George's Story
So the very things that i hated in my mother I became

I got married at 19. I didn’t want to marry my wife. She was a Jehovah’s Witness too. She was five years older than me, and she asked me to marry her. When I told her I didn’t think I loved her and didn’t want to marry her, she just fell apart. I’d surrounded myself with people from my religion who began to put pressure on me – “You’ve been going out with her for nearly two years, you made her fall in love with you, so you should do the honourable thing” – though I hadn’t slept with her. So after much cajoling, I agreed to marry her – which was a terrible thing to do.

Reality dawned after we were married, and my resentment grew. My wife wanted me to rise up in the church and become an elder. I never saw myself in that role because I had no respect for authority and because, although I had a deep theological curiosity, my thoughts didn’t always equate with what the Jehovah’s Witnesses were saying. When I told my wife that, she’d ring the elders and inform on me.

She would often say derogatory things about me in front of my friends. For example, we’d be at a party and she’d say something she knew would spark me off – like that I’d got a low-paying job compared with someone else’s husband, and that she thought she’d married a loser.

I wouldn’t say anything at the time. I’d just wait. My wife would see the change in me but she could never work out what was brewing. It was like a tsunami building up. I started to understand how my mother felt about her anger. You want the whole lot when you give it to them. It’s like a huge orgasmic feeling.

I’d talk to my wife about what she’d said, and she’d just laugh it off. That would give me the pretext I needed, and I’d launch into her and give her a beating. It was mostly open-handed slaps. I think you get more shock from an open-handed slap, and I wanted the best. It sounds a bit demented, but that’s the way it was. I was calculating my violence, and it felt so good having this sense of power over another person and humiliating my wife in return – because she’d have to go out in public with bruises or marks.

These incidents happened about once a month. I got quite extreme because I believed in this strange Biblical thing – that you must pay them back four times as much as what they did to you, or 10 times. But I think around your early twenties, you’re so full of testosterone and issues, and the two fuel each other.

So the very things that I hated in my mother, I became. I was sociopathic. I had no empathy with other people. I used to go on field service for the church, going from door to door telling people the end of the world was nigh. I was with one of the elders one day, and said to him, “I don’t particularly care whether these people are saved or not. They are not us, they don’t have ‘the truth’, and they don’t want it. Why should I care? If they die, they die – as long as I don’t.” He went quiet, then said “well, we’re supposed to care”. Up ‘til then, I had been playing the role. The elders were looking for fresh blood, and I was a rising star. When I came out with this pronouncement there was absolute shock.

Then one night we had a group of elders over and we were playing five hundred. My wife and I were partners, and just to piss me off she played 10 no trumps, the highest gamble you could make, and then she played the wrong card deliberately. I was so shocked, I just leaned across and smacked her in front of everybody – with a closed fist, probably for the first time. Cards erupted everywhere and there was a huge kerfuffle, but I was in such a rage I didn’t care.

That was the beginning of the end of my spiritual life. I had been concealing all these problems – that I’d married the wrong girl, that I had become cruel to her, that I was miserable, that I felt I was becoming like my mother, and starting to think I was completely mad myself. I began to miss meetings and not go on field service.

I started to calculate my way out of the terrible mess I’d got myself into. I wanted out of my marriage, but when you are a Jehovah’s Witness you are in there for life. The only way out is adultery, but the other party has to not forgive you – and they are counselled to forgive where possible.

It wasn’t long before I found another female for my escape plan. At home I slept on the couch, deliberately putting distance between my wife and myself. I think she sensed that something had changed in me. Her comments became passive and nice. But by then I was like a freight train picking up speed. I was going to get out of there, I just wasn’t telling her yet. I had been fired from my latest job because I’d threatened the boss, and had got a job as a DJ because I loved music, I could dance and I was good with the women.

There was a voice in my head saying what you are doing is evil and you are going to be destroyed. But there was another voice saying your life is over anyway because you’ve done all this unforgivable stuff, so have a good time while you can.

Eventually the elders asked me point blank, “have you committed any immorality?” I said I had. By this time I was living apart from my wife, but taking money home for her and our daughter. The elders said they wanted to see me, and I told them the lot – and they dis-fellowshipped me. That was a relief in a way, but it was hugely painful too because you lose all your friends. No one speaks to you or even looks at you because you are carrion – rubbish. You’re worse than anyone because you’ve known God and abandoned him.