Ex-JWs: We Are Fish

Many Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot understand the angst of ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. They can’t understand the anger, the malcontent, the outrage at the way we’ve been treated. Many, current Jehovah’s Witnesses perceive ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses as liars, over-exaggerators, and monsters.

Why?

Why is it that we, as ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, can have such an entirely different perspective on our experiences with the religion than those currently living it? How can we say it was horrible, whilst they say that it is the most wonderful way to live? I believe that it’s because the greatest damage is done, or at least noticed when you l ve.

We are fish.

We are fish with hooks in our brains.

Some fish swim about their lives, eating morsels, when one day a hook sinks deep into their brain. Other fish have a hook in their brain the second they’re free from their egg, a hook brought into them by their parents; already hooked.

The fisherman is a silly old bastard, half drunk and sleepy in the afternoon sun. He doesn’t always know when he has a fish on the line. So, the fish go about their days with hooks in their brains. They’re quite unlike the other fish, who look at them suspiciously—with great shining rods sticking up out of their heads—but, for the most part, they feel as though their lives are somewhat ordinary.

You are a Jehovah’s Witness, with hooks in your brain. You swim about your day. You eat like the other fish. You sleep like the other fish. You defecate like the other fish. But you have hooks in your brain. You just don’t know it.

The true damage of being a Jehovah’s Witness is when one day you wake up, or at least, the fisherman does. He yanks hard on the rod and you are reeled in. Chunks of your brain are torn out as your flesh splits and scales spiral into the grey sea. Your family scatters, hooks in their brains, praying that they aren’t too, reeled in.

On your journey to the surface, you are waking up. It’s not something you can control or undo. Oh, how much easier it would be if you could have just kept on swimming with hooks in your brain. You’d never be free, but you could have functioned. You would have appeared slightly odd to the un-hooked fish, but you’d have felt normal.

But now . . .  Oh, now the real damage is done.

Everything you thought you knew is torn out. Chunks of your brain go missing. Your school of family and friends; lost. Yes, a great deal of damage was done when you were a fish with a hook in your brain, but you only truly appreciate it when you’re torn to the surface; when you wake up.

That’s why ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses see so much more than current Jehovah’s Witnesses, because the true horror of what has occurred is amplified exponentially when the hooks are torn out.

The fisherman only fishes for sport, so he throws you back. Your face is haggard, your head is half collapsed. The fish with hooks won’t come anywhere near you, repulsed by your appearance and fearful of a shared fate. The free fish stare at you in wonder and bewilderment, wondering how you ever allowed yourself to become hooked in the first place. You hide away.

You hide under rocks.

Your head is half collapsed. You wonder how you will ever be a normal fish, whilst knowing that you never will.

You hide under rocks. Occasionally, you glimpse out your disfigurement to the black sea, hoping for your father, praying for your mother; a friendly face . . . anyone? But you have been discarded, your deformities too great for the ones you hold most dear to lay eyes upon you. They know the rock beneath which you hide, but have already decided you’re dead. They blame you for the damage the hook did, the hook they guided you toward to begin with. They condemn you for the calamity you remind them could be theirs, should they ever wake up the fisherman.

But.

Yes . . . but, you smile.

Although you hide beneath rocks and swim in deep shadow, you smile. For you are free.

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