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The new Disfellowshipped JW Thread - coping with disfellowshipping

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Trying again. Lets keep the tone non-UAviolating. Specifically COPING with the effects of disfellowshipping.

When I was first DFed my immediate family, except 1 sister, continued their relationship with me. In 4/07 it hit the fan when my other sister noticed me wearing a cross necklace. She decided to follow the disfellowshipping rules by the letter after that. My mom soon followed. In 09/07 my mom called in tears saying she just couldnt do it and that, although she knows its wrong, it will have to be between her and jehovah. So she and I talk now, but the relationship is forever damaged. I always adored my mom and saw her as the one person who would always love and champion me, no matter what. I can never feel that way about her again.

So, a couple weeks ago my mom and I talk on the phone (she lives 2000 miles away) and she says she really wants to see the kids. Problem, she doesnt want my sister who lives in the same city, who she stays with often, to know. She's trying to arrange it on the sly so as not to... Im not sure what. She wants to stay with us and asked me to ask DH. DH was royally PISSED when after 7 years of my being DFed, accepting out hospitality and money many times, they decided to shun me. Naturally my mom is wary of how he may feel. So, like a coward, I said I'd talk to him and never did. She, nor I, ever brought it up again. Both of us purposely avoiding the conversation.

I am just so uncomfortable about having her in my house. Do I take down the cross? Do I try to keep her from hearing DS say his prayers (he wont be praying to Jehovah which will be a blow to her)? Do I not listen to my usual music?

Also, it bugs me that she is sneaking around to see me. Am I being to sensitive? I mean, if you really think it's wrong then dont do it. If you dont think its wrong then dont sneak around.

I hate this.

REMINDER: Please post with care. Id like to keep this thread around.
post #2 of 38
(HUGS) sorry you have to go through this. I'm not a JW, former or present, but I've had quite a lot of experience dealing with difficult parents due to my dad's alcoholism (dry now, but he's still quite the jerk) and the spill-over into relationships with other relatives.

The most obvious question is can your mom stay at a hotel? If she can't afford it, perhaps could you and your DH pick up half? That way it helps to keep her out of her home and getting upset about your normal activities now (your DS praying, your music, the cross - is it on the wall or one you wear?). Also, that way, if things really go south with the visit, you won't have her in your home. I'd also try to do more public activities, if you think she's liable to blow up at something.

I'd also keep the visit short - like over a long weekend. Yes, I know she would be coming 2000 miles, but since this is apparently the first time you will see her after the disfellowshipping, best keep it short so you can test the waters.

If you're able to, you might say to Mom, "Mom, I'd like you to see the kids, but I'm a Christian now and you have to respect that. If you cannot treat my choices and those of my family with respect and civility, you cannot visit." I assume you're not dissing the JW faith to her. You might include that you now do X because you're Christian (ie - regular practices that might freak her out) but calmly.

Several years ago, I went back to my hometown to visit a friend. I did NOT tell my parents I was going to be in town. One day I had an afternoon free and popped by the home of a favorite aunt and uncle. Needless to say, they were very surprised to see me! I had to ask them NOT to tell my parents I was in town and that they had seen me. Turns out my parents had been spreading stories about why I hadn't visited them for YEARS (the relationship is very bad and almost non-existent). Aunt and uncle were quite shocked about the extent of parents' nastiness to me, but we had a good visit. I was glad I saw them, because about six months later my uncle died. Unfortunately, with my parents, you can't even mention anything is wrong. When I was still in college and tried to talk to them (when dad first got dry), the very mention of AA (how dad got dry) got them very angry. It's "the program," I was told - and nothing more could be said. "We're not going to talk about it." And 20 years later, it's still that way.

And yes, it can be very difficult when you change religions or even just denominations. I went from one Christian denomination to another, but this just drove the parents even further into their hole. I live six hours away and so at least they're not in my daily (or even occasional life). At this point, I've made my own family with friends (I'm single) and just get on with my life.

It might happen that coming to visit wouldn't be a good thing - just keep the relationship via phone & letter (or email). Send photos, etc. You have to think of your DH & kids, as well as your mom, regardless of how much she might want to visit. Is there someone at your church (I'm assuming you attend one) that you could talk to, such as your pastor?

Hugs. Hoping it can resolved.
post #3 of 38
try to go easy on your mom. this is hard for her and she is torn between her dd and her God. and the rest of her family as well.

She obviously still loves you or wouldn't be going through all this, wopuldn't be torn up etc.

I understand that she hurt you very badly but perhaps now would be a good time to build some bridges. how would you want your dd to treat you? even if you can't imagine acting like your mom.

