Submitted by MG following a phone conversation with myself
I was born into a JW family and for 18 years I lived a life of fear. A fear that still eats away at me even now. Even after 3 years of psychotherapy, which is not a cheap option?
I lived in fear of my Father who used to hit me a lot. I seemed never to be able to do anything right. And yet, he was an elder, someone who should have had the respect of the congregation. A leader and a fine example. However with his family, it was a different story behind closed doors. We dreaded the next time we upset him, or if he was drunk.
My earliest memories of fear, and total embarrassment, were in the Kingdom Hall when I did something wrong and he would slap me. Worse would be if we were taken out the back, then the violence would be much worse. You have to remember that this took place right in gods house, and in front of so called fellow ‘brothers and sisters’. But they were mute.
There was worse to come at home. My father’s temper had no reason to hide. Here I would be attacked with fists, a belt or even a stick.
Me – How did your upbringing affect your life, after you broke free?
After leaving the home and JWs (MG was never baptised) I got heavily involved in drugs. I loved my music and was really into raving – the freedom and escapism it gave me was great, and I got accepted by a family of people who seemed liked they loved and accepted me – albeit when I was totally off my face on Ecstasy, Speed and Marijuana.
I also took LSD, from which I had bizarre religious themed trips that were quite horrifying. This mixed with copious amounts of alcohol, meant that I finally crashed and burned, and ended up in rehab in Milton Keynes. I defaulted to familiar territory and the JWs up there gave me somewhere to live.
This lasted a year before my sister, who was still living at home, contacted me to say my father had started hitting my mother around again. It wasn’t good. So I moved back to Basingstoke.
Me – How did you cope for so long before starting therapy?
I didn’t cope very well. As well as the fear of dying I also had the instilled fear of “god’s wrath” for turning away from him which the JW’s class as a bad sin. That’s why I sought the comfort in drink and drugs – it helped me to escape. In time I was the diagnosed with depression which I have suffered with for over 5/6 years. I suspect that the depression started before the drug taking, probably through the years of physical and mental abuse I suffered from my father.
Also the biggest problem that surfaced was the sexual abuse I suffered from a JW babysitter! I shut that out of my memory for a long time, and this only came out from my counselling.
Me – How has it affected the way you’ve brought up your own children?
I’ve allowed my kids to have the freedom that I never had growing up. I was always good at football when I was young, but my Dad ripped up my invite to play for Basingstoke Youth FC. That and I always wanted to do Judo. I’ve let my kids do whatever they have wanted to try. I will even allow them to have whatever religious beliefs they feel comfortable with. Except the JWs!
How did I make progress?
To kind of finish with how I broke free. I met my soul mate, whilst at college where I was trying to get to university to change my career. This was after backpacking Australia for a year! An awesome experience that restored my faith in humanity, that however is another story. You see, when I left school, my father forced me to go into the building trade. He used to preach to me that ‘the earth will need rebuilding after Armageddon’. However, after 10 years of building, bricklaying, roofing, and ground works I decided to change careers.
So back to the most positive change in my life. I was instantly attracted to this vision of beauty, and after a date in the local and only nightclub, became very fond of her. She was a free spirit that had strong beliefs of a spirit world. She helped me challenge my views on various spiritual matters. Our relationship grew stronger and I moved in with her when I started university. She consistently encouraged me to challenge my views on life and spirituality, and actively supported me in kicking my remaining drug habit. I used to smoke marijuana regularly. She also helped me in facing my depression, I went into some very low places but she was always there to pull me through them. But my partner and soul mate also actively encouraged me seeking psychotherapy, which has unravelled a lot of the reasons behind my troublesome life. She had a daughter from a previous relationship, who is 19 now and to be honest our relationship became very strained especially through her teenage years.
I finished my therapy sessions just a week ago. I am at a new era of my life; I am also in the last few weeks of my anti depressants. I can proudly have not taken hard drugs for 9 years, and in that time I have not touched a drop of alcohol either. I have my own family to thank for all that. After all that they have had to put up with me.
I also attribute my journey into the Martial Arts. This has helped me understand the violence and anger I was brought up with, that also became a part of me.
Therapy and counselling has helped come to terms with the physical and mental abuse I suffered from my father, and the brainwashing that the JW’s instilled in me.
Recently I attended a funeral at a Kingdom Hall where I was approached by two elders. After politely putting them in there place for trying to lure me back (at a funeral). I pointedly asked them why they did nothing to stop the physical abuse and reign of terror my father held over my family and I when I was growing up. Their response is shocking. They admitted that they too were scared of him. But because he had now moved on, he was someone else’s problem.
Knowing MG personally, this account has a great deal of sadness for me. But thank you MG for sharing – Chris