Wednesday, May 21, 2008

So, what next?

My recent fifteen minutes of fame has got me thinking about my book again. You know, THE BOOK I keep talking about writing. About me. About my life. Well, all of you new readers and your comments and your private emails to me have inspired me deeply. I see a real need here. More than ever I see that this penguin's journey from God believer to humanist is a journey that needs to be shared.

In previous posts (here, here and here) I talked about reading Harris' The End of Faith and Dawkin's The God Delusion and how I felt that perhaps atheists were asking too much of believers, or rather that they didn't seem to understand the turmoil that one enters when abandoning long-held beliefs, whatever they may be. But particularly belief in a God and the surrounding structure of religion and its community. For those of us raised in cults or high-control religious groups, the leap into rational thinking is a leap into the great unknown, a darkness so vast it threatens everything you've come to believe not only about the universe, but about yourself and your place in it. It catapulted me into a long, dark tunnel of depression--one which I thought I would never emerge from. Sadly, many ex-jws commit suicide before they reach the other side. The losses, the change, the reality of life are just too much.

So, what if I wrote my book about the experience of leaving, what it meant to leave, how it changed me, what it took every day to confront every belief I held dear for so long. A book about facing your own mortality once the eternal life carrot has been wrought from your hands; about losing your social network because of cult-enforced shunning; about living every day with the feeling that you're a stranger to a strange land. Would people read this book?

And then there is the fear. To write such a book (although let's be honest here, so much of it is written on this blog and in my journals and in the secret world behind every tear I've shed over the past 3 years) would mean the very real possibility of finally alienating my still-jw parents. They have not yet taken the hardline with the shunning practice. In that, I am one of the lucky ones. But it is very possible that if I write this book, it will confirm once and for all that I am an "apostate" and the pressure will be great on my parents to cut off contact with me completely.

So here I am, at yet another crossroads in my life. Tough choices once again. But really, is there any other choice? When I finally saw the man behind the curtain 3 years ago, there was no other choice but to leave the faith I'd been raised with. I could no longer live a lie. There was no going back. The reality: Kansas is no longer on the map, there's no ruby slippers and there really is no place like home; in fact, there's no home at all.

So, what next?

tall penguin


Paul said...

There is writing, and then there is publishing. The decision to do the second need not be made definitively until the first has been completed.

tall penguin said...

Good point paul. Thank you.

Realistically though, all fears must be confronted along the way if I'm to do anything at all. That's the way this brain is wired until such time as it isn't.

Sylvia said...

Just another drive-by commenter directed here by the Great Reshelvening, but in terms of the potential impact on your family: Have you considered publishing under a pen name? Maybe that's hopelessly old-fashioned of me to suggest, now that it's so easy to find people. Still, could be something to think about.

I'd love to read that book, if it becomes a reality.

zensim said...

Write your life. The jw aspect is part of it, but it is not wholly who you are and you are not meaning to write a self-help book on how to leave a cult. Just write your story as you are in this blog.

Often when we face our fears, we find the fear we were projecting into the future (in this case your parents) - actually doesn't happen. And even when it does, the courage we gained in facing up to that fear, helps us to deal with the outcomes.

You'll figure it out along the way as you write the book, knowing what to put in and leave out.


tall penguin said...

Thank you sylvia for that suggestion. If and when I get to the point of publishing said book, I don't think a pen name will be necessary. If I actually manage to write this thing, I will, in the process, have confronted just about every fear left around these issues. Or so I hope.

Thanks Sim. Ya, I know this. One day I'll know that I know it. And eventually, I may even know that I know that I know it. ;)

Ged said...

Please write the book. According to Dawkins et al there must be tens of thousands out there trying to summon the courage to make the break.

There's nothing a like a real life account with hope, humour and humility to convince folks they can do it too - and survive.

You have such a wealth of material already on this site to draw from. I've hugely enjoyed dipping into it and I love the fact that you don't hold back from anything. Your reflections go way beyond the evils visited upon us by religion. You are a truly liberated thinker.

azportsider said...

If you write and publish your book (THE BOOK!), I promise to read it. Never having had any qualms about forsaking the religion my parents forced on me as a youngster because it made no sense at all, I'm intrigued by the psychology of your transformation.

mike g said...

That's a book I'd read for sure. I think it would round out the group you mentioned quite nicely.

Do your parents know about the blog? It's probably something that doesn't come up I guess, but you never know.

tall penguin said...

"There's nothing a like a real life account with hope, humour and humility to convince folks they can do it too - and survive."

Yes, that would be my hopes in writing it. Survive...yes, hard to imagine that not too long ago I was sitting outside a subway station seriously considering throwing myself on the tracks. But this is the journey. This is what it's like when everything comes up for question. This is what people need to know.

"You are a truly liberated thinker."

Thank you for this. I am humbled.

tall penguin said...

"Do your parents know about the blog?"

Not that I know of. They don't own a computer and I can't imagine in what context they would find my blog. Of course, I do sometimes fantasize about some jw I know reading here regularly and introducing it to them. But then again, perhaps I should be careful what I wish for. ;)