I agree that a hotel would be a good solution. however if staying at your house is the only option I am sure she will be coming in love and not judgmentalness (this is way to much trouble for her to go to just to sit around and yap at you for your choices). I don't see any reason i take down a cross (or take off a cross) or change your radio station (unless it is universally offensive but I am guessing it is not). I wouldn't let her be present for your childs prayers but i am kinda sensetive like that. I don't like for people to hear me pray unless they are with me on it. it seems a little intamate for just laying it all out there. but otherwise I would just focus on being a good host while not changing who you are. It is just for a few days and in the interest of taking steps towards healing your relationship with your mom.
post #4 of 38
I know very little about JW and DFing, so I'm here as a learner only. No judgment or advice. But is DFing permanent? Does it lift if you return to being JW? What are the consequences for your mother if the family discovers she has contact with you? If any?
post #5 of 38
Thread Starter 
thanks for your support. yeah, I am really trying to get past it, appreciate the what she's trying to do. A hotel would be good but the cost of that + rental car just isnt feasible. Our christianity is so much a part of our day to day that it would just be weird having her around. I wish she could just come spend a day with us at the zoo or something... just waiting and praying at this point.

Kmeyrick... DF is not permanent. If I wanted to return I could, call up my local elder, begin attending meetings for an avg of 6mo-1yr (arriving late & leaving early as no one could speak with me) and, during that time I'd stay in contact with the elders and they would determine how repentant and ready I was to be "reinstated".

Doing it by the book, my family is no to have dealings with me outside of "emergency" situations. So the level of involvment she has/wants is against the rules. She could technically be censored privately or publicly during a meeting and possibly "lose priviledges". Unrepentant violation could cause her to be DF too. However, it is one of those rules that, in my experience, they dont enforce unless she is too public about it and it becomes a "stumbling block" for another witness.

I suppose one of my sisters could report her and it might become an issue. It was my sister who had me report myself back when I started sleeping over at DHs. But I think she's more concerned about friction within the family.
post #6 of 38
I'm not Df'd or Da'd, we got off on a loophole , but I am familiar with dealing with family members who are very cautious about having relationship with us. My question for you is what is your goal with your mother? Do you want a relationship? Does it matter if it is superficial?

If you want to preserve a relationship at all costs, then take down your crosses and tone down any outward display of your beliefs for the week. Don't bring up religion and don't engage in a discussion if it comes up. She is coming 2000 miles and taking a huge risk with her religion just to see you and is even hiding it from your sister. I wonder what her motivation is? Is she "weak" in the religion herself? Has her love for you driven her to do something against her religion? Either way, making this visit free of confrontation would go a long way. It would show her that the things she is taught about you aren't true, you aren't evil, you aren't out to change her religion, and you do have a very happy life in the "world".

Or, if you want a relationship, but not a superficial one, then simply live your live while she is here. Keep your crosses up, don't tone anything down, and live your life the same way you would if she was not here. If the subject of religion comes up, talk openly and honestly about it. Doing it this way comes with risks though. She may leave early, or engage you in an argument, or think you are evil and not ever talk to you again. You will have your dignity in the end, but if you have goals of a continuing relationship, they may not be fulfilled.

It is a complex issue with many ways of looking at it. Unfortunately the cards are already stacked against you, and one wrong move is all it may take.

Sorry this is happening, it is very distressing to have to deal with
post #7 of 38
Yeah, that! I'm not JW but this is great advice for any religious situation.
post #8 of 38
I've never been a JW, but my heart hurts for you reading this.
post #9 of 38
I agree with Jennica (and I am not a JW any longer, but am also not DF'd or DA'd). It depends on what you want out of the visit. FTR, I still cringe when my mom comes to my house even though I don't have other religious paraphenalia up in my house, just things she may disapprove of (like Harry Potter DVDs or if it's near a holiday, decorations) which may or may not be visible.
For me, taking my things down isn't something I'd be comfortable doing. I don't want to tiptoe around the obvious and it seems easier to help get her adjusted and to help squelch that lingering 'hope' that I might come back.

Is she, and are you, in a place where you can talk openly? It may help to plan some time without the kids (if she is receptive) to get some of those things out in the open. Explaining to her that your life is different and may be shocking to her might help.

((((((hugs)))))) I know it's hard!!!
post #10 of 38
One question comes to mind right off the bat: are you going to lay any ground rules with her about witnessing to your kids? That would personally be my biggest concern, and that's why I won't let my mother near my daughter. I cannot trust that she won't proseletyze to my little one, and am just not comfortable with DD being in contact with the belief system, at least not until she is much older and able to objectively reason.

ITA with the PP who suggested that you should leave your crosses and other signs of Christianity up around your house. It is who you are, and if you want the non-superficial relationship with your mom, she'll need to learn to accept that aspect of your life.

