don’t understand it completely. If they don’t they clearly don’t trust Jehovah’s organization and maybe they should be shunned if they don’t shut up and keep it to themselves. If you don’t keep up with present truth get another term that’s a lariats presence truth as they call it.

 

[00:26:11] This is and then again this present truth is also subject to change. But if you don’t keep up with it if you disagree with it. If anyone knows that you disagree with that then you can be labeled an apostate and that’s Fellowship’s you can be disfellowshipped and kicked out for what you believed yesterday. That’s pretty high stakes for something for truth that subject to change. I have to take a second here to say that as I say these things out loud even though I said them before and I’ve written them down for this. It’s hard to believe that I ever was a part of this. It just goes to show how strong this is the power of the fog the fear obligation and guilt when natural disasters strike. Jehovah’s Witnesses are obligated to try to help but they only help their own. The organization will send relief teams in with food and water clothes even help rebuild homes. Of course there are always going to go rebuild the Kingdom Hall. If that was destroyed first. That sounds pretty awesome right. I mean what’s wrong with that. And it’s all volunteer too. So where’s the obligation. Well after they help their brothers and sisters something that a lot of people don’t know is that they send in teams to speak to the effect of brothers and sisters to strongly encourage them to turn over their insurance checks.

 

[00:27:41] So the organization that just helped them see their organization benefits they have free volunteer labor brothers and sisters that put up their own money their own tools in their own time to go into these affected areas so that they can help out the brothers and sisters there that are local. And then on the back end the organization swoops in and says hey we just helped you out. We being other people but volunteers. But whatever we just helped you up. Don’t you think maybe you ought to hand over that check so you can see there where the sense of obligation comes in.

 

[00:28:26] Now they do help people that aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses on occasion but usually that’s only if they are well. Well I’m going to call here Derbe adjacent and other words maybe they live next door to Jehovah’s Witnesses or Jaida and they think that by helping them maybe they can convert them. There’s almost always an ulterior motive. And we’re talking about disasters here. Jehovah’s Witnesses have no obligation to help on a daily basis in any other way. They do nothing but their preaching work for charity. That is their charity. That’s what they see as the ultimate assistance. There’s no feed the homeless program there’s nothing to clothe the needy and there’s certainly no program to provide Christmas presents to poor kids.

 

[00:29:08] Speaking of those obligations to one another in the congregation you’ll find that a lot of Jehovah’s Witnesses work for other Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are lots of service based business owners in the organization as well as a lot of people that fall into various MLM schemes. Now of course there’s no doctrine of working for one another. But there’s a huge culture of it. People look to their other brothers and sisters for work. It often ends poorly with the workers wanting to take advantage of the witnesses that own the business with kind of an expectation where they’ll take care of me. And then there are a lot of Jehovah’s Witness business owners that pay really low wages and treat their employees poorly. I’ve seen both sides personally in the end though witnesses are not allowed to see one another that is actual doctrine as a result many dirty deals are made. Also this all kind of gets back to the keeping up appearances which is yet another obligation we had to make sure that Jehovah’s organization looks pure and clean and is never to smirch besmirch to the world. You’ve got to keep that name shined up and sparkling. So not only is this in the world that has to be done but also inside the congregation also with one another. Again it could even be in those employer employee situations. I remember when I was I don’t know I was like 17 I was a high school for electronics. I hustled up some of my homework on the side and was fixing cars and microwaves and such. One of the brothers in the congregation had a broken VCR.

 

[00:30:50] So he came to me and asked if I could fix it. Of course he wanted a deal. You know which is going to happen in that kind of a situation. But on the other hand he said that you know if I couldn’t fix it it wasn’t like it was a huge issue. It was broken. So you just buy a new one. But if I could fix it though and fix it cheap that be great. So I took it to my little workshop at my grandparent’s house and got to work on it. Ultimately I replaced the belt. I did some other work on it. I put money into it but it just wouldn’t work right. I couldn’t fix it. It was beyond my expertise at the time when my parents found out they were super upset with me. I mean how dare I take this broken VCR and sell the brother that it was still that broken. They made me go buy him a brand new VCR. I have my own money and give it to him which he was happy with. But he kind of thought was strange. And they took my car away for a month. I learned not to do work for people at the Kingdom Hall anymore. After all I was working for minimum wage and couldn’t afford to risk on every piece of equipment that was greater than what I could have ever actually like save. You know and made by fixing it. So I had to make my parents look good. And most importantly the organization another obligation.

 

[00:32:10] A lot of people on the outside don’t know about is that of turning in a field service report every month. You see every time a witness is talking to an unbeliever they are watching the clock and trying to figure out how long it took. They tally up that time and write it on a report that they must turn in each month to show that they’re regular and witnessing. You can’t be much of one to much of a Jehovah’s Witness If you don’t actively witness if you failed to for even one month you are deemed irregular and the elders might want to meet with you after six months you’re deemed inactive. These are their terms a regular and an active anyway. They keep these reports on you forever. And the organization loves numbers and they compile them to show what they’ve done. How many hours you were out knocking on doors your report how many magazines you left with people how many times you went back in on someone that had taken literature and spoke to them. That’s called a return visit. And then if you can get somebody to study with you out of a book you write that information down as well. And now for the big one this is the biggest obligacion dedication and baptism This is when everything gets real. The pressure to get baptized particularly for kids is huge. Joe what is it like to brag that they don’t sprinkle infants into the church like Catholics do and they mock them for it. After all how much can a baby understand what’s going on. They don’t even know what they’re doing. It’s not like they made a choice to get sprinkled on the other hand.

 

[00:33:47] Jehovah’s Witness is a great pressure to their own kids and promote stories of 8 year old kids getting baptized and what a great example they are for the young ones. Eight year olds are well known for their decision making capabilities. Nobody knows better what they want to do with their life than someone that would eat cake for breakfast cookies for lunch and pie for dinner with ice cream for dessert. OK I’d probably do the same but whatever. Anyway Jehovah’s Witnesses may not baptize infants but it’s not like they’re setting the bar high. Jesus was was 30 when he got baptized and he was perfect and the Son of God according to them. If you are baptized by your mid-teens people will start questioning your spirituality if you aren’t by the late teens. People start labeling you bad association for their own kids and start avoiding you at some point there’s something called quote the age of accountability that comes into play. There’s no set age. But if you’re old enough to understand the doctrine then you’re old enough to be accountable to God and the organization. In other words you might as well get baptized after all. Jehovah sees you as seriously as if you were anyway. You see baptism is where Jehovah’s Witnesses really get their claws into you. They give talks about how baptism is actually for your protection. God will give you his spirit to help you not fall into temptation. What really happens is once you are baptized they can now use the threat of disfellowshipping and Schoeni against you before then they can’t do so.

 

[00:35:23] So it’s all a power move and a very effective one. Once you’re baptized all obligations are in play.

 

[00:35:32] Now we’re going to talk about the G in the fog. Gilt guilt is the thought that I did a bad thing. Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person when standards of performance are as high as Jehovah’s Witnesses impose upon their members. Guilt often becomes shame. So I did a bad thing. Easily becomes I’m a bad person. First let’s explain the Jehovah’s Witnesses moralize everything human imperfections or predilections are seen as though you sat down and decided to choose them. I also want you to realize that Jehovah’s Witnesses have things that they see as black and white laws and other things that are principles. Here’s another witness term conscience matters that is basically when they allow you to use your own conscience. How kind of them to determine what you’ll do on such a matter. For instance having any sexual contact with someone that you aren’t married to is wrong.

 

[00:36:36] Watching a movie that has some sexual content in it is a matter of conscience as to how much is too much whether it’s on screen or inferred if nudity was involved or not. But they’re going to still let you know that you should feel guilty for saying any such content. They like to make rules out exactly making rules if you know what I’m saying. They they like to let you do something but I did tell you that you really shouldn’t think guilt and shame comes out many ways. One of the things that I hear from Jehovah’s Witnesses the most is that when they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and honestly a lot of times even thereafter they feel like they’re never enough. They themselves are not enough as a human being. It’s a claim that rings true with just about everyone. Again let’s remember that this is a performance based religion with perfectionistic aims. They expect you to be at all of the meetings and if you miss one even for good reason you feel guilty. Of course now they have an electronic system by which you can call in and listen even if you’re sick. You really have to be a horrible person not to at least do that right. Don’t you appreciate the spiritual food prepared for you lovingly by the brothers. Are you starting to see how this works. What do you mean you went with friends on to the lake on Saturday instead of going out in field service guilt’s everything you do is under constant constant scrutiny from other people. Like I mentioned earlier and one of the most damaging is doing it to yourself.

 

[00:38:18] Did you picture that person naked in a sexual way. Guilt. Jesus said that anyone looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has committed sin in his heart. Oh now we’re getting to the heart and that heart is a part of you. Remember guilt is what you do. Shame is about who you are. Now we’re talking about you and how you really are the hardest treacherous who can know says the Bible. So we learn not to trust our heart our gut feelings or even our thoughts by doing so. It was easier to get us to let the organization decked out dictate how we should be I think that one of the most damaging impacts the organization on a person with respects to guilt and shame is actually in sexuality. One of the most personal aspects of any human being masturbation is flat out condemned. They even had talks on it. I had to give one of those talks once if looking at a woman with lost in one’s heart is horrible. I really feel for any in the organization that were gay or they claimed that it was OK to have gay thoughts. It was just wrong to act on them to do so would get you disfellowshipped. I knew someone who was gay and committed suicide due to the pain of facing who was inside the organization. And I know he was not the only one. Sex is only to be experienced between married people and the marriage bed is to be kept without defilement. Oral sex anal sex anything other than basic sex could be defiling.

 

[00:39:58] This was always a big taboo in the organization and as teens we would search for information in the publications about what the rules were because we had heard things and of course had no experience. You weren’t going to be disfellowshipped for having oral sex with your spouse. But if you had privileges in the congregation as a ministerial servant or an elder you could actually be removed from your position in the congregation if that was found out somehow. Now it’s not like they had cameras in people’s bedrooms. What if someone told someone else about it in confidence it could come to light. I’ve actually heard crazy stories about people that felt so guilty afterward that they self-reported.

 

[00:40:38] And these are talks these things are openly discussed in talks from the platform with children present those who are disfellowshipped for serious wrongdoing of whatever type usually leave in shame not guilt but shame at that point. They aren’t condemning merely for their acts. By not being deemed repentant though they’re actually speaks as to who they are. They’re not sorry. These three men and their congregation have decided that they are not sorry.

 

[00:41:14] And so they are a full shame at that point. And when you think about about the way back about being forced to go to every meeting while being shunned like a leper back in Bible times what a horrible situation to be in. Many still feel shame decades after leaving some commit suicide. Jehovah’s Witnesses literally shame someone to the point of suicide. The fog sometimes wins even after somebody is kicked out. That is how strong the fog is.

 

[00:41:54] There’s another model that called experts relate when discussing how a person becomes controlled. I’m not going to spend as much time on it but I want to put it out there as well because it’s absolutely relevant. It’s often seen as an abusive situation of any kind. It can be seen in relationships as well as in any kind of abuse.

 

[00:42:15] It’s called the bite model. Basically if I can control your behavior your access to information what you think how you feel. Behavior information thoughts and emotions. You are being abused by me and in a very healthy unhealthy place. And that is what Jehovah’s Witnesses do. Now a lot of these things overlap. You know something that hits the bee might also hit the ER or the T or the. But a good example of all of them is found in a poem that I’m going to read you that made the rounds among Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact I was once taught a form of Jehovah’s Witnesses when I discovered this and I was the only person to object to it. I was I was still in but I was waking up and I was just absolutely dumbfounded when I read this. But this is indicative of the culture of Jehovah’s Witnesses how they see other people.

