Grieving For The Living


Post by Bridget R. Gaudette (Twitter – @BridgetGaudette )


I had a very strange realization today: I don’t know what it’s like to be someone’s adult child. My parents didn’t get the privilege of seeing me come of age. I didn’t get walked down the aisle when I got married. I didn’t get parental advice when I went house hunting. I missed out on seeing pride in their eyes when I received my degrees. I haven’t had their shoulders to lean on when I struggled with infertility. I never got relationship advice or job advice or any other counsel an adult child would need. We never got to discuss politics or philosophy or any other complex subject matter. No, my parents aren’t dead, but I grieve for them.

I’ve been estranged from my parents for nearly ten years. It doesn’t impress them that I live a pretty decent life. I’ve never been arrested, don’t do illicit drugs, I have a graduate degree, I’ve been married for 12 years, I volunteer dozens of hours a month. Still, I am a disappointment. They have one reason for rejecting me: I do not share their religious beliefs. They are Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW) and I am an Atheist.

What a lot of people don’t know is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult. They are pretty mainstream, but they maintain a high level of control over the membership. When you reject the cult, you are ostracized. They use the following scriptures to justify their actions: Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 1 Timothy 5:20, and 2 Thessalonians 3:14. One of the first suggestions that people tend to make upon hearing that my relationship with my parents would be improved if I simply returned to being a JW is to fake it. First, I don’t want to live a lie. Second, that’s not how this particular cult works. To be in “good standing” within the congregation you must attend their church services weekly and go proselytizing in the local neighborhood. They literally track your activities. Every month you report how many hours you spend going door-to-door. You can attempt to make a false report, but they monitor their followers closely. So, I couldn’t simply say I am a JW, I would have to invest a lot of time in this lie. I would be disgusted with myself and I refuse to do it.

I have grieved for them for years and it has been excruciating. I wonder how and if my grief differs from people who have lost their parents in death. It’s been emotionally devastating at times.. but they are still alive.. so that fact makes everything confusing. I have pleaded with my mother to just love me. Her response is that she does, but she loves Jehovah more. I don’t have children, but I’ve heard that a mother’s love for her child can not be surpassed. In fact, I’d guess that many parents would rather go to hell than deny their offspring their love.

I know that I’m not the only person who has a dysfunctional or non-existent parent-child relationship, but my parents were great parents when I was growing up. My mother was especially loving. When I’m sad I still long for my mother’s hug. She has soft skin and is smooshy and warm. She always smelled like bleach and to this day I associate that smell with good feelings. (My husband knows this and has been known to dribble some bleach around the house when I’m sad).

I differ from my peers whose parents have died because I still have hope (even though it’s all but dissipated). I have hope that before either of us passes, we’ll be able to reconnect. Until that time comes, I leave my door opened and fingers crossed while I grieve.

When I get really down about this, I read my favorite poem:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost
This entry was posted in atheists, blog, Jehovah's Witness, Losing Faith, Personal Stories, religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

86 Responses to Grieving For The Living

  1. Jeff Ritter says:

    Thank you for documenting how the Watchtower systematically destroys families by its insistence that their loyal followers love Jehovah (or really love the organization) more than their own family members who merely have a different religious viewpoint. I too grew up in the JW organization, and burned a couple decades of my adult life in it before I finally realized they were a scam. Even though my parents saw me come of age, they now reject me and will accept me back only on their terms (i.e. that I submit to the exact same form of religion I have). I am atheist but haven’t even shared that with them, the fact that I’m apostate is bad enough for them. As far as the Watchtower, if they don’t like being called a cult then perhaps they should stop acting like one – separating family members, teaching their followers to despise ex-JW’s, teaching that the organization is to be #1 in their life, and in so many other ways too numerous to document here.

  2. Wayne Delia says:

    1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is commonly used to justify the ostracism, as if they are hiding behind the skirts of the Bible, i.e. “Paul instructs us not to associate with people of your ilk.” OK, fine – but then the entire chapter ought to apply to the JW congregation, including the first two verses of the chapter, which indicates Paul’s dismay that the congregation is proud of men who, uh, have sexual relations with their mothers, I often ask JW’s at the door whether this is still a problem in their congregations, to their considerable embarrassment. They don’t visit me much any more.

