Poetry of loss

There was a time that the feeling of not belonging was an ever present tangible thing in my life. A product of a destructive, violent and fearful home I retreated into myself, the only safe place I could find. My stereotypical protectors were too caught up in their own pain and dramas to be concerned with an overly shy little girl who had a menagerie of imaginary friends to make up for genuine human interaction.

My mother, raised a Jehovah’s Witness of course taught me that it was the only way to believe and to live. Seeing the results of not obeying Jehovah in her life, it very forcefully showed me that if I was going to get through this life, my only choice was to ‘make right’ with Jehovah. So I did.

I did everything I was supposed to, I climbed those slippery rungs of acceptance for years, until finally I had reached the pinnacle. Even though the rest of the world in general didn’t understand or accept me, my tribe was in that congregation – or so I believed. When I was quiet I knew I wasn’t happy, but I put that down to my depression and tried to just put it aside. I spent a great deal of time alone, even though I had friends and occasionally went out like a normal young adult, I still spent much of my time in my head. My safe place, constructing whole worlds, families, friendships and really if you come down to it – acceptance. I couldn’t forge it in the real world, so I fabricated one in my mind.

Who knows what those years of living in my head did to me – I do know it stunted my maturity to some degree, though I’m not entirely sure if it is the only cause. My abusive home probably played a part in that too. Being denied acceptance creates this unending need to find it. Yes, my mother accepted me, but I was an extension of her, I was more her confidant and support than a young daughter. My father didn’t accept me, he had rejected me at birth and even years later when I foolishly tried to gain his affection as a teenager he still rejected me. It’s not he left the family – on no, I think he did something worse. He stayed and made our lives a living hell.

When I gained acceptance with the Witnesses there was a brief time of ‘happiness’ some adulterated version of happiness that you get when you feel you have found belonging. At least there I wasn’t the only one in the class not celebrating Christmas, or the only one who didn’t celebrate her birthday. I did have to conquer my shyness and instead of learning to love how I am, shyness and all, I had to force myself to talk to strangers, give talks on a platform in front of an audience and be ready at a moment’s notice for demonstrations. Even with my fear I accomplished this and really believed that Jehovah was helping me.

Fast forward a bit and I’m sitting in Church listening to hymns being sung that are vastly different from what I was taught to sing in the Kingdom Hall. As I listen, tears sting my eyes because I can remember standing at the Kingdom Hall so acutely that I almost smell the wood polish. How many times did I cry silently during prayers because I couldn’t understand why I was so depressed? Of course I know now what was wrong. How could I possibly live a happy life indoctrinated in a cult? How many times did I beg Jehovah to please help me? Did he, or was it all in my head?

What I do know is that I still have an emptiness from what I lost, or perceive I lost. This certainty of belief, this certainty of my place in the world. Now I have very little, if any certainty when it comes to spiritual matters. Atheism doesn’t fill my void, it doesn’t answer my ‘why’s’ and ‘who’s’ so I look again to heaven.

I hold the Jehovah’s Witnesses responsible for much harm in this world, over many years. Many have suffered at their hands far worse than I. Giving people a false sense of belonging, filling the space in their hearts with all their counterfeit spirituality. Taking my trust, and abusing it – again, just like my parents.  Since leaving, that space has being emptied, and now I often still feel like there is something missing inside. Could I compare it to a missing limb? You know it used to be there, but it isn’t anymore, but you still feel the pain and feel it itch. You dream of it as if it’s still a part of you.

An illustration I remember from the platform will help me bring this to a conclusion. He explained that children’s are like blank white walls, if parents don’t write on them, everyone else will, implying ‘bad’ graffiti of every kind. My ‘blank wall’ is that empty space and I’m terrified of nonsense and lies being scrawled on it. I’m determined to not be gullible again, or not be an accepting little fool again, but at the same time my blank white wall sears my eyeballs for all I don’t know and all I don’t have.

