Fear Mom and give her Glory
Just for the record, I was not raised in the Truth. I have very few memories of Christmas and Birthdays. When I was around 4 or 5 years old, my mother got a call from a Jehovah's witness. We'll call her Sister Bodner. My mother had been to many different churches in the past and was intrigued by the idea of living in a perfect world. Sister Bodner began studying the bible with my mother. My mother had a very difficult past, to say the least, and she was taught that being part of Jehovah's Organization would bring her true happiness and offer her protection from the world.
I was very young at the time and I wasn't in school yet. I remember when I would be playing with my toys, and Sister Bodner would come to the door, and immediately, I would get upset. My mother made me sit with her during the Bible Studies. Not too long after, my mother got a hold of the book "My Book Of Bible Stories" and would read stories from it at bedtime.
When I started kindergarden, my mother taught me things that I should not take part in, and even talked to the teacher about them. I was a very quiet child, and I think my mother knew that I might not be able to stand up for myself. But I feared disobeying Jehovah God & I didn't want to be destroyed at Armageddon, so I eagerly stood up for my beliefs.
As any child, I looked up to my mother since she knew so much. She told me that Jehovah believes in discipline, and children should honor their father and mother. I was spanked, slapped, and beaten often, however I believed that this is what Jehovah God agreed with. Numerous times, I had gotten beatings for not doing anything at all, but I figured it was probably for something that I did in the past.
One method that my mother used to teach me was by making the statement "Don't do it for me, do it for Jehovah". I heard this statement, probably about a thousand times. My mother knew that I loved god, and wouldn't do anything to displease him. I soon started doing lots of things for Jehovah. These included taking baths, eating my vegetables, going to bed, and cleaning up messes that my mother made.
All through elementary school, I stood up for Jehovah. During the national anthem & the Lord's Prayer, I was out in the hallway. I was determined to have a good standing when Armageddon came. The children liked me, and they respected me for my religious beliefs.
Meetings & Assemblies were always a bore. I would draw or sleep to pass the time away at these events. My father was against the idea of my mother taking me to the meetings. However, he would make me go sometimes, probably just to get me out of his hair. I remember my parents always argued the issue of taking me to the meetings.
I remember being so confused about everything. I remembered two Christmasses and I missed them. I still had a slight belief in Santa Claus. We were no longer putting up a Christmas tree. I remember one Christmas eve when I stayed up and waited for Santa Claus to come. My mother let me, and after midnight, she told me "see, there isn't a Santa Claus".
In 1987, something major happened. My father was caught for drunk driving, and the day after, he had quit his job. I've heard 3 to 4 different stories of events that took place, but I doubt I will never know the truth, since I was sleeping while events took place in the house. My dad was in bed for 3 days. I remember my mother reading watchtower magazines to him. Seeds were planted.
One of the turning points for me to question whether my mother was disciplining me out of love was when I received a particular beating at age 11 that will always remain forever in my memory. One Sunday morning, I had stayed home from a meeting with my dad. I had upset him about something related to my interest in Electronics. My mother came home from a meeting and had a big fight with my dad. I heard yelling, glass breaking, and my father yelling "Don't do that!" (apparently, my mother held a knife to my father. They were arguing about money. I was upstairs in my room, hiding under my bed, scared sh*tless. I heard my father go outside (probably into the garage) and my mother cursing and swearing out loud. I then heard her call me, "Get down here right now!!". I was stiff. "If you don't come down here now, I'm gonna come up and get you!!". I didn't know what to do. Since I was suppose to obey my mother and father, I went downstairs. I then received the worst beating I had ever received. I was punched, slapped, picked up by my hair & shirt, shaken, and thrown into the wall. I then received more punching and slapping. Afterwards, I hid in the basement, crying. I was so confused. I didn't know why I had received this beating. I hid down there for most of the day. I was scared to come out.
When I was 12, my mother told me to get ready for a meeting. My dad took sides with her. After I was dressed, I saw my father also getting dressed. He told me "I should go once". I was stunned! I hated going to meetings, but I had a love for Jehovah God. Now I had both my parents going to meetings. This was quite an unusual change. I then began regular meeting attendance. I started trying to accept that this was the best way of life.