    It is so sad that many people don’t apply a small “sanity check” to the idea that even an imagined omni-benevolent God would require that congregations socially shun members with questions or doubts, even within the small family unit, tarring them with the broadest of brushes in 1 Cor 5:12-13 that a skeptic or cynic is lumped in with the worst criminals of society.

  3. Jim Ashby says:

    A decade of ostracism from your own parents?

    I think you’d be best off to acknowledge that your parents are unworthy of your love or respect. That would be the first step in taking ownership of your own life. Then, you could disown them. Let them know they’ll have to do some major apologizing and make some major promises to regain any measure of trust and respect from you.

    If they’d rather continue shunning you, you’ve done no harm. If they reconsider their position and capitulate, then exerting your own independence and self-respect will prove to have been what you should have done all along.

    I wouldn’t even mention religion. Leave it out of the discussion. This is not about religion. It’s about family. Are they or aren’t they your parents? Are you or are you not their daughter? A decade of callous ostracism is more than ample grounds for disowning them.

  4. Emily Moskal says:

    Oh, Bridget. My arms don’t reach far enough to give you a giant hug. My thoughts will have to do.

    I think it’s worse than death, particularly since you’ve grown up believing that of you can just find the right way to say words that are true, then you can bring people into the light. How can it not feel like a failure when you know that there is a foundation of love to build on?

    It’s not, though. For them to come around, they would need to sacrifice their standing in their cult, and answer hard questions that require them to self deprogram. This is, sadly, too very hard for many. I think about Jonestown, and the mothers bringing their children, one by one, to die in the end. Brainwashing is… brainwashing. You can’t take responsibility for their neurological impairment. You can forgive, you can love them for the good things they did for you, and try not to choke on the bitter irony.

    You can cry. I’ll shed a tear with you, while I grieve my own loss this week. It isn’t just as hard, it’s harder, but you’re strong enough by far to come to peace with this tragic loss.


  5. At one point I started the reinstatement process, but once my eyes were opened the lies they were spewing little sickened me. My father was an elder, brother too. My mother a regular pioneer. I hope some day they come around. Even if it’s on their deathbeds 🙁

  6. I would be scared to see the results of “sanity checks” amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  7. For the most part I have done just that. This time of year is hard for me though. My birthday is in a couple weeks and then Thanksgiving right after and then Christmas. It’s supposed to be a time to surround yourself with family. I get the winter blues..

  8. Well damnit Em, you just got the tears going again. You get me. You get it. That MEANS SO MUCH. <3

  9. TallerThinner says:

    Oh do I ever feel for you. I, too, was estranged from my family for many years, not over religion but other stupid BS. The repercussions will last my lifetime. Things are now pleasant but stilted; they’ll never be normal. Took years to understand how very pathologic they still are.

    Get some counseling. I cannot recommend this enough. Also realize that you don’t pick your family, but you CAN pick your friends. :-). There are a whole lot of good people to whom your non-religion isn’t be an issue.

    Take care.

  10. I was able to get a couple months of therapy when I had a different employer and my insurance covered it. It was invaluable even though I wasn’t able to have many sessions.

  11. Christina says:

    I don’t have family close by, which is hard, but it’s comforting to know that they approve of me for the most part. Hope you find comfort in friends and your husband’s family.

    Best wishes!

  12. Keila says:

    I wish I could say that I know how you feel, but I don’t… I’m sorry. I DO in fact, know about JW since I was born and raised into it until the age of 13 when my parents decided to stray away. It is very hard since I did not have a real birthday until I was 15. I believe that what you say about them being a cult is true. I dislike how they shun the people that don’t follow their rules or go by what the organization chooses. I hope it gets better, and like you said, there is always that little piece of hope since they’re still alive. Just keep strong hun. All my love to you. <3

  13. Thanks. My husband is great.

  14. I’m glad your parents saw the light. I know of people that figured it out in their 60s, so my folks still might. Give yours a hug for me <3

  15. Jennifer says:

    this brings tears to my eyes, as a former JW who’s parents have also shunned me (I have been out 7 years now) the heartbreak from it is devastating. It helps that my husband’s family has taken me in and I surround myself with them and my new friends. I also take comfort in knowing I will never do this to my own children..and to me that is the best “witness” I can give them…what real unconditional love is.