My experience with my mother and her congregation was that for every time she'd see me for lunch or whatever, post-DF, she was publicly reproved in front of the congregation. I do think different congregations or districts or circuits may treat it differently, though.
post #11 of 38
Bumping this thread, and I have a question for you guys to help me with.

One of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer last week and is going in for a double mastectomy on Tuesday. (Send good thoughts, please.) My half-sister, who is still a JW, had breast cancer and a double mastectomy twelve years ago. I had just left the religion a few weeks before her diagnosis and surgery--my never-a-believer dad (her step-dad) and I went together to the hospital to just be there in support. I was able to see her briefly and give her a hug and let her know I was there. But my brother-in-law tried to get me thrown out and said I wasn't part of the family. There were enough other people there to refute him and brand him a wackadoo...but anyway.

I haven't seen my sister since, but she is cancer-free now after 12 years. Yay! However, I am coming up on the age she was at her diagnosis, and now that I'm done breastfeeding, I'm getting close to the time I will go in for a mammogram. The thing is, I need to be able to tell the doctors/technicians what kind of cancer my sister had and how it was treated so they know how to deal with me. (Not that I think I have any issues--but you gotta be careful with that kind of family history.) I know I can track down an e-mail address for my sister, and am leaning toward just sending her a note that says, "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I'm going in for a mammogram and will need some family history information to give the doctors. Can you please tell me what kind of cancer you had and what your treatment was?" And then wish her my best and for the kids, etc.

What do you think? I mean, it's really her deal whether she replies or not--it is between her and her beliefs as to whether she thinks helping me out is the "right" thing to do or not. She can decide to continue the shunning and never tell me, and I'll just do the best I can to explain that to the doctor.

I'm guessing she'll reply, but my big fear is that my evil BIL will get ahold of the e-mail somehow and she and the kids will be in trouble. No matter what she does, she'll never be able to convince him that its the first time she's heard from me in over a decade, and that it was innocent. So I hesitate to even send it because I don't want to make trouble for her.

On the other hand, I have to accept that I have no control over how she or he react. I can be polite and respectful and non-intrusive on their beliefs, and their reaction is their own responsibility.

What do you all think?
post #12 of 38
Originally Posted by Valkyrie9 View Post
What do you all think?
Go for it! Your BIL may have softened by now, and your sister may welcome the excuse to talk to you. Be very friendly, and be confident. Don't kowtow to their rules or beliefs. Don't say, "I'm sorry to bother you". That shows that you are submitting to their authority system, their religion, their god. Portray confidence, and happiness. Let them know (indirectly) that your life did not fall apart without the religion directing it, and you aren't clamoring for their affection. That's my 2 cents, good luck
post #13 of 38
Originally Posted by jennica View Post
Go for it! Your BIL may have softened by now, and your sister may welcome the excuse to talk to you. Be very friendly, and be confident. Don't kowtow to their rules or beliefs. Don't say, "I'm sorry to bother you". That shows that you are submitting to their authority system, their religion, their god. Portray confidence, and happiness. Let them know (indirectly) that your life did not fall apart without the religion directing it, and you aren't clamoring for their affection. That's my 2 cents, good luck
I agree - that' s a LONG time to go. She may welcome the opportunity to talk to you. In any case, that's something that isn't prohibited. If you went to her house and had coffee during the course of the conversation, I don't even think THAT is prohibited. If Jesus can share water with a prostitute and a leper, surely your sister can divulge pertinent medical history with her blood-sister

I know that most of my family (the ones that matter) have softened as they've gotten older. As they age, family ties become more important. Maybe she feels similarly?

My aunt was always very (for lack of a better word) 'submissive'. I didn't like it. Now, some 10 years later, she is less so - more her own person - still a good and proper JW wife, but it seems less like my uncle 'looms' over everything she does - and maybe that was the perception as a child, but that's how it felt to me and was the model of how I did NOT want my marriage to be. My point in sharing that (long-winded) story is that maybe your sister has changed a lot in that time. I never thought I would see my aunt as her own person, but I do now.

I'm sorry that you're worrying about cancer. I can't imagin how stressful this must be for you. ((hugs))
post #14 of 38
And also, ((hugs)) and good thoughts for your friend!
post #15 of 38
You know, I think...no, I know...that I am probably the one of the whole family who hasn't softened. She and my mother have both expressed willingness to "fudge it" a bit here and there, and I've been the one saying, "No, these are your rules and you need to play by them. I'm either your family or I am not, and I won't let you treat me halfway."

I guess some of my hesitation is on my own side. I don't want to compromise my stance (to use familiar to us all verbiage). Maybe I should talk about this to my counselor next week...
post #16 of 38
I'm so sorry that you are going through all this. The things people do in the name of religion never ceases to amaze me.

I'm a breast cancer survivor. My sister had a history, too. When I was diagnosed, really all they wanted to know was at what age she had been diagnosed.

