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.