• Teenage Jehovah’s Witness Girls are Groomed by Older Men

    For most of my life, there have been things about my inner, emotional world that didn’t make sense to me. I had some experiences and memories I could not explain. Recently, I’ve gotten clarity on a few of these.

    They involve teenage Jehovah’s Witness girls being groomed by older men.

    I was fortunate to not have the fate several of my childhood friends had growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness. At least, as far as I can tell. I don’t answer unequivocally “no” when asked if I was sexually assaulted, because I’m just not certain, and I have some memories that just don’t add up.

    Photo by Abigail Keenan on Unsplash

    Recently, I had a conversation with my father. He told me that a “brother” had died. An immediate ICK reaction flooded my body. And I remembered something I’d apparently blocked out decades ago.

    At 16, I was a pioneer. (This is someone who devotes full-time hours to the public ministry work that Jehovah’s Witnesses engage in.)

    There was a single, divorced man in my congregation who had two middle-school age kids. I don’t remember his exact age, but he had to be at least 30.

    I sometimes picked up the man’s daughter, who was around 13 at the time. She was studying the Bible with a friend of mine in preparation for baptism. I would often go along on the Bible study. This girl was what JWs refer to as a “spiritual orphan” because her mother wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness.

    I liked the girl, she was sassy AF, a little rebellious, precocious and whip-smart. She had qualities I wished I could display.

    I don’t know if this bit of familiarity gave this grown man license or if he was arrogant enough to think I would be interested in his old (sorry, but when you’re 16/17, a man in his 30’s is CRUSTY and OLD) ass. But, he asked me out.

    I don’t recall telling my parents. I do remember being completely GROSSED OUT.

    When I mentioned this to my dad on the phone, I don’t think he believed me. The thing is, it wasn’t the only time a grown-ass man hit on me, a CHILD while I was in the Jehovah’s Witness cult.

    The other time, it was a clearly mentally unstable man who was new to the cult. He had been baptized and made rapid “progress”, then began partaking of Memorial emblems, meaning he believed he was one of the 144,000 who, according to Jehovah’s Witness doctrine, will go to heaven. (JWs teach that the overwhelming majority achieve salvation/everlasting life to a paradise Earth that will be restored to paradise, versus all good people going to heaven as most Christian denominations believe.)

    The reason I say this man was mentally unstable is because it was clear from one glance that something was “off” about him. He gave the local body of elders a lot of trouble, and there was a collective groan when his name was mentioned. Everyone “knew” he was suffering from a personality disorder or mental illness.

    He was also considerably older than me, and called me up on the phone to ask permission to date me. I was under 18 at the time.

    I “forgot” these incidents, but my body did not. I had trauma residing there, that showed itself in some unfortunate ways. Looking back, these things make absolute sense, but when they were occurring, I didn’t know the reasons why.

    Photo by Caleb Betts on Unsplash

    One day when I was 16 or so, two young men, friends of mine, came to my house. They sat at my dining room table and talked with my mom for an hour or two. These young men were probably harmless – I’d known them my entire life, their mother was my mom’s friend, and I’d spent lots of time at their home.

    Yet, I was instantly terrified. My body was flooded with panic the entire time they were in my home. I refused to come out of my room while they sat and talked to my mother. I listened, frozen, at the door trying to figure out what they wanted and why they were there.

    This episode made no sense to me, but now I know I was afraid my parents would coerce me into marrying one of them. People familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses would likely argue that JWs don’t do arranged marriages. And yet.

    I’ve read many stories in the exJW Reddit about this very thing happening to other teenage girls.

    Being groomed by much older men, and coerced marriages do happen inside the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s not accurate to say that JWs don’t arrange marriages, because while there is no official policy, it absolutely DOES happen.

    Parents sometimes set up their teenage daughter with a “spiritually strong” JW man who has a position of authority in the congregation. Since the only way a woman in the organization has any power is by marrying someone with authority, there’s a big incentive to do so. A label like “elder’s wife” carries clout in a misogynistic, paternalistic, patriarchal, controlled environment like this cult.

    The young girl, being ignorant about relationships due to being raised in a cult, follows along in compliance because she fears the disapproval of her parents. She also knows the only way she’ll be able to have sex is inside marriage. (The result of this is a lot of unhappy, sexually incompatible marriages, but she doesn’t know this yet.)

    If she refuses the advances of a JW man in power, she may face disciplinary action that can be trumped up by him. Since he’s male, and has “scriptural responsibilities” in the congregation, he’ll be believed above her. If any sexual coercion or abuse happens and she complains about it, she’s likely to be disciplined and shunned, instead of getting justice.

    Fast forward a few decades. I’m now a grown woman with teenage daughters. I’ve seen men Jehovah’s Witness behave inappropriately towards my daughters and daughter-in-law before we left the cult. My daughter-in-law was being actively groomed by her JW employer. She recorded some of his creepy, suggestive conversation on her phone. She doesn’t dare approach the elders because they won’t believe her, she’s disfellowshipped, and therefore her testimony is untrustworthy to them.

    So, my fear and panic was a completely logical response, I just didn’t allow myself to believe so at the time.

    One sad result of this was that, I sabotaged relationships with kind, sweet young men for no valid reason. When my body would go into panic mode, a trauma response, I wouldn’t know how to explain it. So I would blame the relationship, thinking something was wrong with it, and end things. I hurt people accidentally.

    In hindsight, I now know that there was nothing wrong with those young men or the relationships, it was the trauma that lived inside my body from being raised in a cult, having my boundaries and reality violated over and over on a daily basis, and creepy experiences of being groomed by much older men and seeing so much sexual abuse of children around me.