I had just begun Junior High School. When I left elementary, all the kids liked me. That changed very quickly. My mother was always getting hand-me-downs from her friends for me to wear. These were clothes that were in style back in the early 80s. This was the 90s. I told my mother that I didn't want to wear these particular clothes. She told me that "Jehovah's people are suppose to stand out", and did I ever stand out! Grade 7 was the worst memory of my life. Word had spread that I was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I was then starting to be picked on. I knew that I was going through "hard times that will test my faith". I started getting kicked and punched on a regular basis. I started becoming very nervous. Whenever the teacher's head was turned, I was bashed in the head by a hard cover textbook. I couldn't turn around without being punched in the head, or kicked in the legs. I never fought back. Violence was wrong in Jehovah's eyes. I proceeded to tolerate getting beat up every day. I knew that I would be richly blessed for taking my stand. My nerves were starting to get to me. I would shake when I had to go to school, and would shake more when I was at school. I was at my bottom. My self-esteem was down, I was always shaking, and I was having a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, Christmas holidays came and I was able to take a break from it all. I never to this day told my parents what had happened.
Me and my dad had started studying with Sister Bodner's husband. Brother Bodner was looked upon in the congregation. He was considered a very wise brother. Things began to move quickly. I was pushed into being an unbaptized publisher. As an unbaptized publisher, you had to put in a minimum of 1 hour a month of the door-to-door preaching work, or else you would be considered irregular in the ministry. That's exactly what I did, I put in 1 hour per month. I wasn't a salesman, I was a repairman. I hated going door-to-door. I was still a very quiet person, and was never able to speak up.
I had made friends with a guy named Darcy in the congregation. He gave me some clothes that he had grown out of, and these clothes were still in style. In grade 8, I landed my first girlfriend! This was a truly wonderful experience. However, living on the fence created strange thoughts in my mind. I was determined to bring my worldly girlfriend into the truth, but I never had the guts to. She dumped me after 6 months.
There was one particular conversation I remember with this girl. My mother always told me to avoid the opposite sex. I was talking to my girlfriend on the phone, and my mother picked up. I told her that I was talking to one of my male friends (I can't remember the name I used). She then hung up and I continued talking. My mother picked up the phone again and said "You're talking to a girl! You lied to me. When you lie to me, you lie to Jehovah". I was never so embarrassed in my life. I was forced to end the conversation.
I soon met a second girl named Becky. Becky had been in and out of religions before. She eventually discovered that I was a Jehovah's Witness. She started studying the bible and attending meetings. This was incredibly strange, and I mentioned none of it to my mother. One day, Becky came to my house (after I specifically told her not to) and asked to see me. She told my mother what congregation she was in and my mother started her investigation work. She was upset, and wanted me to have nothing to do with women. To my mother, girls were evil, manipulative, and looking for sex. My mother found out that Becky was not baptized and hadn't been studying for very long, so I was advised to stay away from her. Becky did not continue studying the bible after I dumped her.
Meanwhile, the friend I had made in the congregation, Darcy, had fallen in love and got married. I never heard from him again. Also, some of the parents in the congregation advised their children not to associate with me, since I was bad association. This enraged my mother. I personally didn't really care.
I particularly remember one Saturday morning. I was supposed to go out on service with my mother. My mother had waken me up (I never set the alarm clock for these occasions). She told me to get dressed. I remained laying in bed. She uttered that famous line she always used, "Don't do it for me, do it for Jehovah". This particular morning, I didn't feel like doing it for Jehovah, and I stayed in bed. My mother came back in my room about 5 minutes later and told me "Let me put it this way, do it or else you're gonna get it!" This was total proof that my mother had been using the line "do it for Jehovah" as an excuse to do what she wanted. Since I had developed a phobia of getting struck, I went out on field service that morning.
Soon, I was pushed into joining the Theocratic Ministry School. I never had the courage to say "no" to anything the brothers pushed me into. In the Theocratic Ministry School, I learned how to speak in front of a crowd, and how to do research in the society's publications. Since I was attending meetings off and on for years, I discovered what people liked to hear. English was one of my better subjects, so I became very good at giving these 5 minute talks. People applauded on more than one of my talks. The funny thing is I was able to throw these talks together the day before the meeting. I always left assignments for school, and the meetings until the last minute. However people loved to hear my talks, even though I really didn't have much interest in any of what I was preaching.