 

[00:43:19] All right it’s called marrying out of the truth. He or she doesn’t love Jehovah. So this is about this is a warning about a person in the congregation who would meet someone who’s not a witness and get married to them. This is how they see the world this is this is a good microcosm of things. Marrying out of the truth doesn’t set you free. I’d like to tell you a story about true love at last. It’s very informative and has an interesting cast. So pay close attention. Sad but true. And don’t ever think this can’t happen to you. I met him during lunch break on a sunny day. He sat next to me and smiled as I was about to pray. We talked on and on. He was such a gentleman. I wish this moment would never end. But then it came to be the end of my lunch hour. I’ll tell you when he stood up he looked just like our we met again and again our souls began to cling. I pondered in my mind is this the real thing. He doesn’t smoke or drink or gamble away his money. He doesn’t do drugs or things like that and he’s nobody’s honey. Let’s face it he’s fine and he’s got a really great bod. The only thing that’s missing is he doesn’t serve Jehovah God. I’ll just give him a chance he’ll change in time. I don’t mind being his. If he’d like to be mine my friends tried to warn me. I didn’t listen or care.

 

[00:44:47] Little did I know my life would be one of despair. The wedding was fine. The judge married us in the fall. You see I couldn’t have a wedding in a Kingdom Hall. My dad. No. He didn’t give me away with the pain in his heart. He didn’t have much to say. Mom listens to me. Please don’t cry and whine don’t worry about us. We’ll be just fine. I’ve got a good man and he has a good job. The only thing is he doesn’t serve Jehovah God. Everything is going fine. But recently at night when it’s time for the meeting we just fuss and fight he says Who is this God breaking us apart. Don’t go tonight dear. Please follow your heart. So I listen and stay to keep peace at home. But now often times I feel so all alone. I don’t associate with the friends much at all to keep peace at home. I don’t go to the whole service meetings. All that is history today. I decorate at my first holiday tree. The holiday celebrations are now part of my life. You see I must obey my husband for I am his wife. The brothers would call. I wouldn’t answer the door. I don’t read the magazines. Reading is such a bore. Marrying out of the truth really set you free free from Jehovah’s love that once was in me. I just got the news I’m having a little one. I can hardly wait to tell my dear hon. He was in a bad mood. He lost his job that day.

 

[00:46:17] He told me as he hit me that’s just one more bill to pay. Then he apologized. I’m sorry please forgive me dear. You see I’ve heard those words more often than I’d like to hear. I have two jobs now I must support my household. My husband says he’ll find work but now that’s getting old. I’m tired I’m stressed. I’m feeling very strange. My schedule at both jobs. I’ll have to rearrange. I should be very happy. The baby is due any day. Things just have to get better somehow some way. I’m married to this man for better or for worse. The only problem is he doesn’t put Jehovah first. The baby came today. She’s so little and so light. She’s not crying or making noise. Something’s just not right. What could be wrong. I thought aloud as I lay in bed in came the doctor looking sad and then he shook his head Mrs. unbeliever’s said there’s something I must confess. You and the baby tested positive to the new HIV test. I started crying. I couldn’t believe the words the doctor said to know that in a very short time my child and I’d be dead. Listen to me. All of you. I’m telling you to your face. To marry an unbeliever is a total disgrace to Jehovah our loving Father who provides for his sheep. That’s why he sets the guidelines for us to hold and to keep wait on Jehovah and his due time he’ll set things straight. Be patient and he’ll give you a theocratic mate one who loves Jehovah and you know that he’ll do right.

 

[00:47:53] One who will be there with you when it comes to meeting night. A worldly man has nothing to offer really nothing at all but in happiness sadness sorrow and a very serious fall. So why is my sister. And please don’t try to rush things. Wait patiently on Jehovah and accept the blessings he brings don’t look to worldly men as mates at your job or at the mall remember brothers that serve Jehovah or at the Kingdom Hall Wow that was a rough read.

 

[00:48:28] I hope I did it justice. So do you see the bite model there the behavior control the information control. You know here here’s here’s how you should behave. Don’t marry unbelievers. Information control can be seen and that they are telling you how these people are who are on the outside. And then of course start an emotional control they’re painting a picture of this man outside the cult as a wife beater with HIV who is going to treat cheat on her. This is given as an example of what’s out there in the world apart from the cult. I thought I go ahead and give some snippets of other things that fell into the model and were a part of our daily lives as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m sure listeners that were in it can relate and can probably add their own. I learned to trust no one outside the congregation. I learned that keeping the congregation clean was paramount and that I had to be judgmental jerk and I wanted to do so. I learned to look to the organization for what was right and wrong. And so there are publications for help on life’s decisions regarding everything from employment to what games I should play. I learned the art of cognitive dissonance and how to shove back my doubts through thought stopping techniques such as the following. Well everything else they’ve told me is true. So this must be. And who am I to run ahead of Jehovah.

 

[00:50:00] There must be a reason for this.

 

[00:50:04] I learned the good things in life were blessings from Jehovah that had little to do with me but bad things. Those are my fault. I learned that education isn’t important unless it comes from the organization. I learned to be different and proud of it to the point where I felt special in a twisted way. I look down on outsiders I’m not proud of that. I learned that ultimately everything in life came back to serving the organization. Recreation was OK because it recharged our batteries so that we could serve more whole heartedly. I learned that this is the worst time in human history and that things are more urgent now than ever. Through twisted facts and stories I’ve since learned that I’d rather live now as opposed to oh I don’t know like ending up in a Roman Coliseum or at some point in the crusades or like living and suffering from some awful plague. But I digress. I learned that my clothes should make me blend into a crowd never standing out or detracting from the message which was the most important thing I learned that facial hair was allowed only as long as it was a mustache and at the ends of the moustache must not descend past the lower corners of my mouth. I learned that tattoos were bad. I learned that a sister wearing a large shiny pretty brooch on stage was bad because that was attracting unnecessary attention to her.

 

[00:51:29] I actually heard that counsel from the platform before I learned that a person wouldn’t want to put their arm around the person that they were dating at the Kingdom Hall because you might make a single person without a mate feel bad. I learned that getting married in and of itself is a bad idea. Unless of course you absolutely had to in order to express her urges because you could do more for the organization if you weren’t married. I learned that having kids in this world was probably an unnecessary burden because if the end came and persecution with those children those kids are going to be a liability. I learned to rejoice on some level when catastrophe struck such as a natural disaster because it was a sign of the times and proved that our deliverance was near. I learned that when any news came out that was negative about Jehovah’s Witnesses I was to avoid it because it was nothing more than say Tanak lies. Of course if positive media came out I was to take that in and see how wonderful the organization was. Satan only lies on one side of things. I learned that I should be friends with or associate with only people that thought and believed and felt exactly as I did. Nobody builds narcissists quite like Jehovah’s Witnesses. I learned that wishing someone good luck was bad as well saying bless you after a sneeze. Both had spirit cystic origins. I learned not to say you too when someone wished me a Merry Christmas at a store I couldn’t say Merry Christmas back. But even saying you two was basically saying Merry Christmas. So I learned to say thank you. It’s so ridiculous.

 

[00:53:12] I learned that dating was only for the purpose of marriage and that what really mattered in a mate was finding someone spiritual someone that went to all the meetings and studied their Watchtower magazine and that commented at meetings. I learned that those were the important things in a married life. On the other side I learned that divorce was only acceptable on the grounds of adultery one could be separated for something like severe abuse but that’s about it. If a couple divorced and it wasn’t for adultery neither was free to remarry. And so the other admitted to having sex with someone else or marry them thus breaking the original marriage. Failure to comply could lead to disfellowshipping either and that the Internet was dangerous. Could tell ridiculous things like just typing the letter P into the search bar. Could flood your computer with pornography. There is such technological idiots since learned that the Internet is now just fine so long as you go to their Internet their official Web site says they now have one and consume all the entertainment videos that they now provide. I learned that televangelists as such were all evil. But now that Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own J.W. Broadcasting Channel I’ve learned that such things are OK after all. I learned that dinosaur bones were put there by the devil to throw off seekers of truth from finding God because the Bible doesn’t say anything about dinosaurs. On that note I learned that carbon dating is completely flawed and that evolution is as well. Ultimately I learned to be a horrible and ignorant human being. Lacking any empathy and in the end I hated myself. You have just received a master class on how to control manipulate dominate and destroy the lives of others.

 

[00:55:06] You can start your own code if you wish. I don’t recommend it though. I think eventually you believe your own garbage and just get as wrapped up in it as the people you victimize. That’s what I see in the leadership of the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Next week I’m going to get into how all of these things specifically inform my life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the time my parents started studying and into adulthood and married life and add more of my story into it. You’ll see how I went from a young Jehovah’s Witness to the year of 2008 when yet another strange moment started changing my entire life. This time for the better and toward a healthy course.

 

[00:55:49] 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 8 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. this J-ws 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 a discussion there but maybe there’s something that can help me to even change this podcast to make it better. Remember that others are fighting things that you might not realize and give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

[00:57:14] Love others do no harm and go be happy.

Episode 4 – What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?

What is the hierarchical structure of Jehovah’s Witnesses? What happens at those meetings in the Kingdom Hall? How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view the world around them and how history has unfolded? What does the future hold according to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Are you ready to learn “THE TRUTH”? I’ll break all of this down for you in this episode.



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[00:00:01] There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses Jay Dubbs or J-ws worldwide. I wasn’t born one was introduced to it around the age of 8 or 9 and would spend the next three decades trying to process what I had unwittingly become involved in ultimately leaving and costing me dearly. This J.W. life is my response to the encouragement I’ve received to write a book about my life. In my story you’re going to learn about this called and why refer to it as such rather than as a religion. You’re going to see how I went from suicidal and incredibly anxious to free and happy. Why I put on 50 pounds and how I took it off while my wife and I owe the IRS fifty five thousand dollars and how we paid that off in 18 months. And while that wasn’t even the biggest win to come from that time there are lessons to be learned here whether you’re in a Colts or you’re just your average person living life for the SJ doves out there. I hope you find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone and maybe this helps you process your own pain for those who have family that are Jehovah’s Witnesses. I hope this gives you a glimpse into what they’re both involved in and up against. For those that have no ties I hope this broaden your horizons maybe sheds light on the human experience a little. And if there are any current Jehovah’s Witnesses that listen I hope this gives you something you need for wherever you are now in your journey. But in the end I hope you find happiness and peace.

[00:01:24] You’ve been through a lot and you deserve it. I’m not a professional producer. I’m a professional housecleaner. You’ll find out why that is. And as well as how it is possible even to save my life later I’m recording this as a podcast as a fitting way of telling my story as it was podcasts and audio books that helped me awaken to the realities of the life I was given as a child and that I tried to live up to for decades including as an adult.

[00:01:51] I want to take a minute at the beginning of this to thank everybody that has listened so far. I’ve had over twelve hundred downloads and that’s amazing. I really didn’t expect that. I’ve also had a couple of iTunes reviews and I can’t tell you how much that is appreciated. If you enjoy this podcast please leave a positive review on iTunes. It helps with the ranking and the higher the show ranks the more people will find it. My wife and I are doing all we can to promote this but it is hard. I’m not doing this for monetary gain. In fact this cost me each month to keep us posted and online for everyone to access but I know Jehovah’s Witnesses though and I want to make it clear that my motives here are pure and not for any personal gain. So if you can leave positive reviews on iTunes please do. If you can share this podcast with others please do. I’m doing this to help people and by doing so you get to help me help others. Again I am not doing this for any monetary gain. I also want you to know that I’ve appreciated all the messages I’ve received on my site through sites like Reddit or there’s a forum I’m a member of it’s called Jehovah’s Witness dot com. That’s my jam. That’s where I started all this in the first place. The first quote apostate web site I ever went on was Jehovah’s Witness dot com and that message board helped me a lot.

[00:03:19] So I received good messages there I’ve received messages on Instagram Twitter just all the places. It means a lot to me that people want to share this with me and you know whether it’s telling me that they appreciate my story or whether they share some of their own story.