  16. ((Jennifer)) If you use Facebook, find me. We can support each other:

    My husband is great, but he’s always been an Atheist so he doesn’t quite get IT. His family is nice, but they live in a different state. My friends are my new family.

  17. No one says:

    Thank you for being a pioneer in the uprising of reason. Know that you will not be alone for long. We are on the up and up. Non religious are the fastest growing opinion on religion right now. And I feel will continue until there are only pockets of nut cases that believe in invisible friends in the sky.

  18. Jessi says:

    I know that feel. I was just talking to a friend of mine last night saying that I feel like my mother has died because of me being disfellowshipped. She of course will have nothing to do with me. But it’s worse than death in some ways, to me. I know right where she is but can do nothing to close the gap between us. Big hug from a fellow atheist ex-JW.

  19. xolfcfan says:

    You should make your parents see this article.
    Don’t let your parents know that you wanted show them this.
    Use a common friend you trust. That way they will see how
    you feel.

  20. Alex Stevens says:

    Hey, Bridget.
    This really hit home for me. I was expelled just a couple of weeks ago, and the wounds are still fairly fresh. I’m still scared. I’m only 17, I don’t know anyone on the outside, and the thought of being completely alone, without any guidance or support, scares the living hell out of me.
    That being said, the words written in this post and in the comments (particularly Emily’s perfectly descriptive and inexpressably validating comment) have really helped me feel some sense of optimism. Thank you for that.
    Peace and love from a fellow exJW,

  21. The statistics reassure me but religion and it’s poison will never be completely vanquished.

  22. Thanks Jessi and sorry about your mom. <3

  23. It’s been so long we don’t even have any common friends. I suspect my brothers probably Google me occasionally. Even so, I doubt it will matter.

  24. Emily says:

    I bet there are many that can relate to Bridget’s story. It’s a pleasure having her as a regular contributor to my blog. You can read more from Bridget at:

  25. Phil Ferguson says:

    Are you safe?
    Contact me via a private message if you need something or someone to talk to. You are not alone. May be very hard right now but you life is going to get better.

  26. Michael says:

    Religion Poisons Everything.

  27. Alex Stevens says:

    Fear not, my friend. My physical wellbeing idoes not appear to be in any immediate danger, and my parents are (at least by any metric relevent to JWs) very reasonable people. It’s just the fear of being unprepared for, and emotionally handicapped in, real life that gives me the heeby-bloody-jeebies. But,as you said, life is going to get better.
    Gratefully yours,

  28. I write about happy stuff, too!

  29. Heidi says:

    Sadly, your story is all too familiar to me. After a recent exchange of letters in which I expressed how I felt (angry and disgusted) and my mother responded that she couldn’t understand why I felt such hate (not the same thing) I just dropped it. I miss my dad terribly though, and since my mom is a raging psychopathic bully, he does whatever she wants. Its one of those things you just don’t get over, I think. If either of them die, and they’re both in poor health, I’m not really sure how I’m going to feel, other than completely messed up. *sigh*

  30. TS says:

    At a young age I knew something wasn’t right. I fought my entire family on this until my mother disassociated herself, divorced my father and left everyone. At 19 I realized I had had my entire youth wasted by this belief structure and decided to go my own way.
    What once was hate is now sorrow for those still in this structure. When I meet someone who has gone thru this (obviously you are disfellowshipped and by your statements could even be considered apostate) I congratulate you and know that there are those of us who really understand. People that have never been “into” the “truth” cannot fully comprehend the hell it has put us thru.
    40+ year survivor and agnostic.

  31. Gail says:

    So much hatred in the name of religion.
    I am sad for your parent’s ignorance.
    Stand proud for all you have accomplished.
    Accept that their acknowledgement will never come, and it has nothing to do with you,
    it has to do with who they are.

  32. You don’t get over it and as with so many things, a lot of people think you should just “get over it”. Uh, no. Your parents are the first people you love.

    I completely understand what you mean about them getting older and sick. I know I want to be able to be their for them and give them some comfort. I just hope I’m notified when they finally get close to the end..

    Ditto on the *sigh*..

  33. Yes, disfellowshipped and absolutely an “apostate”. Don’t you just love the labels? I feel FAIRLY lucky that I was out by 22. I think I mentioned before that I have friends that are GRANDPARENTS before they learn the truth about The Truth. Still, there are times when I feel like I’d be happier if I was still in. Sad, eh?

