IronSharpensIron - Love for the Hate
I just wanted to share a perspective related to my experience with leaving the JW. At this point, I have been DF'd since I was 18. I'm 25, happily married with 2 fantastic children. After being miserably at odds with my parents and extended family, I've come to some realizations as follows.
I struggled with the conditional nature of my parent's love- talking to me until it bothered their conscience, then cutting me off. Sending gifts addressed to my children without talking to me. These sorts of things. In an effort to shield my children from this behavior, I ultimately made the decision to "reverse disfellowship" my parents and cut them out of my own life. They were not allowed to participate in my children's lives without my involvement. An absurd rule and decision to have to make anyway, by the way. However, during this time, I constantly had such mixed emotion as anger toward them for how they treat me, frustration at their complacency with the Organization/refusal to look at it objectively, and sadness that my children weren't able to know their grandparents. They are indeed blinded by the organization and lost in it entirely. My father being an elder, especially self righteous and indoctrinated. For this I pity them. They are essentially slaves at this point. Self imposed, yes. Frustratingly so. So fearful of losing their own relationships and positions in a world they want so strongly to be true that they would agree to whatever is required of them. In effect, sacrificing their son to maintain their purity. This is the reality of their life.
In order to assuage any guilt or responsibility of their own, they must see me as an enemy. Because the elders said I was. They must see me as an evil, angry, bitter apostate. In their eyes, my reverse disfellowshipping decision was just 'proof' of my own disposition they had been ingrained to see. I had just answered their "hate" with "hate" of my own. In effect, any effort I make to reach them for their own good was hampered by my own behavior.
As a side point, the guilt I felt from leaving was tied to my own fear of them being right. The evidence of the falsehood of the Organization is simple, compelling, and very real. It does engender some negative feelings toward the Organization itself. I believe these feelings to be well placed. However, for these feelings to be directly effectively, and to undermine the Organization's hold, I myself must be careful that I do not direct them at the individuals caught in it. They are victims as I was a victim. Any ill will I show towards them, puts up their guard, reinforces their own walls and strengthens the firm grip of this Organization.
My parents and these individuals must see that there is life outside of the Organization and that it is healthy, good, real, and heartfelt. The reality of this life is only worth leaving the Organization if it truly offers something greater than what the Organization offers. The Organization offers conditional acceptance and tentative love, expressed within the confines of a convoluted heirarchy. You are loved as long as you are seen as righteous, without flaws or failures. If you sin, you are no longer allowed access to their conditional love.
As an alternative to the reverse disfellowshipping, I have now chosen to meet my parents and any Jehovah's Witness with unconditional love. I don't have to disprove their beliefs any more than I have to disprove a Mormon's or other religions. The door to talk to my parents and for them to talk to me is always open on my end. Unconditionally. Ultimately this is what I wanted from them all along. Change could never be effected as long as I thought the way they did. Doing so only legitimizes their erroneous standpoint. Answering in their manner hampered my own progress and could not break through their behavior.
At this point, my parents still choose not to speak to me. I hope that one day their conscience is pricked by something they see. I hope to be there as I always had been, lovingly accepting of them as they are, ready to welcome them into the big, scary world.
Paul Grundy 2005 - 2021