[00:03:37] You know I think it’s kind of awesome that people want to share. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’d like to invite anyone that has questions or wants to tell their story to email me at this. J w life at gmail dot com. Again that’s this. J. W life at gmail dot com. You can also go to my Web site at the bottom right of the home page or probably either page. There’s a button that shows the email address. If you can’t remember this J.W. life at gmail dot com for some reason. If I get enough questions and stories maybe I’ll save them up and do an episode entirely devoted to answering your questions. Or

[00:04:22] I’d love to tell other people’s stories as well if I could do that at the end.

[00:04:28] And finally I know I had originally said that I’d put some pictures and such up on my web site and I didn’t do that at first because I didn’t have time. But upon further review I think I’m going to have to decline that offer with good intention but I have noticed that I have limited photos. Well first of all I do have limited photos that I received before my shining. It’s not like I can go ask for more pictures and some of the photographs I have had family members in them and it’s not something I’m comfortable doing in relationship to this show to put pictures up like that. I just don’t really feel right about it. There is also some issues that I played around with and there were some issues with formatting them for my site. So for now I’m just going to focus on the podcast itself. Getting the message out there and give people like you opportunity to participate by asking questions or sharing your story if you like. But for now I’m just going to back off the possibility of images. All right. Now this next part of the story really overwhelmed me when I was making notes for it last week so overwhelmed me emotionally because I was reliving some ugly parts of my life growing up at home. But this week I want to take you into the beliefs that Jehovah’s Witnesses have and how my life as a witness grew out of it and the path that it took.

[00:05:56] There was just so much to discuss that this is going to have to be broken up into at least two episodes maybe three depending on how it breaks out. I spent hours just organizing my notes alone on this and trying to make it understandable to those who haven’t been there. So what do you know about Jehovah’s Witnesses and what they believe. The first thing that usually comes to mind is there those weird people that don’t celebrate anything. And obviously you’re correct. You’ve already discussed that or maybe you know that they believe only 144 thousand of them are going to go to heaven. So you know what’s that mean for everybody else. I’ve always heard that question if only 144 thousand go to heaven. Where is everybody else going to go. Kind of limits the playing field if you have the dichotomy of an afterlife that consists of either heaven or hell and you are right. They only believe that one hundred forty four thousand go to heaven. But you know maybe the only thing that you know of Jehovah’s Witnesses are those nice people that come to your door and wake you up on a Saturday morning and again you’d be right. However you’d know so little about what Jehovah’s Witnesses really teach. Most people really have no clue. There’s a lot of information online and on different podcasts and programs about Scientology or Mormons. But there’s really not a lot about what Jehovah’s Witnesses are really teaching what really goes on in their culture. I have a feeling that you’re going to learn some things in this episode that you never knew unless you were at one time one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again though I’m going to try to approach all of this through the lens of my life experience personally.

[00:07:48] Now let’s go and talk about that Jehovah’s Witness life a little bit. What we believed and then eventually I’m going to take it to the life as me as a child. And then how I grew up through adulthood and into married life to do this. Let me first give you some idea of what the Jehovah’s Witness schedule was. I think I’ve touched on this a little bit before. But remember this is a very performance based cult. So there were things to do and my family did them all.

[00:08:21] I want you to understand the basic setup of the congregation the meetings and what we did when we were knocking on doors. This is effectively what my new life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the age of eight or nine began to revolve around on Tuesday night. There was the corrugation book study that was typically at an individual’s private home. People would volunteer their homes for these books studies. These studies were one hour long in duration and they would alternate what books we would go through we would go through a book about Revelation let’s say and then once we went entirely through that book we would go through the Greatest Man book about Jesus and his life. So it was a question and answer session as a lot of these meetings are. And these were small groups usually 10 to 20 people in some congregations maybe they didn’t have enough private homes that were volunteered. So they would do these books studies at the corrugations Keenum all Thursday night was the Theocratic Ministry School and the service meeting. This was a two hour meeting. The Theocratic Ministry School was a program designed to help Jehovah’s Witnesses be more effective preachers when they were going out door to door it never really made sense to me how some of this was supposed to translate for brothers.

[00:09:56] Brothers had talks such as the bible reading where they would get up for five minutes and read a portion of the Bible there’s not a lot I don’t know about you but going up to somebody’s door and reading for five minutes would be kind of awkward. But this is what they did and I understand they just wanted us to be effective readers. There were also other talks especially of course brothers. I think we’re really just being groomed to be effective public speakers. And if you ask a lot of extra ho as witnesses that’s about the one thing that we got from this this call when we left that we could take with us was the ability to do some measure of public speaking if we if we wanted to for sisters and the congregation they were to get up and give demonstrations their talks. They were given a subject and the setting and some sort of a setting like going door to door or on a Bible study with a single mom or something like that and they would sit up on the stage with another sister who would be their householder. So one sister would be basically preaching to the other sister. And of course in these scenarios and it was always funny to me anyway that the other sister if there was a magazine or any literature being presented or whatever it always ended up in the best case scenario of course and you know nobody ever said in these parts get off my porch before I call the cops.

[00:11:34] But you know this is how they were to be give and it was to be encouraging to the congregation so sisters would get up and give these parts with one another. At least I have to say at least that in some way mimicked what went on in the actual ministry when you were knocking on doors what the brothers had to do had nothing at all to do with such. Then there was the service meeting the service meeting on Thursday night was again about an hour long this was a two hour meeting Theocratic Ministry School was an hour and the service meeting was an hour and the service meeting was taken from the king the ministry the king the ministry is a pamphlet that baptized members of Jehovah’s Witnesses receive and it has announcements from the branch office it has specific articles on subject matters.

[00:12:38] If for instance it was the end of the year we might have articles encouraging us to preach to people around the holidays whatever seemed relevant at the time or if there was a need for Kingdom Hall is to be built in certain areas there would be a call in there to help with this. There were just different things like that that would kind of stress what the organization wanted you to either help with or to know as well as doing that the Kuna ministry would have parts called the local needs. And this was an opportunity for the local brothers your congregation to decide what it was everyone needed to work on or an issue that was presenting itself in your territory and so the elders would get up for 15 minutes or whatever and and give a talk about that. There was also the announcements where you would learn about who was whose turn it was to clean the Keenum hall that week or to mow the grass or who the speaker was going to be Sunday coming from another congregation or who messed up and had to get disfellowshipped they would announce that during the announcements as well at times or sometimes they would say that to the end of the meeting it just depended on how it works at that particular congregation that particular night. On Sunday there was the two hour meeting. It was the public talk which was typically a 45 minute talk given by one of the elders. It’s just a general bible subject.

[00:14:18] Maybe like I had mentioned before my dad got to give plenty on how to have a happy family life so whatever the subject matter that’s what a talk would be given on and then the Watchtower study followed that which was the question and answer part going over the Watchtower lesson that had been assigned for that week. So each Watchtower had two or three lessons in it to be studied at the congregation. They were question and answer parts. The conduct would stay in the congregation someone would read the paragraph up on the stage and then the conductor would ask questions we would answer them and he was to lead us down the path that the Watchtower lesson wanted us to understand.

[00:15:08] There were some unique features to the meetings. There was absolutely nothing for children.

[00:15:13] There is no Sunday school no daycare no nothing. There was a mother’s room at the congregation that I went to I don’t know that they all had them. The mother’s room and the creation I would see was almost a soundproof room with black scented glass where mothers could take their children back there and breastfeed or beat them if the children were behaving during the meetings and other congregations that I was a part of. We didn’t have the mother’s room but there was always rooms in the back where people could take their kids if their kids were acting out or have a little privacy if they needed it. There was no collection plate. There were just these boxes in the back. For private donations you could walk by and donate. This was a this is a big selling point of the meetings Jehovah’s Witnesses like to brag about how you know there’s no collection plate. You’ll see it on their signs sometimes as opposed to those awful religions that pass the collection plate. Of course in years since they resorted to passing out paper slips and usually around something they want the creation of participate in and making people pledge to donate X amount per month for whatever it is that they want. So yeah they don’t pass around a collection plate but come on they’re passing around slips of paper for people to pledge monthly donations to. And although no one is technically going to know if they don’t make follow through with that donation the individual knows and they’re going to feel complete shame if they can’t keep up.

[00:16:51] There’s a lot of guilt and shame in this organization and out of me talking heavily on that at some point.

[00:16:58] The question and answer parts that were at these meetings were so dumbed down that virtually anyone could participate. It was always encouraged to answer the questions in your own words not just to read the sentence that was the answer from the paragraph word for word but there were so many people who did it was like this mind numbing call and response Keenum halls themselves if that wasn’t boring enough Keenum halls themselves are drab and boring. There are often few windows of jokes before us probably so you wouldn’t see outside at the colors and beauty while we sat inside and this completely sterile environment. The chairs are boring.

[00:17:44] The decor is boring and you know I will say now that the parts on the meeting are abhorring though when I was a fully indoctrinated Jehovah’s Witness I wouldn’t say that I actually enjoyed it. Some of the parts because the meetings were laid out ahead of time with myriad materials to go over at each one. We were supposed to study before every meeting so that we knew the material and could go participate in this call in response call in response to really kind of dominated a lot of the meetings. There were no like rituals or anything that you could connect to emotionally. There was nothing that most people would I guess kind of refer to as the term spiritual. There really wasn’t anything of spirit. It was a lot of intellectual exercise. And this call in response we were also supposed to do Bible reading every day. That’s the encouragement at least from the organization I’m not going to say that everyone did.

[00:18:58] In addition to that there was a daily text that we could study so that we could it was a little booklet that each witness had so that we could start every day with a verse and an explanation of that verse with whatever point that narrative they wanted to tie this into from some Watchtower publication of the past. And so if you haven’t noticed already through the call and response through the study before the meetings through the daily Bible reading through the daily text through the personal study or family studies that were encouraged the indoctrination is so strong here. With meetings spread out like that spiritual food as they called it you really never got away from the messages that were being pounded into your mind and heart they were ever present. And then of course you had assemblies and conventions. I think I mentioned them on an earlier episode briefly but these were either one two or three day events. There was one of each throughout the year and during these there would be much greater crowds. So instead of at a book study you’d have 10 to 20 at a Kingdom Hall you might have 80 to 100 120 for like Sunday meetings at assemblies you might have anywhere from oh I don’t know a couple of thousand to eight to 10000 depending on how it was broken up in that particular area. And during these I have to say you know they were kind of enjoyable.

[00:20:40] OK the conventions themselves weren’t that enjoyable but it was cool. It was one time where you could get dressed up go to another place you could see people you hadn’t seen in a long time. As a young person you would see your friends that maybe went to another congregation and kind of hang out. That was cool. But the actual indoctrination sessions were basically it was a full time job you would start at 9:30 in the morning the program would start and it would be over at 5:00 p.m. and there might be an hour lunch. So these were heavy indoctrination sessions in and of themselves. And it just furthered their narrative. There is a hierarchy in the corrugation. Jehovah’s Witnesses will claim that they’re not elders like to claim that they’re just there to serve the congregation. So they’re the lowest among the brothers but that’s completely not true. The elders have the ability to decide whether or not you get shunned. So there’s some power dynamics that are going on here. And I just thought I’d lay out briefly who these people are what the labels are for the different types of people that make up your average congregation.

[00:22:02] First you have the rare person that is just the study. Maybe it’s just a kid in the creation of one of the families or maybe it’s a Bible study someone is studying with someone that they met knocking on doors or at work or whatever that person is interested in comes to the meeting. Then you have what are called unbaptized publishers. So a person that start studying with the witnesses is expected at some point to start participating in the field ministry work.

