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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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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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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.
Resources Mentioned (in no particular order):
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
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 –Click Here To Show Transcript
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.
Driven To Distraction – Edward Hallowell and James Ratey
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[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.
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.
Click Here To Show Transcript
[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.
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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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.
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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