My Declaration of Freedom

A few years ago I needed to take stock of what I had left behind and what I now had. I was scared to leave the Witnesses but I knew I couldn’t stay. I spent most of my time thinking about dying. I had no education. No job. No money. But living free was more important to me than any of those things. The following is my list of the things I learned about what it meant to be free.

Please feel free to create your own list.    

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My Declaration of Freedom

  • I am free to be more tolerant of the beliefs of others.
  • I am free to be more accepting that we aren’t all the same and are not at the same place in our lives. What I needed when I was 20 is very different than what I needed at 30 or 40 or 50 or especially now at 60
  • I am free to be more tolerant of others’ lifestyles (because they are none of my business)
  • I am free to be able to do things I love (lots more time because I am not out telling other people how to live their lives)
  • I am free to show my love and care for others without worrying that it takes time from the Watchtower Society
  • I am free to get an education that has improved my self-esteem, my career opportunities and my knowledge of the world around me
  • I am free to get the therapy I needed which took away my depression and improved my self-esteem
  • I am free to be really happy without guilt
  • I am free to live in a way that I feel good about and that enables me to go to sleep at night with a clear conscience
  • I am free to watch/read/listen to what I want without fear of being caught reading something I was told was bad or guilty
  • I am free to buy what I want without fear (especially at garage sales – no more fear of demons)
  • I am free to live without thinking the elders are coming to talk to me about some supposed infraction
  • I am free to let my children lead their own lives without preaching to them
  • I am free to live my life without preaching to anyone
  • I am free to live THIS life without worrying about getting into paradise at some mystical future time
  • I am free to publicly speak out against the things I think are harmful like abuse and cults
  • I am free to accept myself for who I am today knowing I am a work in progress
  • I am free to change what I don’t like about myself
  • I am free to not see anyone in my family who tries to make me feel like crap
  • I am free to leave an abusive husband, relative, friend. I don’t have to stand there and take it
  • I am free to see those members of my family that I care for and treat me with love
  • I am free to no longer be a victim (of people or of the Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • I am free to celebrate life and holidays, birthdays and even death
  • I am free to love God without being told what to believe and how to believe
  • I am free to sleep in on weekends (or any day now that I am retired)
  • I am free to spend my holidays on vacation instead of at a convention, assembly or meeting
  • I am free to write about what hurts me without fear
  • I am free to be honest – really honest – not false honesty
  • I am free to be happy – really happy – not fake happiness
  • I am free to talk to active Witnesses who come to my door (despite that I was told by the elders not to)
  • I am free to sing the anthem, salute the flag and be proud of being a Canadian
  • I am free to have pets instead of wondering what to do with them when I went to convention.

Life is what we make it. It isn’t directed by some external controlling business masquerading as a religion. I choose and if my choices aren’t always the best, I have the freedom to change my mind.

Here is picture of me at 8 years of age shortly before my mother left. It has taken me many years, but I am free at 60 years of age to have the life I need instead of a life dictated by others
I am free! 

Posted on by January 7, 2016
Lee Marsh

About Lee Marsh

Ex-JW. DFed. A survivor of child sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. Survivor of spousal abuse - sexual, emotional and financial. Survivor of sexual assault. And one last one - survivor of ethnic/political abuse. Left the first husband (JW) and lost my home. Left the second husband (never a JW) and lost my home. Wound up homeless for 9 months living out of one tiny room at the YMCA. But I still survive and thrive.

Comments

My Declaration of Freedom — 28 Comments

  1. the most difficult work and the most rewarding. Your strength to survive and thrive always inspires me Lee. It’s like a light. I can see my way through…knowing you’ve gone before me. Thank you so much for being so vulnerable in sharing your life. What a gift! (Berne Brown)

  2. wow! you wrote this Lee? AAWA is turning out to be a comforting little corner. I actually can still remember the hug you gave me at the 2d Child Friendly Faith Conference, because it was so great. I agree with your posting here. I am free to decide not to worry about deciding anymore.

  3. your comments really drive home the totality of the control of this religion. in some ways like living under sharia law. I have four brothers that are still Jehovah’s witnesses, but most of my nephews and nieces have left this religion. Although many have had to struggle and deal with the shunning, the big payoff is in their children many of which are going to college or will have that opportunity and a future of normal relationships with their families. My niece Monique recently said “there is getting to be more of us than of them.”

  4. That is a to the point moving declaration but Oh so true. WT control over every move you make and playing the guilt trip on you is horrible way of life. I know so many that feel like that but are SCARED to leave bc of the shunning etc and the fear of their family being taken away from them for excising their own free thought. MY adult son said any religion that keeps people in bc of fear is not a religion at all but a Cult and full of hate. All the best to everyone foe 2016? Happy New year from SF California. Would anyone like to predict what is in store for the WT Borg in 2016? Any new GB members? Any new “LIGHT”?

  5. After I left the Watchtower ten years ago as a thirty year member with last ten a full-time pioneer (all in a fog) and having raised four children under the controlling org, one out and three still in, as you exposed as a hateful cult, I am glad to read the freedoms listed above and thankfully have experienced many of them.
    Learning to live the free life now as is our individual right.
    Wish many more former Witnesses and yet members may free themselves. Many spirits are willing and there is the Great spirit which is stronger than any organization and our weaknesses can overcome..
    I am very grateful to the AAWA and other organizations and individuals who are working to better our lives in responsible freedom.