[00:22:32] That person is not baptized they’re not a full fledged witness but they can still be an unbaptized publisher the publisher name is a throwback to the fact that this is or was the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. They were essentially a publishing house for all these magazines and books and back in the day those magazines and books were actually sold door to door and there were people who took commissions on them. That’s not necessarily how it happens anymore but there were people who supported themselves doing that back in the day. And so the term publishers still used you also have the baptized publishers. Now these are full fledged Jehovah’s Witnesses who are regular in going out and knocking on doors. Beyond that you have the auxilary pioneers. These are people who have devoted I believe now it’s 50 hours a month that they can sign up on a month to month basis whenever they want to go out for 50 hours that month they’re announced from the platform. So Brother so-and-so or sister so-and-so is an auxiliary pioneer and they get some accolades for that and get to feel good about themselves. Regular pioneers are people who basically sign a contract to devote. They used to be a thousand hours when I was doing it I think it’s like 840 now and it breaks down to like 70 hours a month or something. But anyway that’s what a regular pioneer does now. And then there are a ministerial servants who can only be brothers and the congregation.

[00:24:20] They are brothers who handle various responsibilities around the creation whether it be handing out literature or handling microphones for the call and response sessions or running a yard crew for the Keenum all maintenance or just any number of things giving territories out to brothers and sisters to work out in the field ministry. Beyond that you have the elders. That’s what ministerial servants are essentially aspiring to be they’re working their way up. Elders are of course all brothers and they give the public talks. They handle all the important corrugation manners matters like the accounts they handle the direction of all of the meetings. They are the ones who would like conduct the Watchtower study call and response sessions or the book study in someone’s home and they make all of the judicial decisions.

[00:25:29] You know most of the judicial That’s because Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own judicial judicial system.

[00:25:39] Beyond that you have the circuit overseers the circuit overseers visit congregations on a six month rotation essentially and just make sure everything’s in order and basically check in on everybody and give specially encouraging talks during which the congregation members fall all over themselves and laugh at every dumb joke they make and think that they are the most awesome person in the world and all the brothers wear full suits instead of slacks and sport coats so that they can they can you know look the part of you know present themselves best when a circuit overseer comes it is a big deal for a week and all of a sudden the attendance spike at the congregation and there are so many more people there than there ever are on any normal week and everybody loves everybody and everything is great. And then he leaves and the next week there is nobody at the meetings. And the brothers can’t find their suit and suddenly they’re aware that that those ugly dress pants with ugly sport coat that don’t match. That’s how it happens.

[00:26:49] Beyond that there are district overseers. They essentially manage the circuits in the circuit overseers. Occasionally they make accommodations.

[00:26:58] I don’t know exactly how long they get around it is before they get around all of them. But of course when they do it’s the same festivities as when the circuit overseer is. And now now we’re going to talk about the magnificent seven magnificent seven are the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses that reside in New York state one time at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge. There was the Watchtower headquarters there was a big Watchtower sign. Since then they have moved to I think it’s Wallkill New York maybe wrong on that regardless. Who cares. I’m not going. The governing body the Magnificent Seven these seven men are responsible for the organization. They have recently even come out and labeled themselves the guardians of doctrine.

[00:27:52] What’s that spell. Guardians of doctrine. G O D. I kid you not. This is from their own mouths. They are the guardians of doctrine.

[00:28:06] And so these men are responsible for essentially everything that goes on in the organization today. Now originally the organization started with one man Charles Taze Russell and it was then eventually he died and then Rutherford took over.

[00:28:28] Kind of in a hostile takeover. He wasn’t supposed to. And as you go down through the history eventually they decided that rather than just one person. Just like in the congregation there’s a body of elders. They decided to have this governing body. This group of men who would lead the organization. Now right now it’s the Magnificent Seven. And other times I believe there have been other numbers of people on the governing body. And people can be appointed to it. There is a whole political thing there and it’s all done up in New York and it’s not like members of the congregations vote on it. It just happens. There’s a new person and they participate. When I was growing up no one well people could find out who the governing body was. But you really didn’t ever see them in the last few years they become extremely public. They go to conventions and people flock to them as though they were talking to the ODIs themselves and get their pictures taken with them. And they’re special and they give these talks and they’ve really put themselves at the forefront of the organization. It’s just kind of an interesting development over when I was young and they were in the background and nobody really knew who wrote what or who said what. Now they have really come to the forefront and gotten attention. All right now let’s talk about field service now Field Service. Again that’s when we went out knocked on people’s doors.

[00:30:09] There were meetings at the Keenum hall every day during the week Monday through Friday usually at around 9:00 on Saturdays we would meet for field service at 9:30. That way you could sleep in you know get that extra half hour. And then on Sundays after the meeting the meeting usually ended around noon and then around 1:00 we would go out for like an hour or something like that the field service meeting was a 15 minute meeting conducted by a brother who would give some sort of bible topic that was relevant to maybe one of the magazines they were placing that that week or one of the books for the month or whatever the case and they would organize people in the car groups find out who had plans with who they would divvy up territory and send everybody on their way. There was always a break and that was like the best thing about field service was that there was a break usually around 11:00 11:30 people would go to a spot maybe particularly agreed upon a restaurant for us. For years it was McDonald’s. Everybody would meet there. Drink coffee generally be extremely cheap and pay very little money to the actual McDonald’s but sit around and swap war stories from that morning in entirely too loud of a tone for the people who were sitting around and kind of dominate that restaurant while paying for very little food or anything. So now you can get. I understand. I don’t know if that’s I don’t know if that’s boring to the average person or not but I wanted you to understand kind of you know how these things function and what the structure is now that you understand that. Let me tell you briefly what they believe.

[00:32:07] First let me say that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a term for their system of beliefs.

[00:32:13] The truth in all caps envision it with a little trademark sign behind it. The truth.

[00:32:20] Kind of like the Ohio State University if you’re a sports fan out there this is the one the only truth from God’s one and only true book the Bible. If you believe anything other than this you are wrong. There is true religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses have it there is false religion. That’s what everybody else has not. Not only are you wrong but you are blinded by Satan the Devil himself. If you don’t take to the truth when we come to your door and present it to you I don’t know how to emphasize this anymore. People ask one another when did you learn the truth. How did you come into the truth and so on people struggle after leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes years or decades after. They don’t even believe it anymore. Not to refer to it as the truth. I believe this is one of the most simple and ingenious methods ever thought of for indoctrinating someone. Once you have that truth do you really need to even consider anything else. Why would you. You are locked down by this one little name.

[00:33:38] The truth.

[00:33:41] So are you ready. Are you the listener ready to learn the truth. I’m about to break it down for you. All the years of human existence that have ever been or ever will be.

[00:33:55] Here we go. Jehovah is God’s name and Jehovah alone is the all mighty Jesus is his son sent to Earth by him to die for our sins. The Holy Spirit is God’s active force that he uses to accomplish things. Now we are all pawns in a bet between Jehovah and Satan who was once an angel but wanted all the glory for himself so he rebelled against Jehovah Satan wagered that man was best off by managing himself and didn’t need Jehovah’s input Jehovah set out to prove that man apart from him was incapable of ruling himself and needed Jehovah’s guidance. Satan has been trying to pull man away from Jehovah to serve him or anyone but Jehovah ever since this wager between the two of them impacts all of us. We live in sin and imperfection and since perfect lives were lost in sin. Adam and Eve only perfect life given without sin. Jesus Christ could balance the scales of justice yeah perfection is only batting 3:33 but that’s good in the majors right. And yeah only one perfec life was given to balance the scales of what was lost by two perfec laws and it took a special person and God’s only begotten son to come down from heaven to do this not just a regular perfect human but was a half price sale on perfect justice that they so we’ll call it even. So ever since the world has struggled under Satan’s control as God has backed away.

[00:35:45] Thus proving that Jehovah has a right to rule and that we need him God’s plan to write this starts with Jesus death and then the year 1914 through some very creative prophetic prophetic math involving the book of Daniel and several completely incorrect predictions that nobody wants to talk about. They arrive at 1914 as the beginning of the last days of this wicked system of things since World War 2 happened to start that year. They really think they’ve landed on the correct year this time of course. Originally they thought that the world was actually going to end in 1914 but when that didn’t happen the organization does decided that well it must be the beginning of the end. It’s as just as good right. So in 1914 Jesus supposedly began reigning in heaven over the earth. It is an invisible rain for now. A pair of C-A or presence of course because you know no one likes a bragger. In 1919 Jesus chose the International Bible Students as Jehovah’s witnesses were called back then as his people his only people to dispense truth and to this world. Of course back then they smoked and celebrated holidays and did all kinds of things they would never do today. But I digress. The changes thereafter have been seen as a refining work. At some point imminently and by eminently Apparently they mean any day now for over the past century something called the Great Tribulation will break out.

[00:37:27] It will start with the destruction of Babylon the Great taken from Revelation the world empire of false religion. Jehovah will put it in the heads of world leaders to eradicate all religion from the earth. Because that will eliminate things like holidays. The merchants will beat their chests in horror and frustration as they can no longer sell things like they once did. Money will become worthless.

[00:37:53] People will be throwing it in the streets at that point. The world will descend into chaos. All religion will cease except one. Can you guess which one that you can’t help. Jehovah’s Witnesses will stand alone continuing to do their thang despite any persecution because of this. The nations are going to turn on them and when they do it will be like touching God’s eyeball and he will immediately react with a day of his fury. Armageddon in which billions of people will be slaughtered mercilessly because they didn’t listen to the warnings given by Jehovah’s Witnesses once everyone is dead. The world will start to grow back to perfection as will the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will spend the next 1000 years growing back to perfection and cleaning up this earth. Don’t worry the birds are going to pick apart all the billions of the dead so they won’t have to handle the bodies of all their dead loved ones.

[00:38:50] Be kind of rough you know stepping over grandpa to get to you know one of your kids who died. I mean you know you weren’t supposed to care about those people anyway. They were worldly as I explained on a previous episode so you know what I ever how.

[00:39:08] They will all live in a beautiful paradise as the earth goes back to the state of the Garden of Eden. Everyone gets a panda and a lion you see and all their artists depictions of this of this paradise people are playing with lions and pandas. Animals will no longer be dangerous and there is no fear because of that. The animals I guess are going to be perfect. No fear no pain no tears just pure bliss and lots of Jehovah’s Witnesses the dead will be raised from the memorial tombs and a great resurrection that will take place during these 1000 years. It will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. They will look the same as they did before so that we can recognize them. Otherwise we’re just talking creepy zombies. We can have that a scripture says that the wages of sin pays is death so death is therefore the equalization of their sins. They get a do over so to speak if they listen to Jehovah’s Witnesses and study with them at that time they can possibly live forever if they don’t. Well you know Joe was going to have to kill him again but yeah. Oh well that happens a lot with Jova. He likes to kill people. After that 1000 years humans on earth will be perfect. Now at that point you think that everyone could breathe a sigh of relief and maybe you know I don’t know. Be happy. Nope during that one thousand years Satan and his demons were bound up in an abyss.

[00:40:45] But at the end they are going to be let loose to try to tempt humankind one more time. Humans still will not have proven themselves worthy gods pretty insecure like that. So he will unleash them. They will tempt mankind and the carnage and fallout from that will be as the sands of the sea. Innumerable deaths as mankind falters once again now in the end.

[00:41:10] Whoever is left over gets to live forever this time. For reals I guess. Unless of course they turn on God like Satan did because like he was perfect and he turned on God so that Jehovah did give his creatures free will after all. He just doesn’t really like them using it.

[00:41:29] So if they were at that point to exercise free will and do something that Jehovah doesn’t like. Then again he can smite them. So that’s the story in a nutshell. That’s what they believe and what I believed for so many years.

[00:41:44] In the next episode I’m going to get into the things that they don’t advertise in their books not just doctrine but the actual culture of the organization. You see that is the most damaging part of the organization. I’m going to introduce two methods of control that are used by cults to keep people in line. It is observed in what has been termed religious abuse but it’s also seen in other forms of abuse and it’s a very important subject that you know whether you’ve ever been in a cult or not. You’ve likely seen at some point in your life essentially how people control other people and get them to do things that they otherwise probably would not do if left to their own base humanity.