  • How the Jehovah’s Witness Cult Harms People’s Sex Lives

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are a high control religion, commonly referred to as a cult by experts. One of the areas that the cult exerts undue influence is in the area of sexuality. Indeed, the Jehovah’s Witness cult harms its members’ sexual development and their sex lives.

    Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

    The ways in which the Jehovah’s Witnesses are harmed sexually is a frequent topic of discussion in the exJW subReddit. The community is 70,000 members strong and growing weekly.

    Steven Hassan developed the BITE Model to describe the methods that cults use to recruit and maintain control over people. “BITE” stands for Behavior, Information, Thought, and Emotional control. Jehovah’s Witness doctrine and culture absolutely fit this model.

    I’m not an expert on cults, a mental health professional or theologian. However, I was an active, devout Jehovah’s Witness for over 40 years. As a “born-in”, the JW life was all I knew. If someone had asked me a few years ago whether being a Jehovah’s Witness harmed my sexuality, I would have scoffed at the idea. After all, I was fully indoctrinated in the belief that the JW way was the “best way of living”, to quote one of their songs.

    However, once I left the cult and began a process of de-indoctrination, my beliefs did a 180. My eyes were opened to the many ways that the cult delayed, stunted and harmed my sexuality.

    I started mentally questioning the cult a few years ago and left for good (along with my then husband and all but one of our several children). I’ve been in therapy for almost two years. Before leaving, I read a handful of books about other cults. (It’s fascinating that one can easily identify another group as being a cult while simultaneously denying that the group one is a member of also fits the description!)

    Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that sex is only acceptable when it’s between a married man and woman.

    Sex before marriage, gay sex and even some sex acts within marriage are potential causes for disfellowshipping (expulsion and shunning).

    Obviously this narrow view of what’s acceptable is next to impossible to live up to. Indeed, the majority of people who are disciplined by a judicial committee are because of mistakes of a sexual nature. My own father, who serves as a JW elder (priest) and has for nearly 5 decades, once told me that he can’t recall ever sitting on a judicial committee for anything other than sexual infractions.

    The fact that the cult’s extremely prudish attitude towards sex is impossible for most to live up to hasn’t led them to loosen their rules, because they believe their interpretation of the Bible is the only correct one, and that being an unrepentant sinner will bar a person from being blessed by God with inheriting a paradise earth in a future “new world”.

    Jehovah’s Witness children are indoctrinated from infancy to believe that masturbation is a sin against God and their own body.

    In JW parlance, it’s called “self-abuse”. Books published by the JWs aimed at children and teenagers explicitly forbid masturbation.

    Therefore, a Witness child grows up thinking that God allows wickedness all over the world, including rape, murder and genocide, but sees and judges him or her for touching themselves.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how psychologically damaging this belief is.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage singleness and childlessness.

    There is no penalty in the religion for getting married and having kids, but their literature and worship services repeatedly promote staying single so as to give more time to the organization.

    Because they’re an apocalyptic doomsday cult and believe that the end of the world is imminent (for over 140 years but who’s counting?!), marriage and childrearing is viewed as a distraction from having a bigger share in cult activities. Congregants are encouraged to “make room for singleness” as if failure to do so is a character weakness.

    At one time in the organization, the anti-marriage and child rearing was more extreme. This was especially true among those serving at Bethel, the world headquarters. Witnesses who married would be sent home. Later the organization softened its dogma.

    However, the “wow to the pregnant woman and the one suckling a baby” messaging ramped up in the late 90’s. As a teenager I remember my older sister, who had four little boys like stair steps, leaving the summer convention in tears because of this rhetoric.

    If a Witness just can’t handle single life “with chastity”, then they can marry in order to avoid being “inflamed with passion”. This sets up a young JW with an unhealthy dollop of guilt for doing what comes natural: establishing pair bonds.

    JW dating is controlled by parents, congregation elders, and gossipy busybodies.

    It looks more like old fashioned courtship than modern dating. JWs don’t date for fun or to hone their social skills and make friends.

    Most young Witness men, as a result, are impossibly clueless about women. Worse, they often become narcissistic due to the patriarchal structure of the religion, assuming a “headship” position over the woman even before marriage. My oldest son ruined a potential relationship with a beautiful young woman friend due to this ridiculous behavior.

    Photo by Wedding Dreamz on Unsplash

    A Witness couple has to date “with a view to marriage”.

    This means that once a JW couple starts going out, the clock is ticking and everyone’s eyes are on them. If they don’t get married in a short time, trouble awaits. Their reputations and privileges in the religion will be called into question.

    The result of this is that often, JW couples rush into marriage due to sexual frustration, or feel compelled to marry someone they’ve been dating for a few months to avoid being shamed if the relationship ends.

    It certainly doesn’t help that they can’t do more than hold hands or enjoy a quick peck on the lips (deep, sensual kissing or getting to second base is called “loose conduct” and subject to disciplinary action). Chaperones are strongly encouraged, and a young man who dates without this oversight/interference may find himself demoted of his congregation responsibilities. Even riding in a car alone with a member of the opposite sex who is not a relative would result in getting counsel from the congregation elders.

    If the couple manages to stay “chaste” during their courtship, they have no idea if they’re sexually compatible.

    Anyone with dating experience knows that chemistry doesn’t always correlate to sexual compatibility. It’s incredibly stupid to marry someone when you have no clue how they are in bed. Anecdotal evidence convinced me that the majority of JW couples are unhappy due to sexual ignorance and incompatibility.

    Once married, the strong taboos against sexual exploration will prevent the couple from reading or viewing porn or erotica in an effort to learn how to improve their sexual repertoire. Seeing a sex therapist would not even be a consideration for a JW couple, lest they be introduced to forbidden acts such as oral or anal sex.

