We’re Not Alone

When I first parted ways with Jehovah’s Witnesses over two decades ago, I’ll never forget the sense of isolation I felt. Of course, this is what the JWs were banking on–it’s how they control people…with fear.  When you’re given the boot from the Watchtower organization, everyone you’ve associated with in the religious group shuns you–even family.  There can be no greater rejection than when your family turns their back on you.

For me  this kind of rejection was a deal breaker.  Instead of driving me back into the fold, I faced my fears head on, putting one foot in front of the other as I walked away from the Watchtower’s emotional blackmail.

When I left in 1991 the internet was still a gleam in Al Gore’s eye (wink wink).  Until eight years ago, I’d never met another exJW…until I stumbled upon a brand new group for exJWs on MySpace.  The group’s founder, Ruben Ortiz, accepted me with open arms.  Today, that group is nearly 3,000 members strong on Facebook.  I’ve been blessed to be an administrator there since those early days.

It was an amazing experience, after all those years, to meet people in a virtual space who completely understood all of those struggles, thoughts, and feelings I’d had for so long.  I think it was one of the last puzzle pieces that helped me heal–no longer was I alone in my experience and my journey.

During these eight years I’ve had the opportunity to create an amazing family of the heart, to add to the mother and sister that also escaped the Watchtower cult’s clutches.  As I travel around I’ve been able to meet dozens of folks from the exJW Recovery Group, adding to my family along the way.  This year, I became a volunteer with Advocates for Awareness of Watchtower Abuses (AAWA). Finally, I have a tangible way to give back to the exJW community as well as inform the general public of the dangerous policies of the Watchtower organization.

Steph and Richard

During some recent travel, I had the privilege of meeting up with Richard Kelly, one of AAWA’s board members and author of Growing Up in Mama’s Club.  He and his wife were so kind and hospitable, treating me and my mom like long-time family.

When I have these experiences with people who, at one time, had been virtual strangers, it reaffirms my decision to walk away from a fear-based life. WE ARE NOT ALONE!  This life is full of beautiful people that will provide a smile and a helping hand.  Whether in person at a local meetup or a group in cyberspace, there are many former cult members who understand where you’ve been and will support you on your journey.

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6 thoughts on “We’re Not Alone

  1. Steph, I feel so bad for the ones who come out and don’t have anyone. It is so wonderful now that we have the internet, so that they can meet people. I knew before I left that there were beautiful people out there and that is what made me want to leave. I could not stand the fact of them saying, people are no good if they are not jws. I knew better and wanted to test it and I was right, just like you found out, I had a few friends from school and then added to them. I had family on both sides as my dad is the only jw, and my mom is an only child so I had her aunts and uncles and cuz’s. it was wonderful. I was only 16 too, not so bad on a kid, just a party, but I feel so bad for the ones who come out and have absolutely not one friend or relative…. thank goodness for the internet.

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  2. I can tell you from first-hand experience that Steph is one those precious jewels that you meet from time to time in your life. I count her a dear friend and a valued ally in our battle for justice to help well-meaning people trapped in an unjust mind-controlled religion.

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    1. Mericefotogrfix, I got a jolt reading your note. You thanked Steph for being a “pioneer”. It’s amazing the power of mere words can last so many years. I left the WTS 20 years ago, and was fading for a while before that. I entered the org as an adult.

      As a child “pioneer” referred to people in covered wagons who settled on land across what was to become the USA. And you properly used that word to define what Steph is doing. AAWA is a budding organization and seems to be getting a powerful start thanks to people’s devotion and hard work.

      But even today, to me, “a pioneer” is still a JW who put in X number of hours a month going out in door to door service or otherwise accumulated those hours.

      I am grateful for this recognition of that bit of mindset I’d somehow clung to. It is one of those little things I didn’t realize I was still hanging on to. I read the word often, no doubt, like articles referring to scientific pioneering breakthroughs, etc. But your note used it in a JW discussion, so I caught it.

      From what I’ve been reading about JWs and how we’ve been treated by JWs in recent times, It sounds even worse than when I was in.

      From now on, I am going to try to use the word “pioneer” again. I think I have been subliminally making that word a no-no in my language. I don’t think I ever say it now. Wow, it may be a small thing, but each little thing adds up to something being even more whole. Even tiny epiphanies make a big difference. FREEDOM! Imagine, I have that word added back into my vocabulary now! I am pleased.

      I know you didn’t realize you were doing this when you posted today. it’s just a word, after all. But this one little thing helps.

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      1. Hi JC thank you so much for your kind word and you are right I didn’t know I was going to have such an impact on you…

        But I am so glad I did sending you much love and BIG hugs xxxx Merice

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