  34. Strangely enough.. my therapist (whose name was Gail strangely enough) gave me the same advice and it was very helpful.

  35. TS says:

    Everyone in my family except my mom and I are still in “good standing”. When my father died this year, I was asked if I would come to the kingdom hall for his memorial. When I said no you could just feel everyone relax. (This was not done out of anger but where were all of his “friends” in his hour of need? ((long story)) They could not be found and I wont “associate” with people who would turn their back so cavalierly.)
    Like I said, to show anything anger, kindness, etc is met with their usual “niceness” but you still feel treated, as they/you are taught, that you are “inferior”, not worthy of God’s love, therefore not worthy of theirs.
    Keep strong to your beliefs, whether you decide to go back or stay out or turn to something else. ONLY you know whats right for you.

  36. Andrew says:

    That is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. It is made worse by being such an unnecessary tragedy. I would pray for you but I don’t believe in magic brain waves; therefore I can only offer my condolences and someone to talk to if you ever need support.

  37. Jim Ashby says:

    I know that my counsel is different than most you’ll receive. I come from the point of view of somebody who has disowned his parents. I should explain my own history and hope that you’ll see how it is important to take total ownership for your own life . . . even if that means ‘family’ must begin with you and yours.

    I’ve never written this story out before and I won’t be writing the long version here . . . I’ll just provide enough detail to give you a quick summary of events.

    My parents were physically and psychologically abusive. Between my mother and my father, my mother was the worst of the pair. I won’t go into the sordid details but — just to leave no doubt about their characters — I will tell you that my father went to prison for sexually abusing my younger brother’s daughters (they were just 2 and 3 years old at the time).

    Soon after my brother’s second daughter was born, he decided to run off with a 16-year-old girl. When he told my father he was leaving his family, my father said that if he did, he could consider himself disinherited and disowned. He would immediately be written out of our father’s will. My brother took off anyway.

    At that time, I had a 4-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. Fortunately, I lived in Southern California instead of in Seattle, where my brother and parents lived. My kids were never violated by my father. Anyway, about a year after my brother took off with his teenaged girlfriend, my father called me and said that he was in trouble: claiming to have been wrongly accused of sexually molesting his grand-daughters.

    I decided to surprise my parents and flew up to Seattle, unannounced. They were so happy to have my support, it encouraged me to help as much as possible.

    But as I looked into the mess, I realized my father was guilty . . . that he was an even bigger monster than I thought. And my mother, as always, the enabler and justifier.

    When I stopped to think how my parents had disowned my brother, when, in fact, they were far worse than him, I realized they had no right to judge him. If he was screwed up, it was because of them. He wasn’t the one who needed to beg for forgiveness: THEY were. The same was true for me. My brother and I both went through hell sorting out our lives: it’s amazing we came through our ordeals alive. And we did so without (or despite) our parents.

    I told my parents that they were sorry excuses for human beings. I told my father that I’m glad my kids are too far away to be molested by him. I told my mother that, when it came to my brother and I, she was much crueler than my father. I told them that since they have no problem disowning my brother, I had no problem disowning them: they were dead to me. They were to never again contact me or my family.

    We all seek the approval of our parents. But sometimes we just have to bestow that approval to ourselves. My family and I are better off by removing my parents from the picture.

    That was a quarter-century ago. I’ve never seen my parents since; although I have hung up the phone a couple of times when they tried calling me. My father died a couple of years ago. I was relieved. I didn’t attend his funeral and I made no contact with my mother. When she dies, I’ll be relieved again and I won’t attend her funeral. I’ll never visit their graves. It’s not that I hate them . . . it’s more like they disgust me.

    I know your story is much different than mine. But I would classify being shunned for 10 years as psychological cruelty. They need to understand that it is they who need to beg forgiveness — NOT you. By telling them not to contact you until they are ready to apologize and accept you for who you are, you will be putting the onus for remedy where it belongs and your parents will not be able to avoid facing the fact that it is they — not you — who are wrong.

  38. Thanks. Not sure which of my friends named Andrew you are though <3

  39. Jim.. thank you SO much! My mother calls a couple times a year and it ALWAYS ends with me crying hysterically and begging her to love me. She called a couple weeks ago saying she wanted to “hear my voice”. When I told this to a friend she said, “Did you notice that she wasn’t thinking about YOU at all but instead wanted to satisfy HER need?” That really struck me. SHE was hurting and needed to hear my voice, but wasn’t concerned with what *I* needed.

