All Time Jeff - Gilead Graduate
I was born in Knoxville Tennessee in 1974. Both my parents were JW. My mom was a 4th gen, making me a 5th gen JW. (evidently, my great grandparents were in Allegany PN with Russell. No word on whether they helped him measure pyramids) Dad was a drug taking hippie who got baptized in 1969 during the rush to 1975
. Dad was always one to take religion more seriously. Mom had a bit of a rebellious streak in her. Both have had unbelievable tragedies in their life, and getting married along with the seeming stability JW offered no doubt helped them to smooth out the rough edges. They both wanted a family, so I came along first, and my only sibling, my little brother Jonathan was born in 1976.
I have always wanted to get involved, so at the age of 6, I gave my first talk and went out in FS. It made me feel like an adult. My family later moved to Florida, near Miami, when I was 8. Florida is a great state! I grew up their, got exposed to a lot of different people and cultures. It was great.
Dad was DF'd in 1980. He was smoking secretly, as he never was able to give that up for long. Esp when they told him he had 6 months or else in the early 70's. So for a while, it was my mom taking me and my bro to meetings and such. Dad was later reinstated in the mid 80's and later was appointed a MS.
Around the time I was 9, I told mom I wanted to be baptized. She told me that I should be a little older. Thus, it wasn't until I was 13 that I got baptized.. From their, I was a self-righteous holy terror for about 3 years. I so bought into all that I read from the borg. Not even mom and dad were into it as much as I was. Because they home schooled me throughout my teens (I have forgiven them for that) I had time to go out in FS, but no adults could take me. So I would walk by myself and get my own territory in my early teens to go preaching. I was so sure I was right. It was a great feeling. Only now do I realize how misled I was. But, I can look back on that and know I did the best I could with what I knew.
Because I was such a goody two shoes, I would get lots of parts on the meetings and assemblies. Plus, all the other teens my age hated me. I don't blame them now. Things were smooth sailing for me till I was 17. In that year, my brother slowly got addicted to alcohol, unbeknownst to the rest of us. But what really ruined his life was the day that he was walking home from the mall, a man drove up and asked him if he wanted to watch a porn movie. He got in, and the guy raped him. I came home from work and found him on the couch. He cried in my arms for an hour. He was never the same after that. Of course, because he willingly got in the car, the elders investigated and formed a JC on my brother. I was told it wasn't "necessarily" for that. Of course, I eavesdropped on the entire thing. They told him among other things that he was no longer a virgin and finally got his "one on one" that he evidently wanted. He was a homosexual after that, got addicted to drugs because of the horrible memories. He wasn't DF'd then, he was DF'd a few weeks after my wife and I were married. Tragically, he would go to gay bars and look for catholics to witness to about Jehovah. He once thought he was anointed. After 3-4 years of this, he was getting desperate. He called me and asked if he could come and visit for a bit. Because he was DF'd, I told him he couldn't. 4 months later, he killed himself. While I am ok now, and I don't know if I could have helped him, I will have to live with the knowledge for the rest of my life that I turned my back on my brother simply because of a goddam cult. That tore the heart out of my parents, both of whom stopped attending meetings and disappeared from the JW world for a while. Lucky them. Of course, me being so pious, I didn't seek them out either, because they turned their back on "god". What an asshole I was!!
Of course, I was getting a lot of privileges. I married someone, believe it or not, who was way more "zealous" about JW then I was. We were married in our teens, (we all know why) I was a MS before I got married at 19, and started pioneering right after marriage. What a hellish start to our marriage. We were married on a Saturday, and went to the meeting on a Sunday. One brother looked at us and said "What are you all doing here?" But SHE wouldn't have any of it. She threw a fit when I suggested that perhaps she could pioneer, but because of work, I might not be able. She had problems before with her stability, and I took pity on her in a way. I wanted to rescue her. For sure, her life turned out better, but mine didn't for marrying her, as you will see ... Anyway, in short, thought I was a pioneer, appointed an elder at 26, assmembly parts all the time, it was never good enough for her. One thing I did wrong, and she would yell, treat me poorly, and give me the silent treatment. My typical schedule was FS 5 days a week for3-6 hours, then spend the rest of the evening and night cleaning buildings, get home after 11:00, work on talks, etc. Yet, she was never proud of me. She was the one who suggested Gilead to me, esp after listening to talks on the need to set "spiritual goals". I wanted to be a CO, but she wanted to go to another country, and what she wanted, she generally got. We moved from Florida to Michigan in 1995 to help out a congregation and ended up staying for 10 years there, suffering from a lack of work, but happy to sacrifice for god.
