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The Struggle Being a Born in Non-Believer

I was raised a Jehovah's Witness; my mom, dad and sister along with me. My dad was an elder my entire life and my sister a regular pioneer for most of my life, along with my mother. I'll never forget being 4 years old and staring up at the stars outside and my dad leaning over to me and saying, "Look what Jehovah made for you." My response, "But how do you know God is real?" My mother said she knew then I would be trouble.

I never fit in with the rest of my family, spiritually speaking. I fought it my entire life. When I was 16, I met the man that I would later go on to marry. He was 22 and also raised a witness but non-practicing like me. I turned 18 and we got married, as is often the case with young Witnesses. A year late he told me we would be going back to meetings and even though I said I didn't want to, as he put it, he was the "head of the family" and I had to do as he said.

Fast forward to 6 years later and me giving being a real witness the first real try in my life. He was a Ministerial Servant and I was on my way to becoming a regular pioneer. I had been expressing my loneliness, my doubts for years and he would always brush me off. One day, like a switch, I knew I was done. There was no talking me out of this. No amount of prayers or elder's meetings would change my mind. We knew we didn't want to be married to each other but as is Jehovah's Witness law, you are still bound until someone commits adultery. He point blank asked me to do this for him. My husband of 6 years just asked me to cheat on him so he can one day remarry. I concocted some false story of my adultery, which none of the elders bought, but who was going to argue?

I was kicked out from my home by my husband and moved in with my parents. After a week of trying to get me to change my mind and come back, they decided that was enough of an attempt and promptly kicked me out of their home. I only had $500 to my name and no job, as my boss fired me because he was an elder in my congregation. With no schooling to fall back on (because my parents pulled me out of 7th grade after they saw me hold a worldly boy's hand), no friends and nowhere to go, I end up living out of my car for about 6 months.

I was starting from scratch. I would work at a large 24 hour gym where I would shower and change and work until 4. I would then drive to my next job and work until 4 am, repeating the process over and over. One day I met a girl at work. After knowing me for just one week, she found out I was living out of my car and offered to let me live with her. The single most kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. She saved my life and we have been best friends ever since. 5 years later, I now have a great group of loving and loyal friends and family (isn't always blood), including my 1 year old son.

I don't ever feel like a victim, at least not anymore. In all honesty, I have such a loving and happy life now that the girl in my story doesn't even feel like me anymore. I've learned so much about myself along the way and I've had to get to know myself in a more honest way and learned that I do not go down without a fight. I am strong and resilient as are all of you. We may have differing stories but we have so much in common as well.

I recently started a book project as a way to help myself heal and potentially others as well. I also wanted to have an easy way to explain to my son one day as to why none of my family are in our lives. I started with a letter to my mother, my goodbye letter if you will, of everything I wanted to say but didn't get a chance to. So now, between Facebook, Reddit and forums, I listen to stories of those who have left or are thinking of leaving and ask if they would be willing to share their story and their letter to the family member or friend they had to leave behind. Not just to demonstrate pain and loss, but mostly to show human resilience. We aren't these evil creatures that the society has made us out to be. I'm hoping that if enough people can see the pain and damage this "religion" causes, then maybe it can help to wake more up and show others what it really means to be part of this "religion."

Originally published Nov 2017

creative commons copyright    Paul Grundy  2005 - 2023