    You’re right… perhaps I should just tell her not to contact me until she’s ready to accept me and apologize..

    Are you on Facebook? I’d like to keep in touch.

  40. I won’t go back. If I was still a theist, maybe. But now I just know too much. I hope you and your mother are able to have a good relationship.

  41. Shantelle says:

    I to have been shunned by my family (JW’s) and can relate to your pain. I had to get to the point where I realized how emotionally abusive it was and rejected THEM. It was a turning point in my life and my attitude toward it. Although I have to say growing up and living so odd has definately affected my life and decisions and I am just now doing things and learning things that people around me learned as teenagers. I think I will finally figure it out all when I”m 80 and about dead. LOL.

  42. Jim Ashby says:

    Hi Bridget,

    It sounds like your parents love you in their own dysfunctional way. They’ll come around. And when they do, the family dynamic will finally be one in which you are a true equal . . . not a supplicant.

    And yes, I can be found on FaceBook at:

  43. I feel stunted at times myself. Take the sciences for example. My husband understood evolution when he was in his teens. In my teens I still believed we all descended from Adam & Eve. I also didn’t have proper sex ed. I feel like I’m about ten years behind.

  44. Junas says:

    First and foremost the Bible God is evil! Read Hosea 13:4 to 8,1 Peter 5:8,and Revelation 13:2. Lets unmask Jehovah,and see who he really is.

  45. Junas says:

    Any parent who chooses to love an evil make believe God more then their own child doesnt deserve to be a parent,they should be ashamed of themselves!

  46. Thanks for posting this article. Many people think that JWs are just nice church-people who have an annoying habit of knocking on doors. The fact that they monitor their followers so extensively is a good point.

    It’s hard to fake it – not that you should have to – when they have 5 weekly meetings and expect you to spend hours every month knocking on doors. They want you placing magazines with homeowners, which is also monitored. They want you conducting Bible studies. You can’t fake that. It’s pretty exhausting, even for JWs who want to be in “the truth.”

    Being a JW isn’t like going to church every Sunday. It’s a way of life. Ex-Witnesses who try to fake it are barely tolerated. The others can smell the “worldliness” on them. If you aren’t one of JWs, then you are seen as “worldly” and under Satanic control. That means the Devil could use you to get to them.

    I consistently recommend that XJWs who have been shunned should return the favor. Some can’t accept this advice, but your family needn’t be blood. If your family is poison, you can find other people to be close to. It’s a lot healthier than allowing them to treat you so badly or crush your self esteem.

    Thanks again for the post. I hope you’ll write more of them.

  47. I normally write at 🙂

    Thanks for your words and wise advice!

  48. That *should* feel shame, but I doubt they do 🙁

  49. Heidi says:

    My brother, whom I love dearly, has decided he owes it to them to just accept whatever they’re willing to give and is pressuring me to “be a bigger person than them.” I’m still pretty angry. This stuff just doesn’t get any easier.

  50. Ann McCann says:

    I’ve read and re-read all the posts here, through my tears. My husband and I were both shunned by our families, and are amazed we found each other. I’m not sure the hurt ever ends: my mother didn’t even have a funeral, but I still wish it could have been different. Taking a (secular) buddhist approach helped a little: sitting with and looking at the pain.

    There’s a lot of wisdom and love here. We’re already Facebook friends – know if you’re in the Boston area, you are family!

  51. Ben Cavanna says:

    Thank you Bridget.

    I come from a different cult – The Bruderhof, but what you write resonates so much.
    It is hard and painful, but sharing with each other makes a real difference.

    Your husband sounds like a wonderful man!

    I love the Frost poem on so many levels.


  52. Thanks Ann! I hate that so many people can relate to my story. I wish I was the only one to go through these things.

    My husband is from Massachusetts. Hopefully we can get up there some day.