It would probably come as no surprise that after my brother killed himself, I changed a lot. As I look back now, that was the first time my gut told me, something isn't right here. It was so inhuman how I acted, and I was getting praised for it all the time, that I had done the right thing. Jon was clearly unstable, and in addition, I noticed there was a lot of mental illness in the congregation I was in. I made it a point to help them. Of course, I couldn't help too much with the borg propaganda. Elders get a hold of some of these articles, and the next meeting becomes a bad parody of Hogan's Hero's! So, I actually read up on bipolar, schytzo-effective disorders, eating disorders, depression, etc. I was soon relied upon as the only elder who understood, and that gave me a certain level of satisfaction. I would always tell these poor people "GET PROFESSIONAL HELP!!" They would call a couple of other elders on occasion, and get the "Pray more" speech. Sheesh!! Of course, I also see now that the whole borg lifestyle causes one to go nuts!!!
But the real change in my life was September 11, 2001. I watched over and over again. We all did. For the first time, I felt horrible at the thought that people were going to die like this all over the world at Armageddon. And then I caught myself!! Why would god do this? We mourn them now when terrorists do it, but we will be happy when god does it? I think that was the first day I became an American. I didn't push FS on the JW anymore. I would listen, I would help, but I wasn't going to make anyone do anything they didn't want to. I stopped being so damn suspicious of people "in the world". My own zeal was diminishing to. I never again was pushy with people when I knocked on their door. I didn't understand how if the preaching work was truly a lifesaving work, how it was a 5 year old can go to the door with a colorful magazine, and this is what a person must respond to if they are going to live forever? What if the person is an old grumpy Knorr disciple who turns people off!? Point was to me, we didn't send our best out in a LIFESAVING WORK?? And because they turned down a magazine, they are going to die. I knew that was wrong. But I didn't know how to identify my feelings and thoughts, so I let it go. I was getting my ego stroked a lot and was busy with elder stuff, and unfortunately, that kept me busy enough not to pursue this too much.
Oh happy day, we got accepted to Gilead! It was for the 119th class, from April - September 2005. By now, my marriage was one big pile of steaming kaka, and I thought that this would do the trick for her. She would have to love me now, we made it!! We spent half a year there, the course is 20 weeks, and you live as a bethelite, so you get morning worship, have to deal with the table heads, the bethel politics, etc. I got to see the business side of the whole damn thing for the first time. I got to sit through 20 weeks of bible prophecy. I thought it was going to be about us being trained on bible history, how to use even small books of the bible to help others. But they told us right up front that what we were learning wasn't really going to be useful in the field. This was to build our faith. "Build my faith in what?" I asked myself It was to "build faith" (i.e. brainwash) all of us into thinking that the bible, through "types and anti-types" prophesied the existence of the governing body, and even Knorr and Rutherford!! Yup, they are the prophetic parallels of Elisha and Elijah!! WTF???! I knew then. You know that sinking feeling you get when it hits, but you don't really want to believe it? I had that moment. It is FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE that the bible prophesied Rutherford and Knorr But everyone ate it up like pudding. Everyone was so convinced that "Jehovah" had picked these men, but I saw something else, the pettiness, the politics, the business side of things. The efforts to instill in you "Be happy in whatever hellhole god puts you in" because its gods work.. It has to be! He picked Rutherford and Knorr right? Can you believe I have a bible full of notes with the name "Rutherford" written over Elisha!!!!???? You can't make this shit up!
Toward the end of our stay in Gilead, we learned we were going to Cameroon. I will at another time describe more of Gilead, but suffice to say, it was at last a relief to know where we were going, not that I wanted to go, I was just being pulled in the gilead rip tide. My wife was so happy. Because of her mental instability, she deals with it by preaching and/or working till she falls asleep so as not to deal with things mentally and emotionally. This was perfect for her. Preach all day, cook, clean, sleep. Tada!!
