Excerpt from Post by Reddit User Prob_Bad_Association – September 2018

“Hi Mom.
I thought about calling you today. I didn’t. I usually don’t. I think about it, and then I occasionally write a letter to send off into the void of the universe. It works better than calling you. You’re not listening to me anyway. It occurred to me today though, just how little you really are in my life now. Your only daughter. Mother to your grandsons and I can’t remember the last time we spoke face to face. It was over a year ago now, I know that. Last time I can really remember was when I came down because Dad was sick. I hear he’s better, so that’s nice. You sent a present up for the kids. I almost sent it back, but I didn’t. I know your intentions are good, I know you think you’re pleasing God by keeping your distance, and I know that the occasional present in the mail is pretty much the only contact my kids are really gonna have with you. I told them it was from Grandma and Grandpa, and they looked at me confused. They don’t remember who you are. It started to kinda break my heart, but then I started thinking about the year I’ve had, and how little you’ve been a part of it, and I kinda just want to tell you to not even bother anymore.”

Post by Reddit User blackbirdfly41 – October 2018

“A decade after leaving and I still barely function productively in any part of my life. I’ve tried so hard to recover and integrate into society of which I’ve failed repeatedly. My 2 children keep me struggling on because I know how much damage losing me would do to them. Yet I’m completely empty inside. My energy level is at zero all the time. I literally force myself to do the bare minimum needed of me. I don’t want to live in this pain anymore. I’ve had mental health issues since my early teens. That was about when I knew I really liked girls more than boys. I followed Gods standards though for next 30 yrs though but no matter how hard I tried to change I would always be gay. So I knew from very early age I would never be in paradise. Thus started years of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. I never was strong JW because of it. I have huge immediate and extended family that are all JW. No one has spoken to me since 2009. I will never see any of them again now. Losing a support system like that at one of the worst times of your life is unnecessarily cruel & crippling. I don’t know if they are aware I’m gay but when I came out to my 76 yr old jw mom cpl yrs ago her comment was “Couldn’t you have prayed more??” the ignorance of which is so multifaceted that it would require another post just to address them all. She barely spoke to me before, not a word after that. I figure that I “disgust” her now. JWs are a cult. One of the best. I’m pleased this is finally being noticed and addressed more & more lately. I’m still damaged tho. Once all the raw anger finally passed it’s like I deflated to nothing. Starting a relationship has proven impossible so far. Now the loneliness is so deep that I don’t have the desire to try anymore. I turn to this community in hopes that I might find others who understand this cult induced insanity and can relate. Maybe others have gotten past this stage and can let me know how they did it. I’m desperate to stay alive for my kids and not let this beat me. I’m so tired tho.”

Post by Reddit User jaybefly – January 2018

“Just got cut off from my parents. This was our last conversation:
It was a great argument. My parents called to inform me they will no longer have ANYTHING to do with me. It was supposed to be brief and easy but I got upset. I mentioned that I wished I never got baptized because we would never be having this conversation. And I told my parents they are hypocrites because they want to shun me because I don’t believe in their god anymore and they are doing exactly what happens to people who are shunned by their family for studying with them. I even mentioned it was also hypocritical of them to shun me on the basis that I am not for a “God” they need faith to believe in when yet I myself am very real and they choose a belief over something real, their youngest son! My father became excited and demanded that I stopped trying to indoctrinate them!!!! I lastly asked if they would still speak to me even when this generation has gone and passed. My dad spoke over me and I got upset and hung up on em. Fuck them all. I love em but damn. If this is what I left then I’ll be fine cause that is just wrong!”

Post by Reddit User fineartshark – December 2017

“When I was disfellowshipped and kicked out at 17 I was forced to live on the street or peoples couches while still attending high school which led me to dropping out of highschool. My parents talked to me but it was always, “we can’t help you till you come back”. I felt alone and broken most of my life. My younger brother later committed suicide due to his fear of being excommunicated like me.

Fast forward to today because these patterns lasted for over a decade. I have a Masters in Fine Art. Can pay my bills and am financially stable for the most part. The problem is that I lead a double life. I lie to my S/O. I hide my feelings. I cannot and have not been able to be faithful to anyone. I constantly feel like a failure and think I’m going to be found out as a fake or fraud. I am constantly paranoid. I feel that I am addicted to patterns that I never asked to be a part of. I have been in therapy for the past 10 years which has helped but I still dont know how to be a person. I guess Im just looking for community and any tips people might have.”

Post by Reddit User jaimesando – August 2018

“I didn’t want to go (to the judicial hearing), but I figured I would get DF either way so I might as well try to not get DF, right? I didn’t want to be ripped from my family and friends–i just wanted to live my life freely! The details of the meeting are a little too traumatic for me still (almost four years later), but it suffices to say I was swiftly disfellowshipped (on Christmas, no less). And it was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Although I do still miss my family (I can’t even speak to my unbaptized 7-year-old brother), it gets easier with time. I have found a loving relationship that fulfills me more than my half-life as a JW could, and I have been able to compile a pseudo-family from kindhearted friends who love me for who I truly am. If there are any JWs who are feeling scared and ousted for the way they want to live their lives, I hope they can take strength in my story. It was one of the hardest things I’ll ever have to endure, but it has made me so much stronger and happier. Even if Armaggeddon came tomorrow (not that I believe it will ever come…I’m an atheist now), I would be happy that I chose to live my life my way. Anyone out there have any similar experiences?”

Post by Reddit User noteasy8 – May 2018

“I feel so guilty all the time. Guilty I could not be the daughter they expected me to me, perfect exemplar jw. Guilty I lied to them about so many things, because I wanted to be a damn normal teenager, not a culty girl. Guilty I had him moved away from his elder position because I quit jws. Guilty I rose such a big wall between them and me, in order to protect my feelings and my sanity.

Maybe I am not the only one guilty. He made no move to get to know me. He was perfectly content as long as I kept the jw facade intact. He wasn’t interested in how I was feeling. He wasn’t worried that I had no friends, no joy, nothing. All he cared about was his damn elder position. Is this something a loving father do? I don’t think so.

I have seen worldly parents. They take their children to events, to parks, to movies. My father took me to the hall. To field service. To assemblies.

And still I feel guilty about this relationship. I guess I am here seeking some validation for this new ideas, that maybe this guilt should not be only mine. I just feel so guilty and bad and mean all the time.”

Birdwings by Rumi (Translated by Coleman Barks)

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.