I Believed I Would Never Die
There was a time when I believed I would never die. I literally thought that contrary to the experience of every human in history, I would never have to experience a physical death. That』s not the same as dying and then waking up in Heaven. It truly meant that my human body would never die and I would live forever. That belief affected every decision I made and every course I took in life.Why did I believe that? How could I possibly accept such an outlandish proposition? Because that』s what I was told was 「the Truth」 from the time I was a small child and then well into my adult years. That』s the power of information control. It convinced me that something so clearly illogical and unrealistic was absolutely true.When I look at examples in today』s world of how information is spread and what people believe, I see that my experience (although more extreme) is not that uncommon. We all are bombarded every day with news that is designed to convince us what to believe.It now seems that the days of 「unbiased media」 are over. We have to be more selective about what we choose to take in, digest, and accept as 「truth.」 We will eventually become what we believe and who we are.This bed of belief is crucial. It determines how our decisions in life are made and what we choose to pursue, fight for and even die for. Does that mean there is an 「absolute truth」 that we are meant to find? Is there really just one path that everyone must follow?Personally, I don』t think so. 「Absolute truth」 is something that can be verified without question. 「Gravity」 and 「time」 are absolute truths, even though they can』t be adequately explained. Outside of science, our world is a blank canvas and we are free to paint it with whatever colors we choose. We each select our relative truths.If we find that a 「relative truth」 doesn』t work for us anymore, we have the power to change it. That』s what many of us chose to do when we left the Jehovah』s Witness organization. The 「painting」 we were creating made no sense to us anymore and so, we started a new project. Instead of using only the colors that were being handed to us by others, we found the 「shades of truth」 that appealed to us and started using them.Now, we begin our own 「masterpiece.」 We keep an eye on our own canvas, without feeling the need to tell our fellow artists how they need to work on their creations. We create and live our lives as we choose. What a great pursuit!Every day I get to see the artistic works of life that the rest of humankind creates. I can see beauty in what others share and am moved. I』ve met and learned from some truly great 「life-artists」 and look forward to seeing what others choose to do with their life-canvases.Yes, I used to believe I would never die. But now I believe that I won』t be here forever – and yet I have a chance to leave something behind for others to build on. In that way, maybe I』ll exist in some form beyond my death. Even if the memories of me die once I』m gone, I still had a chance to be here and contribute to this great collection of life. That freedom is something that I cherish and appreciate each day I am alive.
是的，我曾經相信我永遠不會死。但現在我相信我不會永遠在這裡 - 但我有機會留下一些東西讓其他人繼續前進。通過這種方式，也許我會以某種形式存在於我的死亡之外。即使我的記憶在我離開後死去，我仍然有機會來到這裡為這個偉大的生活收集做出貢獻。每一天我都活著，這種自由是我珍惜和欣賞的東西。
___________________HEALING「Why am I not better yet? Why can』t I just get over this?」If, after leaving the Jehovah』s Witnesses, you find yourself asking yourself this type of question, you are not alone. Those of us who have left that religion must first acknowledge is that we were members of a high control group, and as such, we are 「survivors of trauma.」 It may be true that some of us may not have suffered physical injuries. And yet the mental, emotional, and spiritual abuse we suffered still qualifies our traumatic experiences as being 「life-altering.」How do trauma survivors keep going? What enables someone who has been through devastating events find ways to move forward and even thrive?I found some interesting and helpful tips at https://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/ptsd-trauma.htm. While not everything in that article will apply to former Jehovah』s Witnesses, there are some very good points to keep in mind as you attempt your own recovery.For instance, I thought these were good points to consider:
- People react in different ways to traumatic events. There are not a 「right」 or 「wrong」 ways to respond. Don』t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing.
- Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly.
- Ignoring your feelings will slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you』re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.
In addition to these points, these reminders on how to deal with painful emotions might be helpful:
- Give yourself time to heal and to mourn any losses you』ve experienced.
- Don』t try to force the healing process.