Episode 3 – Life At Home As One Of Jehovah’s Witnesses

This episode is heavier than the first two as I delve into the personal life at home in my family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  You will learn some of what really went on, as opposed to the appearances that were always kept up, as that is what Jehovah’s Witnesses often tend to focus on.



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All right so now let’s go and talk about home life not the bugs and such that I mentioned were a problem for me when we first moved but the actual dynamics of our house I’m going to say now that I’m going to try to keep this story as close to the whole Jehovah’s Witness narrative as possible. My family was dysfunctional as can be. But I’m going to do what I can to stick to the witness story here not the personal one though obviously they’re intertwined. Some parts are going to be necessary to the story and I’ll get into those. But out of respect for my family I’ll leave a lot of things out that aren’t necessarily pertinent to the subject at hand for some reason I still have respect for them even though they’re shun me and act like I no longer exist. My goal is to be better than that. As a loving human being something that I’ve actually been able to become since I left the call.

 

[00:02:45] So let’s get to it. I already mentioned that holidays went away. And I believe that last Christmas that I refer to previously was truly my last holiday period. That was it. What the absence of holidays that meant that we no longer saw our extended family much if you think about it. That’s actually when everyone usually gets together. I didn’t see many of them for decades. In the end they weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses and were therefore not really the best Association anyway we could do better. Doesn’t that sound horrible. But that’s actually how you kind of start to feel the US versus them attitude is a race to the bottom and someone starts being seen as almost inhuman in order to justify the behavior. Us versus Them or paranoia about them being against us is the hallmark of any good cult though. As I stated before I was told that my parents no longer needed an excuse to get me gifts and that I could get them any time not just on specific dates so we didn’t need holidays anymore. Well I’ll let you guess how many presents I got after that. Even birthdays went away. No celebrations no presents nothing. Speaking of presents let’s talk about toys. Things like my GI Joes having guns or weapons on other toys suddenly became an issue. Even water guns are a thing that many Jehovah’s Witnesses never have. Toys also aren’t supposed to be anything that they might deem spiritist like wizards or sorcerers or ghosts or anything like that. Entertainment suddenly became a big deal as well Joe.

 

[00:04:33] Witnesses aren’t supposed to watch anything that might even suggest sexuality violence or obscene language. So you learn to really watch what music you listen to the lyrics and to judge for yourself that liking that song with the great music and lyrics because one line says something that quote Jehovah or God in their eyes won’t approve of you start to judge yourself for for what you’re drawn to. I remember one talk at the Kingdom Hall about how we should consider that if we wouldn’t listen to or watch whatever entertainment it is if Jesus was in the room then we really shouldn’t be entertained by it period. This applies to any entertainment videogames as well. We did have games throughout the years but they were usually just sports games for the most part and games like Mario. Things that are fairly innocuous though I guess. Actually if you’ve got deep enough into the Mario game I’m sure you can find something wrong with it. I borrowed a game that had I had to give back at one time because it was too violent and it was very mild but I don’t know maybe you had like an army scene or something like that. We’re talking eight in Tendo here so it couldn’t have been very graphic or gory. My parents also decided that country music was the only acceptable music they deemed it clean enough to listen to now myself. I love pop and rap music before then leaning toward rap. That’s something I always enjoyed.

 

[00:06:10] But that that went away. My parents would no longer let me listen to that. After that it was it was all of my achy breaky heart. So I remember one time my grandparents actually I don’t know exactly how old I was but the same mid-teens I remember.

 

[00:06:31] For some reason they had bought me a Walkman or we went out shopping and I bought a Walkman and they paid for it.

 

[00:06:42] But I remember that my mom and dad when I got home and they found out that I had a Walkman. They made me take it back because they quote couldn’t know what I was listening to. So again we go back to that level of control over your children. I think it was that last spring that I was talking about on the last episode that needs to be crushed. I had to be controlled. And so even what I listened to in private had to be controlled if at all possible. Again we had to watch anything that could be seen as spirit cystic as well. Like I think Scooby-Doo even though I think it was obviously just someone in a ghost costume that was usually the culprit but things like Scooby Doo with ghosts in it are more notably things like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.

 

[00:07:40] That stuff was seen as being linked with demons so it was out you really weren’t supposed to watch those things. In fact there were entire articles in the Watchtower publications devoted to things like that.

 

[00:07:55] So let’s talk about demons real quick. Jehovah’s Witnesses were often afraid of buying things at yard sales because they might be demon possessed. You know maybe the person who owns that piece of furniture or whatever.

 

[00:08:10] I also had a Ouija board and they they practice that.

 

[00:08:13] And so they invited demons into their house and in demons inhabited this piece of furniture there was actually this is going to sound farfetched but there was actually a story that circulated through many congregations about a smurf doll you see Smurfs weren’t really something we were supposed to be watching anyway. I guess I don’t remember the narrative of that story. I watched Smurfs when I was little but I guess somehow it was seen as spiritist But regardless the legend was that a child brought a smurf doll purchased at a yard sale to the Kingdom Hall or the witnesses church and this poor kid was about to have to sit through two hours of an indoctrination session aimed at adults. But he brought this also. He could have his little toy as the legend has it the Smurf doll supposedly jumped out of his hands ran up the aisle and out of the Kingdom Hall. Yes. This was actually circulated. And yes grown human adults actually take this seriously and perpetuated the myth. Our next door neighbors the Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed to have a chair. I think it was a chair that they thought had demons. I remember that once as an adult. My wife and I went to eat dinner with friends an older couple from our congregation.

 

[00:09:45] We were in our thirties.

 

[00:09:48] They were in their let’s say 50s.

 

[00:09:53] It was Father’s Day it just happened to be Father’s Day when we went out to eat and that kind of caused an issue because people were come home the waiters would come by our table and they thought maybe the husband of this other couple was one of either my father or my wife’s father.

 

[00:10:12] And so you know of course we can’t celebrate Father’s Day so there was a little trepidation over all that but this particular restaurant had hired a magician and this magician came by our table and he joked around with this little bit and then he.

 

[00:10:31] He wanted to tell our fortune and he threw down something on the table called Between my wife and I think we’ve determined it was called a fortune fish. I couldn’t honestly tell you what it really was at this point. It might as well have been a live rattlesnake because the couple that we were with Again grown people in their 50s would not touch this fortune fish. It was some sort of little piece of paper or a toy or something. And so my wife seeing that they were completely freaked out. Quickly I reached over grabbed the fortune fish and cooler heads prevailed. But you would have literally thought that they threw a live snake on the table because they were absolutely petrified of this. In fact I remember there was a big thing among Jehovah’s Witnesses if you go to a Chinese restaurant will you eat the fortune cookie or not because that’s a pretty big deal there. If you read that fortune so demons were a huge scare for us as Jehovah’s Witnesses. But think about it as kids we were having this stuffed drum this stuff drummed into our psyches. My parents were studying one of the publications with a family they had met while knocking doors and the family was telling us all kinds of things about how they thought they had demons. And I remember as a kid sitting in their living room while my parents would study with this couple strangers and I would think I saw stuff move in the house obviously it was just confirmation bias.

 

[00:12:08] I’m sure the heating and air conditioning system kicked on some air was blown in the house and some leaves moved on a plant or something and I’m sure I thought that was demans because that’s what I had been told. I’ll get into more teachings as such in the next sections about my life actually at the kingdom hall meetings as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But it was applicable to this part of life at home and how things changed. Everything is kind of so intertwined that it’s hard to separate these different issues fully in these episodes. Back to our family. Our parents had to start studying the Bible with us each week. Well not the Bible necessarily but one of Jehovah’s Witnesses publications and they were supposed to study with us weekly.

 

[00:12:56] But in the end it ended up being pretty sporadic. My dad as the husband was to take the lead in this our studies were excruciating. My mom never knew when it was her turn to read a paragraph out of whatever book or magazine it was what we were studying. Then my dad would get upset with or we kids would answer questions to show that we were learning to the best of whatever ability we had. My mom was very emotional and she was really into this information. My dad was an emotional desert and he pretty much just seemed like he wanted to get it over with and do his duty as a Jehovah’s Witness father. If everyone wasn’t pissed off by the end of this study or someone hadn’t cried chances are we weren’t doing it right. It was absolutely miserable. When I got older my dad liked to wait until I was about to go out and do something with my friends.

 

[00:13:51] And then he announced that now it was time for us to sit down as a family and have our family study. I hated it. And honestly by that time I hated him. My dad was a very emotionally abusive man.

 

[00:14:09] I remember being told once that his own mother told my mom before they got married that quote that boy has never loved anything or anyone. And you think he loves you. Now he never hit us or anything. He was just an absolutely miserable man that made everyone else absolutely miserable in his house. However he was a totally different person at home that he was in public and especially at the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He would be happy and everyone at the Kingdom Hall loved him. They thought he was great. He was a great Jehovah’s Witness. He moved up through the ranks he became an elder in the congregation. Again one taking the lead. The only problem is that one taking the lead was supposed to quote and then this is according to Scripture the Scriptures that they use as qualifications for those taking the lead as elders. He should have been presiding over his household in a fine manner Well I’ll tell you. My dad never fit that description. He treated us like garbage. Then he would be assigned a public talk. The 45 minute discourses that are given on Sundays for the public and of course. Well primarily the witnesses at the Keenum hall he will be given a talk to give and an outline on how to have a happy family life then he would get up and he would give his talk about how wonderful family was while of course we kids. We sat in the audience and rolled her eyes. My mom It got so bad at times she would have to get up and physically leave the auditorium.

 

[00:15:51] It was easy to see that even as a kid Jehovah’s Witnesses valued performance and appearance over substance one of the first memories I have as a Jehovah’s Witness is that we were up on stage at a big assembly in front of thousands.

 

[00:16:08] And when I say we I mean myself I know I had at least one younger brother at that point maybe two.

 

[00:16:17] In the end there were three of us brothers. I was the eldest had two younger than me and also had a sister who had it up to 20 years younger than me.

 

[00:16:28] But anyway here we were our perfect little Jehovah’s Witness family in front of thousands at this assembly and we were giving a well-rehearsed demonstration of how our family was a great example of a young Jehovah’s Witness family. We were sitting there with some brother who was interviewing us or performing an example of how a family study should be handled.

 

[00:16:59] And of course it was all a farce. I was a kid. I don’t know how old I was but even then I knew it was just an act. My mom would get upset about my dad and she would go to the congregation elders about him. That’s something that you need to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses so the elders in the congregation are essentially they’ve been set up as who you are to go to with any of your problems. So if you have marital problems you go to the elders. If your child has told you that someone in the congregation molested them you go to the elders not the police. You go to the elders.

 

[00:17:42] Everything is funneled through the congregation first and that is seen. I mean that’s just so indicative of the cult mentality that they had. So in this case my parents are having issues between them. My mom would get so upset about my dad she would go to the corrugation elders about him. She was hoping that they would either help him or at least take action to remove him as an elder which they had the power to do.

 

[00:18:13] However my dad did anything the elder elders wanted him to do. You know if there were little jobs to be done around the corrugation or a talk to do at the last second or anything my dad could not say the word no to them. In fact he once told me that if I was ever asked to do anything I should just say yes without even thinking about it because I should want to show that I wanted to serve Jehovah.

 

[00:18:41] Of course this wasn’t really about serving Jehovah or the name for God as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. This was about serving the organization serving the elders serving the congregation.

 

[00:18:57] It is really a lot of it was just petty work. It was a lot of it was busy work.

 

[00:19:04] So think about that just just think about what it tells a kid to watch his parents completely submit to this organization and to be taught explicitly that your needs don’t matter your desires don’t matter whatever you are asked to do. That is what you need to do.

 

[00:19:31] It’s something I still struggle with today giving weight to my own needs and wants in life.

 

[00:19:40] So my mom is talking to the elders about my dad. And guess what they want to talk to me. They weren’t going to just take my mom’s word for it. They need a corroboration of some of the stories she told. Well I told them all kinds of things. They didn’t care. They didn’t care for years when I was in my late teens maybe 18.