    If the JW couple doesn’t manage to control their urges and does have sex before marriage, they’ll be subject to a judicial committee and punishment from a tribunal of elders.

    This kangaroo court involves giving detailed information about the encounter(s), down to the nitty-gritty.

    Example questions actual people have been asked in these tell-all confessionals:

    What kind of underwear did the woman wear? Implying that if she wore her fancy undies instead of her stretched-out Granny panties, the encounter was premeditated. Did you enjoy it? Was the woman penetrated digitally? How many times did you have sex? What kind? Oral, anal? Did you orgasm? Etc.

    The result of this is that the new couple enters their marriage with trauma from the judicial committee experience and a whopping dose of guilt that will cause problems in their new marriage.

    Because they’ve been indoctrinated their entire lives to believe that sex outside marriage is a sin, and that they’ve sinned “against their own bodies” and god, they’ll lose respect for themselves and each other. What horrible footing to enter a marriage on.

    If the punishment that’s sanctioned against the couple includes “public reproof”, their names will be announced from the stage at the Kingdom Hall meeting, meaning that now everyone else will know they got in trouble and will guess exactly why. Brings new meaning to the term “fuck around, find out”, doesn’t it?

    Because the JWs are sexually repressed, inexperienced and unsophisticated, they start married life at a huge disadvantage.

    It’s an extremely common phenomenon talked about in the exJW community: a couple leave the cult together and soon after, get divorced. Because JWs forbid divorce except on the grounds of adultery, there are many unhappy unions inside the cult.

    There is tremendous pressure for married couples to stay together no matter how severe the problems are. The concern is not for the happiness and fulfillment of the individual. Divorce is bad optics for the cult who insist that their way of life makes for happier families.

    In my own case, the elders told me repeatedly to stay with my abusive husband who found his way into the arms of two other women during our union. Even though I had attempted suicide, even though the police had been called due to my husband’s screaming rages, even though I was terrified of him. That didn’t matter. All that mattered was one sentence in the Bible that says god has “hated a divorcing”.

    Women who are being physically abused are encouraged to keep being submissive in an effort to “win their husbands without a word through their conduct”. The JW publications tell stories of women who endured horrible abuse only to later find their husband joining the cult with them. A success story!

    Hence there is tremendous shame when someone separates or divorces without the “out” of adultery. The cult then forbids the divorced members to pursue another relationship, because in their interpretation, the couple is still married in the eyes of god. If they ignore this counsel and remarry, they will be disciplined and/or disfellowshipped.

    Homosexuality is strictly forbidden by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Therefore LGBTQ+ members live their lives in shame, repression, guilt and suffer the mental health consequences. I don’t have hard data or statistics on this, but some say the suicide rate is much higher among Jehovah’s Witnesses than the general population.

    One of the leaders of the organization, Governing Body member Stephen Lett, had a gay nephew who committed suicide. Just weeks later, Lett gave a talk at a convention denouncing homosexuality as a perversion. One can hardly fathom how psychopathic a person must be to be able to behave like this. But what else could you expect of a cult leader? Sociopathic narcissism is often behind their desire to exert control over the lives of others.

    Gay Witnesses will deny themselves relationships, or marry in an attempt to cover or “cure” their homosexuality.

    This is what happened in my own marriage. My husband married two women but came out as gay shortly after leaving the cult. When living out the expression of one’s sexuality would lead to being shunned by their entire social network and family, and the belief that one will miss out on a utopian paradise existence, it’s no wonder this is not uncommon among Witnesses.

    Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

    Purity and modesty culture create a sense of shame and discomfort about one’s body.

    Witnesses are taught that once Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked, felt shame, and covered their bodies. While they don’t believe that sex itself was the original sin, this interpretation of the Garden of Eden story obviously affects how Witnesses feel about their bodies.

    In addition, living in a shame-based religion (Christianity) that teaches that even newborn babies are wicked, sinful, deeply flawed and in need of redemption, isn’t exactly a recipe for healthy self-esteem that’s necessary for a good sex life.

    Even in the confines of heterosexual marriage, the Jehovah’s Witnesses exert control over the sex lives of adherents.

    Anal and oral sex are verboten. While elders don’t necessarily inquire as to private matters in a marriage, they do take action if this becomes known. They also speak against these forms of sex during their public meetings.

    There are probably more ways Jehovah’s Witnesses harm the sexuality of their members that I haven’t addressed here. I’ll edit and update this post as I uncover more in my own personal journey. I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

  • My ex-husbands harmed my sexuality

    In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my sexuality was harmed by my ex-husbands. I allowed their abuse or dysfunction to inform my thoughts about myself in this area. Their behaviors gave me confusion and insecurity around my sexuality. And thankfully, that’s changing fast now that I’m in a new relationship.

    Allow me to explain.

    My first husband and I are on good terms now. He’s apologized to me several times for the cruel way he treated me. Although he still has work to do in this area, he’s changed and matured. Our children still refer to him as “the asshole” and limit their contact with him, but he’s softened and I hope he continues to.

    He and I had a good sex life.

    It’s part of the reason why, when I would leave him after his behavior became intolerable, I ended up going back. I repeated this pattern several times until I left for good, when I feared that the relationship would end with one of us dead. This is not an exaggeration. Our last encounter as a married couple was violent. I was terrified of him. It took years after the marriage ended for my nervous system to settle, and stop expecting abuse.

    Thankfully, my second husband (who came out as gay and is the inspiration for this blog) was kind to me. I’ll always be grateful that he helped me heal from that trauma.

    The fact that my first husband was skillful, patient and giving in the bedroom while also being emotionally and verbally abusive was confusing and a real mindfuck.