We arrived in Cameroon on October 4 2005 I think. What a country! Great people. The government is the most corrupt in Africa though, and after the first couple of times I got pulled over by a cop looking for money before he let us go, I was thinking of swimming back to the USA. It was interesting to be discriminated against. My wife isn't white, so she wasn't, but I was. Its an eye opener to be sure ...
And now, the moment that brought me here. I was attacked twice in a period of 4 days in late November into Early December 05. The first time, I had to chase after a young 15 year old sister who was being chased by a crazy man with a knife. He went after me first, and attacked me, then the girl. I sent the girl home, and cutting to the chase, this guy fought in the middle of the street with a security guard for their lives. I turned to leave, and shocked myself, as there was a crowd of 40 unhappy looking Cameroonians, pointing at me and others, and no way to leave. Thankfully, an opening appeared, I walked through it, followed by 2 five year olds who just stared at me half the way to the missionary home. The second attack was even worse. Four days later, I was mugged in a taxi, my watch and wedding ring were stolen, and they hit me several times in the face. Finally, the guy in the back seat pulled a knife and swung at me, barely missing me, but cutting clean through my shirt! I then proceeded to coil and kick him, while at the same time opening the door and falling out on my back, simultaneously grabbing my service bag. (it was my ultimate Mission Impossible moment I even ran like Tom Cruise in the opposite direction) I got to the home, and my face was all swollen on one side, I had a concussion, it was bad. All in the home had real pity for me except for one, my wife.
After a week of physical healing, I found my nerves were more or less shot. I didn't want to be outside at all. SHE then got fed up with it and told me the following memorable quotes: "You are pathetic!" "Your faith is weak" and the kicker, when I told her I wanted to leave and go back to the USA, "Fuck you!" (be mindful I had never used that word with her, but my pious wife feels free to say this to me after I was almost killed in a sacred missionary home great!) I checked out of our marriage after the 'pathetic' comment, although the others put dirt on the grave. Anyway, we had to pay for our own ticket back, a total of $2000 and we arrived in March 1, 2006.
We stayed with my sister in law in Manhattan for about 3 weeks, then back to Michigan, where I am at the moment. Since December 1,2005 I have been planning my escape from a toxic marriage and a toxic cult. Because we gave up everything, we had no money, so it has taken several months to get to this point. But as of the time of this writing, I am a couple of weeks away. I am going next week to visit my dad and my mom, to make peace with them and beg their forgiveness. (they are going to get the full blown evidence of the real history of JW as well. Mom probably already knows and is on several ex JW sites if I know her well enough) In memory of my brother, I am planning on going to college and it looks like right now I will take something in psychology. I will get my family back, they all want me in their life, I have just been a blind asshole. I will make that up to them. I am pretty fortunate. My old friends in the borg are missing me from what I understand, but soon that will change. They have no choice but to hate me when I leave, so why should I care? They are a bunch of misguided people following misguided men with just enough knowledge of the bible to be very dangerous. The problem isn't their teachings, it is that they believe their own bullshit 100%!! They could just say that these are theories, but, I'm not holding my breath on that one.
After I got an apt and left, they came after me, refusing to take my letter Disassociating myself, and my wife and the elders met with me. The very next day, I lost my job that I had just got that allowed me to get my apt. What a blow! However, in the next 48 hours, I was able to calm down. It was tough seeing everyone come to me and be very emotional. But at the end of that week, I was able to get a better job, with a company car, gas card, internet, uniforms and company cell. Not bad huh? Satan really wants me out of the JW or something! Lol
Well, there was one more confrontation with the ex and the entire gang. They were convinced that I had to be nuts to want to leave JW "after all that the organization has done for me." Uh, yeah, that's how I felt to. I am out, enjoying my job, and living life again, living it for the first time with the freedom to do what I want! I still have the desire to be nice to people, to want to help people, but now if necessary, and I have it in my power to do so, I don't have to direct people to a cult, but rather, to help people to discover their own unique strengths and talents, even as I am still discovering mine.
I do believe anyone can have bitter experiences in life, but I hope that I will not be bitter overall. I am trying to take the good things I learned and apply them in my life. I wish for all who leave this fruity little cult to do the same. Here is to being the best you can be! Freedom indeed.