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Vows CAN BE revoked

In  THE WATCHTOWER (STUDY EDITION) APRIL 2017 there is an article entitled “What you vow pay”. Below is an extract from that article paragraph 13:

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When I first read this paragraph my response was pure annoyance at the Governing Body’s arrogance. Nothing new there though, their ego’s need their own zip codes.

Where to begin? According to the Governing Body there is no way to undo a dedication vow. Really? What about when someone converts to become a Jehovah’s Witness? Let’s say they were baptised into another religion and in order to clear their way they are advised to write a resignation letter to their old faith to show they are genuinely separating themselves from ‘false religion’, so – when its suits the Governing Body someone CAN undo a dedication vow as long as the vow wasn’t to ‘Jehovah’s spirit-directed organization’. Very convenient.

If someone was married as a minor would it be valid? Even if they stood there in a child size wedding dress or tuxedo and clearly said ‘yes’ or ‘I do’ at the appropriate time, would it be valid? OF COURSE NOT. No-one in their right mind would expect that child to stick to such a vow. Everyone knows they are far too young to understand such a long term contract, and in fact the wedding in it’s entirety would be invalid. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been strongly encouraged to get baptised at young ages, early teens is the norm, but baptisms from as early as 6 years old is not out of the ordinary. How can these baptisms be valid? Many of these Witnesses will tell you they were pressured into getting baptised, or simply did it to get approval from their parents. One I know personally was threatened with being kicked out of her home if she didn’t get baptised. How are these baptisms genuinely presenting themselves to God?

Let’s get to the reason why the Governing Body are giving out this information to the congregations. Clearly enough have asked about their baptisms being invalid, perhaps for the very reasons I’ve outlined above. This article is to make clear that no matter when or what coercion they have been under, their baptism stands. You owe the Organization your pound of flesh no matter what you may say years later. It’s just another way to enforce that complete control they have over their members, a control they fiercely maintain.

Why is it assumed that someone who wants to annul their vows have TIRED have serving Jehovah? What if they discovered they had been lied to? That their trust was completely betrayed, that their consciences were burning with anger or ashamed at being used by a corporation to further the greedy aims of a few men in their ivory tower? I did not tire of serving God – I refused to continue serving the Governing Body and their Organisation, but as we know the Organisation and Jehovah are the same thing to the Governing Body and their faithful subjects.

I decided to disassociate so they would know without a doubt that I was no longer one of those subjects. That resignation letter was me revoking that vow, because I refused to be dedicated to a man-made organisation for one more day of my life. Though the Witnesses will readily tell you the baptism vow is made to God, there is a second part to that vow that is to a ‘spirit-directed organisation’. The contract is with a multi-million dollar corporation NOT to God. Since employment contracts can be cancelled with a resignation letter, or simply quitting the company and not returning, a contract with the Governing Body’s organisation CAN BE REVOKED.

No matter what the Governing Body may bleat about, you have the free will and intelligence to decide whether your vow was given willing and not under ANY false pretences or under pressures of ANY kind and if you decide your baptism was coerced then your baptism is VOID. It is VOID. The Governing Body has NO HOLD OVER YOU. REJECT THEM for the charlatans they are. You owe them nothing. NOTHING.

Trust issues…and then some

It’s been awhile since I wrote and there is good reason for that, I’ve been processing an awful lot of information and trying to form my genuine ‘uninfluenced’ opinion. Which believably is really difficult when you have been raised in a very narrow fundamentalist way.

When I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses I had zero interest in joining a new church, but there was something that I honestly missed. The community, the feeling of belonging – and a church appeared attractive in achieving that again. I wanted to go slowly, to just get my feet wet and see what it was all about. Undeniably I got a bit swept along, and ended up having to step back and take a hard look at where I wanted to go. Who I wanted to be.