    I don’t know if it made me confuse love and fear in my mind and body, but it surely didn’t help me have a healthy vision of what love should feel like. (Being raised in a cult also makes you associate love with fear.)

    Despite the fact that we had amazing sex, we didn’t have it often.

    This is because it’s difficult to get in the mood when someone is cruel to you. The body has needs. Desire has a “go” pedal. But it also has a “stop” brake. When someone is screaming at you while you are curled in the fetal position, crying on the floor of your closet, it’s hard to get interested in sex an hour later.

    I suppose I assumed that the infrequent sex was my fault. Everything else was, after all… according to my ex. He couldn’t acknowledge his anger issues, his volatile Jekyll/Hyde mood swings, his emotional cruelty.

    Our daughter suspects he has Borderline Personality Disorder. Perhaps he does. He was raised by an abusive addict mother, then an abusive alcoholic grandmother, then a pedophile aunt. Accustomed to being abused by women, he didn’t know how to act when he got a good, kind, loving, innocent young bride. And neither did I. I thought that I could love him hard enough to make him better. To heal him from his trauma. How foolish I was.

    When we divorced, I was hornier than a teenage boy.

    I immediately began to attract the attention of men. Men my age (early 30’s at the time), and men who were barely 21. It was fun to flirt and return the attention of attractive, interesting men. And I was shocked at how much I wanted sex.

    That period of my life should have been a clue that there was nothing in the world wrong with ME, my sexuality or libido. I was a red-blooded, sexually desirable (and desirous) woman. But I didn’t make that connection just yet.

    Enter my second husband.

    When we met, I was not as attracted to him as I had been to some men I’d been involved with in the past. He actually reminded me of a childhood friend who was like a little brother to me. That initial “ick” factor took some mental coaxing to overcome, but I did get over it. He was in great shape physically, and was tall and had light eyes I liked. He had a boyishness about him, an innocence. He would come visit me and I could see that he was nervous. His lack of sophistication was endearing to me. I wasn’t looking for Don Juan.

    Mostly I was impressed by the kind of dad he was.

    Being a mom of 4, I was very concerned with accidentally attracting a pervert. I loved how much time he spent with his daughter, who he had primary custody of. Good dads are sexy when you’re a mature woman. I liked the way he smelled (very important to me!) and enjoyed being affectionate with him. I felt safe in his arms and when we cuddled and kissed, I felt relaxed.

    The first few times we had sex and he experienced “systems failure”, I chalked it up to performance anxiety and nervousness. It’s not that uncommon after all. He would talk about how attractive and sexy I was. He wasn’t accustomed to my passion. His first wife had been a cold fish by his description. (Later on in conversation with her, I would learn that she doesn’t have low sex drive at all, she was incompatible with him.)

    Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 on Unsplash

    Initially, I was sexy and passionate enough for the two of us.

    I was quite literally jumping his bones three times a day. He couldn’t keep up. He couldn’t even have sex once a day. He either couldn’t get an erection or couldn’t keep one.

    Our sex life quickly became a game of “get/keep him hard”.

    It became all about HIM. Forget me having an orgasm. The focus shifted away from mutual pleasure giving to the mechanics of his erection.

    Very early on I realized I’d made a horrible mistake. But I felt trapped, ashamed, and tricked. He had experienced this same struggle with his first wife, and didn’t seek help for his problems. I also noticed he had other health issues that bothered him, that he was ashamed of, that he’d not addressed. Red flags.

    Because our sex life was so stressful, embarrassing and the source of shame and difficulty rather than pleasure, the frequency slowed way down.

    Once again I initially blamed myself. I spent hours reading books about sex and marriage from the library. I Googled endlessly. Questions like “why doesn’t my husband want to have sex with me?”, “Is my husband gay?”, “How do I help my husband with erectile dysfunction?”, “What to do when your husband loses his erection”, etc.

    We rarely spoke about the issue. I didn’t want my husband to feel more shame. I knew he was mortified. I tried to tamp down my own desire.

    The unfortunate result of this was that when he was able to get hard and wanted sex, I wasn’t as interested. I couldn’t go from zero to 10 in seconds. Because he’d lose his erection if foreplay took more than a minute or two, I would let him have intercourse with me when I wasn’t ready. Even though he was on the smaller side, he would hurt me. I often bled a little after sex.

    It only occurred to me very recently that, although he never forced me to have sex, this kind of unenthusiastic “if you must” type of experience isn’t exactly consensual. I believe I experienced trauma from having many, many, many encounters like this over the years.

    Eventually, I experienced an involuntary “freeze” response when he would (rarely) reach for me.

    He was always very bad at signaling when he wanted sex. It was awkward and weird. Interestingly, his first wife described the same experience to me. He just didn’t know how to communicate with his partner. He didn’t know how to warm me up.

    I tried to explain to him that, due to the issues in our sex life, I had to turn the knob down on my thermostat in order to survive. I had spent so many nights crying myself to sleep, depressed, wondering what was wrong with me or my body that it was incapable of producing desire in him. He would talk about how beautiful I was, and I would immediately think, “If I’m so beautiful, why doesn’t your dick respond to me?”.

    I would frequently give him oral sex to try to coax an erection out of him, only to have him go limp in my mouth. If there’s anything worse than sucking a shriveled up, one inch cock, I don’t know what it is. That experience itself was horrifying. I couldn’t it anymore, so I quit. It was just too mortifying.

    All of this, I believe, showed up as trauma in my body.

    After awhile he began to be subtly aware that I would freeze up at his touch. I didn’t want it to happen. Even bad sex is usually better than none at all.