 

[00:20:02] They finally removed him as an elder in the congregation. I don’t know why but they did. Nothing seemed to have changed. Maybe there was something that happened that they couldn’t overlook anymore and had to take action. I don’t know really what forced their hand there. I was never aware of anything though. In the end it was all a farce because he was removed as an elder. And then within X amount of time I don’t know how long exactly but give it a year or two.

 

[00:20:31] He was an elder again.

 

[00:20:36] So this being caught in between an emotionally abusive father and my mom not to mention my own relationship with each of them was extremely stressful. We were a part of an organization that claims to have the happiest families on earth because they all know the quote truth from the Bible. But we were not happy. And frankly neither were most of the other families that we knew. There is so much drama in those congregations. Most are just completely unaware of it. Now I did have some friends at the Kingdom Hall.

 

[00:21:13] I couldn’t have any school of course but I was lucky to have other young people in my congregation.

 

[00:21:21] My wife on the other hand grew up in a congregation without any other young people other than her four sisters four younger sisters and she never really had any friends to speak of. Well there was one girl but that girl moved in and was only her friend for a couple of years before ditching her.

 

[00:21:38] I on the other hand had a good group of guys.

 

[00:21:41] Notice though that I said guys you see boys and girls if they were to get together then they’re going to fornicate. I mean sex is immanence. Something that has to happen if a male and female are in the same room. So there are really no reasons no good reasons for people of the opposite sex to be friends. It just really wasn’t ok in my corrugation and it was a feeling through most of them though very varying levels of the extreme. I was probably in my late teens before I even spoke to a girl at our Kingdom Hall and it was just to give her some books or magazines or something that you know some job that I had in the congregation.

 

[00:22:25] They really kept us apart.

 

[00:22:29] I was lucky enough to have a great friend who lived right next door. You see the Jehovah’s Witnesses that introduced us to the call that a son my age we did just about everything together and we would you know play toys out in the backyard.

 

[00:22:42] We played basketball. We’d make games we’d when we when I got older I drove I had a car. We go places together. We did all kinds of things together it was awesome. I’m glad that I had him. Or it would have been so lonely although I had other friends at the Kingdom Hall Like I said I did have a group of guys. It isn’t like we could just get together all the time. Having a friend next door was awesome.

 

[00:23:10] It thinking back I remember that my grandfather bought us a basketball go. I loved basketball. I would have played all day everyday if I could.

 

[00:23:22] But I remember that the goal that he bought us was sitting in a box for a long time at our house. I think it sat for so long the box was getting torn out probably from us kids just playing around or maybe wondering what’s inside that box.

 

[00:23:38] I would ask my dad to put it up. And of course he never would.

 

[00:23:43] So I remember one time a neighbor across the alley put up a hoop on the garage in the alley so I wasn’t even in their yard.

 

[00:23:50] It was in the alley. Some kids were playing on it and I wanted to play so bad. I remember going in. I asked my parents you know can I go out there and play ball with them. I was told no I can’t remember crying and being devastated. I wanted to play basketball. I didn’t care that those other kids weren’t witnesses. I just wanted to play but that’s all the cult cares about. If you weren’t one of us we simply couldn’t associate with you without absolute necessity.

 

[00:24:21] Sure. Now we could come to your door and preach to you. But really that’s all any of you were there for. We had a name for you. Yeah you. Whoever’s listening to this you were called worldly people. Now in the real world worldly is a term that is that is looked upon with some measure of admiration. You know a worldly person is a person who maybe is well-traveled has great perspective on life has learned a lot of things are done a lot of things worldly people for Jehovah’s Witnesses or people of the world people outside of our little group Jesus had said in the Bible to be no part of the world. And that’s what we were trying to do. We were no part of you so you couldn’t be any part of us. So a kid might not be able to play basketball with your kid depending on how strict His parents were interpreting such things. Most would at a minimum most are going to stay away as much as possible.

 

[00:25:31] Now although I had friends you have to know something about Jehovah’s Witnesses you see people often think that we must have had a great community as witnesses. I mean especially you’ve got that whole US versus them mentality. So US must have been awesome us must have been so close.

 

[00:25:48] We called each other brother sister so it must have been like a family. Well no we weren’t. Because remember this is a performance based cult. People were constantly trying to one up another. I’ve actually heard a term called Jesus juking that somebody mentioned in another religion once just trying to outmaneuver the next person to look better. You have to think this is a world where everyone is pretty much being forced to be the same. So how do you feel special. Well you feel special by maybe getting to know someone with a position in the congregation or maybe attaining that position yourself maybe you put in more hours and knocking on doors than somebody else or you have more Bible studies or you give better talks or you comment more at the meetings. Just any little thing that could be done in Jaida life if you could do it just a little better a little more maybe you commented at the meetings in your own words instead of reading it from a paragraph. And so you showed that that you know you really believed you know just little things like that to try to one up one another.

 

[00:27:08] There are also a lot of big families in the cold and different areas. And those families tend to gain prominence and Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for being very cliquey.

 

[00:27:18] There are a lot of cliques in the corrugations there’s always an in crowd and then everybody else is picking up the crumbs trying to fit in the cool club.

 

[00:27:28] The flipside of that is that everyone is watching everyone else you see there is necessity laid upon the brothers and sisters to quote keep the congregation clean.

 

[00:27:41] So we can’t have any bad influences in the congregation so friends might turn in friends to the elders if they listen to a bad song or maybe if I saw you coming out of a movie theater where some rated R movie was playing well it’s not just I’m supposed to keep the corrugation clean but they use different scriptures to essentially say that if I don’t tell on you that I am a sharer in your wicked deeds. So you know I don’t want God to be mad at me. And I want to keep the congregation clean. So yeah I’m going to go tell the elders that I saw you doing this thing. And yeah I did it. Of I think everybody did at some point it’s just what you do and especially if you’re trying to be a good many people actually feel so much shame over things that you will wait for somebody else to turn them so turn them in they turn themselves in. And now we’re not talking about kids here we’re talking about grown people going to corrugation elders and telling them what we did and when we’re not talking about a confessional where you’re sitting in a booth or maybe you don’t see somebody you don’t know who’s on the other side or whatever. We’re talking face to face. I did this. If you don’t want to be punished for whatever it is you have to show repentance. You have to show that you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.

 

[00:29:12] And of course that gives those men those elders tremendous power because they get to determine whether you’re sorry or not as if there’s any way they could actually tell you are at their mercy. So just let that sink in for a minute. Think about the indoctrination it takes and how powerful it is to make grown people go grovel because they watched a movie they shouldn’t have watched or had. There were people I knew a young brother who had he had a quote problem with porn. So he he would go Tumwater himself to the elders and be like I watched porn. And then he would they would deal with him. However I don’t know the details don’t care. It’s creepy. So there was a ton of pressure for me as a kid with my family dynamics but adding in all this cult stuff made it horrific as a kid in middle school I was under so much stress that I developed shingles. I had a that my right cheek burst out with all these fever blister looking things I don’t know if my mom didn’t want me to know that it was shingles or if she was just being weird but she would always talk about my herpes zoster outbreak. That’s the technical term for shingles. I have to wonder if for some reason she didn’t want to say the word shingles out loud because it made it real. It literally wasn’t until a couple years ago that I looked up the term that she was using to find out that shingles is what it is. I didn’t even know until a couple of years ago.

 

[00:31:05] So imagine going to a middle school with a side of your face blown up with what looked like fever blisters all over as if I wasn’t weird enough already by not being able to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and just all the things that I mentioned in the school episode had now had this looking back those teacher I had some teachers who kind of gave me a looks of pity. And you know at the time I figured it was just because I looked like a freak. But maybe they actually realize that I was a kid with shingles and knew that there had to be some reason behind it. And usually what brings on shingles is tremendous stress.

 

[00:31:46] To give you an idea of the environment in my house I like to say that we had the three ups. These were favorite terms from my dad.

 

[00:31:55] The three ups in no particular order were grow up buck up and shut up.

 

[00:32:02] Did I mention that he gave talks from a platform as an example of the head of a happy family. Those three ups were the answer to just about anything. I think I mentioned earlier it was a total emotional desert. I believe that I mentioned earlier also that I hated my dad. I truly did.

 

[00:32:21] I was a sensitive kid and my dad had zero emotional sensitivity as evidenced by the witness the wisdom that he’s dispersed through these three ups at night when I was really little I would cry myself to sleep. I would sometimes write notes and leave them out for my dad to see. I don’t know if he ever did see them but I would leave these notes. My guess is that my mom intercepted them and took them down. Obviously when I was younger. Eventually I just learned to become dead inside and show no emotion. So there were points in my life where the rage started to show through my best friend once told me that I had no heart because he told me something pretty emotional. And I did not react at all. Looking back I can’t remember what it was but I remember what he said. I remember him pointing out that I had no heart. It really hit me. I think maybe somebody had died and I seemingly didn’t care. And you know I don’t know at that time I probably didn’t.

 

[00:33:23] On the other hand my mom was very emotional. I would say too much. OK. I did say too much so when I was a kid something changed with her at a point in my childhood.

 

[00:33:38] Now again my goal here isn’t to exploit the personal issues of people that I was close to. I’m trying to only mention things that tie into the plots of the whole Jaida narrative. But I do feel that this relates I’m going to try to write a line here and we’ll see how I do. I’ve actually got this written out pretty much word for word because I’m trying to be sensitive but it does apply. And I think you’ll you’ll see how Suffice it to say that my mom went from a very vibrant person to what could only be described as catatonic when I was in my early teens. I think it was my early teens some around there. She spent some time in some facilities trying to get help for whatever was going on. She would be gone for weeks at a time. I remember being at the meetings and she would just sit and rock during the meeting with a vacant look in her eyes. It was honestly pretty scary as a kid. She would disappear into the back rooms of the Keenum hall during meetings. And I remember watching elders running back there after her. I didn’t really know what was going on but I didn’t know that something had changed things changed. Nobody was talking about it. And we were just expected to sit there and pay attention at meetings like good little Jehovah’s Witness kids like nothing was going on. There was a certain amount of denial that always hung over my family. And honestly Jehovah’s Witnesses in general nothing to see here move along. It’s all about appearances.

 

[00:35:23] Let’s make it look good. I mentioned already that we had neighbors on one side that had a horded yard and some of the issues that we felt.

 

[00:35:33] Arose from pests and things like that. I also mentioned that the neighbors on the other side were witnesses and the mother next door study with my mom and they were friends. But what I didn’t say was that the mom next door was pretty abusive to us. At one point she accused my mom of gouging her couch if her kids came home from school or just it just happened that they had lice.

 

[00:36:03] She would come over and accuse us of giving it to them and wanted to check us all for lice and of course my mom would acquiesce because she couldn’t stand up or because they always talk down to us like a lesser class of people. And the lights must have come from the US those those kids next door. Not that there’s any shame in having lies. I mean it happens it can happen to anybody. It’s just that this is one of those things especially when you have kids at school they get transmitted. But we never had it. Not that that stopped her from blaming. She was going to blame us. It was always our fault. My friend next door and I played too much at my house. Then the complaint was that we were playing too much at her house. There was always some complaint and she was always pushing my mom around. Honestly I could not stand her.

 

[00:36:57] But my mom always defended her.

 

[00:37:01] I would say or I have said and my wife and I joke that that she almost worshipped her.

 

[00:37:08] Now I believe there was a reason for that. I never understood this.

 

[00:37:15] It always completely baffled me other than maybe you know here’s a person who’s a bully and here’s a person who’s a victim but without getting into the gory details within the last year in reconnecting with people and hearing stories and things like that let’s just say that there was there was abuse.

 

[00:37:42] That’s my mom likely or allegedly went through as a child. Well there was also abuse next door. Not only did they treat us poorly but our houses were three feet apart and the walls are paper thin. So we are all kinds that thing is going on. There was always someone screaming or yelling.

