I'm sort of mad at this certain book. Or maybe afraid of it's guts. I'd rather somebody beat me to a bloody pulp with a Bible than read the contents of one to me. Although there are some very beautiful passages, such as The Song of Solomon, it's chock full of some pretty disturbing things. And say what you will about Jehovah's Witnesses but they don't sugar-coat the messages of the Bible. They study every scrimp of it, find a lesson in it all. Even that Mosaic law snoozefest in Deuteronomy. We studied that shit. How that applies to a Christian religion is beyond me. I'm not even sure how Christian it really is, considering most of what I remember studying was the Old Testament. I think that's because after Jesus comes on the scene in the Gospel, "Jehovah" or "YHWH", whatever his god damn name is, loses his steam.
That was so blasphemous and I don't even care.
Well, maybe a little bit.
There's a lot less blanket condemnation and merciless killing in the New Testament. You can't scare people with the Gospel. Well, you can. You just have to work harder at it.
I want to emasculate God a little bit. Take Him down a notch. Because I'm tired of having weirdness and underlying fears about him killing me for not believing in him anymore. Or questioning his existence, anyway. His fairness. His right to rule over people while never lifting a finger to help them. Who the hell does he think he is? See, right now I'm having a mild panic attack. I think all this fear is behind me but it's really still alive and less dormant every day. Monsters under the bed. Brainwashing runs very, very deep. And it's a severe source of shame for me. Which is kind of ridiculous, I realize. It's not my fault that my mother converted to a cult when I was 5 years old. It's not my fault it took me nearly two decades to extract myself from it's tenacious grasp. How do you not get brainwashed when this is what you are told to believe from a tender age? How do you not fall for it all when you are terrified into believing all sorts of fantastical bullshit that has no basis in reality by way of threats of death at Armageddon, birds plucking out your eyeballs, fire from heaven? My personality was formed on a steady diet of doomsday philosophy.
So much is riding on your faith in the veracity of the doctrine. It's more than your life. It's your family, your friends, your dignity. It's your mind - but it's not yours anymore. It never belonged to you in the first place. Even when you're only 7 or 10 or 12 years old, you are carrying the weight of the world on your little back. You are supposed to save these people, kids at school, the cashier at the deli, your grandma, your dad. You are responsible for their deaths. And if you shut your mouth, then when they fall into some crack in the earth at Armageddon never to be seen again, it will be all your fault. This is bloodguilt. You are so young and unformed but you have the special knowledge of imminent destruction of all humanity on your mind at all times. Try to imagine what that would be like.
I wasn't brave. I didn't try to save anyone because I was too busy trying to save myself. I didn't want to talk about my religion, my difference. I wanted to pretend it wasn't there, the thing that made me the weird girl sitting during the pledge of allegiance, or leaving when the birthday cupcakes came out, not going to the slumber party with the girls at school on Friday night, or not having anything to say after Christmas vacation. Everybody was wearing new clothes and having new toys. What did you get, Gwen? I got uncomfortable and then so did she. "Oh yeah...I forgot" She brought up the thing and it was there, suspended in the air as foreign and strange to her as a UFO. "Santa doesn't come to your house." She looked down. And I thought, "She thinks I'm bad but I'm not. She is an idiot because Santa Claus is a stupid lie. Christmas is like the devil coming as an angel of light but full of all kinds of vile things. Jehovah hates Christmas and so do I." Lies I told myself.
Truthfully, I was so brainwashed that I didn't even know I was afraid. Fear was the natural state of being. Fear of God is the beginning of life, the scriptures say.
Fuck the scriptures. I'm beginning to think that Trouble is right when she says my problem just might be a nasty little case of PTSD. The gnawing anxiety, the panic attacks, the nauseating despair, the wanting to die. I don't know. I didn't get robbed or fight a war, but I lived my entire childhood under a blanket of fear and guilt. That can't be good for the psychological well being of anyone.