  53. Danielle D. Davis says:

    Finding this “sisterhood” of ex-JWs is the happiest part of my day, for sure!!! Thank you, Bridget <3

  54. Danielle D. Davis says:

    That is “The Truth!” I realized Jehovah, if he truly existed, was the original asshole by the time I was 8 by reading the context of the scriptures they quoted during the meetings (aka: brainwash sessions) and that I wanted nothing to do with worshiping an asshole. I was told to stop reading what I was not instructed to read and my parents were instructed by the elders to physically beat me more (as their sparing of the rod was clearly spoiling my soul, even though my mother beat me on the regular “for whatever you did that I didn’t catch you doing,” frequently these beatings occurred in the Kingdom Hall, during meetings, so that my screams could be heard as evidence that she was not sparing the rod).

  55. Danielle D. Davis says:

    You also have family in the Toledo, Ohio area. It is sad that so many adult children of the JW cult must make family outside of our blood families, but what a glorious thing that so many of us have escaped and are exposing their abuses. I can only hope it saves the next generation of children still being brainwashed.

  56. Nat Turner says:

    I can’t believe so many people have walked this path, and still this twisted cult stands tall, fooling millions to believe they are worshiping a true God, Religions have always been the way used to control the masses, it still controls so much now, and has so much to account for when will the world wake up? The stupid thing is that the TRUTH will set you free, if only you look, and so many have stopped looking.

  57. Concerned says:

    I find it interesting that since your choosing to leave this religion, you have been sad and miserable. Doesn’t that mean the last time you were happy was as a Jehovah’s Witness?

  58. Jim n says:

    Mind if I reply… I am not sure it’s sadness but anger. It’s normal to be sad or angry when you realize you have been manipulated and emotionally abused in the face of great trust. It’s also normal for many to be sad or angry when they leave a community, even if it’s abusive. It’s normal to feel like an outsider when everyone else close to them is an insider. That’s what makes her courageous!

  59. I have been sad without my family in my life, I think that’s very normal regardless of the religion.

  60. Jim n says:

    Too true. My parents divorced over religion–Orthodox Jew and nonpracticing Presbyterian–when I was 6 months old (neither side would convert–one of those second date questions). My mother remarried after I left home. Wrote Dad a few times to no response. Never had a dad. Never liked religion. Sad, sad, sad.

  61. Phil Ferguson says:

    Jim, I did not know that. wow! another example of religion pulling families apart. We are glad you are here posting and part of the skeptic money family.

  62. Jim n says:

    You should see the divorce papers. In Europe, Switzerland, they record all of the arguments, which I just this fall recovered. What a back and forth battle. He said he’d renounce, then didn’t. They loved each other then didn’t. Afterwards he got a US Lawyer’s opinion that the divorce would stand in America. My mother was pissed and refused visitation, support.

    Then years after I left home she married another sort-of Jew who was younger than I (yes, I was older than my step dad), she found local Baptists, and they divorced. He saying religion was the issue–she was already getting dementia, though. Afterwards, he insisted he would never marry out of his religion. Yet, when I lived at home we rarely went to church except as part of her culture of being a music professor. But then he liked Carl Sagan until he read he was atheist.

    Don ‘t you just love religion? So many hooks on which to hang your complaints. It’s just too easy.

  63. Caleb Castaneda says:

    🙁 Your story sounds like mine. I too was raised in the cult but am now an atheist. You are more generous than me, tho. I consider the door shut fully by me. I can think of few things that are more immoral than abandoning one’s children, and I will never forgive. Hang your head high. They aren’t worthy of you.

  64. I really wish I could talk to some family members about their going along with the policy of relative strangers by not speaking to their own blood. But I tried that a couple weeks ago and didn’t do so good. Still I’d jump at the chance again. I really feel for you, so much accomplished, but parents who frown on normal, natural and exceptional achievements. Bizarre thing being part of an organization that encourages good grades in school, but wants you to ignore higher-education. An organization that encourages self-sufficiency and employment, but not if the job is too lucrative or time consuming (which is really none of their business).

  65. Mary Wood says:

    I can barely imagine. I’m not quite estranged from siblings, but close in some ways and it hasn’t to do with religion, it mostly has to do with being the family “loser;” underemployed and in a near-constant state of financial ruin, largely related to depression and autism.

    In any case, rejection for who you are hurts. A lot. I have found myself calling friends from time to time: “I have really great news and I need a sister-figure to be all giddy for me and share it with me.” Therein lies the band-aid I think, the ‘family’ you choose for yourself.

