an open sex life, a closed door

In ALL, STRAIGHT UP ADVICE by Stephanie Klein15 Comments

QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER: I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. That’s odd for me to even type because as long as I’ve remembered, it’s been difficult for me to share that with people. I was married just as I was turning 20, to someone who I really thought I was in love with. There is still a part of me that hurts because there is still a part of me that loves him. We married because that was just the next step. In reality though, I believe it was more about being the only way we could stop sneaking around having sex—which of course, we weren’t supposed to be doing until we were married anyhow.

jehovah's witness some naked people at the front doorI thought I was happy those first couple of years. Then I started to realize that this marriage and this life was turning me into someone I didn’t want to be. I always felt like something was missing. I was not a happy person, and I was not happy with who I was. The only positive from this marriage was that my family loved him. I had always been the black sheep and now, finally, it looked like I had done something to win their approval. My relationship with my family flourished and that was what made me happy.

My husband did not want the same things that I now wanted. He was lackluster about having children. If they happened, they happened. He never wanted to move beyond the confines of where we had both grown up. He wanted to keep playing bachelor with his buddies. Pretended to be a rockstar in his bar band. I realized it was a one-sided relationship, and I was trying to put in enough effort for the both of us. The same few fights kept reoccurring like they were on a giant lazy susan. And there was never any resolve. I didn’t mind taking my share of the blame, but I did mind that he could never take any part of it.

When I was 23, I met someone who made me feel something I had never felt before. He was raised in a polar opposite religion with polar opposite beliefs. He was not physically “my type.” He was not who I would ever have imagined myself falling for.
He was the type of person who would take a vacation to Mexico and never come back. Or travel to Thailand to teach children how to speak English. He had lost his mother to cancer recently and had so much appreciation for his life and the people in it. He had lived this life that made me realize how much I had been missing out on.
And how much priority I had been putting on things that didn’t even matter. He made me laugh and made me think and made me question things I had been scared to question.

Then I kissed him and everything got turned upside down.

I became the cheater, which I never in a million years would have foreseen. This was not ever supposed to happen, and it is a decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Eighteen months later, I feel as though I am finally settling down. I separated from my husband for two months. Got scared of disappointing family, friends, the church. Being on my own for the first time was scary too. Got convinced I should try to make my marriage work. Broke the “other guy’s” heart. Got back together with my husband, and tried to work things out for four months. That didn’t work, and the whole time all I could think about was this “other guy.”

My husband asked for a divorce, which I agreed to. I fought myself on that decision for a long time. Only just recently has that fight seemed to subside. Meanwhile, the “other guy” took me back with open arms.

Four months ago, we moved seven hundred miles from home. I am slowly but surely building a new life here. I ignored all the rules and all the advice about rebound relationships. Taking time to heal on my own. Not jumping into something too fast. We have a lot of things to overcome, what with religious beliefs and family. I want to make everything work but I’m not sure how it will. And everyday I fall more in love with him.

I lost 99% of my so-called friends. Nobody cared enough to call or even email when the news got out about the separation, let alone the divorce. I didn’t feel it was my duty to contact people to let them know. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe I should have. Regardless, it was like these people and life as I knew it had just never existed in the first place. I was disfellowshipped from the church, which basically means I am completely shunned until I repent and come back. If I pass someone I know on the street who is a JW, they aren’t even supposed to say hello. I don’t see why they would since none of them said as much before I was disfellowshipped.

My immediate family, the one who’s new found relationship I had begun to rely on so much, is gone. They haven’t contacted me now in over a month. I’ve attempted to tell them about this new person in my life, but they don’t let me get too far. They were just as hurt by the divorce as I was. As well as by the decisions I’ve made.

Have I built a bubble for myself, and am I just convincing myself I’m finally finding “happy”? I feel like the only thing missing is my family and the only way to get them back is to become a part of this religion that I’m not even sure about. Another part of me keeps saying that it doesn’t matter. That I will do whatever it takes to get that relationship with my family back.

I realize it’s difficult to give advice on this subject when you haven’t personally walked in the shoes of someone who has been raised in such a….controversial, I suppose is the right word, way.

I just really need some insight and have always appreciated your opinion.

