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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Not Your MILF: A Guide to Dating Single Moms

This article is copied from here.

A friend of mine and I were recently doing what we do: comparing our lists of garbage dating trends. There are just so many that this conversation could go on forever, but that day’s focus zeroed in on an enormous pet peeve for both of us: the perception of single moms in the dating world.

If you’re a single mom, you can probably guess most of these without even looking down the list. You’ve been there. Some single dads may have experienced a few of these, too. It’s all ridiculous, and I hope this little PSA helps someone out there get a clue that maybe they didn’t have before about the challenges to dating a single mom.

First of all, don’t call us MILFs.

For the unenlightened, this nasty little acronym stands for moms I’d like to f*ck. While most people might have the good sense to think it but not say it, I’ve had this said to me directly a number of times, as if I were being paid an amazing compliment. It’s not complementary; it’s disrespectful. When you open with this statement, you’ve already clarified that we aren’t even people to you; just a notch on your bedpost.
Cougar is another term that needs to go. If you’re willing to date someone older, be mature enough to date them for themselves without invoking this ugly term. If you feel like you need to use it, maybe you’re not mature enough to be dating someone older than you.

We haven’t lowered the bar.

There’s this assumption that we’re desperate and have lowered the bar to accommodate any men who will have us. I’m not sure where this entirely demented idea originated from, but most of us have weathered divorces, shit relationships, and single parenting. We have in no way lowered our standards. Most of us have jacked them up pretty high to make sure that we don’t end up in toxic relationships that might spill over to our children.
This means that when you send us your dick pic, we’re not going to rush out to see it in person. It actually may get you sent directly to a block list because we want a quality partner and not someone firing off pictures of their equipment to total strangers. If someone asks for them, fine. But it’s bad form to just send them out. Learn about consent.

We‘re not Daddy shopping.

I can honestly say that I went on a date where the guy practically interviewed me to be the stepmom for his kid. It was a first date. Maybe people like this are why there’s a misconception that single parents are hunting for a prospective step-parent for the kids.
The single people I know aren’t out interviewing mommies or daddies. We’re looking for connection and a healthy relationship. If we find that, we certainly want one capable of filling that role for our kids, but we’re not out shopping for a step-parent where just anyone could fit the bill. So don’t bother trying to cozy up to our kids or push hard on forming a relationship with them. We’re not going to let you near the kids unless we think this has a future, and it may take a while to get to that stage. We’re looking for actual partners we can love and not just someone who meets some parenting checklist.

Even if you pay, dates cost us, too.

I’m not talking about some kind of sick quid pro quo situation. I’m talking babysitters. I once paid $70 to a sitter to go out on a date that cost less than that for dinner. Stop pushing single parents to get a sitter when they aren’t available or can’t afford it. If they say no, respect that. There is little more embarrassing than having to explain to a potential date that our budget may extend to supporting ourselves and our kids but might not cover the cost of a sitter for a night out. Be considerate, and understand that sometimes dates might get derailed by family emergencies.

No glove, no love.

Louder for the people in the back! Safety is always important, but it’s even more so for a single parent who is already shouldering enormous responsibility. If you don’t have contraceptives on hand, don’t expect to have sex. STIs and unplanned pregnancies impact our lives in ways you can’t even imagine, and being careless about sex shows that you’re immature and irresponsible.

We’re not looking to raise another kid.

I’m not talking about potential step-children either. If you are not living on your own and supporting yourself, it’s a red flag. If you’re not holding a job and paying your own bills, it’s a red flag. If you’re up to your eye balls in debt that’s not for an education, it’s a red flag. We already have kids to take care of, and we don’t want a partner who we’re going to have to teach to balance a checkbook, create a budget, or wash a load of laundry. We’re looking for adults who are capable of supporting themselves and don’t expect someone else to do it for them.

Get over your hang-ups about co-parenting.

Hey, I don’t want to see my ex either, but when you’re a good parent, you actually try really hard to do what’s best for the kids. This means co-parenting with someone you broke up with or divorced. It’s not fun for us either, but if you’re going to be with a single parenting, expect there to be some interaction from the ex.

