All for the Kingdom

Here is my story about growing up as a Witness in New York. It actually starts before I was born. My grandmother became a Witness in 1957 and convinced my mother to become a Witness in 1958. My mother was raped by a man she knew who wanted to marry her and was convinced that if he had sex with her she would want him. Anyway, my mother became pregnant with me. She decided to keep me and marry my father. My mother was publicly reproved in front of the congregation because she did not scream for help as she was being raped. To this day I do not understand why my mother stayed in this religion after that. Anyway, to no surprise my parents divorced when I was 3 months old. I do not know my father. I believe he tried to see me when I was about 6 years old, but my grandmother would not allow it. I grew up as a Witness and was baptized when I was 12 years old in Yankee Stadium in July 1973. Since we lived in New York City, I would visit Bethel often and knew many, many people there. George Gangas, Jim Pellechia, circuit overseers, district overseers, many of them would come to our house for dinner.

I wanted to go to college, but that was discouraged. I know kids at the time that quit school because the end was coming. I grew up with so many lies. I truly believe it could have ruined my entire life if I did not get out. When I was about 18 or 19 I realized that this was not a "good" religion, that there was something terribly wrong. However, not to make my mother sad, I continued in a religion that I did not believe. I got married to a man who was raised in New York and served in Bethel for two years. Once we married, he left Bethel. We lived in New York. Our marriage was a disaster. He was not the right man for me. He was abusive. He was into weird and kinky sex with animals that he wanted me involved with. I had an affair with another man who was not a Witness just to get out of the marriage. I was disfellowshipped. I got divorced. Even though I knew in my heart that this religion was all wrong, I was still trying to please my mother. I married the man I cheated with and continued attending the congregation as a disfellowshipped person. I even tried to get my new husband to study and come with me to the Kingdom Hall knowing full well that I did not believe any of this. Because he loved me, he would accompany me and began to study.

In 1987 my grandmother was in a car accident and she spent three days in the hospital bleeding to death because she would not accept a blood transfusion. How crazy is that? And mostly, how sad. I was still disfellowshipped at the time. When I went to my grandmother's funeral, there were 500 Witnesses there and about 100 non-Witnesses. The 500 Witnesses just passed me by and did not offer their condolences because they were told not to. The other 100 non-Witnesses were totally shocked that they could come to someone's funeral and not offer their condolences to a grandchild that lost a grandparent. I still continued to attend the meetings. In one year I was reinstated. After two years of marriage, I left my second husband because I finally realized that I did not love him. I had married him because I was trying to do the right thing again and trying to please my mother. I finally gathered the strength to do what was best for me. I left the organization. I met I man I fell in love with a wonderful man who is not a Witness and we have been married now for 10 years and we with two beautiful sons. I am so grateful I had no children in my other marriages. The thought of raising a child in that religion is so scary to me. My heart goes out to all children in that religion right now.

I am finally living the life I wanted to live all my life. I celebrate all the holidays. I am not afraid to go into a church for a wedding, or a funeral, or a celebration. I believe that no one has the answer to everything. We are just human. I am hoping that whoever reads this letter will become stronger. You can get out. I did it. So can you.

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