    And to be fair, rarely, we did have good sex. Over the years, he learned how to please me and was generally unselfish and giving. He learned how to give me orgasms, and it made him feel proud when he could. The issue wasn’t that he was selfish or a jerk. He did try.

    The issue was that he’s gay, trying to be heterosexual.

    I’ve read that some gay men marry beautiful, sexy women in an attempt to convert themselves. They may even feel sexual attraction and chemistry. But once the sex begins, their bodes just can’t respond. I believe the times he did have a great time in bed, he was pretending I was a man. Hard to do unless I was giving him oral sex or he was entering me from behind in a very dark room. I’m thin and curvy, I’m not masculine at all.

    Photo by Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

    Enter my new beau.

    I met a man rather unexpectedly. While I was interested in getting back into the dating scene, I expected to go on a handful of dates, some interesting and fun, some awkward and boring, maybe even some terrible.

    But I met an incredible, funny, sexy man and he and I have been spending a lot of time together ever since. I’m completely blown away by how attracted I am to him. He’s considerably older, a first time for me. Yet I cannot keep my hands off him.

    We’ve been having lots of sex. Lots of cuddling, lots of kissing, lots of making out, lots of rolling around naked in bed just touching, and lots and lots of sex of all kinds.

    I’m learning from this relationship that there was never anything wrong with me.

    I cannot get enough sex with this man. I want him every day, twice a day or more. We don’t live together, and I have to fit time with him around our work, and my kids (his are grown and out of the house). It’s not easy to do, but I simply can’t be sated. I want him morning, noon and night.

    I knew that healing from the ways that the cult harmed my sexuality would have to happen inside a relationship. You can’t heal sexual trauma by reading books. It has to happen in the content of actual sex.

    But I didn’t realize that this normal, healthy sexual relationship would also bring me back to who I am: a sexy, desirable, normal woman who loves and wants lots of sex.

    I’m so thankful.

    I’m so thankful to have met this amazing man who has a wonderful sense of humor about sex, who isn’t afraid to laugh at himself and doesn’t take himself or sex too seriously. He wants to learn what makes me happy in bed, and is open to feedback. Instead of getting in his ego when I communicate my needs (which would ruin the experience with my second husband), he’s eager to learn. He’s earthy and sweet and affectionate and happy to make out on the couch or kiss for hours or fuck me hard if that’s what I want.

    It’s ALL GOOD. All of it. Good sex doesn’t have to look like this linear thing with a prescriptive beginning, middle and end. It’s ALL fun and pleasurable and wonderful.

    I’m so thankful to my beau for reminding me of who I have always been.

  • Lies Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught Me (and What I Now Know to be True)

    This blog is about my experience being married to a closeted gay man who came out to me, which led me to file for divorce. “Lavender marriage” isn’t uncommon among people raised in a high control religion. My husband and I were both raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve learned that much of what I believed to be true my entire life, are actually lies. Here are some examples.

    Lies Jehovah’s Witnesses Taught Me (and What I Now Know to be True)

    Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

    Lie: The heart is treacherous and wicked, and cannot be trusted.

    Truth: My heart, gut feelings and intuition are trustworthy, I can use them to guide my decisions.

    Lie: You’re born an enemy of God. Recently, one of the Governing Body members, Stephen Lett, said that babies are enemies of God at the “Pursue Peace” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was the Friday morning program.

    Truth: Firstly, there is no God. Secondly, babies are innocent and nobody’s enemy.

    Lie: I’m a good-for-nothing slave.

    Truth: I am no one’s slave, and I deserve to live life on my terms.

    Lie: I’m born into sin and am in need of redemption.

    Truth: I was born innocent. I owe no one anything except basic respect.

    Lie: Someday humans will live forever in a paradise earth.

    Truth: This life is it. There is no paradise. It’s fiction.

    Lie: I’ll live forever if I keep God’s favor.

    Truth: I’m mortal. Facing that fact is part of becoming an adult, and it makes my life all the more precious.

    Lie: My dead loved ones will be resurrected. I’ll see them again.

    Truth: I only get to enjoy my loved ones while they’re alive.

    Lie: Marriage is forever.

    Truth: Marriages end. Often, it’s for the best that they do.

    Lie: Sex outside marriage is sinful.

    Truth: Sex is a natural, normal way for two consenting adults to show affection and to bond with one another. Sex before a marriage is essential, how else would you learn if you’re compatible?

    Lie: Masturbation is sinful.

    Truth: Babies masturbate in utero. It’s totally normal and healthy, a form of self-care.

    Lie: Dating should only be “with a view to marriage”.

    Truth: Dating is fun, and a great way to get to know what you like/need and don’t like/need in a partner.

    Lie: Homosexuality is sinful.

    Truth: Whatever happens between consenting adults is no one’s business but theirs. Love is love.

    Lie: I’m deserving of death due to my inherited sin.

    Truth: There is no such thing as “sin”. I deserve happiness, freedom and the same human rights as everyone else.

    Lie: Slaving for God is good and makes my life meaningful

    Truth: God is an invention of Bronze Age man. Sacrifice should be a choice. The Bible makes it clear that “God” will slaughter anyone who disagrees with him. No thanks!

    Lie: Slaving for the Organization/brotherhood is good.

    Truth: I’m a slave of no one. No person or organization should have undue influence over another person.

    Lie: I have to love and be willing to die for my brothers and sisters in the religion.

    Truth: Forced unity is not unity. Everyone should have freedom of association. The “unfailing” love of Jehovah’s Witnesses is conditional, and turns off like a light switch when someone leaves the religion. It’s not genuine love, it’s fake and forced.

    Lie: Getting involved in politics is bad.

    Truth: Getting involved in politics makes me a good citizen.