Our kids come first, but we don’t come last.

This one is big for me. My kids will always come first in the decisions that I make as far as their health and well-being and overall happiness. But I’m not last either. I had an ex say that he and my kids should come before me. I think I was somewhat lower on the list than housecleaning and making dinner. But that’s not how this works. I don’t come last.
If I’m in a relationship, I’m not going to put my wants, needs, and general self-care last because I have a partner, and I wouldn’t be with a partner who expected me to do so. I matter, too, and it’s unrealistic to expect a single parent to put you before their kids OR themselves. Single parents need all the self-care they can get to do this job.

We have so much less time to waste.

We’re incredibly busy, and we’re not going to waste a lot of time. If you seem to be jerking us around, we’re going to put on the brakes. If you lie to us, don’t expect us to keep you around. If you wave a red flag in the air in front of us, we’re not going to excuse it as a little quirk. We’ve got busy lives and children to raise up to be healthy, happy adults, and we don’t have the time for our time to be wasted.

If you know you couldn’t treat another person’s kids like your own, don’t date a single parent. If you’re going to get twisted about an ex coming around for co-parenting purposes, don’t date a single parent. If you can’t be considerate, respectful, and honest, don’t date a single parent. It’s easy. We want connection and to fall in love, like anyone else, but we are not here for any of your bullshit if you just want to play games. We’ll play Chutes and Ladders with our kids, but we’re not going to play dating games with you. Be real, or go home.

There are so many challenges for single moms to date at all. My primary sitter will almost never babysit in order for me to date, and I can’t always afford the prices of sitters in my area. I often have to work around their visitations with their dad or even their school schedule. It’s not easy. We already have enough stress and responsibility without dating adding more.
There’s this horrible misconception out there about single moms. I hope this little no-f*cks-given tutorial has clarified a few of these areas that might have been confusing before. We want to date, but we’re not here for anyone’s bullshit. We’re not easy or desperate, and we’re not shopping for daddies. If you don’t have a glove, you don’t get the love, and just generally be considerate of our time. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Masturbating as a Young Woman Within a Religion That Condemns Touching Yourself

Taken from this link.