 

[00:38:05] There was a garage in the back where the kids would get punished and you hear some kid get in Scream screaming while he was being hit. The one time I was in the backyard playing with my friend next door and I heard his parents fighting. She was screaming at him like she often did. I believe she slapped him and then I heard a boom and a thud. He hit her back. I jumped the fence went home got my mom and it was handled I don’t remember if the cops are called or what. But but regardless there was a lot of there were a lot of things going on next door.

 

[00:38:44] That doesn’t mean it was all potentially prosecutable. But abuse doesn’t have to be prosecutable to be abuse. Actually though one child did go to jail for specific abuses Well it just so happens as things sometimes do.

 

[00:39:08] There’s a certain synchronicity in life abusers and abuse victims seem to find each other somehow.

 

[00:39:17] I don’t know if it’s an energy they put off or what but it happens all the time. I feel that my mom stuck up for the mom next door so vehemently even though she treated my mom like a dog because she just had that abuser vibe and it made my mom feel at home in some way. It seemed to be almost destiny that led our family down the path of becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses. Everything fits together in one perfect storm of dysfunction and crazy.

 

[00:39:48] I’m going to take a second here and say that the experience of writing this all out recording it talking about it it’s not real easy. It’s not easy to talk about people that you know. I don’t know that that you care about you.

 

[00:40:05] You wish things could be different but them’s the facts. This is it.

 

[00:40:11] And so I’m trying to put it out there and be real because this is the reality behind the appearances that so many of Jehovah’s Witnesses put on.

 

[00:40:26] It’s kind of hard to see that decades of my life were impacted so deeply because of a chance real estate transaction that led to moving next door to Jehovah’s Witnesses who just happened to play roles that fit with the roles of my parents and then kind of took everything in a horrible direction.

 

[00:40:47] But moving on we didn’t really have much money. My dad often just worked a low fairly low wage factory job.

 

[00:41:04] The company he worked for was horrible. He would have nightmares later in life even after quitting working there about that company because of the conditions there they would go on strike quite often so when the company went on strike we would have no income. And honestly if it wasn’t for someone leaving bags of groceries on our car after a meeting one time I’m not sure what we would have had to eat that week. So you know props to the Jehovah’s Witness who did that that reached out like a good human being and did help. Let’s also admit that because your home was with us it would feel well you know of course we did that because we’re this worldwide brotherhood and we take care of our own well and they like to pat themselves on the back. But let let’s just admit that there are lots of nice people out there that if they knew of a situation like that with a family with kids would have helped by sharing some groceries with them as well. So it’s not not specific to Jehovah’s Witnesses but I will give whoever anonymously did that props for doing so. Jehovah’s Witnesses are discouraged from working overtime or giving any more to their employers than necessary because they have responsibilities to the organization or to God as they see it.

 

[00:42:27] My dad had a ton of things to do in the corrugation. He was an elder. So in addition to working full time he had those meetings for an hour. Tuesday night two hours Thursday night and two hours Sunday morning that we all went to. He also made sure that we went out in field service. That’s the term for going out knocking on doors of field service or field ministry. So we would go out in service knocking on doors on Saturdays from 9:30 to noon or maybe 12:30 because he was an elder Sometimes he would then have special meetings that he had to attend with other elders on Saturday afternoons to handle you know like official corrugation business. And then Sunday after the two hour meeting we would go out in the field ministry again for an hour after eating lunch.

 

[00:43:15] So it’s not like he had a lot of time or energy to devote to getting us out of the hole to be honest. I’ve often wondered who and what my dad would have been if it wasn’t for the pressures that he was under as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as an elder and as a father of a family that was growing. I don’t know if it’s just a confirmation bias of my own that I remember this this happy year dad before we ever became Jehovah’s Witnesses. Maybe that’s not actually true. I don’t know. But things certainly did change and I do not remember a happy. That is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses maybe I was just getting older as well I’m more observant.

 

[00:44:08] But anyway he did not have the time or energy to get us out of the jam that we were in. In fact it was our tax returns every year when it was tax return. That was our Christmas. There was no celebration. But when we got a tax return it bailed us out of whatever James we were in. Look we can we could finally get an oil change on our car. You know the one annual oil change we could get some used clothing maybe some school supplies. There was other kids that usually kept me afloat in school with like paper and pencils and stuff. I would quote borrow from them. Obviously I never returned it. I couldn’t I didn’t have anything to give them but tax return. There was a good time and we did have fun times though.

 

[00:45:04] You know like I said it was hard to find time. My dad was pretty militant about us always being at all those things. All those meetings going out in the ministry on Saturday and Sunday none of it was optional. At one point I noticed that it wasn’t really like we made a choice to do any of these things anymore it was just compulsive. It was just what we did. And then if the opportunity came up to go fishing or something. Usually we’d turn it down because you know dad said we had to go out and service Saturday morning so we couldn’t go fishing. Most families I will say that my parents brand of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They took things rather literally. They really they were perfectionistic had some degree in their pursuit of this though that really is the admonition from the organization. There are just some people that blow off certain things eventually my grandfather who bought that basketball goal for us that sat in a box for what seemed like eternity. Eventually grandpa went ahead and paid somebody to come out and install it for us after he saw that my dad would do it on occasion. My dad would actually even come out and play with us. He played basketball. He throw a baseball with us sometimes and that was that was absolute magic to kids who just were looking for any kind of positive attention from their dad. We would go fishing sometimes the local modern league baseball team had free tickets all the time. It was never sold out so we could go to those games.

 

[00:46:43] My mom was good about trying to make sure we had things to do she’d she’d squirreled away change in and we go on little adventures at times or she just go up the street and get us McDonald’s is a treat. She was the only chance that we had of reasoning with my dad. His answer to pretty much everything in life which actually now that I’m saying this like literally now while I’m recording is ironic because my dad what did he tell me to tell the elders if I’m ever asked to do anything in the congregation. My answer was to be an automatic yes.

 

[00:47:18] My dad’s answer to him. I don’t say literally everything let’s say 98 percent of things at home hey dad cannot. No no was the answer to everything for him.

 

[00:47:35] So my mom was a pretty good buffer. She would run interference sometimes. I wish she could see that he was in a bad mood and tried to make life a little better.

 

[00:47:49] If you saw us outside you’d think things were great if you saw us at the meetings. You would think things were awesome. But it’s behind closed doors that monster hard not out in the open.

 

[00:48:03] Jehovah’s Witnesses are no different though they put an absolute premium on appearances in the next episode.

 

[00:48:10] I’m going to get into what actually happened in my life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a young person. What happened at those meetings. What was it like to go knocking on strangers doors. How are we taught to view the world around us.

 

[00:48:26] There are so many things that we were taught that had lasting impact that there are literally people who have been out of the organization for decades that still struggle and can’t shake certain things that they were indoctrinated with even though they’re free from the cold.

 

[00:48:48] So I really do appreciate you listening if you like this or think that it might help somebody else please subscribe so that you can get each episode as they come out and tell others about this. I’m putting this out into the world to be of help and it’s not going to help anybody. Obviously people don’t spread the word. I don’t have a big podcast network behind me. I don’t have the cache of Leah Remini. That allowed her to do a series on Scientology. I’m just a guy that lived a certain life that wants to expose what literally millions of other people around the world have gone through. There are over eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses and scores of ex Jehovah’s Witnesses out there. There are millions more that have family or friends that are Jehovah’s Witnesses that they might be concerned about take this to them so that they can see what it’s like. And if nothing else maybe it just helps somebody to feel less alone. Visit my site at w w w dot this J.W. life dot com if you want to discuss this further. I’ll even post some pics and other information there that will add to the story if you like. If you look now you’ll find some of my childhood before things changed. Some pictures from that there will be a place to comment below each episode that I put out so there can be a discussion. Ask questions give suggestions or if you want just say hi I might answer them on another podcast or maybe have fun you know.

Episode 2 – Life At School As One Of Jehovah’s Witnesses

My life had changed as my parents became Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This episode deals with my new life at school and how that progressed throughout the years to adulthood.  How did I interact with other kids?  What was I unable to do anymore?  How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view education?



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[00:01:51] So when we left off last time my life was just starting to change. At around eight or nine years old we just moved into a new house next door to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I was attending a new school when we were starting to become involved and going to meetings with my mom. Holidays were starting to become an issue because there are a new faith and of course I think I’d mentioned had just about failed the third grade Well both of my parents were now official baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses and that is when things started to really change. There’s an illustration that Jehovah’s Witnesses liked to give from the platform and there talks about a spring and this spring is used to illustrate essentially what a parent child relationship should be like. So if you have a spring and you compress it or crush it down between your fingers and you suddenly let go of that spring what’s going to happen the spring is going to fly off uncontrollably in whatever direction.

[00:02:49] But if you take that spring and you crush it down and then you gradually release that spring you can control the direction that that spring is released in and that’s how they view children you see much like that spring have to be crushed there to be crushed it held down and controlled. And even when they are let go is to be in a controlled manner. Children are there almost like property to have your whatever it is that you exercised upon that child. So what we’re going to do right now is take a look at my childhood and see how like that spring I was crushed. Basically the way that we’re going to examine this first is through the lens of schooling and what happened at school the very first thing that I faced at school was a huge challenge that all children of Jehovah’s Witnesses face the dreaded pledge of allegiance or national anthem. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in only pledging allegiance to God. They would never pledge allegiance to or express love for country. They don’t believe in nationalism whatsoever. And so as children when going to school and every day we start out with the Pledge of Allegiance. When I was in elementary school or the national anthem as I progressed and got to high school those were ceremonies that I could not partake in.

[00:04:31] So if if it came down to children standing and reciting the pledge I could stand and show respect. But I was not allowed to put my hand over my heart or say the pledge. If children were standing for the national anthem and my standing would not stand out as different than I was to sit down. So it really goes to show that what it is it’s about being different. It’s not about having some specific moral stance that you know this is how Jehovah’s Witnesses do it. We were just not supposed to be like the majority. And so my teachers for the most part were accepting of that boundary but there were some over the years that I really didn’t like it. And I mean I can’t blame them now in retrospect but as a kid that was all I knew. So some gave me a hard time. Some made me stand out in the hallway while all the kids did that so I had to traipse in and out of the classroom in front of everybody. I had one teacher who really got upset and yelled at me and sent me to the counselors office and we had to have a talk with the counselor and then I guess they were afraid of lawsuits or something because of religious freedom so that teacher no longer gave me a hard time.

[00:05:57] But you know just put yourself in the position of a small child going to school knowing that every day you’re going to start out your day by having to take a stand for your faith. Of course as a child you’re going to feel proud of that at a point. But it’s it’s still going to be awkward. There’s just no way around that. And you’re always going to feel different. Then there was the issue of holidays. So in school of course we’re going to be holiday parties and holiday activities. I wasn’t allowed to participate in any of those. So while kids were coloring their picture of a Christmas tree I was given some alternative projects to color while kids were learning Christmas songs. I was given something else to learn.

[00:06:52] Or in the case of one music teacher she decided that she wanted me to bring in our songbooks singing praises to Jehovah for Jehovah’s Witnesses and I brought in that song book and my teacher looked through it and found a song for me to memorize. It was called a prayer of thanksgiving. I think she thought it had to do with Thanksgiving the holiday. Whatever the case I don’t remember her name but I’d like to thank Mrs whatever her name was for furthering my indoctrination and making me memorize one of Jehovah’s Witnesses songs.

[00:07:27] I wasn’t able to even discuss. You know when kids come home or come back to school after being home for the holidays you know they’re all excited they’re talking about gifts they got they’re talking about family things they did and I never had anything to talk about because I didn’t have any of that in high school. We were not allowed to attend pep rallies or we were we were highly discouraged the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses has a great way of discouraging things without making direct rules that way they can say well we never said that later and leave enough gray area.