Comments

  1. Read your story and boy I know how you feel. I was a witness for 61yrs. Just walked away, it was not for me. Conditional love is what is practiced in JW. Take your time. Your family will come around as much as they were before. Heal first. It’s okay to be selfish, love you for a little bit. All witnesses marry early for the wrong reasons. Leaving them do not mean you have to leave God. In fact you just might find Jesus and Jehovah. Don’t push yourself to quickly with this new love. He will or might find another love, but don’t beat yourself up. I know how your upbringing has shaped your life. Visit me at the website listed. I am Ask Jacqueline. Tell us your story, also we (ex-JW)have live talk every Saturday night. I will give you the number if you want it. But for now just live in the moment and make no big decisions.
    Sincerely, Jacqueline

  2. WOW. It takes a lot of courage just to write all of this down, this account of what has happened to you. But you know what? I admire you. From someone who has not ever had that great of a family life (with the exception of my Grandma, who died in ’06,)and from someone who has not had that happily ever after with a man- I say “go for it.” I am mid-life and wonder if it will happen to me. I say FOLLOW YOUR HEART.
    I wish you all the best, Cheryl

  3. I would be remiss in saying that it’s easier when your family loves your mate BUT you have to love your family and your mate for all of it to work.

    Shortly after my marriage my parents split. They both loved my husband and I of course adore him. But the parental divorce was a bear – and what I learned was that my husband was my NEW FAMILY AND MY NEW FOCUS! So if you love this guy and are luke warm about your family, make your own decision!

  4. Oh man, what a tough position. But it sounds like this new man and this new life makes you really, really happy (apart from the family shunning thing). If that is the case, I’d say maybe just give your family more time and don’t give up on them. Continue sending gifts at appropriate times or calling every once in a while, or sending a letter (depending on what you think works best with your family’s communication system). I know rejection sucks and is painful, but they are your family and at heart I’m sure they love you. They just don’t understand your choices. (And capitulating to them, giving up the man you love and turning to a religion you don’t believe in, is false and you will resent yourself and them for it in the long run.) It is your life to live, so live it and hopefully one day your family will come around to see and at least accept your choices.

  5. You’re absolutely right, it is impossible for people to truly give advice for your situation, even those that have gone through similar circumstances. We are all our own individual person. That said, I have some thoughts.

    First, religion (the doctrine, rules, and politics) ruins the sacred and beautiful relationship that God wants to have with us. Many religious zealots have good intentions, but they are confused by their own delusions. The fact that you separated yourself from a conditional-love organization and have found a sense of peace and happiness should be enough to take comfort in that you have made the right decision. God’s message is love, grace, and forgiveness; not separation, hatred, rejection or accusation. Judgment is only to be passed by God, and God alone. Perhaps taking a moment to remember this and reflecting on the truth of it will help put your mind at ease.

    Second, society drives our mentality of right and wrong. It is nearly impossible to really know what truly is right and what is wrong. Different countries and their respective sub-cultures have different mindsets for different things. What we may consider a horrific occurrence, others may consider daily commonplace. The only thing that really matters is what makes sense to you personally, and the beliefs that you can honestly acknowledge to yourself. This doesn’t mean giving up beliefs you don’t want to give up; instead it means embracing those that you may otherwise be hiding.

    Third, the only person that really matters in all of this is you. Your family, friends, or even this “other guy” aren’t the main concern here; you are. I often tell people to do what makes them happy. They will sometimes reply impudently, “even if that means stealing” or some other “commandment”. I often say that if they truly, deep-down in the depth of their being believe that it is honestly “good” to do whatever it is they want to do, then they should probably do it, especially if it makes them happy.

    This is a tricky rabbit hole, and without going down it, my point is simply this: if being with the other guy has made you happier, and you are living a life that provides you with meaning, purpose, and passion, then you are in a far better place than you would have ever been previously. You should embrace the circumstance with open arms and welcome whatever the future brings wholeheartedly. Your family will or won’t come around. The reality is “going back” won’t be a solution.

    For people that lead judgment-filled, conditional-love, lives, true forgiveness doesn’t occur, and they will always hold a level of resentment for your previous actions. It’s unfortunate, and there are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, you can count on this. You are better off working to rebuild relationships under the context of your current situation, and let those that can accept you for you back in, and those that can’t, you don’t let back in. This is much easier said than done, no doubt, but it can be done, and it must for you to experience happiness in the way that you are supposed to.