  66. Itoro Ita says:

    JEHOVAH never forgets those who served him formerly. He yearns for them to return back to HIS fold. Doubtless, none of you would ever associate with any other Religious group because you know-though you deny it- that being a witness was the best thing that GOD ever blessed you with. The emptiness you feel should not be blamed on the organization but on YOU…….

  67. Heidi says:

    You are deluded and brainwashed, Itoro, as your comment clearly demonstrates. While I grieve for some things that were TAKEN from me by the organization, I’m happier than I’ve ever been because I know I’m not living a lie and trying to convince myself the things I was being told were true. I doubt you’ll ever read this, but I hope there is no question in anyone’s mind who reads this just how damaging and heartless this group truly is. Don’t be fooled by the Leave It to Beaver exterior. Cold, heartless and brainwashed. Thank you for demonstrating better than I ever could, Itoro, why people are leaving the “organization” and “JEHOVAH” in droves.

  68. Concerned says:

    The numbers are increasing every year actually of those becoming Jehovah’s witnesses. And it is so truely sad that you feel abandoned and shut out, but you must realize that is a consequence of doing things contrary to god’s word. And when you choose to turn around and repent, you know your family, both physical and spiritual would be eagerly welcoming you back and making up for lost time.

  69. Heidi says:

    Talk about delusional! Yes, in third world countries where education is low and superstitious beliefs are high, there is an increase, but in developed countries, the dubs are essentially a revolving door as a recent Pew survey shows… Even in the U.S. is sadly the poorest and least educated who have swallowed the tripe that the dubs spew. What does this mean for the JW’s? As time continues to go by and nothing happens and the prophecies get artfully tweaked as “new light,” more and more people will figure out the cognitive dissonance going on in their heads belongs to one source only, the Borganization. Already the cracks are showing and the information available on the internet is only hammering stakes in to widen them. When I first read your comment, I was angry, but now, upon thinking on the future you’re looking at, “Concerned,” I only feel pity and a certain amount of schadenfreude. I suspect you’ll have to look that up, if the dictionary isn’t too “worldly” a book to use. Enjoy your subjugation. 🙂

  70. Danmera says:

    Lot’s of support and identifying, and in walks the “loving” JW. Like any cult member, blames the victim in order to protect the cult. I love when JWs jump into conversations like these. People get to see what is really behind the smiling faces that come to the door.

  71. I’m glad you’re concerned, but I have nothing to repent for or repent to. I’m an atheist. I’m also kind of awesome and my parents are missing out.

  72. Alice says:

    Of course you grieve!! It’s worse than grieving a death, because you’re not only grieving what was, but what could have been. I’m very sorry that your parents have taken this stand.

    Time does heal wounds. If you can, try to find the joy in what you have. Focus on that loving man of yours. He’s so sweet to try to help you find happiness in the small things he does for you. You have memories from your childhood to hold onto. Many people don’t even have that.

    I left the cult and have no family in it. I can’t completely understand, but I’ve had life experiences that bring me close to understanding. My heart goes out to you.

  73. TallulahB says:

    “We all seek the approval of our parents. But sometimes we just have to bestow that approval to ourselves.”

    So, so true.

    I am an ex-JW myself, but have a limbo/inactive status, which means that technically, my family can speak and interact with me– according to their conscience. Yep. Their inner Jiminy Cricket tells them if I’m a bad person or not and if speaking to me decreases their odds of surviving Armageddon.

    It is SO difficult to be a parent to yourself. The melancholy can be overwhelming, because it doesn’t happen just when you’re feeling low and crappy- it colors GOOD experiences, too. The big, momentous, this is such a lovely day, look what I’ve accomplished moments- get pissed on when you realize that the person who should be there to share your joy is nowhere to be found.

    But- that’s why it’s important to make good and true friends and to be a good and true friend back.

    @Bridget– don’t take the calls anymore. Reserve your strength for yourself and don’t let your mom suck it away. You’ll feel better when you draw that line. It still sucks, but sucks less when you do things on your terms.