    Lie: People outside the Organization are bad, wicked, deserving of death, out to get me, immoral, unclean

    Truth: People are people. Some are good, some are bad, most are a little of both.

    Lie: Women should be submissive to men.

    Truth: No one should submit their free will to another.

    Lie: Everyone who disagrees with your religious beliefs should be shunned.

    Truth: People can disagree on different matters and remain friends.

    Lie: Shunning is “loving discipline”.

    Truth: Shunning is cruel, and a human rights violation.

    Lie: You can’t have a relationship with God without the Organization

    Truth: Noone is in charge of my spirituality but me.

    Lie: Drugs are bad and unclean.

    Truth: Drugs can be helpful at times.

    Lie: Abortion is always wrong.

    Truth: It’s not that simple. The issue is complicated, and I shouldn’t judge another woman for the decision.

    Lie: God’s happiness, not mine, is what matters.

    Truth: God is fiction. My happiness matters, and is my ultimate highest goal in life. Even if I believed in God, if he didn’t want me to be happy as I want my children to be happy, then he’s a horrible “Father”.

    Lie: Children should be obedient, indoctrinated.

    Truth: Indoctrination is child abuse. Especially when it’s indoctrination into a doomsday cult that isolates children, forbids them from seeking higher education, hobbies they love, or meaningful careers, and fucks up their relationships and sexuality, all with the threat of shunning hanging over their heads constantly if they don’t comply.

    Lie: The Bible is God’s message to man and is truth.

    Truth: The Bible is a collection of small books (the canon has been controversial from the start) written by Bronze Age men who didn’t understand the natural world or the scientific method, who were trying to explain events and phenomena around them. It reflects the moral codes of the times (slavery, misogyny, rape of virgins, etc) and much of it is plagiarized, inconsistent, and unethical.

    Lie: The Earth, animals, man and the Universe were created

    Truth: There is no proof. This is an unfalsifiable claim. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. There is no proof of a God, or of creation. There is undeniable proof of evolution, it explains everything about the world and how it works.

    Lie: Jesus was the son of God and we should follow him.

    Truth: Jesus was probably a good dude, but I follow no person or make a guru out of anyone.

    Lie: What you do is never enough. You’re never good enough.

    Truth: I am enough. I do enough. I can rest when I need to.

    Lie: Self-care is selfish.

    Truth: Self-care is essential and good for my health and well-being, and helps me care for people I love better.

  • I stayed with a gay man for the sake of the children

    I wasn’t in love with him. At least, not long after we married. I stayed because I didn’t want to hurt our children.

    Photo by Juliane Liebermann on Unsplash

    When it became obvious to me that my soon to be ex husband couldn’t have a normal sexual relationship with me, I began to suspect that he was gay. I’m not homophobic, but I wanted to be with a heterosexual man. This wasn’t what I signed up for.

    Even though I suffered loneliness, sexual frustration, depression, and anger at this situation, I didn’t even consider leaving my husband. We were married for nearly 13 years when he came out to me as gay.

    At that point I decided to leave him. I had been lied to. His sin of omission was too much to bear. I had been gaslit. When I gently suggested that he might be gay, he would become frighteningly angry with me. He would withdraw affection and become distant (stonewalling).

    So he trained me not to ask questions, not to express my sadness at the lack of sexual intimacy.

    He would sometimes express jealousy because he knew that I’d experienced sexual fulfillment with my first husband. (The most confusing part of all this was that my ex was verbally and emotionally abusive, but good in bed. My gay husband was kind to me, but had no skills in the sack.)

    He would make statements that led me to believe the situation would get better. He would accuse me of “giving up” when I was doing nothing of the sort. Obviously, he projected his guilt onto me. He didn’t take action to try to improve the situation or get answers as to why he couldn’t get or sustain an erection. He didn’t go to a doctor or sex therapist.

    My suspicion is that he knew that the doctor would find nothing physically wrong with him. Therefore, he would be forced to confront the truth: that the reason he struggled to have a normal sexual relationship with both his first wife and me was because he wasn’t heterosexual.

    I have since learned that some gay men are romantically and emotionally attracted to women, but physically to men. They just can’t get turned on in bed by a woman. My ex is trying to convince me that he’s actually bisexual, but I don’t believe him. I believe that he’s in denial. The crazy thing is, he doesn’t want to come out. He trusted me to divulge his sexuality to me, but doesn’t want to face the repercussions of that.

    But that’s not my problem anymore.

    For 13 years I prioritized his pride, his feelings, over my happiness.

    No longer.

  • In the end, this is best

    I wouldn’t describe my current emotion as depressed, or even sad. Perhaps resignation is the right word. While I didn’t choose this outcome, or necessarily want it, in the end it’s for the best.

    When my husband came out to me as gay after 13 years of marriage, I wasn’t exactly shocked. I felt intense anger at first, because I’d been deceived and gaslit. But in the end, I’ll end up better off. I’m sure of this.

    There were many red flags in my marriage. Firstly, I had a vague sense all the time that my husband was hiding something. I couldn’t catch him in a lie, and since I’m a trusting person (at worst, a little too trusting), I didn’t go around digging. I never searched his phone or wallet or vehicle. It’s just not in my nature. I don’t do that to my teenagers either!

    Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash

    But, I had a strong intuitive sense that something was just… off. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. I was obviously picking up on his deceit. Why exactly he chose to live a lie and marry me knowing his sexual preference is a bit of a mystery.

    Wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to not get married? We were both raised in a high-control religion that forbids homosexuality. I totally understand the pain of living with that burden. But why pursue marriage while still in that religion? Why drag me and my kids into it?

