Monday, May 21, 2012


Growing up, I had a friend who totally 'got' me. Even though she was a few years younger than I was at a time when small age differences matter, we were inseparable. We, of course, were both being raised as Jehovah's Witnesses. We talked about the organization a lot but usually in a very cryptic way, neither of us ever being brave enough to say how we really felt.

Time passed, I got married, had a baby, and moved to the other end of Florida. This was before everyone had an e-mail address so we kept in touch through letters and the occasional phone call. But eventually we grew apart. It was no ones fault, or maybe it was my fault, who knows? It's hard when you're the first of your friends to have a baby and I imagine it's hard when your friend has a baby and leaves you behind, although I wouldn't know anything about that part.

A few years later I heard she no longer was one of Jehovah's Witnesses. I was scared for her because clearly this meant she was an awful person choosing to engage in unsavory activities that god didn't approve of. But I was also in awe of her bravery and maybe a teeny bit jealous of the fact that she was getting out and I was still floundering.

I called her and asked her what was up. Why didn't she want to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses anymore? I asked her numerous times and the only answer I ever got was that she simply "didn't want to." I didn't press the issue, assuming that either she really didn't want to talk about it, or more likely, seeing that I was still technically a Witness, she thought I would judge her. Maybe I would have.

Fast forward a couple of years. I'm feeling depressed, confused, and having serious doubts about the religion I was raised in. I again contact my friend, not only hoping that she can talk me through some of what I'm feeling, but also because I was certain that we could truly re-connect now that neither of us wanted a future as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. When we got around to the topic of Witnesses she blew me off saying, "Yeah, I really don't talk about that anymore." I was incredibly hurt because whether or not she had talked about it before with anyone else, she had chosen never to talk about it with me. And I needed to talk about it.

Fortunately, now the internet was readily available and I was able to find like-minded people through blogs and message boards. Slightly damaged people such as myself who had been where I was and were able to get through it and go on to lead happy, productive lives.

Soon after moving to Oregon I connected with my friend one last time, via Facebook. I had no expectations. I just wanted to say hello and let her  know that I was now across the country. She seemed happy for me but had no interest in discussing people we both knew or memories we shared. She didn't ask me any questions about my parents, my kids, or my husband and she didn't seem interested in sharing any of the details of her life with me. Whatever the reason, I didn't let it get to me. A few months later she deleted her Facebook.

Yesterday, out of the blue, I typed her name into Facebook and up popped her page, a new page that is only a few weeks old. All of her friends are people I don't recognize and she has a section devoted to Scientology. Most of her page is filled with quotes from L. Ron Hubbard and pictures of her at the church. Apparently, she's heavily into the religion. Admittedly, I don't know a lot about Scientology. I went to their website and tried to do a bit of research but honestly, it kind of creeps me out and is something I'd rather avoid.

Even though my friend and I aren't close and in all likelihood never will be again, I hope she's happy. But I can't shake the feeling that maybe now she's the one who is floundering, trying to glean happiness from unlikely sources but coming up short. I've heard that some people who leave the Jehovah's Witnesses repeatedly immerse themselves in other, seemingly odd, faiths in a never ending search for some type of spiritual comfort. I guess I did the opposite.

Of all the people who have come in and out of my life over the past 35 years, she is the one person who has confused me the most and left me with so many unanswered questions. Did our friendship just run its course, as friendships formed in the childhood years often do? (I could accept that if I sincerely thought it was the truth.) Or has she avoided having a friendly relationship with me because I'm a link to her past, someone who reminds her of the family and friends who will no longer speak to her because she doesn't wish to be a part of the faith they still cling to?

I'll probably never know.


Maria Rose said...

Such a strange experience. Really too bad that she was unwilling to share with you. ---

Tammie said...

maria rose: it really is. even after all of these years, i feel i need some type of closure.

Daniel Haszard said...

I applaud your blog,love the serene book image at the top.

I too was born JW 1957 exited in 92-If ever you get doubts about whether or not they are the 'truth' think of this:
The founder of Jehovah's Witnesses Charles T. Russell was way into the pagan and spooky pyramidology. This was part of his apocalyptic algorithm to arrive at the date of October 1914 for Jesus second coming.
He is buried under a huge freaky Knights Templar pyramid.
Google images-Charles Russell burial pyramid.
Got my own page up on ole C.T. Russell FMI dannyhaszard(dot)com

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I find this oddly fascinating.
I am sad that your old friend is avoiding contact with you thought.

It is also interesting to me that she is so easily taken in by those who do this so strongly. I believe all religions are a cult to a point. But Scientology and JW seem to really have scary strong holds on their followers. I could go on but I won't.

I'm sorry for your loss though Tammie.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Before I even got to the end, I was already having the same thoughts you're having.
For one, I thought to myself, I bet a lot of people who leave religions like that...ones in which people seem so FULLY immersed...often keep on searching for something else to take its place. I can imagine they would feel lost or aimless without the religion that had been such a huge part of their life.
Also, I definitely think she's avoiding you as a reminder of that past life. It's a shame she can't or won't reach out to you.
And Scientology? CREEPY. Fo sho.

Jaime said...

It is weird when things like this happen. I've made friends and lost them over the years. I think that people come into your life and leave at times when you both need them and must let them go.

I'm still friends with Crystal, Vibeke, & Heidi. We don't talk all the time but, when we do, it is always like old times. I really appreciate these kind of friends.

I didn't realize you were a JW when we were in school together. I'm glad you found your way toward happiness. I'm thankful for connecting with people like you before deleting my Facebook account:)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Your friend has hooked up with a cult. No wonder she is avoiding contact with you. According, to what I've read about Scientology, your friend is being brainwashed against all outsiders(friends and family both). Hope she comes to her senses before it's too late!

Visty said...

I had a friend who was staunchly atheistic until he was in a terrible car crash and he became an evangelical Christian. Part of his transformation was that he could no longer tolerate the knowledge that I was on a fast track straight to hell. It completely ruined our friendship.

Religion can ruin a lot of friendships, for one reason or another. I am sad for you that your friend ditched you like that. I can't even imagine why she would have. Maybe she was afraid you would try to reel her back in. Maybe she thought you would ridicule her Scientology bender. Maybe Scientology forbids members to be deep friends with non members, which would be absolutely ironic.

Either way, she's missing out. I think you're the bees knees.