Masturbating as a Young Woman Within a Religion That Condemns Touching Yourself

Condemned by God and Parents: Releasing Shame and Secrecy

I used to touch myself in secret when I was a child.
Even as a child I had heard enough preached from the platform at our local congregation at the Kingdom Hall (I was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness) about sex and masturbation to know that my body was condemned by God for me to touch, but was to be saved for my future husband to touch when I was married.
But, I didn’t wait until marriage.
Usually at night, under the covers, my fingers would stray and find themselves inside my labia stroking, separating the folds, and rubbing. I never reached the point of orgasm and would often fall asleep with my fingers resting “down there” as a form of reassurance.
It was a form of self-soothing.
Here I am. I am here. I have a body. I am real. My body is real, and I can feel it.
Being sexually abused by my pop between the ages of 4 to 9 years old I had become used to an adult violating my physical and sexual boundaries.
I didn’t know back then it was called sexual abuse or sexual assault. I just knew I must never talk about it or everyone would think I was dirty and bad. I felt that my hands had “made” my granddad do bad things to my brother.
My body had enticed my pop. I had somehow made his hands touch me, and then touch my brother in ways that made me run and hide while he carried on abusing my younger brother in the bathroom.
But first, my pop always starts with me.
He would get me to rub him with my hands, and I would focus on the talcum powder of my nana that lay scattered on the bathroom floor in little white specks under the sink. I would focus on that and the black and white tiles until my pop would suddenly remove my hands, hold them up in the air, his erection in front of my face and say, “Look what you have done to me.
Then he would sexually abuse my little brother.
My mother took my little brother to the doctor as his bowel had collapsed and was protruding outside of his body.
He was four years old. I was nearly seven.
The doctor thought it was because he had just started kindergarten and was reluctant to use the bathroom at school and so was getting constipated and straining to use the toilet when he came home.
He didn’t realize my little brother didn’t like bathrooms because a toilet/bathroom is where we were abused, and where I “made” my pop’s body do things with my hands, that hurt my brother.
I would sit inside the coat cupboard in the hallway at my grandparents flat completely disassociated holding onto the latch inside the door to try and stop anyone from opening it, my face lost in the coats and jackets hanging up and my feet and knees crouched and hunched over the shoes lining the bottom of the cupboard.
My legs would go numb, and I would lose all feeling in my feet, which would turn into blocks of concrete. Eventually, my grandmother would return from wherever she had gone and would pull me out of the cupboard and rock me on the ground in the hallway, my face pressed into her massive bosom as she would whisper in my hair, “your a strange little one, you’re a funny little thing.”
But I didn’t feel funny.
I felt bad and confused, and the pressure in my chest would build and build until I just wanted to disappear. And I did.
Touching myself at night in the privacy of my bedroom and the dark, under the covers was my way of “checking” nothing was damaged — my way of trying to understand why my pop was so interested in “down there” and feeling and exploring my body to try and make sense of it all.
But I never really could.
As I turned 13 and once I had started my periods the sensations and urges within my body as I touched myself grew stronger.
I was an avid reader. I read a book I had brought home from the school library that in words described a young girl reaching orgasm by masturbation.
I was fascinated.
I knew masturbation or touching my private parts was condemned by God. Jehovah’s Witnesses had plenty to say from the platform (by men in suits, white shirts, and ties) over the years, for me to understand in my young mind that my body was not my own — it was not made for MY enjoyment. It was purely for my husband.
If I allowed anyone else to touch my body before I was married, or if I felt myself, then God who knew everything done in secret was aware and would destroy me at Armaggedon and would condemn me.
I lived in fear always as I knew God knew what I was doing. I already felt condemned in my heart, mind, and body.
After I had read the book from the school library detailing in beautiful language the absolute ecstasy to be experienced by dipping my fingers into olive oil and rubbing the pea-like protrusion at the top of my labia and penetrating and pushing my fingers inside of me to create an “orgasm” I decided I needed to try this.
I wanted to know what it felt like as I knew I was condemned and was already going to die, so I thought that I might as well die knowing what it was all about.
I got some olive oil from the kitchen and put some in a small jar when my parents were not around. I had some tampons from my mother’s room (I was only allowed pads to wear when I had periods), but I knew about tampons from overhearing other girls who had been allowed to go to sex education at school. I read the back of the box in my mother’s drawer next to her bed when she was not around, so I knew how to use them. I went and got one of them.
I waited until my parents were not in the house and I pushed my clothes drawers against my door so no one could open the door without me knowing. I opened the lid on the jar with the olive oil, and I removed the tampon from the paper enclosing it and put it on the floor. I removed my underpants.
I lay on the floor like had been described in the book. I let my legs flop open and spread out. I rubbed the oil slowly where I thought I could feel my clitoris. I rubbed and rubbed. I could feel the sensation building. I kept squeezing my legs together as the tension built then allowed my legs to flop wide open again. I increased the pressure and the speed of my rubbing.
The explosion of absolute pleasure and release of tension when it came throbbed up between my legs and into my pelvis and down my legs. I shuddered and shook and lay panting on the floor. Tears silently rolled from my eyes.
I rolled onto my side still half naked and bunched my legs up and just lay there until the shaking stopped and my breathing and heart quieted down.
I knew I would be doing it again.
It was the most amazing and most beautiful feeling physically I had ever experienced in my life. I was crying with sadness for my guilt and sin and also pleasure and heartfelt relief for what my body had just experienced.
The ambivalence was overwhelming.
I had stopped halfway through rubbing oil on my clitoris and inserted the tampon inside of me. I had succeeded in inserting it after oiling up the outside of the tampon and slowly stretching and pushing it into my vagina until it hurt. I would stop and then slowly push and insert it again. In this way, I had slowly stretched the opening to my vagina without causing any harm to myself. I had put the tampon aside after a while and had concentrated solely on rubbing my clitoris until I reached orgasm.
The second time I masturbated my clitoris, I sellotaped together the cardboard, so it stuck to the tampon and didn’t slide back down into the cardboard. It was longer this way, and I figured it more closely was the length of an erect penis although not the width. I slowly inserted and withdrew the tampon in my vagina until I could push it all the way inside of me.
I found it awkward laying on my back trying to do it, and so I crouched over my dad’s shaving mirror I had brought into the room from the bathroom and watched as I slowly inserted the tampon into me. I rubbed my clitoris until I could feel the sensations building. I knew I wanted a vaginal orgasm as had been described in the book, so I inserted the tampon and pushed it inside me as far as it would go. The end of the tampon extended within the cardboard hit my cervix (although I didn’t know it was called this at the time)-I just knew that the tampon hit the top of my vagina and could not penetrate any further inside of me.
I slowly moved it in and out of me. I felt the tension rise. I knew I needed to change position as I desperately wanted to open my knees and legs as wide as they could go as the sexual tension rose up in me from between my legs. I lay back down on the ground and opened my legs wide. With one hand I rubbed my clitoris with the oil on my fingers, increasing the pressure and speed and experimenting with going up and down and also around in circles.
I delighted in the sensations and the ability I had to slow down and speed up and prolong the pleasure.
I thrust the tampon inside of me pumping it in and out fast as the pleasure in my clitoris was climaxing. Having my vaginal muscles clamp down on the tampon at the same time as the orgasm from my clitoris nearly made my heart stop it was so powerful.
I lay with my knees clenched after they had been open in the air up until the point of orgasm and I could feel the throbbing inside of my vagina in time with my heartbeat slowly dissipate. My breathing and heartbeat slowly returned to normal.
I could not believe my body could bring me such pleasure.
I wondered:
Why should my future unknown husband be the only one allowed to do this to me?
It was MY body, so why couldn’t I bring pleasure to myself?
Was it really true that my body would be weakened by masturbation?
Would I be unable to have children because I was masturbating regularly as I had been taught?
Was I “dirty” doing this to myself?
Why was I dirty if God had made my body and created my body to do this?
Why was it okay for someone else to do this to me and it not be “dirty” and not me do it to myself?
What if I never married?
Did this mean someone who never married must never experience this pleasure?
At this time I was not aware that some married women never experienced orgasm with their husbands.
I was 13/14 years old and had been touching myself for pleasure although not up to the point of orgasm for years.
Finally understanding and gaining awareness of the world of sexual pleasure with my body awakening hormonally and growing and developing plus having access to material describing sexual arousal had opened up a whole new world to me.
It was a world of sexual pleasure and release that helped me cope on and off for years not just up to my marriage but also through my marriage and into the present day.
Masturbation was a gift to me, but also was a source of great guilt and shame due solely to the teachings of the “church” and the inaccurate information I was unintentionally given by my mother.
My mother had told me that men were more sexually “needing” and that a woman was to please her husband (although no information on how to actually “please” was given).
I wondered if I was normal when I experienced such desire and need for sexual release and pleasure?
I wondered if it was true that only men were sexually needy then was I abnormal?
Did other women feel sexual desire and urges the way that I felt them?
I had so many questions and no way to get answers.
After my mother had found the book from the school library in my possession, she had taken it back to the school with me, demanded to see the headmistress and asked for the book to be removed from the library as it “was filth” and encouraged “promiscuity.”
The headmistress had gently and kindly explained to my mother that artistic expression of sexual pleasure whether in art or a novel was essential to be made available to young people to normalize the experience as it was completely normal for young people to feel these things and it was vital for them not to feel guilty.
I remember how important it was for me to hear her say this, at a time when I wanted the floor to open up and for me to disappear under it as my mother was forcefully saying how disgusting the book was I had brought home. In my mind if my mother thought the book was disgusting enough to take me to the school and make a scene in front of the headmistress, what would she feel about me if I confessed what I was doing in secret? I already knew she would think I was disgusting so I stayed quiet. The shame increased. The secrecy remained. All my secrets stayed secret.
I was confused by the messages I was given in comparison to the pure pleasure I felt in my own body.
It would be years before I resolved the ambivalence and would be able to let go the guilt fully and enjoy sexual experiences without shame, guilt, and secrecy surrounding them.

“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” ―Wayne W. Dyer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How Quitting Prayer Made Me a Believer

This post is copied from here.

I’ve always struggled with the idea of an interventionist God. The idea of treating an omnipotent power like a vending machine: If you put in faith, good works, and requests, you’ll get the world to go your way.
This assumes God operates within a meritocracy. It assumes that the better you are, the better you’ll be treated by the almighty. It assumes you can get everything you want if you just pray hard enough, if you’re holy enough, if you never stray. But when “ask and you shall receive” ends up being your proof of faith, how are we meant to react when God says “no”?

About 17 years ago, I was attending church three times a week. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer and then gone into remission, only to find out that her husband, my stepdad, had been cheating on her while she was in chemo. After an ugly divorce, her cancer returned, but this time it didn’t look like she was going to win.
Church became our solace. The community we built there helped us through her divorce and her illness. They prayed our way through each crises, and I prayed with them.
But each time, God seemed to tell us “no.”
After my mom died, I kept praying. It was inertia. But it gradually began to feel hollow. I didn’t throw a tantrum and tell God, “I’m never speaking to you again.” Instead, it was a slow decline in trust. It was as if I were a child, and my parent had stopped showing up for me.
For someone who’d been so embedded in prayer, and the culture of faith, my decision to stop praying wasn’t easy. When life is hard, hopeless, and confusing, prayer is often the only thing that empowers us. It’s how we fight helplessness.
But when we stop praying, helplessness is all that’s left. For most of us, that’s very uncomfortable. And even after I’d decided to quit, I kept fighting the urge to pray. I’d think: How much easier would it be to say a quick prayer on the off chance it might work?
I’d been leaning on the “We’ll pray for you” method of doing nothing.
Then, I started to notice how often Christians substitute prayer for more direct action.
When was the last time you said you would pray for someone? When’s the last time you actually did? And when’s the last time you did something else to reach out and give support? Offered a meal, an ear, a social connection, a protest sign? I’d been leaning on the “We’ll pray for you” method of doing nothing. By not praying, I forced myself to either admit a passive stance or roll up my sleeves and get to work.
I began to reject prayers from those around me. When someone told me they were going to pray for me, I did not feel grateful. I felt resentful. Though I knew they were coming from a good place, I didn’t want their prayers. I wanted their support, concretely.
To insult people’s prayers is to insult their faith. For many, traditional prayer is a central tenet of faith. I never found a way to have this conversation graciously, to politely acknowledge another’s belief without being made complicit in it. And while I wouldn’t say it was easy to decouple prayer and belief, I found that, ultimately, I still believe in a higher power, even if he doesn’t take requests.

After giving up prayer, a part of me wondered: Did I give up on it too quickly? Is it a valuable tool? Does it actually work?
I did some research. In a study on intercessory prayer concluded in 2006, researchers asked three Christian congregations around the country to pray for 1,802 heart surgery patients. They divided them into three groups: patients who knew they were being prayed for, patients who did not know they were being prayed for, and patients who were not prayed for at all. Thirty days after surgery, it appeared there was no significant difference in results between the group that was prayed for and the group that wasn’t. In fact, the group that was told they were being prayed for actually had a higher incidence of complications post-surgery: 59 percent versus 51 percent.
On the other hand, there have been other smaller studies suggesting that prayer may lend a helping hand. Reachers in Seoul studied 219 infertile women who received in vitro fertilization embryo transfers. Remote prayer was conducted by groups in the United States, Australia, and Canada, and the women were not informed they were being prayed for. The result? Women who were prayed for had nearly double the pregnancy rate of those who had not been prayed for: 50 percent versus 26 percent.
Clearly, we still don’t know whether praying for others works. But maybe there’s a less clinical benefit. A personal reward for prayer, one only I can feel. I wondered: Could a daily prayer practice help me achieve some sort of inner peace? Was I willing to try?