This is not to discuss my spiritual journey and what I believe now…that is a work in progress, I wanted to discuss my deep seated trust issues and perhaps they are your issues too. Overall a church is lead my men to some degree, many are incredibly sincere individuals, genuinely just trying their best to follow their God, many others though are misled themselves and some are plain fanatical.

How do you navigate through all of that without completely losing your way while on your own journey? What has helped me is putting down what my core beliefs are, these are not even the doctrinal/spiritual beliefs, but the stuff that involves love, morals and integrity. That is essentially what I am building on, what adds to it, grows it, or strengthens it is what is kept, all the rest is considered, and discarded if necessary. My realisation is that being completely honest about how I feel and think on things is of more value than just following rules.

Will I be able to just join a church and be completely happy? Maybe not, it might take me years to finally find my ‘church home’ but in all of it I will learn and I will grow and I will meet some of the most amazing people and their experiences, personalities and stories will only add to the colour of my life. Though I may not agree 100% with everything they believe that doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate them for the people they are.

Learning to trust again is a long drawn out process, and to be completely honest I am certain that I will never be able to trust a man on a platform ever again. It won’t matter how spiritual he is, or how learned he is, because I was so badly lied to once I will always keep my ‘exit’ light on just in case I need to get out. Organized religion is unfortunately run by imperfect men, no matter how sincere they may be they can’t get it perfectly right, I cannot expect them to either. We were taught as Witnesses to trust implicitly what the Governing Body said, we were also taught to trust the elders as our shepherds and trust their judgements even when it was so clearly and obviously a wrong call.

I think that with this training to trust so completely when we leave that ‘button’ is still there and needs to be crowbarred out of or brains because in trusting another so completely we are utterly not trusting our own consciences or reasoning. Imperfect men cannot be implicitly trusted as if they will never do anything to hurt us or always know what is best for us. How can they? How can we? We can only do our best and give each other understanding or forgiveness when things go wrong or advise is incorrect.

With growing up in an abusive home I saw my mother beaten terribly by my father when I was very young child. I swore to myself then that if my boyfriend or husband hit me, even once, I would leave him. No questions, no time for apologies, I would pack my bag and I would be gone, any children involved they would come with me. That was it, it was my line in the sand. Step over this, its over, I don’t care how much I love you. That is a pretty serious promise to make at 6 or 7 years old, but I was dead serious. I never wanted to be in the same position as my mother, crawling on the floor trying to get away from my fathers fists.

Obviously I did tell my husband about this promise and he completely agreed with me. He would help me pack if he ever done anything like that. He had seen some awful stuff and he would never raise his hand to me ever. We have been together for nearly six years now and not once has he ever raised his hand to me. With consistency I have learned that I can trust him in this. Does that mean he has never hurt me? No, he has, I have hurt him too – but we have forgiven each other and learnt from it and thankfully grown closer together.

When it comes to spiritual guidance and shepherding that is on a level that requires far more accountability, but at the same time we have the ultimate responsibility for our own beliefs and actions. When you are finally free to make your own decisions don’t just give it up. No matter where you are in your journey, be true to yourself, be honest, even if its hard to hear or understand, we really do need to like ourselves and embrace our own experiences so that we can be in a healthy place to learn to trust again. I suppose what I’m trying to say is you need to learn to trust yourself again first before you can learn to trust others. th[5]

We shouldn’t be looking for someone to tell us what to believe or think. We need to do that for ourselves now, and yes, its difficult when you first start in this because we are so used to being told what is right or wrong. We have to step up to the responsibility to ourselves to start making those decisions, what is acceptable and what is not.

This is turning into a much longer post than I thought – to close off, something I heard recently that really rang true for me was this – love of God is what has caused some of the worst atrocities known to man, crusades, inquisition, terrorism – instead we are told we should love our neighbour, which means everyone, we should love our fellow human beings, and that is what is being forgotten about in all the ‘love of God’ thinking. What about love for our fellow human beings, and giving them respect and dignity? Isn’t showing love for our neighbours how to show love of God?