    I feel as if I wasted 13 years of my life. That’s where some of the anger and resentment comes from.

    But ultimately, these feelings will pass.

    I fell out of love with my ex-husband very shortly after we married. He changed quickly once he sealed the deal. While we were dating he was pretty aggressive in his pursuit of me. There was no question as to his feelings. He wasn’t passive in the least.

    That changed immediately once we were married, which was disappointing for me. I wasn’t attracted to passive men. It was confusing. Then the sexual problems intensified. He simply couldn’t keep up with me. As a newlywed, I had certain expectations. I wanted a lot of sex, and I was giving and open sexually. His body just couldn’t keep up.

    When the sex is broken in a marriage, you start noticing other annoying things about your partner that you would have overlooked. Sex is the lubrication that keeps things moving without friction.

    It’s exhausting thinking about dating again at my age, with so much responsibility, on top of the changing dynamics of my life. Learning a new job, being a single parent again, it’s a lot.

    But I have confidence that a year from now, I’ll be happy. If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that one’s life can become almost unrecognizable in a short period of time.

    The only constant is change.

  • And now, sadness

    My angry feelings are beginning to dissipate. They’re being replaced by sadness.

    Photo by Paola Chaaya on Unsplash

    I’m not sad because I miss my husband. I don’t. He didn’t break my heart. I haven’t had feelings of attraction for him for years. I did in the beginning, but they faded when it became obvious that he was unable to have a healthy sex life with a heterosexual woman.

    I’m sad because I don’t want my life to change. I don’t know how I’m going to handle homeschooling my children, paying all the bills, and taking care of all my other responsibilities (which include being chauffeur to two teenagers).

    I’m exhausted. I get up early, get ready for the day, do some administrative and household management tasks. I drive my daughter to work. The round-trip takes nearly an hour. I make breakfast, do laundry, clean. I spend the next few hours working with my homeschooled elementary school kids.

    Then I pick up my daughter from work. And I’m exhausted. All the Coke Zero in the world isn’t helping lift my fatigue. I collapse into my bed or the couch at 7 pm and watch the minutes tick past until it’s socially acceptable to go to bed.

    I like my life. The problems in my marriage notwithstanding, I was content. I loved my life as it was. I was willing to live without sex. I was focused on the positive things about my (gay) husband.

    But now everything is different. My friend is now (at least in his eyes) an enemy. That’s exhausting. I’m applying for entry-level positions that pay shit. How am I going to be able to be a good mom, to take care of house and kids and all their needs, and hold down a job?

    I didn’t ask for this.

    My kids are the loves of my life. I was content to not have what some have found: a great love that I could tell my grandkids about. The kind my parents have. The kind my sister and brother-in-law have.

    I was ok with it.

    I’m not ok with it anymore.

    That too makes me sad. I have no idea how to date. I forgot how to flirt. I don’t want a committed relationship. But I do love male companionship. I love men. I’ve never gone very long without one in my life. And I’m sad that I’m older, saggier, grey-haired.

    It’s so unfair.

  • This too shall pass

    Today I logged into Facebook and found that I had been removed from my husband’s family messenger chats. This seemed senseless and felt hurtful to me. Especially since I had written a nice message to my husband’s siblings. It read as follows:

    Hi guys I know this is odd getting a message from me, but I wanted to let you all know that (gay husband) is going through some really hard stuff right now and I’m concerned about his emotional well-being. He’s started down a journey, and while ultimately it’s a good thing, it’s going to be painful for a while. I can’t go into detail because it’s his story to tell. But he could really use your unconditional love and support right now. Thanks for reading. I consider you all family…

    Did I disparage him in any way? Did I out him to his family?

    Absolutely not.

    So why this response? If I view them as family and am obviously concerned about my husband’s wellbeing, why would they remove me as if I was an enemy all of a sudden?

    Photo by Anika Huizinga on Unsplash

    There’s only one explanation.

    My soon-to-be-ex must have told them some negative things about me. He would have had to make things up. Which isn’t surprising, since he’s trying to convince me that I’m up to no good. I’ve printed out the nasty emails he’s sent, in case I need to protect myself or my kids in court.

    I’m taking the high road. Being the bigger person. Not getting sucked in. It’s obvious to me that he’s trying to provoke me. To get me to argue with him. This wasn’t something he did during our marriage, although he would occasionally say provocative things, like a child, to get a response. But this nastiness is new. I don’t recognize him anymore.

    I am not in the business of making enemies. Why do people want to make me theirs?

    This too shall pass.

    It’s my new motto. These painful, frightening feelings are temporary. They’ll go away. A year from now, I’ll look back on this time and think, “Wow that was a hard time. But now I’m doing amazingly well. I’m happy. I love my new job. The kids are thriving. I’m doing ok financially. Everything is good.”

    This, too, shall pass.

  • My gay husband has become Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

    My husband is becoming unhinged. He’s someone I barely recognize. His emails and texts to me are getting increasingly nasty. One moment, pouring out his heart about how he always loved me, the next moment spewing hate. It’s Jekyll/Hyde behavior.

    Photo by benjamin lehman on Unsplash

    This behavior lends credence to his ex-wife’s claims that he became toxic to her after their divorce. That it was his behavior and words that turned their daughter against him. That caused her to distance herself from him, not speaking to him for several years.

    It’s all making sense now. Like the final pieces in a puzzle.

    I don’t recognize this person. Is this toxic spew coming from hurt and anger? He is ridiculous. He thinks he can have his cake and eat it too. He thinks he can be hateful to me while also openly grieving the loss of me, his best friend?

    One moment he tells me he understands why I must file for divorce. The next moment he makes nasty accusations against me that are lies. Is he projecting? Perhaps. I never lied to him.