When I was in high school, a counselor taught me to meditate as a strategy to manage my PTSD, and it soon became a consistent part of my mental health regimen. I generally feel better when it’s part of my daily routine, and science backs that up. Meditation has been linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduction in anxiety, stress, and pain, as well as a heightened immune response.
Meditation soon became my replacement for prayer.
When meditation is given a spiritual quality, instead of simply sticking to the secular, it can be even more effective. In a study of migraine sufferers, one group was asked to meditate for 20 minutes a day with the mantra “God is good. God is peace. God is love.” Another group was asked to meditate with a more neutral mantra, “Grass is green. Sand is soft.” After a month, the group that meditated on God reported a greater decrease in migraines.
Meditation has been linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduction in anxiety, stress, and pain, as well as a heightened immune response.
Once meditation was already a part of my daily practice, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a more spiritual charge. In fact, it might help. And because it felt different from traditional Christian prayer, it was less likely to bring up all the negative feelings of theistic abandonment.
But how could I incorporate the highly Westernized version of prayer that I’d been taught with my Eastern meditation practice? Both would have to shift.
I returned to the prayers I’d learned growing up, specifically the Lord’s Prayera model from which all other prayers should follow. I’m not a theologian, but I’ve bounced around enough denominations at this point to understand that the Lord’s Prayer is essentialit may be one of the only things all Christians can agree on. When I stopped reciting the Lord’s Prayer by rote and really unpacked it, I began to realize that my understanding of what prayer should be was warped.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we’re taught to include three things: praise, submission, and request. And it’s the last part that trips me up, because there are only three requests in the Lord’s Prayer: for bread, for forgiveness, and for guidance. That’s it.
How freeing! None of what Westernized religion had taught me to pray forhealth, wealth, personal successwere there. How much easier would it have been to accept my mother’s death if I’d been asking for forgiveness and guidance instead of health? Maybe it wasn’t that God hadn’t shown up, but that I’d been asking for the wrong things. He’d never made a promise to fix me, or my mom, upon request.
Instead of asking, maybe I should have been listening. After all, if you believe that God gives us gifts and talents, then maybe it’s our job to do the fixing. With guidance, of course.

I still don’t prayat least, not in the typical way. I do try to make time each day, however, to sit and listen. My time with God is a time of quiet and stillness. It’s a time to let clarity come to me slowly, gently, instead of demanding it on cue.
I will probably never tell you that I’ve been praying for you. What I will do is consider the gifts I have been given, and listen for ways that I can use them to truly help you. Then, I’ll get to work.

To My Mom, and the Cult that Tore Our Family Apart

This post is copied from this link.

