part five

I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on November 24, 1979. I was 14 years old.

At that young age, I was absolutely convinced I would serve Jehovah forever. I was also too scared to do anything else. I mean, if I didn’t do what Jehovah wanted me to do I would die at Armaggedon and that was enough to put the fear of god into anyone. I remember thinking a time or two ‘how is it that Jehovah is a loving god if the only reason I do something is because I’m afraid of what will happen if I don’t do it?’ As soon as that thought entered my young head, I pushed it out since I knew that was not an appropriate question.

Now back to the end of part four:

I knew my response to my mother would not go unpunished and I was absolutely sick to my stomach. Quicker than even I expected, I heard my dad yell for me to get my ass downstairs NOW. I walked down the stairs and could see him waiting for me at the bottom. Before I even reached the last stair, he said “You are getting too big for your britches young lady. Who do you think you are?” The blow up that followed was not pretty. I was scared and then I felt that calm, detached feeling take over my body. It was like watching the scene from afar. My mom finally said “If you want to die with the Witnesses, you can just find some of them to live with now too.” I said “Ok.” My dad said “There isn’t room in this house for both of us. It’s either you or me. One of us is leaving tonight.” Again I said “Ok”. I grabbed my purse and walked out the front door.

We just happened to live across the street from a JW elder and his family. His daughter was one of my best friends. I was early to leave for the meeting but I knocked on their door anyway. I walked into their living room and my friend’s mom looked at me questioningly. She was the sweetest lady and I’ve missed her almost every day since she passed away on July 15, 1991. I made it to the middle of the room and said “My parents threw me out.” I must have cried but I just can’t remember that right now.

I ended up on the edge of the tub in their bathroom talking to my friend. She had this way of talking in an almost whisper and yet I could hear her perfectly. I asked to use the phone and I called Pat. (my other mother) She came right down and was so kind to me. Just writing that brings tears dammit. I have no idea how long we were there. I do know we didn’t go to the meeting. I remember my brother showed up a bit later and said “I just told dad to take a flying leap and he was out of hand and” blah blah blah. I don’t know if I remember my brother ever standing up for me but he did that night.

It was very late when my friend’s phone rang. It was my mother. She told me it was time for me and my brother to come home now. What could I do? We went home. I wasn’t even 15 years old yet. I had no where to go. We arrived home to find two chairs set up in the living room (like an inquisition I think now). We had to sit in them and listen. That’s it. Just listen. I don’t know how long my dad talked but I know my mom just sat there and let him go off.

I’ve said before that my dad was scary. Very. Scary. His tirade was not directed at my brother but I was very glad my brother was sitting there with me. I heard all about how displeasing I was to Jehovah and how in the morning, dad was going to call the elders and I would be disciplined for being so disrespectful and horrible to my mom and him. He was in charge and that meant that I answered to him and did what I was told when I was told and unless I wanted to die at the end of this system of things, I’d better snap out of it and on and on and on. There were lots of curse words and threats and I never doubted for one moment that he would carry them all out. I don’t remember getting hit and I don’t remember going to bed but I know I ended up at school the next day. Whether I stayed awake or not I can’t tell you.

During this time I was convinced that if I could just follow Jehovah’s commands better, life would be simpler. I knew that since my parents didn’t serve Jehovah anymore, I couldn’t really count on them to help me know the right things to do or think. That was for Jehovah’s spirit directed organization. I needed to study more and get out in service more and I would be directed in the right way. I knew the day would come when my parents had no more say over me. I looked forward to it and was terrified of it at the same time.

Not too long after this experience, a friend of mine attempted suicide. His name was Gary and he was a sweet messed up young man. I don’t remember what happened that triggered his attempt but I do remember spending my lunch hour talking with him. He was part of our congregation and he knew that once word got out of what he’d done, he was going to be in trouble. Suicide wasn’t a cry for help to the Witnesses, it was weakness pure and simple. If only you relied on Jehovah and studied harder and prayed more thoughts of suicide wouldn’t enter your mind. This young man did end up on reproof for conduct unbecoming a Christian.

to be continued

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One response to this post.

  1. Yeah, that’s great. Let’s publicly punish him, that’ll obviously help whatever is underlying his suicidal impulse. And I’m sure that the “inquisition” really helped you to make sense of God and your place in the world, too. Gah! The whole institutionalized approach to religion makes me see red, I swear.

    Reply

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