    Now, he is denying having a sexual experience with a man. (Something his ex told me happened during his teen years, and that he confessed to her.) I don’t care that he’s gay. I’m not homophobic. I’m angry that I’ve been deceived about the nature of his sexuality.

    I thought I was marrying a heterosexual man. But I didn’t. I married a closeted gay man who was unable to have heterosexual sex with a woman. I spent 13 years sexually frustrated, forcing myself to have lousy sex with him – which in itself is traumatic, because it was not what I wanted. It was what I thought I had to do.

    He accused me several times of “giving up” during the marriage. He did this when I would (rarely) try to talk to him about his sexual dysfunction. I tried to avoid the topic, knowing how deeply it embarrassed him. I’m not a sadist. I don’t derive pleasure from exposing other people’s weaknesses.

    But the loneliness and frustration made me resentful and sometimes, angry. His refusal to see a doctor or to try to solve the problem in other ways (supplements, losing weight, seeing a therapist, reading books about the issue, pleasing me sexually in other ways when he was unable to get an erection, etc) was wrong and unfair to me. He was prioritizing his ego and pride over my happiness.

    And that’s the bottom line isn’t it?

    It’s all about him. He’s lost his best friend (me). He’s lost the pleasant companionship. The evening walks. The talks on the front porch. The couch chit-chats in the mornings before the kids got up. Someone to do his laundry, clean his living spaces, share ideas that made his life better.

    So because he’s lost these things, he now gets to be verbally abusive and send me nasty emails and texts.

  • I file for divorce

    Instead of enjoying unpacking and getting settled into my new home, I’ve been dealing with fears about finances, changes in my family dynamic, and helping children cope with their emotions.

    Thursday I walked into my house and saw my 3 youngest children sobbing while my mother held them. She was crying too. Apparently my husband thought it was a good idea to announce to the kids, without discussing it with me first or having me present, that he was moving into the downstairs apartment and we might be getting divorced.

    Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

    I was furious that I walked into this shitshow unprepared. He was acting like a petulant, pouting CHILD. That had been his m.o. since the beginning and I was so DONE with his emotional immaturity.

    The next few days were not great for my husband and me. I was barely containing my anger and found it best not to speak to him in person. Rather, I would email him so that I had a moment to think carefully about how I would sound. And I would have a record of his words to me, which became increasingly offensive, which made me even angrier.

    HE did this. I would have gone to my grave married to him. HE caused these unwanted changes in our family. And then had the audacity to tell me about his childish, exaggerated doom and revenge scenarios that he thought I would commit against him.

    The last one was the final straw. After I communicated in a civil fashion, I got this email:

    Since it’s inevitable can you please not bring men you meet at a bar to the house. There is no need to endanger the children… If you do… that would cross a boundary and I will take legal action.

    This email INFURIATED ME.

    Not only have I NEVER picked up a man in a bar in my entire LIFE, but I’ve only had sex with two men, both of whom were my husbands!

    I’ve also never put my children in danger since the oldest was born 24 years ago.

    How DARE me talk to me in this way. This was when I decided to hire an attorney. I pulled up the attorney retainer agreement in my email and filled it out. I paid the $5,000. I’m DONE with this man.

    At this point he began demanding that my mother, who had come up to be a support person for me during this time, go home. She cannot drive, but wanted my dad to come get her, and TOLD me to ask my dad to come get her.

    The nerve! I refuse to be his communication go-between so he can avoid uncomfortable conversations.

    In addition, he wanted to move my oldest daughter’s things out of her room so he could move into it.

    I put my foot down and told him that under no circumstances was he to touch my daughter’s things. Not only is it creepy as fuck for him to move all of her personal belongings, but she was out of town at the time. I didn’t want her to come home to all of her stuff getting haphazardly tossed into a corner somewhere and him sleeping in her room.

    No way in hell was I going to let him do that. My daughter’s emotional health is precarious, she’s in therapy and considering medication, and is very particular about her belongings. She’d spent months saving money she’d earned at her job to buy things to fix up her room in the new house. She’d already spent days unpacking and arranging things. If he was going to change everything and take her room out from under her due to HIS dishonesty, it wasn’t going to happen like this!

    This angered him. He said to me, “You’re not my wife!”

    I responded, “Oh YES I am. Like it or not I am still your wife and I still have a say what happens here, especially with regards to my daughter (his stepdaughter).”

    At this point he walked off telling me over and over to fuck myself.

    I was so embarrassed that this was happening in our front yard, in our new neighborhood. I didn’t want to be those type of people.

    The next day we did have a civil conversation, and I was very clear that I would NOT tolerate his crazy, offensive predictions. I told him that he had been ignoring my needs and gaslighting me for years, getting angry at my lack of excitement about having lousy, unfulfilling, embarrassing, frustrating sex with him. I was justifiably angry after putting up with his sexual ineptitude and total lack of ability in bed. I was angry at all the times he couldn’t get or keep an erection. All the times he went limp in my mouth, my hand, inside me. That our sex life had revolved around his inability to perform. That I had been ignoring my own needs for the sake of the children for 13 years, and that THIS was the result.

    Photo by Daria Shevtsova

    My anger was pouring out now because my loneliness, frustration, pain, resentment and anger had been pushed down for so long. That he had been clueless to the extent I had been suffering in an attempt to “work it out”, “focus on the positive”, and other ways of sweeping issues under the rug to preserve HIS ego, pride and feelings.

    He’s hurt because he’s lost his best friend and is now lonely and with zero support system in place. But that’s not my fault and it’s not my problem. It’s his problem to solve.

    I encouraged him to call his parents and ask for their support and love, and to seek counseling.