There is a saying that Jehovah’s Witnesses like to use when it suits them. ‘You can take the person out of the ‘Truth’, but you can’t take the ‘Truth’ out of the person.’ This was supposed to engender the idea that this ‘truth’ is just so fundamentally correct that it stays with you as if it is a beneficial thing. The ‘truth’ I’m speaking of is their version of correct spiritual teaching. In reality this saying actually describes how difficult it is to remove the cult personality and the cult reactions to life’s situations. It takes time to form this cult identity and over the years as a Witness this cult version of yourself will be reinforced and strengthened over and over by the interminable hours spent at meetings (similar to church services), field service (public preaching or cart manning), assemblies and conventions (bigger church services) and only associating with other Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In my view you will probably have to spend just as many hours and far more to reverse the indoctrination, and let your genuine personality assert itself. While you are healing and recovering you will be very confused, the only way I could deal with this confusion was to research, read and study everything that was causing my confusion. That doesn’t mean that as soon as you have overturned every wrong belief of the Witnesses you are all better. Instead it is the beginning of the recovery process, which is akin to the grieving process. Your emotions will be all over the place, give yourself time there is no quick fix or short cut to healing.
While I was in this state of confusion I would stare at my reflection in the mirror. This may sound strange – but honestly I was trying to find out who I was. If I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness then who was I? It was a legitimate question and I didn’t have an answer. You get to know someone when you talk to them and make eye contact, so this was probably what I was doing to myself. Slowly my genuine personality started to show itself and now instead of suppressing it I could just let it be.
It may sound utterly simplistic but list the thing you like to do, the things that make you happy and over time you build on that, you try new things and discover the person you were meant to be. I’m the introverted type and I gravitate to quieter activities, I can now celebrate my low need for social interaction. As a Witness you were forced to be extroverted, going up to and talking to people uninvited, giving those ‘talks’ on the platform in the form of conversing to another sister. It seemed to me that my natural inclinations were incorrect and I had to change to fit the ideal of being a ‘good Witness’. Now that could all change, I could actually be myself.
I have recently discovered a love for gardening. Previously it was just ‘work’ I had no time to do it and I ended up with dead plants because I would forget to water them. Now I am thoroughly enjoying it, you would not believe my excitement when I saw those little bright green shoots showing themselves! I was so proud 😀
The person you had to be to fit in with the Witnesses you can now discard, you can celebrate your true self and really get to know yourself all over again, learn and grow and step out of your comfort zone. As a ‘born in’ that is a huge ask because you weren’t given the chance to form a genuine personality apart from the cult identity, but we humans are incredible beings, we can survive the un-survivable, forgive the unforgivable and make better lives for ourselves upon the ashes of the last one. So the next time you look in the mirror, look yourself straight in the eyes and commend yourself for how far you have come. Leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses is worthy of a salute and no matter where you are in your journey of healing, I salute you.