  6. I left the JWs about 20 years ago after many bad experiences. I just came across the book Crisis of Conscience and couldn’t put it down. I wish I would have read this book when I was younger. I was born into it. My father was an elder and presiding overseer. My mother was a fanatical JW. At 18 I moved out of my house because I couldn’t take their fanatism and abuse anymore (for which my parents disowned me) but I didn’t leave the organization for fear of losing my only friends I had ever been allowed to associate with but also because I did believe the doctrines. I finally left the cult when I was 35 when elders threatened to disfellowship me because I had a business relationship with a disfellowshiped sister. I simply stopped associating and made up excuses to not meet with them. I didn’t want the “disfellowshipped” status. Since then I have never looked back. I have never felt so free.

    • Nilda. Good for you. Remember they don’t own you. They are just men that want to control people. I am sure they have plenty of skeletons in their own closets if we only knew. They are Nothing. They have no lives. You did the right thing Nilda/.Fading away is good. Don’t give them the opportunity to DF you as they will use it as a tool against you. remember they have no control over you if we don’t let them.

    • Good for you Nilda. Fading is a great option if a person can do it. I actually think it is the preferred option for most JWs. Just never agree to meet with an elder (or two or three). You are under zero obligation to talk to them.

  7. Hi! Im 19 year old. I was born and raised as a JW and i just found out (like 3 days ago) how my religion has lied to me and i was victim of child abuse. I feel so lost. I dont know what to do cuz i atill live with my parents and this teaching is all i know. How i keep on?! 🙁

    • Gloria it’s okay. I’m now 28, I ran away 3 times from home at ages 11,16 &17. My father was ministerial servant and worked the book counter. He beat my mother, baby brother and mother for years. I never understood why she would never tell the elders. But I understand now fully. The last time I ran away at 17 was because my father said I was not allowed to go to college because I was a Jehovah witness. “I was baptized at 10” a CHILD. I had dual enrollment and a full scholarship at the University of Central Florida, of course homeschooled my entire life smh!! My goal was to become a doctor and last year was one of the hardest years of my entire life. I had the brains and the grades of a surgeon. In all because my friends who did no wrong did not go to the kingdom hall they would you need from college and I ran away from home to go back. After I ran away I was right with my oldest child who is about to be 11 that I have now I still have contact with my parents who I am forced to drop my daughter off with because now I have barely any education. That place “The Kingdom Hall” brings you so far down to where you won’t want to die, literally……… And my father feels no blame for being an abuser and being in a cult For me being raped. I was borne into this

      • Cheryl. I am so sorry you went through all the abuse.Keep working on your education. Educate your child well especially since your parents are doing their best to indoctrinate. If you were baptized at 10 I am sure they are working hard on her.

        • Thank You Lee! I’m back in school now, been seeing a therapist for the past year and feel so much better now. I was so confused as to who I really was and had to find myself. I really enjoyed your article and it makes me feel so much better that I’m not alone in this. WT makes you afraid of everything, including living as a normal human being. My daughter (11) is already seeing the flaws in that crazy organization from my mother. But soon I will be finished with school and we can separate from them completely. It feels so good to associate with good hearted people now and not be judged. I admire you and hope that more people can come to their senses and end the sexual, physical and mental abuse within WT. I thought I was loosing my mind at one point and finally figured out what the issue was, living a lie my entire life. N

    • Gloria. I know it is hard. But there is a vast number of ex-Witnesses around the world where you can get some support. Read everything you can. Despite being told we make up lies the truth is we don’t have to lie about anything and most of us are very careful about rumors and do our utmost to verify information we post online. So read and read and keep on reading. Not just books and information about the JWs but also about anything that interests you – all those things we never had time for as a JW. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

  8. Gloria, the Botchtower uses fear to try to keep you captive!

    ALL supernatural gods are imaginary!

    Get them to prove otherwise, but they can’t!

    They are cowards hiding behind fear and reprisals!

    The Botchtower wrote a book-let claiming they always ‘ Make Sure of All Things ‘ i.e. allegedly everything they preach is truth!

    Take a look at this –

    the Botchtower after ‘ Making Sure of ALL Things ‘ assured us that the opinion of the Botchtower’s supposed God, is that Mikey is NOT jebus!

    ***The Watchtower is not the instrument of any man or any set of men, nor is it published according to the whims of men. No man’s opinion is expressed in The Watchtower. (The Watchtower 1931 November 1 p.327)

    cf.

    “Hence it is said, “Let all the angels of God worship him;” [that must include Michael, the chief angel, hence Michael is not the Son of God] and the reason is, because He has “by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.”” Zion’s Watch Tower 1879 Nov p.4

    So they Made Sure that No Man’s Opinion is ever in their propaganda, yet despite them claiming their gods opinion is that Mikey is NOT = jebus, they preach the very opposite!

    Cheers!

    • Thanks Emily. Good thing you posted. I missed a lot of posts because my notifications were turned off for some reason. They are back on now t6hankfully

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