Any people I made friends with in the congregation eventually moved out of the city. There was one that I particularly liked. His name was Thiery. This guy was cool. He listened to the band AC/DC. We always had a good time together. This was the only person I was comfortable with when I went door to door. I didn't feel pressured, and I actually placed magazines while working with him. Unfortunately, his family had to move down south where the need was great. They had to learn Spanish in order to move and preach the good word. I wasn't happy.
When I was in grade 11, I had switched schools. I decided to try a whole new way in this new atmosphere. Nobody knew I was attending meetings, and I stopped going out in the hall for the national anthem. It was strange and I felt guilty being in the room with all the students, standing for the anthem. This took quite a while to get over. I started becoming somewhat popular in school.
People in the congregation had started showering me with the question "When are you getting baptized?" I knew this was a major decision for me. I sat and thought about this many times. If I got baptized, but became disfellowshipped, my life would be bad. I figured I'd make the decision when I moved out on my own. However, things were getting difficult. I really didn't enjoy going to the meetings and my parents were both seeing this. My dad still wasn't baptized, but he and my mother were pushing me to progress in the truth. I was not happy. I was being socially accepted at school now, and things were going much better, but my home life was a mess. I couldn't phone girls with the fear of being caught. I was living a double life, and it sucked. I was starting to get depressed and suicidal at age 16. My father had threatened to kick me out of the house unless I follow Jehovah's ways.
My mother saw that I wasn't making any more progress in the congregation. She then got a younger brother to study with me. I hated this guy. His jokes weren't funny, and he was annoying. Quote my journal: "Mom made a f***ing promise of me behind my f***ing back. Marek suddenly calls and says we're studying the f***ing Watchtower tomorrow at noon. I told him I didn't know what was going on on Saturday because my dad hasn't talked to me in a week. Marek said that my mom told my dad already. F*** that pisses me off.....I want to kill myself to get the f*** out of this religion."
More from my journal: "Came back from the f***ing Memorial. Marek, the a**hole waved to me. I was actually in kind of a sh***y mood. I didn't wave back. (Brother) Bartosek said some sh*t that I couldn't understand. He insulted me by telling me I should work out more. That's my f***ing decision. When it was over and Me & dad were in the car, he gave me the rap about being more happy at the Kingdom Hall. How the f*** can I be happy if no one says hi to me and then all of a sudden, for a showoff a couple of people say hi to me. Get real. My dad's threatening me to take the car away.......He tells me Marek is a nice kid. F*** THAT! He's a selfish little sh*thead. He thinks of himself all the time. Where's my f***ing amp (that I let him borrow)? Where's my f***ing U2 CD and tape? I sure as hell am not throwing out my f***ing CDs cause he said so". As a side note, Marek had previously told me to throw away all my Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roses CDs. We studied the Watchtower in my room once, and I could tell he was uncomfortable, since I had a flag on my wall of all 4 Led Zeppelin members staring down at him.
At this point in my life, I started looking at myself. Why was I so unhappy? I began a lot of self-analyzing and trying to find the root of my incredible unhappiness. Why was I so shy around people? Why can't I do things on my own? Why hasn't my love for Jehovah and his organization brought me true happiness? While I was starting to make some self improvement, my eyes began to open.
I was still regularly attending meetings with my parents. Brothers were always asking me the same boring questions. "Hi! How are you? How's school? That's good!" and then walk away. Nobody seemed to have a genuine interest in me. I studied my mother when she attended these meetings. She did not act the same as when she was at home. Seems that she would take off the old personality and put on the new personality when she went to the meetings. Then when we were back at home, she'd change into her old personality again. Also, I was hearing lots of rumors about other brothers and sisters. This is something that I decided to be against - gossip. I decided that it can be very hurtful and rude. I also found that the preaching work was nothing but a game to see who could witness the most hours in a month. Isn't competition suppose to be wrong in this organization?
I started smoking cigarettes. Nobody knew. Before each meeting, I would go and brush my teeth so my breath wouldn't stink. My father was still smoking at the time. At the meetings, there was one person who I was talking to. This brother was actually nice, and had a bit more of an open mind. I actually kind of liked him. However, he developed cancer in the liver, and only had a few years to live.
One of the last times I was out on Field Service, I was working with an elder. He told me that I was doing excellent in my progress, and I was putting a lot of effort in. I really didn't understand what the f*** he was talking about. My meeting attendance was slipping. I was faking having lots of homework to avoid going to the meetings. It worked quite well!
