Sunday, November 12, 2017

I like to sin. Sinning's my favorite. Part I

"The next couple of years would be challenging as I came to the realization that I was living in a cult and everything I had known was a lie."

Hi, I’m u/Cecelia92, and everyone usually calls me Cece. I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My father was an elder, and my mother a pioneer. Growing up, I never celebrated holidays or birthdays. I wasn’t allowed to be friends with kids at school or participate in any school sports, activities, or clubs. Instead, my time was spent going to meetings three times a week, going out in service on the weekends, and making sure to study for all the meetings.

Once I graduated high school, I spent three years pioneering, spending at least seventy hours a month doing the preaching work. As higher education is discouraged, my options were limited after high school. I wish I could have made a decision for myself about what I wanted to study in community college, but my decision for higher education was driven by what would make good money and still allow me to pioneer. I went into the local community college’s accounting program, but I never finished as I ran out of scholarship and personal money. Eventually I had to stop attending school once I picked up a part-time job to help pay for food and housing for my family, as my parents were out of work at the time.

That was a stressful time for me. Many in the congregation told me to pray more to deal with my depression. I had few friends and I reached out to anyone I could find. This included those who I had met on the Internet. Eventually I became friends with someone who connected with me on so many levels. We started dating long distance, and after things started to get serious I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret for long. 

One thing that pushed me over the edge to confess was my guilt that I was taking advantage of my parents. I remember my mother telling a friend of hers that if one of her kids was not going to follow Jehovah anymore, she would rather know sooner so then she wouldn't waste any more time on them. That stuck with me. At the same time, I was pitting the feelings in my heart against the small whispers of guilt in my head. I had a plan in place. I knew I would probably get disfellowshipped, but after we got married and were not sinning anymore, I would return. In order to get the process going, I had to confess my sin, of dating an unbeliever, to the Elders.

After confessing, I met with three Elders from the congregation. They told me it was a sin to marry someone outside of the organization. They proceeded to ask me question upon question about my history with my boyfriend. Did we commit fornication? How far did we go? What exactly did we do? Did we enjoy it? How many times? And many more intimate and embarrassing questions. After writing all of my answers down, they tried to make me doubt my relationship with my boyfriend, insinuating that because he was a worldly person, he might be doing drugs or cheating on me, and he was basically worthless.  

I was sobbing the entire meeting and after I left I couldn’t cry anymore. I knew my parents wouldn’t allow me to stay at their home, so I packed up and left as soon as I could. The next couple of years would be challenging as I came to the realization that I was living in a cult and everything I had known was a lie. It all started when I came across the exjw subreddit accidentally by pressing the “random” button on reddit. I knew I probably shouldn’t look at it, but I figured I was already disfellowshipped, so what could really happen? 

So I learned about and Learning all the history, facts, and current cover ups was huge for me. The biggest thing that drove me to decide to never go back was that I never ever wanted to put my future children through what I was going through. I did not want an organization telling me I needed to shun my children because they made a mistake or turned out to be “different” in their eyes.

Because I was disfellowshipped, I lost all contact with my family and friends and they would not respond to anything I sent them. I felt lonely and I struggled to stay afloat mentally. At night, I would lay awake sobbing, just missing my family. Even though good things were happening in my life including getting married, moving into a nice apartment, making friends, my husband graduating college and getting a good starting job, I still felt hurt inside that I could not heal.

It all came to a head one weekend. I wanted to die. I couldn’t take the pain anymore, and I just wanted to get revenge on my family for abandoning me. My husband was barely able to drag me out of it, but we agreed I would get professional help. Starting the process was hard, but it has been so helpful. It has led me to becoming calmer and realizing where a lot of my pain comes from. It is an ongoing process, but getting to a stable place allowed me to start looking at what I could do to start helping other people, which we will discuss next week.

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