I’m about to tell you the worst imaginable thing; I’m admitting that I am an Apostate.
For those of you reading along at home, that means I’ve spoken out against what my mom’s religion refers to as “The Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses, directs all of the actions of their organization and leads the men in charge to make the decisions that God wants them to.
I know this means you probably won’t talk to me ever again. If you follow their rules, you won’t even invite me to grandma’s funeral, and I won’t be welcome at yours. But I want you to reconsider.
Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) actually have two forms of extreme shunning. The better-known form is called “disfellowshipping.” It usually lasts a minimum of six months, but can be reversed once the member is found to be “repentant.” The other, less talked about, form of shunning is to label someone as an “Apostate.” This means they have said or done something in direct opposition to the organization. The punishment for this is non-negotiable. The Apostate can never return; they are not to be spoken to, or even mentioned, again. Family and friends are instructed to act as if the Apostate is dead. If a member breaks these rules, they too will find themselves disfellowshipped or marked as an Apostate very quickly.
I want you to take a hard look at the organization of men you serve, and what they are asking you to do. I want you to think about it as someone who hasn’t sacrificed 30+ years of their lives for it. I want you to think clearly and rationally, even though being in a cult makes that hard.
When I was a baby in my mom’s arms, they came knocking on her trailer door in rural Arkansas. She was fresh out of prison and hadn’t gotten her pardon yet. Her three children had different dads and none of them were in the picture. You might say she was in a hard spot. You might have heard that JWs target people in hard spots, as many cults do, and keep them through doctrine.
All I’m doing is expressing a contrary opinion. I can do this with my Catholic friends, my Muslim friends, my Hindu friends, and my agnostic friends. Why can’t I do this with you? Are your beliefs truly beyond scrutiny?
Do you really think it’s normal for a religion to ask you to not have a close relationship with your children and grandchildren? When was the last time you spoke to or saw your oldest child? Do you really think wishing any of us happy birthday will destroy our spirituality, or chances of salvation?
For the record, my mom celebrated my first birthday. It was before she was baptized — which is the point from which breaking the rules will result in discipline or shunning — but shewas studying at the time. Her guilt in the matter was overwhelming, and last I heard she still felt bad for this “sin.”
Do you know how many children were abused like me? Do you know how many families they’ve broken to hide and protect pedophiles? Do you remember how, when I was fifteen and still looked twelve, he kissed me? And how nobody went to the police? And how the elders punished me? Do you really, really think that’s normal? Do you know that’s part of their policy, handed down by the Holy Spirit? Do you really think it’s okay to protect Jehovah’s name before victims of sexual abuse?
The JWs maintain a “two-witness policy” which requires at least two members, in good standing, to have witnessed a thing for it to be valid. Here is a BBC article explaining it.
I’m not blaming you for the decisions they’ve coerced you into making, but I am asking you to consider them with some real scrutiny. A big part of what you always liked about the organization was that, in your words, they encouraged their members to really study, and think deeply. They said we should not blindly follow, but have a deep understanding of our beliefs.
So ask yourself: Do you think it’s right that positions of leadership, down to who gets to hold a microphone or say a prayer, should all be in the hands of men? Do you honestly think women are inferior, and should be subjects of men?
JWs maintain that women are not to hold positions of power, of any sort. They are to be in subjection to their husbands. When I was nine, my mom married a member in good standing. They never told us why he wasn’t allowed to see his other daughters, but I have my suspicions. He became progressively more abusive after they were married, but the elders kept telling mom to display humility with her husband, and to be “meek.” She was eventually disfellowshipped for leaving him and marrying another member after a decade of celibacy.
Do you really think Jehovah disapproved of your relationship with Stefan? Do you really think his Holy Spirit directed them to punish you for it while you cared for your dying father? Do you really think these men have the right to dictate your life the way they have for the past thirty years?
If you were to research on your own, you would see just how flawed both the doctrines and policies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are. But you refuse to look outside your own circle of influence because you are scared. You have been told that anything that contradicts how these men interpret the Bible is wrong, and anything that disproves their policies is Apostate. How could you logically consider or evaluate what they’re asking you to do while doing it? It is literally impossible.
And I know you think they have done so much for you. But let’s consider what has really happened since you joined. You had a rough past and decided to clean it up in your late 20s. Some people told you they would help you out if you followed a few simple rules. The rules weren’t simple, but then they promised everlasting life. That’s kind of ridiculous, if you think about it, but you were told you could bring your children so long as you raised them to love Jehovah. They raped your youngest, turned your middle child into a pretentious asshole, turned your oldest into a stranger. They punished you when you had proof of your spiritual cleanliness, and you took it.
This leads me to believe that you are scared, tired, and possibly defeated. You have spent over half of your life investing in a lie, and to acknowledge it now would break everything you know. They are your support system and your social life. You traded your family, higher education, career advancement, and financial security for this.
I know what it’s like to leave and have almost no one.
I was disfellowshipped after years of sexual abuse, and later reinstated so that my mom would talk to me. They punished me for being a victim. They do this often.
It’s been fourteen years since I’ve stepped foot in a Kingdom Hall.
JWs have their own vocabulary for everything. You’re not allowed to call it “going to church.” It’s not a church. It’s a Kingdom Hall. Sigh.
And the truth is, the only reason you’d ever find me back in one is to confront the elders about their abuse, or to convince people to leave. That’s right Mom, I’m the worst thing you could ever imagine. I’m an Apostate, and I’m proud of it.
I know that means you’re probably going to chose Jehovah’s Witnesses over me, again. I understand why you’d do that, but I want you to know that I will always love you and hold out hope that you break free. That you realize these are just men, without any real connection to God.
I hope that someday you will be proud of me. I hope you will understand what a fantastic daughter you raised. How strong and tenacious I am, how fiercely I fight for what I believe in, and how much I love you.