No God for me, Thanks
I never really thought of myself as an Atheist.
Growing up, the only phrase I remember hearing at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses was “unbeliever”; yet in my wee controlled mind, I hadn’t linked the two together. I simply wondered what was so terrible about being an unbeliever? They’d eventually believe something, right?
As a child, I often felt something inside the walls of the Kingdom Hall were off; my intuition was strong then and stronger now. Even at an incredibly young age, I had this sense that people could absolutely be moral and decent without God’s favor. I’d interacted with genuinely nice do-gooders at school and in the neighborhood; yet, they didn’t attend meetings where I did. So again, I wondered: what’s the problem?
The problem is that no matter how pleasant worldly people can be, they simply aren’t Jehovah’s people. Period. And will therefore die at Armageddon.
My young, innocent, impressionable mind was constantly filled with apocalyptic images of doom (it’s no wonder why my favorite color is blood red). People were running wildly towards shelter to escape lightening, fire, death and destruction. While Jehovah’s people were calmly amidst the chaos- cool as cucumbers, protected by muscular hunky angels with beards.
Once I reached 16, I could no longer ignore the gut-jabs and blatant judgment. I didn’t understand how a deity could claim to be all loving, forgiving and benevolent while simultaneously rejecting humans based on their level of faith in him. Which to me, always seemed more selfish- erring on the side of malevolence and utter bullshit.
Falling in with these worldly ne’er-do-wells led to me drafting my disassociation letter- a written statement disclosing my desire to no longer be labeled a Jehovah’s Witness. A local body of elders mulled it over and I was subsequently disfellowshipped. Ousted. Banished. Shunned.
Under age and now homeless, I moved out to keep God’s name, congregation and my childhood home spotless; all because I had doubts… and pre-marital sex. I attended a few churches and waxed philosophy with people and books I wasn’t previously allowed to indulge in, and nothing seemed to fit.
I spent nine years trying desperately to piece myself together, only to throw all the hard work I put into myself away and crawl back to my abuser- the Watchtower Society, (WTS) aka Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It was September 11, 2001 and my darkest fears had come to fruition: people were running wildly, searching for shelter. There was fire, death and destruction all over the streets of New York and I was terrified.
The doctrines of a Doomsday Cult are deep-seated, especially for born-ins (those raised in the truth). Regardless of what I’d taught myself, and the beliefs I adopted about me during those years of voluntary exile, I was still sleeping with apocalyptic images from childhood every night. Add my orphan-hood in for good measure and it was enough to send me back into the Watchtower’s suffocating fold of faith.
I dove deep into everything I’d missed over the course of nine years and found myself wearing a JW nametag once again, happy to be reunited with my immediate family; an orphan no more.
Yet… the deeper I studied, the further I fell into a well of unanswered questions: is this shit for real? This…”primary doctrine” is really the foundation of their entire belief system? They say the earth is only thousands of years old, yet scientists state millions? When the words: “abstain from blood” were written, what did it mean back then?
I couldn’t stop the questions that begged to be answered from flooding my mind. After one failed marriage, due to religious differences (he wanted nothing to do with JWs), I sought therapy. Witnesses are encouraged to seek the counsel of the older brothers and the bible, but I needed more than that.
Session after session was spent tearing my belief system, and the calloused layers of skin protecting them, wide open. Aha! Just as my therapist suspected: “Your issues, dear, stem from your upbringing. You’ve not had anyone encourage you to be just as you are. It sounds like no one’s loved you for you.”
He loaned me books. Apostate books. Books I was instructed to never even touch. I devoured them and learned just what was behind the Watchtower’s curtain. Eleven puppet masters standing above millions of hollow-headed marionettes, just stringing them along. A publishing company built on labels and lies, hiding behind magazines of Godly devotion.
I was glad to be out again. My life, after leaving that second and final time in 2005, has been amazing. It is not shitty because it lacks theism. I attended personal growth seminars after therapy and healed a bit more. I found a wonderful man that brought me into his family of two snarky, smart kids, now young adults. I’ve had incredible life experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world outside those Kingdom Hall walls.
Perhaps what those still in the truth see when they look at me, is a woman shifting through her own metamorphosis- impossibly free from the doctrinal reigns of the WTS. I can assure you even when I hit inevitable lows in life, they’re better than any pseudo high I felt in the truth. I’ve always enjoyed the “Darth Vader” side of things. And those seemingly uncomfortable lows are opportunities to grow; finding the cracks where light is pushing through. These are times of growth, continued healing and ongoing alchemy at its finest.
Do I still love and miss my family? Every goddamn day. Almost daily the grief cycle takes hold, spinning me like a board game reel until I land on one of its seven stages, orbiting the wheel for the thousandth time. Especially since living in the 603 again; it is extremely difficult to heal in the environment that made you sick. I find myself sometimes dwelling in dark places. Losing touch with my immediate family due to the barking orders of eleven unsophisticated writers/editors of a worldwide publishing organization, not only throws me into dark lairs, but at times I’m floundering in galactic-sized, gaping holes.
It’s during these moments I learn to rely on me and that is powerful.
Atheism allows me to live shackle free, diving into the depths of my own truth; I am tied only to the beliefs I hold about my own inner strength and daring. That’s the shit that’s gotten me this far. And now I have a gorgeous charm around my neck (Invisible Pink Unicorn pendant) to remind me that I hold infinite sources within- my own superpowers- and they need not be tied to any theist faith. I can be a dog-loving, volunteering, homeless-feeding do-gooder all by myself!