I am currently writing a sequel, The Ghosts from Mama’s Club. The book is an autobiography of my life after Bethel, and it prompts the question, “So what are these ghosts?” In my story, they are dysfunctional behavior patterns, residue from the time spent in a highly controlled religious group. These ghosts can be toxic and debilitating roadblocks to a full, happy life after leaving the Club, if they’re not identified and exorcized. They are:
- Prodigious amounts of misinformation acquired wittingly/unwittingly.
- Constant guilt due to thinking one is not pleasing God. This occurs when old religious fears are not properly cremated.
- The loss of cognitive thinking skills, an inability to think for oneself.
- An insatiable need to have other people or groups do one’s thinking.
- The inability to articulate well-thought-out religious/philosophical beliefs.
- A potentially unhealthy attraction to high-control fundamentalist groups promising God’s truth & the correct interpretation of the Bible.
- The inability to tolerate the insecurity of anything outside the sphere of physical science and a person’s conscious experiences.
- A need to control other people. (When you’re abused, you can abuse)
- A lack of self-control related to sex, alcohol or drugs.
- The inability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time.
- Black and white thinking, as answers were always found in the WT.
- Difficulty understanding that the only things a person can control are one’s beliefs about events, people, circumstances, etc.
- Difficulty assimilating into mainstream society due to JW phobias.
- Stuck on constantly blaming the organization for robbing the best years of one’s life and unable to acknowledge one’s duplicity.
- Obsessive time and energy spent on projects intended to topple the organization. (Expose them, yes. Toppling them isn’t going to happen as JWs fill a market niche for people in need of heavy-duty structure.)
- A propensity to underline in ink key points in magazines and books.
- Suffering persistent shunning by JW family and friends. (For many people, this is the most brutal ghost, and can be severely debilitating.)
I believe the most invasive of the ghosts is misinformation. Shedding “things a person knows that ain’t so” is a very challenging task. It requires cremating old religious fears. It may take years. But it can be done. If I were to leave the organization today, my recovery plan would include reading the following six books, in this order, and here’s why: