I was raised as a loyal dub since birth, taught the religion by my mother who is a strong supporter of the WTS. My father had been inactive since before I was born. I never questioned anything I was taught and I memorized by rote what to say to anyone who asked me any question. Teachers and classmates all took my answers without questioning, heck I bet they didn't even understand what "pagan" was, neither did I, yet the word flowed off my tongue regularly.
When I was ten years old I started giving talks and everyone showered me with praise over what a good girl I was. Isn't that what every child needs, recognition and love? A year later I became an unbaptised publisher. I remember feeling really good when I placed something, not because someone was reading the literature but because it showed how well I had learned my lessons. Everyone praised me again, mom would buy me a treat at the store. I got to mark down the placement on my time slip and I was proud when I got to hand it in! I wouldn't listen to any criticism of the society, I didnt want to hear about any scandals I knew it was all lies because they told me it was all lies.
I started to think I should get baptised, but dad put his foot down, he didn't think I was old enough to make that decision. I was furious how DARE he put my eternal life in jeopardy. Just thinking of it now I love him all the more for not letting me make what would have been the biggest mistake of my life. A couple of years later when I turned 16 I thought it was time to broach the subject again. This time dad sat me down and showed me things the WT had gone back on, organ transplants for one of them. He told me that if I got baptised I should be prepared to do whatever they say at the time no matter what. He showed me the change in vows that would have me be loyal to the organization. At the time it didn't have much of an impact on me, I knew what I wanted and what did my father have to say that could possibly stop me. Now looking back it has much more of an impact. But mom was actually a bit uneasy. I thought she would be happy for me. I was genuinely pissed off and confused. But I decided okay one more year. I think she was in the end convinced that dad had someone persuaded me not to. I didnt' know what was wrong but I was starting to not feel as faithful as I used to. My heart wasn't in it but I didn't realize why. I cried through the entire baptism talk, it wouldn't be the last time. I knew I was supposed to be like those candidates but I didn't feel like them.
I got heavily involved with an online forum community on a topic of interest to me. For the first time it put me in contact with a lot of worldy people on a social scale and I befriended a lot of them. I started getting very depressed but I didnt understand what was wrong. An online buddy confronted me about it and I finally admitted to him that after years of being taught that it was a (bad) choice, I thought I might be gay. He was the most understanding and kind person I had met to date. He told me he truly cared about me and he was there for me. He helped me talk about my feelings, he never judged me. He loved me for who I was. I was a wreck. I had never been raised to consider this could happen to me and I was at a loss how to figure it all out. I finally worked up the courage to talk to the owner of the forum I was now a moderator (and later an administrator) of. I thought he would tell me I was wrong, that I didn't understand the implications of what I was saying. That I was just a stupid confused kid. I thought he woudl push me away. But he didn't he cared about me, he was concerned for me. He wanted to help me. He helped me talk about my feelings. He never told me what to feel. He never told me what to think. He never gave advice unless I asked. I wanted him to tell me if I was gay, he told me it was something I had to figure out for myself.
I was depressed and angry when I finally started visiting sites for gay youths. I knew it was 'wrong' to visit these sites. But I was desperate for someone to talk to that knew how I was feeling. Every day I would visit these sites and come away saying that I could never live a lifestyle like these people, that it was wrong, that I just needed to figure this out and then I could block it out. Over a period of a few months I started to identify myself as bisexual. It was easier that way. I could justify the feelings I had without having to change anything. I could still end up married and never have to tell anyone I like girls. I started coming out to my online friends. For once I was truly happy because I was accepting myself. I started visiting gay JW sites, but only ones that were about staying in the organization. But I began to realize I was disagreeing with things I read there. I was still visiting the gay youth forums and the material I read at the JW sites was contradicting the other material I read. It never occured to me I would quit being a witness, I always thought I could work it out.
I was going to explode soon if I didn't get some positive feedback in real life. Encouraged by the reactions I had found online I came out to a close school mate. She totally accepted and supported me. I started questioning if I even like guys at all. I started researching my past and things made sense more and more to the point that I started coming out as gay. It wasn't long before I faced another crisis, to tell my best (JW) friend. I took him aside one day and decided to come clean. Not only did he accept me unconditionally but he kept quiet as well, just like a best friend should. I have hope for him, he's not nearly as much of a loyal dub as everyone seems to think. If you're still religious on some level, pray for him.
School was out and I was in crisis. I had for the first time in my life started to rely on friends. I had always been independant but I realized that now I needed other people to survive. We went on family vacation, a lot of driving. I wanted to escape, I just wanted to die. I got in trouble for being grumpy. I was supposed to be on vacation having fun. In my mind I relived the last year. I was always thinking. Thinking so deeply all the time. I could never escape my own mind no matter what. I just went over and over the arguments in my head.
I spent another baptism talk in tears, this time with the knowledge that I was unchangably gay and unsure as to where this left me. Mom tried to find out what was wrong. The only thing I could think to say was that if I told her she would hate me. She asked me if I had done something wrong and I said no. She asked if I didn't want to get baptised anymore and I said I still did, I did I just wasnt sure how that would ever work out.
When school finally went back in I was never so glad to see my friends again. I felt so lucky to even be alive after how horrible I had felt in the summer. I sat around, the computer was my lifeline. I was told I was lazy. I should be working. I spent too much time on the computer. I should study more. I tried not to snap back. I tried to rationalize that no one knew how close I was to loosing it. No one truly knows even now.
I finally accepted being gay. I decided there was no way I could stay in the organization. I decided to come out to my father. I thought he would curse me out. I thought maybe he would throw me out. I thought maybe he would out me to my mother. I never expected to be loved and accepted. I hatched a plot to get away to school after I graduated and presented it to him. He embraced it and a seed of hope was born. I knew a dorm lifestyle was not for a witness, I didn't plan to be one. We carefully covered everything up from my mother.
I finally decided it was time to tell her not only that I was gay but that I no longer wanted anything to do with her religion. I didn't want to go to meetings anymore and hear myself spoken of like an abomination. When I told her she reacted coldly at first. Days later it devolved into hysterics and screaming fits of how I was throwing away my life for nothing. I was careful not to show my contempt for the watchtower in front of her because I knew that would be the last straw.
I tried to go places with my friends and do things, but I could tell everything I did was covered in blanket disapproval. I had literature left on my desk on a near daily basis and was given 'tear jerker' letters from my mother.
When I escaped to college it was better not having her constantly in my face. But she continued to send me correspondences that irritatingly always had to touch on some JW matter or other that I didnt care about. And when I found a beautiful girl to love who loved me back she refused to even see her. Visits home became awkward and stilted and we remain at a stalemate.
I am grateful I escaped from an organization that would have led to my eventual breakdown and for my wonderful girlfriend. Life on the outside isn't about gnashing your teeth in the darkness, it's about being true to yourself.