In high school, I met & dated a girl who was the nicest person I've ever met. She was exactly what I needed. She helped pick up my spirits about life. At this time, I hadn't been to a meeting in months, and I was irregular in the Field Ministry. A brother had called me to set up a meeting with me and discuss why I hadn't been attending the meetings. I got worried. I hated hurting people's feelings, and I was either going to bullsh*t my way through this like I had been doing for so many years, or I could tell the truth. The girl I was dating gave me the encouragement I needed to tell the truth. She could tell that this was a big part of my depression.
Quote my journal: "Yesterday went really well with Rick and Ted. Rick looked like he was ready to cry. Ted told me if I don't stay with the religion, I'm toast.......I'm very glad I'm free from all that pressure that came with the religion."
I got a shepherding call from Brother Bodner. He started reminding me of all the wonderful studies that we had together, and the good times out in the field ministry. He said to give him a call so we could go out in the service again. He then proceeded to tell me that he loves me. Ugh. I hate when guys get emotional on me. Whether this was a guilt trip or him just being wimpy, I don't know and I really don't care.
I ended up living with my girlfriend about a year later. The time soon came when the brother who had cancer died. This was one of the few people who actually talked to me at the meetings. I had a very difficult time making a decision whether to go to the funeral or not. My girlfriend encouraged me to do so, and accompanied me.
At the funeral, my eyes were opened. I had discovered the truth! Many people snubbed me as if I was disfellowshipped. A few came to talk to me. All in all, I discovered one person who was actually "good". She asked me how I was doing, and if I enjoyed having long hair. Brother Bodner was also in attendance. It's hard to view someone as an average Jehovah's Witness when I've viewed them as an intelligent authority figure most of my life. It was difficult and I felt as if I was being put on the spot. He told me "All your friends are here. If you're not here, you have no friends". I'll tell you, I didn't have very many friends coming to converse with me.
As for the funeral talk, I didn't enjoy it. It started out very nice, talking about some of the things that this brother enjoyed. However, it turned into just another public talk. I got bored and let my mind wander. I recalled the feelings I had when I used to attend the meetings regularly. I clearly saw how unhappy I was amongst these people. I made the decision to never attend again, even at a funeral.
I've received another shepherding call & I noticed a pattern with Jehovah's Witnesses talking to inactive individuals. They love to bring up the past. I was again reminded of the wonderful meetings and all the great times out on field service. Personally, I look at the past as a learning experience and nothing more. Emotional attachments can fade with time. I was invited to the Sunday meeting. I never went.
The last time I was at an actual meeting was in 1996. My father had quit going to meetings at the same time that I did. Neither of us were ever baptized, and I believe that I made the right decision. I still believe in God, but I do not believe in organized religion.
Here I am today. The girl I was living with has left me. However she will always have a special place in my heart, for helping me overcome some of my worst fears. Thiery, the only good friend I had ever made, is apparently inactive, or disfellowshipped, and is living back in the city. My father is still smoking and not attending meetings. Sister Bodner and my mother no longer speak to each other due to some harsh feelings. My mother however, is still an active Jehovah's Witness, and it probably will never change. She has a lot of issues with her past and some therapy would probably do her some real good. However, she sees that "Jehovah's Organization" is the way to deal with all her past problems. I still own all my Led Zeppelin and Guns N Roses CDs. The phobia I had mentioned earlier of getting struck is real. I still have this problem. I have reactions from people who pose no real threat to me. However I have realized the cause of the problem, and I don't make much of a deal about it.
One thing that I had noticed with Jehovah's Witnesses around age 20, they meet one girl, fall in love with her, and marry her. Jehovah's Witnesses are discouraged to date in their teens, which I totally disagree with. Dating experience is one thing that I very much lacked, and I wish that I had more during my younger years. Since masturbation is a no-no in the religion, these young Witnesses are probably getting married right away, just to relieve their sexual tension. I don't blame them.
As for me, I have been doing a lot of self-improvement. My self esteem is very much higher than it was when I was a teenager. I've come a long way, and I'm very happy with myself. To me, loving yourself is far more important than putting your love in an organization. Jehovah's organization did the complete opposite of making me truly happy. I will always be improving myself, but as I do it, I find myself much more confident and happy. I still believe in God, but I don't believe in organized religion.
Sorry for making this so long, I had to get some things off my chest. I've never told anybody this story, and it was very difficult to bring it out after storing it away after so many years. Thank you for reading.
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