You're going for a mammo. You are being screened for cancer. If you don't know the particulars of your half-sister's situation, it's not going to be a big deal. I'm sure you'll be fine. On the off chance they did find something, they would do a biopsy and treat based on your situation, not what your half-sister had.

Having said that, if you decide to call her, maybe it would help to keep that first contact strictly to medical stuff. I would guess she'd find not so much to be offended about if all you are asking are questions that you think your doctor might want answered.

If she's receptive and you are so inclined, maybe make another call in a few months and see where it goes.
post #17 of 38
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
You're going for a mammo. You are being screened for cancer. If you don't know the particulars of your half-sister's situation, it's not going to be a big deal. I'm sure you'll be fine. On the off chance they did find something, they would do a biopsy and treat based on your situation, not what your half-sister had.
Thanks for the support, and I'm so glad you're a survivor! My concern here is that my friend who was just diagnosed has a form of breast cancer that doesn't actually create a tumor--it's not detectable by mammogram or ultrasound. They were biopsying her for what turned out to be calcifications, but a surrounding tissue sample taken at the same time found that her breasts were literally filled with cancer. Had they not taken surrounding tissue, my friend would be dead within two years--no way to save her from it once it had spread outside her breasts. (And strictly speaking, we won't know that it hasn't spread until after her surgery. If then.) So I guess I'm just really worried to not know what it is...because what if it was the same thing my friend has and a mammogram won't do me any good?

Again, I'm so glad to hear from you!
post #18 of 38
It sounds like your friend may have had inflammatory breast cancer. That's quite rare (less than 5% of all bc), and if that's what it is, you are correct that it's often not detected by mammogram. It is generally found because the breast appears red or inflamed. The thing is, if you have no symptoms, it's not likely they will do anything, because there's no way to image it. They aren't just going to start doing random biopsies all throughout your breast.

If you tell them your sister has a history, they are going to be very careful that you do BSE and get mammos, and if you feel any inflammation or feel like you might have a breast infection ever, please mention the history.

I highly recommend breastcancer.org, particularly the discussion forums, but there are also very good articles there explaining the different types of bc, symptoms, dx, and common treatments.

Thanks for the good wishes. It's been about three and a half years since dx for me. I just had my annual mammo on Monday and all is clear. You can't imagine what a weight off my shoulders that is, at least for another year.
post #19 of 38
Hi, everyone!

So ever since I was disfellowshipped, I have wondered as to the whereabouts of an old JW friend of mine. I always got the strongest feeling that T was gay, and I really didn't know whether he had stayed with the Witnesses or not. I've tried to do Google searches for him, but he's got a very common name. I've just always hoped that he found someone to love and was in a safe and happy place.

Anyway, I went to get my driver's license renewed today and I heard this laugh off to one side of me. I turned and looked, thinking, "Jeez, that sounds like T," and it was! We greeted each other warmly, and since he was working there, we didn't really get much time to visit. I left him my e-mail address and he said he'd definitely send me a note.

So now I'm all anxious because I don't know whether he's still "in" or not. On the one hand, I know he's just a really good person and if he chooses to try to proseletyze or something, I'm in no less of a relationship with him than I have been for the last 10 years or so. On the other hand, I'm just hoping so much that his life is good and that I get to hear about it, you know?

At least he didn't cut me down cold and pretend he couldn't see me like others have done.

Thought I'd share.
post #20 of 38
Wow, that's cool! We had a similar experience, we ran into an old friend while on a walk at the lake one day. We couldn't tell if she was still "in" or not either, but we decided she was in, but was with a "worldly" person so didn't say anything directly. But we picked up on a couple clues, like she said that her son wasn't "with" her anymore, he had gone to college in another state. She emphasized it again, "so, you know, he isn't with us anymore". There is also usually an awkward pause after "so how are you doing?" If they say "how are you doing" instead of "how are you" and then there is a little strangeness and awkward pausing if you don't mention the religion at this point, that is a pretty good sign they are still in. You can also tell by their appearance. Super short hair, clean shaven, and regular clothes usually equal still in. Longer hair, any kind of facial hair, any clothes with any kind of flair, equals probably out. The really strange thing, is they can be out, but still in mentally. Like the friend we ran into on the walk, she is totally out, to the point where she hangs out with "worldly" people, but she seemed to be mentally in. So, you can't always judge by outer appearance, because they may look the "worldly" part, but still be mentally in and not want it brought up. It is such a hard thing to just ask outright. It's so much easier when you can gather up some clues first. Anyway, those are some of the ques we look for when meeting up with people. And either way, isn't it great when you aren't shunned? I was so touched that our friend we ran into didn't shun us, even though she must know about us, it really felt so good when she gave us a big hug and told us she loved us.
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