When the Quiet in Your Apartment is Not a Good Thing

It’s Sunday night and very quiet in my apartment. I have the game on the television but it’s muted because I can’t bear the sound of it right now, and music just seems like an irritant. It’s always quiet in my apartment, but tonight is very, very different.

When you leave the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s usually with great risk and great loss. Family members that remain in the religion will turn their backs on you. If you’re disfellowshipped (excommunicated) for some supposed sin on your part, or officially leave by giving the religion written notice that you no longer wish to be a member, this shunning is a requirement. Any contact family has with you is typically businesslike and kept to a minimum, if you have contact at all. If you simply fade, as I’ve done, they still typically keep contact to a minimum. You may socialize on occasion but rarely can you count your family as friends, and even rarer still are family members that stay close.

This distance from my family has been painful over the years, although my mother and I never had any type of relationship to begin with. She learned early on that she could take her anger and frustrations out on me with no interference from elders or other congregants, and also played the victim to get sympathy from others in the religion by complaining incessantly about me. My brother and I were also never particularly close as we ran in different circles; being a male, he was favored in the congregation with attention, privileges, and of course female admirers. I, on the other hand, was pretty much useless and pointless.

Making friends after leaving the religion was never easy, as its indoctrination stayed with me for decades. I still felt pointless and useless and had the mindset that I needed to keep myself separate from other people, as is taught in the religion. Dating was also a nightmare; many women coming out of the JW religion will attest to how difficult it is to form healthy relationships when you’ve been taught for years that you needed to shut up and know your place, which often leads to attracting all the wrong types of men.

So here I sit, many years later, in a silent apartment, by myself. Normally it wouldn’t be so bad, except today I realized that I may be very, very sick. Very sick. I won’t be able to visit a doctor or have tests done for awhile to know if I have what I suspect I have, but if I do, it’s pretty serious.

Of course, it could be nothing; I could be overreacting to certain symptoms or they could be caused by a number of reasons. That’s not the point though. The point is, I can’t talk to my family about this and get the support I need right now. I can’t pick up the phone and talk to my mother and hear a comforting voice, or sit at my brother’s house and have people around me during this time. I haven’t seen or spoken to my younger sister in close to a year, so it’s not like I can just drop by and have her hold my hand. When I do go to the doctor’s office, I will be alone. When I get the call about the test results, I’ll be alone. If I need to have surgery and all the nasty treatments that will keep me sick for months after that, it will be on my own. I’ll be one of those weirdos who needs to call a cab to drive her home from the hospital and to and from her followup appointments. Some stranger will need to come to my house and make me soup; not my mother, not one of my siblings or anyone else that should be in my life right now. If I don’t make it through the surgery or even decide not to have it, I’ll die alone.

And why? Because my family belongs to the “loving” religion that is Jehovah’s Witnesses. They “love” me so much that they’re going to withhold that love until I decide to come back to their religion and their god. They “love” me so much, they’ll let me die alone in order to prove how loving their god is, and prove that their religion is the right one.

Yep, that’ll teach me.

My family can withhold their love all they want, but they seem to forget that I’m not wrong. I’m not the one who is wrong here, and I don’t mean just in how a family should function. I left the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses because of how much violence I saw against women, including mental and emotional abuse, along with child abuse and a laundry list of just plain nasty, disgusting, abhorrent behavior. I saw how they needed to constantly change their understanding of doctrines and how the leaders obviously didn’t understand anything about the bible; they had no magic holy spirit from god guiding them. I didn’t leave to go take drugs and skank around and get drunk every night the way so many Jehovah’s Witnesses would have you believe about their former members; I left because it was the right thing to do, and I will be damned if I go back just so that I don’t need to face my own mortality alone.

It seems a strange oxymoron that Jehovah’s Witnesses would withhold love in order to prove their god’s love. Despite the emotional distance between my siblings and I, there is no religious choice of theirs that would make me do the same thing. My sister could tell me she’s an atheist or has converted to Judaism or Buddhism, or is now Wiccan or has joined a commune and dances naked around a bonfire every night, and if she needed me for any reason, I’d drop everything and be there. I’d tell her to put some clothes on first, but I’d be there.

It boggles the mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t realize how their lack of love for family proves, well, that their religion lacks love. They say all the time that they love their families, they love their neighbors, they love each other, and so on, but I beg to differ. When your own daughter or sister cannot pick up the phone and say, “Hey, I seriously think I might have ****** and am in some trouble and need to talk,” that only proves that you know nothing about love.

I’ve been told to cut down the swearing in this blog, but I need to say it; fuck you, Jehovah’s Witnesses. Fuck you and your theft of family and lack of love and self-righteousness and sneering attitudes and demands and control and arrogance and abuse and indignation. Fuck you for how you do nothing but take, and take, and take, and take, and take. Fuck you.

Tonight is not the first time I’ve understood why so many ex-JWs actually take their own lives. I know the pain, I know the emptiness. I know how much it hurts. I know the fear. I know what it means when silence becomes heavy and suffocating. I know what it means when everything is so empty that you think that being mortal may not be such a bad thing after all.

I’m going to un-mute the game now. Hopefully Gronkowski can take my mind off things for awhile.