- Be patient with the pace of recovery.
- Be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions.
- Allow yourself to feel whatever you』re feeling without judgment or guilt.
- Learn to reconnect with uncomfortable emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
The main point of this article is that we need to accept that we have work to do – but, we can get through it. Having communities and contacts with others that have been through the same trauma can be very helpful and the keys to feeling empowered and in control of your own life.
Remember that your choices determine who you are and how much enjoyment you can get out of life. We can』t judge others if they need to process things differently. We can try to work together, help each other out, and become part of the support system that we all need.
本文的重點是我們需要接受我們有工作要做 - 但是，我們可以通過它。與其他經歷過相同創傷的人建立社區和聯繫可能非常有幫助，也是獲得權力和控制自己生活的關鍵。請記住，您的選擇決定了您的身份以及您可以從生活中獲得多少樂趣。如果他們需要以不同的方式處理事物，我們無法判斷他人。我們可以共同努力，互相幫助，成為我們所有人都需要的支持系統的一部分。________________
WHAT IS IT?「It is what it is.」This is the response I got from two Jehovah』s Witness friends when I started talking about how disappointing it was to have not reached the paradise yet. My point was to discuss how we had never planned on getting older in this system. But my comment was immediately shot down. In unison, both the husband and wife both declared, 「It is what it is.」The point of their response was to quell my 「complaining spirit.」 I』ve often wondered since that day whether they had heard that sentiment in a talk – or if this was just a phrase they came up with on their own. Either way, their message was clear: No negative talk was allowed about the fact that we were well past the age we』d planned on being in 「this system.」I think many JWs are beginning to realize the massive implications that belief has had on their lives. They can choose to disconnect and lose all their friends and family but still live a normal life. Or they can shut their eyes and declare, 「It is what it is」 and accept their fate of living an unfulfilled life trapped in a cultish religion.That was another moment that helped me wake up. I knew that these two had no tolerance for any thoughts outside of the Jehovah』s Witness guidelines. They expected me to trudge through life with them until we were 「delivered at Armageddon,」 whether that event was real or not.I』ve chosen to move on, live a real life now, and 「take the hit」 of losing everyone I care about. It』s not ideal and there are moments of self-doubt and pain, but, this is now my life. I may never own a tiger or ride on the back of an elephant. But now I am living the way I choose.I』ve accepted that 「It is what it is.」______________CONVENTION RESOLUTIONS
For some reason, I remembered something last night that used to seem very normal to me but now smacks of cult indoctrination.In the past, it was fairly routine to have 「resolutions」 presented to the audiences at Jehovah』s Witnesses』 summer conventions. These were usually pretty generic in nature and often included the following points:
- We submit to Jehovah as God
- We submit to Jesus as King
- We submit to the 「faithful and discreet slave」 under the direction of Jesus
- We reject all aspects of Satan』s world:a. Politicsb. Religionc. Commerced. The Spirit of the World
- We will work to keep the organization clean
- We will do everything in our power to preach
There were probably other items. Some conventions included items with specific wording that would highlight the theme selected that year. But, these points were the bedrock of almost every resolution.I remember the feeling as each point was read to the crowd. The speaker would wait after each one for the audience to respond with 「AYE!」 The audience would grow louder and more determined every time they shouted out their joint response. By the end of the resolution speeches, the crowd experienced feelings of unity, pride, and 「belonging」 that were overwhelming.
Resolutions were usually adopted at the end of the day so that everyone would leave on a high note. Afterward, the audience seemed pumped up and solid in their dedication and commitment to what they had heard that day.Having looked at other religions since then, and especially the way a cult works, this event smacks of mind control at its highest level. The pressure to respond positively and loudly was more than could be resisted. The items in the resolution were repetitive and designed to ingrain that group way of thinking even deeper.The points in the resolutions were specifically created to reaffirm each person』s dedication to the organization. They would potentially get individuals to make changes to do or give even more time and money to support the organization. The crowd was whipped into a fervor, squelching any room for doubt among the attendees.I recall conversations after these events that were almost always centered around how we all needed 「to simplify and sacrifice」 even more than we were and how we needed to refocus our attention on Kingdom interests.Now, it reminds me of gatherings of highly emotional religions, cults, or political rallies. The manipulation techniques are sickening when considered in context.I am grateful that this type of intellectual and emotional control is now no longer part of my life.