  6. Concentrate on and enjoy what you have with your man and your family will come around in the end. Forget about the JW. Church should be about love, fellowship, unconditional understanding and acceptance. JW is none of the above.
    Be happy, you’ve grasped it, now hang onto it.

  7. There’s not much I can add to what has already been said. The church, your family and friends…all that conditional love is just not right. No one should have to live their life in opposition to who they are just to be accepted. I have plenty of family members that have lifestyles or personalities that I don’t like, but I recognize that they are on a different path. It’s not my place to tell them how to live THEIR lives. So I just love and accept them. When you accept people for who they are, the differences seem to fade.

    If your family comes around, great. If not, build another family with the friends that you make today. The friends that love and accept you for who you are today.

  8. I say, embrace this new love but don’t be blinded by it– sometimes the man who becomes the catalyst in helping you leave a bad relationship is just that– a catalyst. And then he gets burned up in the process and his purpose is all gone. Try not to think that the new man is the answer to the old one, someone who is going to make this “marriage mistake” all right again. I know I’ve thought that in my own life. If you’re happy, be happy, but if you’re not, let yourself see that and don’t be afraid to walk away from this, too.

    You were married so young, and have gone from one man to the next. If this new relationship doesn’t work out– and you have the guts to let it go– take a few years to get to know yourself, by yourself. And move to New York City!

  9. I was a JW for 10 years and quit on my 15th birthday. Had enough. Turned Atheist later on. So much easier being one.

    Unfortunately I still have family members who are J-Dub’s. The on-going conditional crap I had to deal with has forced me to lay low with them.

    I will be writing a book in regards to my upbringing and the effect it had on me. It took some time to get used to the regular world. Stay tune.

  10. Professing to follow a religion you don’t believe in to get your family back is a non-starter. It would be hypocritical, and they would probably figure that out anyway. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. You can still reach out to them, reassure them that just because you rejected their faith doesn’t mean you rejected them. You have to go with your beliefs.

    You said they haven’t contacted you in a month; have you contacted them? Often in family disputes everyone sits around waiting for the other person to make the first move. Act like you’re still part of the family, don’t get kicked out by neglect. Force them to actively kick you out if they dare…

  11. Good for you for being brave enough to take a chance. So many people wouldn’t have done that and continued to waste time in a life that didn’t make them happy.

    When I was 23 I moved 2,000 miles away from home to New York City, where I only knew one person. It was scary and wonderful. Whether or not this relationship works out (though it sounds like you are a good fit!) I think you’ll look back on this time and see it as the moment everything changed for the better. It’s scary now, as all change is, but I think it was the right move.

    Regarding the people who have shunned you since the divorce: They are wrapped up in their own crap. Believe it or not, it’s not about you or your decisions, it’s about them and their own notions of faith.

    I’m proud of you, lady.

  12. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi

  13. Last year I took a six month break from talking to my parents after a particularly violent (verbally) fight with my mother. It was painful and horrible and I hated every minute of it, but it did the trick, and now she really tries to be more respectful. My point is, your family is likely to come around, but they need time to adjust. Make sure you let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready, and that you’ll resume your daughter duties on your own terms, with love and respect and understanding, and no religion.

    As for your new guy, there’s nothing wrong with finding someone who loves you for who you are, even if he/she comes along right after another meaningful relationship. Enjoy it one day at a time, see where it takes you…

  14. That was a great story to tell. I grew a great respect and appreciation towards you. It is not only the fact that you were able to share you story on here for the entire world to see, but you were able to point out your flaws and own up to them. Not many people can do that, however, we all do make mistakes.

    I have never been a JW, so I do not know what it is like.

    What I do know is the feeling of finally being happy. I have found a man that I could see myself spending the rest of my life with, which I have never said about anyone before. He has made me feel like I have never felt, and taught me new things about the world and about myself. He opened my eyes to a whole new light…pure bliss, true happiness.

    Stay with who makes you happy. I hope and pray that your family will come around, because we all know at the end of the day you need your family. I hope that they do accept you back with open arms and that you can share the happiness you have found in a man with them. I pray they will come around.

    Until then, keep your chin up. Move on without them. Establish yourself, put yourself first. Remember, do what makes you happy, not what others expect from you and want you to do and what they think will make you happy. Be you. Then move onto the next step of mending those falls in the bridges between you and your family.

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