I just joined this site, and while I haven't had a lot of time to devote to perusing everything yet, I'll get the hang of it eventually, lol. Honestly, I am kind of a social network retard....I abhor Facebook etc. But right now I am just going to jump in to a topic, that is close and personal for me, and I welcome any insight anyone has to offer.
I have been a strong atheist for about 5 yrs now, before that I termed myself agnostic for gosh....at least a good 10-12 yrs. Before that I was "questioning" and as a teenager I dabbled in Wicca/New Age mumbo-jumbo (mainly for the shock factor, telling someone you're a witch as a teenager was cool, haha!) Honestly though, I can not remember a time, even at a young age, when I didn't question the existence of a "Supreme Being." I wasn't raised with a strong religious background, my family generally avoided church/the bible/spiritual talks of any kind. But even so, I still knew most of my family has a vague belief in a higher power. The person most affected by religion would have to be my mother, who I think has been on a quest to find love and acceptance from WHO EVER would give it to her, God or Human, her whole life.....instead of reaching down and finding it from within. I also think, from a young age, I knew my mother wasn't very well adjusted in life.
She grew up (along with her 3 siblings), with an alcoholic/abusive father and a mother who swept it all under the rug in order to make things appear all hunky-dory in life (it was the 50's and 60's after all.....can't talk openly about our problem can we?) She never really had a basis for normal, loving acceptance, and boy has it screwed her up pretty good. Starting from the time I was maybe 5 or 6, she would wander from church to church, looking, I think, for a place she felt she fit in.....a place where people would hold her hand and tell her everything she thought and did was right and fine. She also has a nasty habit of using people (btw she is 57 and NEVER moved out of her mother's house! I was raised with her, my grandmother and my half-sister...no dad for either of us. She kept children in the house for 15 yrs, spent 1 yr out in the real working world and had a "breakdown", hasn't worked since 1999, and lives off my grandmother's money.) She would grow tired of a church once it "let her down" in some way, or she had taken advantage of the kindness/generosity of some of the people (either for a shoulder to cry on, or rides places since she never drove, money spent of her because she was a helpless single mother...blah blah!) During the times she would be involved with a church, she would be upbeat and happy and buy new clothes, feel good about herself, be nicer to me (she was always nice to my sister, I was and always have been the black sheep!) etc. But once she became disillusioned (in 3-6 months, maybe even a year), she would stop attending, fall into a depression and wallow for months on end.
This went on a number of times while I was young. I think there was a space of maybe 10 yrs or so, that she didn't bother with any organization. I should also mention, that the whole time growing up, my mother never gave me the impression that she didn't believe in science, evolution, or that she though homosexuality was wrong (this was a woman who LOVED her Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and said she should have married a gay man. Since she wouldn't have to have sex and would always have a fun companion!)
So, fast forward to 2007. I'd moved home from NC (I'd become a mother at a very young age, married at 18, moved all over since he was military and finally divorced in 2005.) I ended up having to move back into the house I grew up in, with my mother and grandmother, and a few months after I moved back, my grandmother had a stroke. She seemed to recover ok, and for the next year or so was mostly normal.....but slowly we noticed changes. In 2009 she ended up having blood clots in her legs and some other complications, and around that time the signs of dementia started to really show. After leaving the hospital for a nursing home for physical therapy (which she refused to comply with and her insurance canceled the rest it and she had to come home), she became bed ridden and very quickly forgot this was her house, the dementia had set in big time. The burden of taking care of her has fallen on my mother (her siblings refuse to acknowledge their mother is impaired and dying.)
Well, in the internal and external crisis that one faces at this time, who should swoop in and prey on my mother while she was most vulnerable? If you guessed the Jehovah Witnesses....DING DING DING, you're right!!!! A couple months after grandma came home, during an innocent spring day while she was watering plants on the porch.....evil came walking up with a smile on it's face and a ready answer for all my mom's problems (or so she seems to think!) Suddenly she is starting to explore the bible with them on a twice weekly basis, they are invading the house and my sense of comfort in the home. My mother and I started getting into terrible fights about religion (we have always fought about many things, but up until now religion wasn't really one of them.) Basically I saw her do the bait and switch routine on churches for years, I kept thinking she would get tired/bored with it after awhile, like all the rest. But where I kept my mouth shut before, and eventually things played out like I figured they would (a leopard doesn't change it's spots!) Something about these people just rubbed me the wrong way from the first, and I had always thought them a cult (and still do, much worse in some ways then the cult of regular Christianity.) I had a deep fear that I was going to lose MY mother to these people.
It's been almost 5 yrs since she started with the cult and was fully baptized in it a year ago.In many ways I have lost my mother, even though I live with her, she isn't my mother. The woman who LOVED holidays and would decorate to the hilt and cheerfully cook and give presents and love gathering with family....is gone. The person who accepted gays/lesbians and use to love Carson Cressly and Ellen DeGeneres, is gone. The person who use to read books (now all she reads is the Watch Tower and other JW crap!) is gone, the person who use to laugh at the Simpsons or Family Guy and loved prime time tv shows is gone (can't watch such polluted things when you're a JW!) The woman, who just a month before the JW's came into her life, was amazed at a program about the Galapagos Islands and how life had evolved differently on each....is gone. By the commands of the JW's, one isn't supposed to associate with non-members if one can help it. It's a very hurtful thing to think that if she didn't have to take care of her mother, if I and my daughter (my son is with his father in KY) didn't live with her after moving back again in 2009 after losing my job in the recession, and she didn't feel obligated to watch my sister's kids.....she wouldn't have anything to do with us, her family, because according to the JW's, we are all sinners and governed by Satan.
I don't know that she is gone forever, lately there has been an inkling that she may be tiring (FINALLY) of the lies, deceit and bullshit that are the JW's. She's been going through periods of depression, where she stays home and doesn't attend meetings or go witness or have bible study. I like to think during these times she will just call BS on the whole things and break free. But I also know they have their claws into her so deep, she has made "Friends" there, and I know she knows if she left they would have to shun her. I tell her that no true friends shun someone for refusing to practice a religion anymore....but she is convinced those people care about her more than her family does. They may hold her hand and tell her everything she wants to hear, tell her she is right and we are wrong and evil and make her think an invisible person loves her and has her back.....but they really don't care for her like her REAL family does. But to mom, if you're not giving her 100% attention and doing exactly as she tells you (or exactly as she thinks and feels you should and read her mind and just know what she wants), than she gets pissy and depressed and think no one loves her. She wants the cult because they will do and say anything to keep her....she doesn't want a big dysfunctional, messy family who won't always do what she wants, tell her what she wants to hear and may disappoint at times (we're just human)....but who really does love and miss her being the person she use to be.
Ok well that is enough for now.....I want to keep writing but I also have other things to do. Next time I will blog about my current "friendship" with someone who's closed-minded and how much it drives me crazy. They are a good person in many ways....but being open to acceptance and change isn't one of their strong suits.