  74. Concerned says:

    By definition of the word “cult”, you should know that Jehovah’s witnesses are by no means members of a cult. And I am saddened by the state you are in and take no pleasure from it. I hope that whatever religious choices you make, you are able to reevaluate your choices of being happy because of someone else’s “misfortunes”. I pray everyday for those that I know and those that I’ve never met who have left service to Jehovah. I pray that one day something will help people to really honestly look at themselves and what is offered by the world and make decisions to please god. I myself spent years taking advantage of what I thought was the real world and trying to just enjoy life. No matter how many friends I made, I was never more lonely than I was then, without Jehovah and my family and true friends. I became suicidal and was hospitalized twice. While I will always have to contend with mental illness, I started to make changes and come back to Jehovah and have never felt more complete. It has not been easy, but its worth every single ounce of effort. I hope you can reach that point. I would love to spend time getting to know you in a perfect world.

  75. Concerned-
    “you are able to reevaluate your choices of being happy because of someone else’s “misfortunes”.

    I’m not sure what you are referring to. I don’t take joy in the misfortune of others. In fact, now that I am no longer a JW I am FAR more charitable and caring about my fellow man. I am a social worker, I volunteer hundreds of hours a year to help the needy, I give a lot of money to charity (as opposed to the Watchtower Society).

    This invisible entity, Jehovah, never made me feel “more complete” as you said. You shouldn’t rely on invisible creatures for your sense of self. I want my family back despite their beliefs, it has nothing to do with hypothetical spirits.

    I’m very happy that you are reading and communicating with me, an apostate. It means there is a small bit of doubt in your mind. Some part of you feels badly that my family has rejected me for silly reasons. That’s what cult members do by the way, they reject people that don’t accept their beliefs.

  76. In general I’m a happy person, but around the holidays and on Mother’s and Father’s Day I get down. I feel badly for them because I know they think they are doing the right thing. But I’m missing out, too and it sucks.

  77. Update: This post has encouraged me to write a book. Find out more at and please donate to my Kickstarter to make sure this happens:

  78. Johnny A says:

    Reading some of yalls experience help ease the pain.. I’m 19 and have a week old daughter with my 2 year girlfriend.. although I’m not perfect I decided to leave the organization because I wanted to think fir myself. It hurts because although I wasn’t the best son I would at least love for my parents to be in my daughters life show her love. I wish I understand how one could reject ones own child since I feel so alone sometimes. It just makes me so sad, makes me wonder if they’d actually care if I died. 🙁

  79. Phil Ferguson says:

    Johnny A. I care! I am glad the post helped you. Stay strong and help us make the world a better place for that wonderful little girl of yours!

  80. TallulahB says:

    I hate (okay, not really) to break it to you Heidi, but the idea of the numbers increasing is just wrong. For a very nice table/breakdown of percentage of growth and loss, look here:

    Negative growth is NOT growth. JW numbers are declining because its an unsustainable model for living. How can you expect people to grow and thrive when you are continually telling them they should live in poverty and ignorance, that they should stay away from society at large, that all of their life efforts are potentially meaningless unless they serve even more and that even if you as an individual “make it” in the eyes of God, that you have no guarantee that any of the people you love will be there to enjoy your earthly reward?

    JW’s rely on disfellowshipping as a way to make sure individuals keep their other family members in, because the door-to-door preaching work is a HIGHLY ineffective recruitment tool.

    Thank the Spaghetti Monster for the internet. It helps people realize that they are not alone in their suffering and that as painful as it may be to sever ties with your loved ones, the emotional pay-off- having autonomy, building real community, learning to be a productive, contributing member of society- outweighs the heartache of personal loss. I LOVE my family. I miss them. But I refuse to sacrifice my sanity and well-being for the Watchtower. They are not divinely inspired. They are manipulative, small-minded men, and strangers at that.

  81. Hippo1010 says:

    Bridget, I perfectly understand where you come from. I went through the same situation with my parents. Same exact thing. I have a career, never done a drug in my life, I am a responsible citizen and member of my community, yet I’m still a disappointment to my parents, just because I’m no longer a JW.

    Thank you for posting this. As you can see by the responses, there are many like you or with similar stories.

  82. Jim n says:

    I care too. My mother and father split over religion and I have never had another father but I have had a great life. There is happiness in spite of it, maybe even because of it. I do not know how a parent or grandparent can reject a child but I Iived through it and you can too.

  83. Jim n says:

    BTW, Johnny A, NO parent truly wishes their child dead. They might wish you otherwise and might torment you with threats but no parent wishes their child dead. Keep strong and remember you are loved by all the others who care for you and wish for you the best.

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