[00:08:08] But we all knew what they said and pep rallies were 100 percent discouraged. I did go to some on occasion. Honestly they were quite fun. I loved the pep rallies but it was one of those things where again allegiance or glory these things were only to go to Jehovah God and not to be given to nationalism on a country level. And I guess you can take it all the way down to the high school level. So school school spirit was seen as a bad thing. I and other witnesses would often go to the lunchroom and work on schoolwork during pep rallies as a punishment for not attending. We were monitored and they made sure we didn’t have fun or talk. I went to like I said I went through a few pep rallies over the years for big games. They were fun but there was always this twinge of same in the back of my mind for attending I also wasn’t allowed to participate in any after school activities. There is a scripture if I remember correctly I think it’s first Corinthians 15:33 and it simply says bad associations spoil useful habits.

[00:09:28] And if you were not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you were quote bad association. Therefore I couldn’t spend time after school associating with other children because they were labeled bad association. It really did impact my high school years because there were things that I wanted to do. For instance I majored in electronics in high school and I wanted to attend some robotics conventions or competitions but I knew I couldn’t participate so that was out. Heck even I couldn’t even discuss or be there for the class on in biology class and we were discussing evolution. I had to kind of sit that one out as I mentioned before. As far as the association I couldn’t really be friends with kids at school anymore I could be friendly but I couldn’t really be friends with them. However I was encouraged as all Jehovah’s Witnesses children were to use the children as school as my own personal territory and I was encouraged to preach to them. So it wasn’t enough just to stand out for all these other reasons. But Jehovah’s Witness children are encouraged to see this. This school the classroom the classmates as a field ripe for the harvesting. So we were encouraged to bring our publications or a Bible to school to read these things in the open so that maybe we would draw interest and so that if the opportunity presented itself we could preach to your children or you back in the day so I did start performing better academically.

[00:11:25] If you remember I had said that I almost failed the third grade one a fourth grade. I made the honor roll all year A’s and B’s and the fifth grade I made straight A’s and looking back I think that the perfectionistic messages at the meetings were starting to get to me. You see Jehovah’s Witnesses like I’ve mentioned before a very performance driven organization and their doctrines and their speech are very perfectionistic very all or nothing in black and white. Now correlation isn’t necessarily causation but in this case the correlation sure does add up to the sudden change in my academic prowess. Now that doesn’t mean that all Jehovah’s Witness kids excel academically but there must have been something that I had inside of me that was triggered during that time. And honestly I have always struggled with perfectionism thereafter thereafter I managed to stay on the honor roll for most of middle school and high school. I finished as a salutatorian with a 3.9 6 GPA and yeah I had one B in those four years. I’m still bitter over that to some degree because I was supposed to take geometry class before algebra 2 but the advanced geometry class was full so I was put into the Advanced Algebra II class and it is based on geometry. So I kind of came in last but I managed to catch up and squeak to be out of it. But I still kind of wish I could have gotten straight A’s through all of high school. While we’re on the subject let’s go ahead and look at the role of education in the cult.

[00:13:08] Jehovah’s Witnesses see education as a means to an end a governmental requirement. If nothing else college is highly discouraged the cult will boast of the academic achievements among their members. And yes there are lawyers and doctors among the ranks but what they are and what they are never going to tell you is that those people became lawyers or doctors before they ever met Jehovah’s Witnesses so they like to leave that out because it makes it sound like you know look at us. We have we have these educated people in our midst. But the reality is that it’s just happenstance. It’s because they became Jehovah’s witnesses later. According to Pew Research polls Jehovah’s Witnesses are the lowest educated religion with the lowest average income. The way they see education of course is that it will lead to more income. They also think that people go to college for personal glory to become rich and famous that they paint this picture of college and the way they see the world around them. Jehovah’s Witnesses are essentially what you would call a doomsday cult. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the world is going to end imminently.

[00:14:36] And as they would like to say why would you invest in a titanic it’s sinking. This world is a sinking ship. So why would you ever put more into it than you absolutely had to. In fact some in the congregations have actually been counseled for going to college because again I mean Jehovah’s Witnesses technically have free will but there’s a lot of undue influence and pressure put upon the members to conform. And so in cases where for instance I knew of a case where there was an elder in the congregation. One of the leaders of the congregation and his daughter went to college. She made that decision and he was removed as an elder in the congregation. They stripped him of his title and privileges privileges as they call it responsibilities as more accurate. They stripped him of this because he wasn’t setting a proper example because he couldn’t control that spring. And that daughter went off to college. They have over time kind of loosened their propaganda against college they kind of go back and forth a little bit. But when I’m talking about college they absolutely pretty much condemn a four year school. But if you want to take a two year trade school or technical school or that kind of higher education is OK. But let’s let’s add the caveat here that that kind of education is ok so long as it is used to quote further Kingdom interests. Now I understand if you’re if you’ve never been associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses you have. You may not have any idea what quote furthering Kingdom interest means.

[00:16:44] What it essentially boils down to is Jehovah’s Witnesses really put a lot of pressure on young people to serve while they are young. To put more time into the organization while they are young they make it sound as though they want you to do so because you’re young and you’re vibrant. But at least in retrospect what I believe is that they actually just want you to do this while you’re young at that critical stage of your life where you’re starting to gain that independence so that you can be controlled so that they can keep you in the fold because if you were to go off to college and learn things like oh I don’t know critical thinking skills you might see that as a colt and leave so the goals that they hold out for young people are. There are several. The main goal would be to what’s called Pioneer and pioneering is to devote X amount of hours per year at a time when I was young it was a thousand hours per year you would basically sign an agreement and commit to going out knocking on doors witnessing or preaching to people for 1000 hours a year which boiled down to about 90 hours a month. Of course this is unpaid. It’s completely volunteer and you have to be able to support yourself in it. The other thing is that they might have you do would be to they would encourage you to go to Bethel. Bethel at the time when I was young was Brooklyn Bethel. It has since moved to another area of New York and it’s Was the world headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses and there were primarily young men.

[00:18:42] There were some young women who would go to Bethel they would volunteer they would live there they would serve there by performing duties. You know they were always printing presses to run and things to clean and they just supported the organization at the central hub at the headquarters of the organization and essentially devoted their entire life at that point to what they were just completely immersed in it. Another goal that was held out was Gilliatt school. Gilliatt is a school for missionaries and so we all know what a missionary is some Don’t spend too much time here. But essentially it was just to go and learn whatever they wanted you to learn so that you could go into other countries and start new congregations or further the preaching of what they saw as the good news of God’s kingdom. And finally a goal that they would offer would be to move where the need is greater. So I live in the United States. There might be some usually rural areas but sometimes there’s areas in big cities as well where they have a shortage of people there and they need brothers and sisters to come in and help run congregations and help those congregations grow.

[00:20:08] So let’s look at how this impacted me.

[00:20:12] I personally turned down scholarships to potentially pursue an engineering degree. I never took the S.A.T. or I’m not even sure I might have taken the PSAT I can’t remember. I never took the ACTC.

[00:20:28] The reason I didn’t is because essentially the way you are looked upon is if you were to pursue college you were seen as unspiritual. You were seen as a person who was letting everyone down. You were letting God down.

[00:20:46] God was disappointed in you ans.

[00:20:52] It’s really it’s hard to express the pressure that is put on these young people at this critical moment of their lives to pursue a course that the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses want you to pursue. At the expense of attaining any type of higher education. It’s it’s it’s really hard to express this if you’ve never been there. Of course I wanted to go to college. I would have loved the challenge of learning new things and putting all the math I learned into use. And honestly as a perfectionist and a master of an individual I’m sure I would have excelled in those fields but it’s the desire to feel good enough in an organization that strips you of your self-esteem and self-worth that leads you down a path to where your self-worth is only received through them where the only way you can feel good is if you do what they want you to do. Because if you don’t they will make you miserable. That is a tough thing to face. I do have to admit now as I near 40 years old that’s I do have some regrets there. I had some teachers who were deeply disappointed in me for not going to college I had counselors who were constantly telling me what I was capable of. And and I had literature sent to me from all kinds of colleges not even Honestly I don’t even know how they got my name or any information about me because I never even took the test. But somehow they wanted me to attend their colleges and I was very torn at that exact same time I was attending high school.

[00:23:15] And like I said earlier majoring in electronics and I count out my senior year. They the school told me that if I wanted to because I was excelling academically I could go work half a day at a place that was electronics focused. And that’s what I did. I went out I hustled I had to find my own place but I found a company that was willing to hire me as a high school student to come in and fix electronics. I repaired microwaves and TVs and VCR as I installed satellite dishes and while I was working at that place in that strip mall there was a pawnshop where I would go buy CDs at times. And so one day I was in there and I was talking with the owner and he found out what I did that I worked a few doors down repairing electronics and had a business opportunity for me. At the time pagers were the big thing and he was going to and eventually did open up a chain of pager repair and sales mobile accessories and all everything that comes along with that. And so he offered me a store. He offered me my own store and that he would send me off to schooling. I don’t know I believe it was in Pennsylvania I can’t remember to learn the ins and outs of these devices so that I could run this store and I turned that down as well because I had to go pioneer and go knock on doors for a thousand thousand dollars. I wish I was paid a thousand dollars a thousand hours for that for that year. And so that’s what I did.

[00:25:13] I went in I pioneered well. So how’d that go. It was miserable. It was awful. I was the only one brother who was pioneering at the time. Brothers and Sisters at the congregation that I attended don’t mix a lot. So I spent a lot of time working by myself going out knocking on doors which is a very lonely proposition. I had to work several jobs. It’s not like I came from a wealthy family or a family that was even middle class so I didn’t have anything any money that I needed had to come from me. I had no support. So I had to furnish my car that was getting driven miles all over the area that I had as our territory for our congregation knocking on doors calling back on people trying to start Bible studies and it costs a lot of money. Eventually I started getting into debt. I was working part time at night from five to nine several nights a week telemarketing. I delivered newspapers every morning seven days a week. I also delivered a local trader publication on Thursday mornings and I eventually just burned out there’s there’s only so many hours in the day that a person can do can be working. I was not only working getting up at you know three or four in the morning so that I could go deliver newspapers. Then I would be home around 7:00. I would take a shower. I get dressed in my suit. I’d be at the Kingdom Hall at 9:00 9:30. We would go out go out and knock on doors till around three sometimes four go home.

[00:27:15] I would then change clothes go to work from five to nine telemarketing and that was my schedule pretty much every day. The only change was on Tuesday and Thursday nights instead of going and working in telemarketing. I had meetings to attend because there were meetings Tuesday Thursday and Sunday. So that was my life. That’s all I did. And to be honest it turned me into a very angry person. I remember one time my dad telling me at the Kaina Malis said he came up to me and my dad was not wanted to try to impart wisdom or really show that he cared very much but he came up one day and said Mike you know nobody ever or everybody thinks you don’t like them. Like everybody thinks you’re mad at them. And I was I was mad at the world because I was being incredibly inauthentic. I didn’t know that I was I was pushed into this whole situation and groomed for this since I was a child which all of these poor kids are so in the next episode we’re going to get a life after that age or not in the next episode but eventually we will get to that age 18 19 and you know into young adult or into adulthood what that looks like. But next week I’m going to do is go deep into what was happening at home. Now I’m going to be honest I’ve kind of been bombed out for pretty much the last week. A little depressed because I’ve been thinking about this and writing this stuff down making notes things that are popping up in my memory.

[00:29:07] And you know honestly it’s it’s not a it’s not a happy memory it’s not a pleasant thing to face but it’s the reality of my life and it’s the reality of what so many Jehovah’s Witness children face as their daily life. The names change some circumstances change but there are certain things that are consistent. And then after that I’m going to get into my life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses as a young person itself. What. Going to meetings was like what I was learning and then what. Going out and knocking on doors was like and everything that was involved there. And when I do that then you’re really going to see everything tied together because that life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses was the nucleus of everything literally everything else revolved around it.