It was 1965. My sister has just had my niece. Some sister from her area had started studying with her. And she thought it was a good thing for me to try it out. I was barely 8 years old. She never had stayed with it because my brother in law put his foot down and she probably got scared and stopped once it got a little heavy and demanding. But I remember going to some Assembly in Oakland right after Denise (my niece) was quite young. But my sister (Donna) was quite impressionable. She probably would have been still a witness if she didn't rock the boat.
My sisters are 13 and 14 years older than me and were out of the house and married and so it was just myself and my mom because (Bob) my biological father flaked on her and left. Surprise! So the organization provided a family structure that was lacking in my family. And wait! There's more! Being born not like all the other children, I didn't have any friends until probably junior high school. So, No Bob, and no friends and guess who's going to knock on your door? So I always have felt quite alone and the organization filled the void and pain that never got expressed. As long as you played by the rules. And I did.
I pioneered 1 and 1/2 years in Idaho. I went to ALL meetings. I was starting Bible Studies right and left. As soon as I got my literature, I studied it. My life was filled with meetings every night of the week. Until I couldn't take it anymore and I just exploded and left one day. I was disfellowshipped for having a bad attitude and being unrepentant. How dare they ask me such itty bitty questions like How do homo's do it? I tell you I wanted to slug him right there. Anyway, there you have it, like it or not!
I find that suicide is very common among witnesses, because they don't give you a healthy way to deal with the real issues, but just kind of sweep them under the carpet making everything "go away." Also, I was born with a neuro tube defect called Spina Bifida which means I have a spinal cord injury from birth, similar to Chris Reeves but him not being born with it. And the school system at the time didn't let me attend because they thought that the other kids would "get it". Talk about down right ignorance!
We moved out of the area for 1 year and came back like a transfer so I could attend public school. And elementary school kids are the worst! It was not a bonding experience from 2nd to 6th grade, let me tell you! Children with a disability back than were doomed.
I think for me because of being raised a witness, and always having to fight my gay feelings along with the shame that comes from the world and the witnesses and the reinforcement of that one day took it's toll. I had told them I had had these feelings (which, in my opinion, was telling them too much) Also, this was in the late 70's and gay people were still getting started with fighting for rights and being out, etc., wasn't that "ok". But I can remember SF being "WILD" and you could get sex everywhere and anywhere. Luckily, I didn't get caught up in it and get infected. But I have some pretty wild stories that I could share sometime.
The brothers gave me 1 year to repent and I didn't and was so cocky at the committee meeting which is where they wanted to know all the gory details of how homos do it. But for years I floated and had trouble relating to society and life and making new friends because I was grieving. And then I met my therapist which has been an eye opener. I was disfellowshipped Sept. of 1978. I can't believe it's been over 20 years.