I realize now after finally researching the power of cults over the human psyche, that I am recovering from the effects of mind control. Lifton mind control tactics that I think apply to my childhood/early adulthood:
Demand for Purity. The world is viewed as black and white and the members are constantly exhorted to conform to the ideology of the group and strive for perfection. The induction of guilt and/or shame is a powerful control device used here. (Yep. Any non-JW activity or person was deemed "worldly" and we were instructed to be careful about those things/people. Questioning the ideology, outside of initial "studying", was cause for expulsion from the group. I was never permitted to question the ideology. I would have been deemed unfaithful and possibly apostate, which in the religion is considered an unforgivable sin beyond any redemption).
Confession. Sins, as defined by the group, are to be confessed either to a personal monitor or publicly to the group. There is no confidentiality; members' "sins", "attitudes", and "faults" are discussed and exploited by the leaders. (Confession was only required for major sins like fornication, drug use, smoking, drunkenness, homosexual activity, etc. Typically the "judicial meetings" were between 3 elders, church leaders (always men), and the person confessing the sin. Sometimes there would be public announcement that someone had been "reproved", which is basically a reprimand with loss of privileges in the congregation. Sometimes reproof would be private. If repentance was not displayed for the act or if the act itself was deemed serious and willful, then the person would be disfellowshipped (excommunicated). No JW's would be permitted to talk with this person, not even his/her own family members, not even to just say, "Hi).
Sacred Science. The group's doctrine or ideology is considered to be the ultimate Truth, beyond all questioning or dispute. Truth is not to be found outside the group. The leader, as the spokesperson for God or for all humanity, is likewise above criticism. (JW's refer to their religion as The Truth. They are not permitted to read literature that is anti-JW or any religious material other than what is published by the organization. The Governing Body, which is a group of 12 men, are the only ones allowed to make decisions regarding doctrine. Their word is akin to God's word. If you deny that they are God's mouthpiece, then you are said to be denying God).
Loading the Language. The group interprets or uses words and phrases in new ways so that often the outside world does not understand. This jargon consists of thought-terminating clichés, which serve to alter members' thought processes to conform to the group's way of thinking (Yes. Absolutely. They even had a name for it sort of, The Pure Language. "The Society says"...was a thought terminating cliche. Or if somebody had a good question that highlighted that the doctrine was incorrect, this: "That's apostate reasoning". That shut people up real quick. Also we used words like Pioneer, Bible Study, Governing Body, The Society, The Faithful and Discreet Slave, Publisher...the list goes on and on. These words all mean something to JWs but not what it means to the outside world).
Dispensing of existence. The group has the prerogative to decide who has the right to exist and who does not. This is usually not literal but means that those in the outside world are not saved, unenlightened, unconscious and they must be converted to the group's ideology. If they do not join the group or are critical of the group, then they must be rejected by the members. Thus, the outside world loses all credibility. In conjunction, should any member leave the group, he or she must be rejected also. (Yep, times a million. JW's who left were not associated with at all. If they officially "disassociate" from the organization then they are treated as excommunicated and not even spoken to. If any JW speaks against the organization or even just professes a disbelief in it's doctrines, he or she is considered an apostate. Many people in the religion consider me to be so. I guess I'm doomed. Unforgivable. Beyond all redemption. Non JW's are considered walking corpses. Yes, I heard them described as such during a sermon once. Mind you, they would never put that in their literature. They don't tell Non JWs that this is their belief because it would disgust people and stop people from converting. But that is the message that is beat into your head from the platform. Sneaky bastards talking out of both sides of their mouths. While we were very interested in converting the masses, finding the sheep, and this was supposedly motivated by a great love for people, we had absolutely no problem praying for Armageddon to come quickly to relieve of us of the burdens of this world. Mind you, Armageddon's arrival would mean the everlasting destruction of billions of men, women and children. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about what I wished for. Horrible things. So much shame).
I have a foot in each world. I don't belong completely to either. I spent more time in the other world, the place where I didn't have the right to do my own thinking. I feel like I was born the day that I stopped believing. I was 24. So how old does that make me now? 10. It's been 10 years since I started to use my own brain, think my own thoughts. I'm still trying to answer the questions: Who am I, really? What do I want?
I'm afraid that there aren't any answers. That I am completely empty - a black hole of endless nothingness. I have no base. My brain is all fractured. I spent 20 years devoted to something that probably doesn't exist. I might as well have been dead.
2 hours ago