他們的反應是平息我的「抱怨精神」。從那天起，我常常想知道他們是否在談話中聽到了這種情緒 - 或者這只是他們自己提出的一句話。無論哪種方式，他們的信息都很明確：沒有任何負面的言論可以說我們已經遠遠超過了我們計划進入「這個系統」的時代。
可能還有其他項目。一些公約包括具有特定措辭的項目，這些項目將突出當年選定的主題。但是，這幾點幾乎是每個決議的基石。我記得每個點都被讀到人群的感覺。演講者會在每個演講者之後等待觀眾回答「AYE！」每當他們大聲喊出他們的聯合回應時，觀眾就會變得更響亮，更有決心。在決議演講結束時，人群經歷了團結，驕傲和「歸屬感」的感覺，這些感覺勢不可擋。通常在一天結束時採用決議，以便每個人都能留下高調。之後，觀眾們似乎充滿了自己的奉獻精神和對當天所聽到的內容的承諾。從那以後看過其他宗教，特別是邪教的運作方式，這個事件在最高層次上有精神控制。積極和大聲響應的壓力遠遠超過了可以抵制的壓力。決議中的項目是重複性的，旨在使這種群體思維方式更加深入。決議中的要點專門用於重申每個人對該組織的奉獻精神。他們可能會讓個人做出改變，或者給予更多的時間和金錢來支持組織。人群被激起了熱情，在與會者中壓制了任何懷疑的空間。我記得在這些事件之後的談話幾乎總是以我們所有人都需要「簡化和犧牲」為中心，甚至超過我們以及如何將注意力重新集中在王國的利益上。現在，它讓我想起了高度情緒化的宗教，邪教或政治集會的集會。在上下文中考慮時，操縱技術令人作嘔。我很感激這種智力和情感控制現在不再是我生活的一部分。___________________________LETTING THE PAST GOHow can the past be put into context? What can help us avoid looking at the past as a definition of a person』s worth for either ourselves or others?I』ve struggled with this issue and finally found a way to mentally categorize things, making it easier to put everything in perspective.I envision each person to be like a flower. They are beautiful, fragrant and temporary. They should be appreciated and valued while they are here, just as they are. However, the growth of a flower isn』t always a pretty thing.Flowers are fed by a variety of things from the time they are planted. Water, sunshine, and food all contribute to the flower』s blossoms. But other less noble things also pitch in. Fertilizer, compost, rotting vegetation, and even manure are also responsible for helping things along.However, when you smell a flower』s fragrance, do you picture the manure that fed it? Do you see the rotting vegetation involved as you contemplate its petals?Probably not. Instead, you see the current vision of its beauty and you smell its sweet aroma. The flower』s current state is all that you see. Everything that helped it become what it is now has been converted and contributes to its beauty.I think we』re like this too. We have a past that includes wonderful events and noble acts. It likely also has darker parts that are less than desirable. These things fed our character and created the 「flower」 of our current person. When we consider the person alone, we can appreciate the beauty that has resulted. We don』t really need to remember or dwell on the 「lesser」 events that have also helped the person grow into what they are today.Thinking of past events in this light has helped me see the value of everything that happens to a person. There are things I hate remembering about my past, certain actions or times when I acted less than honorably or things were done to me. I see the same thing in other people』s past too. But, those things shaped the individual that I now love and value.The past is just food for the present. It builds us and crafts us into who we are now. Regardless of feelings about specific events, the past has value. Put into this context, I am finding ways of letting the past go and appreciating what is right in front of me.