Disfellowshipping or excommuniation –
Jehovah’s Witnesses practice something they refer to as ‘disfellowshipping’ this is something they use to control their congregations by fear. As someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness and who has been disfellowshipped allow me to please explain what happens to you once you are disfellowshipped.
I was brought up as a Witness* and left when I was in my early thirties. Unlike many ex-JW’s I didn’t walk away from it, despite many seemingly unanswerable questions, I was excommunicated and treated like a criminal. This meant that all of the friends that I had grown up with over the years of being a JW were now no longer permitted to have any contact with me. I couldn’t contact them and explain my side of the story (they wouldn’t take my calls). It meant my immediate family were to no longer have any communication with me (not even via email or text message).
*you can read my story in full here
Now credit to my folks, they allowed me to stay in their house as, due to a divorce I had lost my own along with everything I owned after 6/7 years of marriage to an upright christian sister (yeah right).
Now unless you’ve been through a divorce you cannot understand what it is like, you go through a mourning process as if someone close to you has died. In my case my ex had two kids from a previous marriage who lived with their biological father, but I still loved them as my own.
I mention this as I want you to appreciate how depressed I would have been. I had lost my house and my marriage. I was still working but was obviously not in the best frame of mind. I had a friend and his name was Vodka.
Then I met someone. I could talk and she would listen, we became friends and the rest is history. I was getting on with my life. But this wasn’t what the Jehovah’s Witness plan allowed. Oh hell no, you can’t be happy after you’ve left them! I had had many accusations thrown at me by my ex so they had to act on them, she was of course out for blood. Plus the ‘committee’ were on a witch hunt and I was the target. I never got on with any of them really and none of them knew the real me. I attended the first meeting as I was misled but refused the second one as I knew the outcome already.
(Note; none of the buffoons had any legal or educational qualifications so were never in a position to help – which is surely what Jeebus instructed them to do right?).
So that was that.
My family, my friends, everyone I knew were erased in that moment. Imagine falling from an aircraft a mile up without a parachute that’s kind of how it felt. That inevitable feeling of imminent death.
But it doesn’t come. Well it didn’t for me because I had someone who cared for me. Who encouraged me and helped me to find the answers to those unanswerable queries I mentioned before.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Despite moving on, being social awkward, making a few friends but none I am really close with. I have moments of dark depression and loneliness. These appear at random times and vary in veracity. Sometimes I can mentally kick my ass and get on with it, but when I am low because of illness or whatever, it gets harder. Being disabled doesn’t help much either.
These moments are when you need to speak to a parent, sibling, or mate over the phone or over a pint down the Dock and Duck. But you have no one. I don’t anyhow. I am a social outcast who lacks the skill to befriend. Don’t get me wrong, I have over 100 friends on Facebook! But aside from my wife none I am close to. I’ve put it out there a few times about meeting up for a coffee or a beer. But no one ever responds. I know folks have their own lives and are busy. I know too I am a very vocal Atheist, perhaps too vocal. But I care. Why should anyone have their heart ripped out twice?
So I admit it here (though I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore) I am 42 years old. I am married to a woman whom I love very much. I have five lovely children and……..I am painfully lonely.
I watch those films where a guy meets up with 4 of his buddies who he’s known since school and they go on a road trip and get drunk have a right laugh, gamble, drink, sky dive etc.
I’ve wanted that since I left school! I couldn’t then because of the cult’s restrictions so lost all contact. I couldn’t befriend workmates, because of the cult’s restrictions. Then they took all that away from me (though I am glad to be out trust me).
But they left behind a dysfunctional social outcast. Not that I have a social life.
I get up, I take my medication, some days I can leave the house. Most days I stay in my bed.
I sit and wonder what is the point?
I read to keep my sanity.
There’s that big question mark. What’s the point?
Honestly, if my Wife and kids weren’t here I wouldn’t be.
Even then I have my moments.
Because for all eternity we hold the hand of the person who brought us in to this world, who loved and cared for us, sacrificed much and yet will no longer have any contact with you.
So the wound is an open one, and the pain continues. The anger rises, the frustration takes a grip, but overall that feeling of utter rejection and self loathing permeates your very being.
All because a printing company decided that this control method, never mentioned in their bibles, should be adopted in 1952.
I am thankful for my wife, best friend and soul mate for being there.
Learn more about the Jehovah’s Witness practice of disfellowshipping here: