Gabi was Her Name

Through my transition into singleness, there was a big shift in my friendships at the Kingdom Hall. No one quite knew what to do with me anymore. I felt ungrounded. My usual married women friends avoided me, after my divorce. I felt like I had been dumped into a new congregation. Seriously. It was so strange to observe the changes in my relationships with the other sisters in the hall. Fortunately for me, a new sister moved into the congregation who seemed to gravitate to me, for some strange reason. She approached me after her very first attendance at a Sunday meeting. And she was very open with me. Very friendly. Gabi was her name (not her real name just one I’ll use for this story). She was newly divorced for the second time and seemed to understand what changes a person goes through after a divorce. She was very sympathetic to my emotional state. Gabi was her name — and she liked me!

So, we started hanging out together. She’d come over to my apartment, or I’d go over to her place. We’d go out for lunch together, or go shopping together. So, yay! I made a new friend. I was thankful. She filled the gap where the other usual sisters abandoned me in my newly divorced state. Fickle bunch!

Safety in a Cloistered Community

There was safety and security in belonging to a religious community. I liked being with my new friend Gabi. I had a sense of belonging somewhere — I had a new friend. She seemed to enjoy spending time with me and she understood and supported me when I had doubts about my Self. We talked for hours about our respective divorces. I found myself back on track when I confided to her, about how ungrounded I felt. I was in shock over my divorce and was happy to have some company. Even though I chose the divorce, I didn’t know how painful it would be, to actually go through it.

Clearly, Gabi and I were both healing. We talked to each other about how bad our marriages were before they blew up. Her husband had cheated on her and he was a lot like Jerry, I concluded. He couldn’t say no to the ladies either. Dallas was not bad looking — not as great as Gabi thought, though, once she showed me some photos of him.

I listened, as she described how Dallas loved her to dress up in fancy outfits and this worked well because Gabi loved to dress up and feel glamorous. However, Gabi desired an enchanting life from a man who couldn’t give it to her, since he was often unemployed and possessed little ambition to succeed at a job. Even when working, a lot of his income seemed to disappear into drinking and womanizing.

From Fashion Model to Jehovah’s Witness?

My wonderful new friend described how she used to be a fashion model in Montreal. She was a beautiful lady, a few pounds overweight, but still very photogenic. She loved attention. She loved beautiful clothes, having been on the cutting edge of the fashion industry and having been the center of attention on the runway. I saw how modeling could work for her.

I asked her how she went from modeling to turning JW. She told me, she had a JW friend in Montreal. He would talk to her about Armageddon’s imminent approach. And how only JWs would survive. She was skeptical at first, and asked him, “how do you know what you’re saying is true? What if it doesn’t happen like you say?”

He put the question back on her: “Ah, but what if it DOES happen? Do you want to die?”

That question was enough to frighten her into studying with JWs. At one point she actually vomited up a snake. She thought it was a demon. So that really cemented her into the JW-isms.

Interestingly, I asked a shamanic acquaintance about what vomiting up a snake meant, metaphysically. She told me Gabi gave up her sovereignty. The snake was one of her totems. After that time, Gabi was an obedient puppet of the Babylonish Watchtower’s industrialized religion. Little side point.

Back to Gabi’s Friendship

Gabi told me she had a few stretch marks from having a baby, during her first marriage. And, in her second marriage, Dallas was very critical of her body. She simply adored him and longed for him to adore her, too. Unfortunately, his criticism left her feeling inadequate, which slowly poisoned the relationship. Consequently, they got divorced.

With all the things Gabi and I had in common, we quickly became good friends. We talked about my ex Jerry and her ex’s, Phil and Dallas for a time. Gradually, as we both traveled down the healing path, the subject of discussion gravitated toward the kind of man each of us desired to meet — qualities and characteristics of our next Witness husbands.

I realized how much I wanted a man in my life who would dance. I wanted to be wooed and wined — and dined and danced. This is a few months before I began dating Vince.

Gabi Goes on a Date

Gabi wanted a date. She answered a personal ad and agreed to meet a man at a lounge downtown. She described to him what she looked like and what she would be wearing — and went to the lounge early. She brought a book along to read while she waited nervously for the arrival of her date.

He stood her up. Unless of course, it was the man at the next table also reading a book while seemingly amused by Gabi’s nervous anticipation.

Gabi made some small talk with the man and asked him if he, too, was waiting for someone. He laughed, squirmed in his chair, and said no. They struck up a conversation and he eventually walked her home and they exchanged phone numbers. This man was curious about Gabi, even after she adamantly insisted she was a Jehovah’s Witness who had very strict standards about saving herself for marriage.

A Second Date? Or Seduction

A few days later, she invited him to her place for coffee. She lit candles and prepared her apartment in a very appealing, if not seductive way, with essential oils, soft music, and dim lighting. As they got comfortable on the couch, she began to give him a foot massage. He became quite aroused by her inadvertent seduction and expressed his desire to make love. Of course Gabi objected, “We’d have to be married!”

Her new friend then leaped up, distressed, as if he had suddenly discovered her true agenda. He yelled at her for leading him on with “strings attached” and he stomped out of her apartment. Gabi never saw him again.

When Gabi told me her new friend thought the need for marriage meant strings were attached, it got me thinking. He was right, in a way. Holding out for marriage before having sex did give the impression of a feminine ploy. And by all worldly standards, her behavior on that “date” could have been perceived as a seduction scene. Gabi was her name — seduction was her game?

Enter Sister Myra

I bring Myra into the story because I would like readers to see how her experience seemed to cement Gabi’s and my opposite views. Myra moved into our congregation, from across town. She was newly divorced as well. She moved into Gabi’s apartment complex and the three of us became friends. Myra was healing from divorce number three. She had been married to her current husband for about fifteen years. She confided to us that she had experienced very little sexual activity throughout her recent marriage. Even on their wedding night, her new husband avoided having intercourse.

Avoiding sex seemed inconceivable to me, after what Gabi and I experienced in our marriages with our philandering husbands. All they wanted was sex — from us — or anyone!

The lack of sex in the marriage became unbearable for Myra. As she suffered along, she discovered that Phil was missing work some afternoons, when she called his office. She began thinking he was having an affair and decided to hire a private detective to confirm — or put to rest — all of her fears.

When the detective discovered what was drawing Phil away from the office, it came as a surprise to Myra. He had a secret gambling addiction — a no-no in JW-land! At least back then, gambling was “wrong”. New light?

That still didn’t provide an answer to Myra’s gnawing sexual desires. Poor Myra — going without sex for weeks and months on end. That seemed like a cruel form of punishment. She was smart to bail out of such a frustrating marriage, even though the elders were very critical of her choice to do so. Their implication was that it was Myra’s fault. The elders didn’t understand and were quick to advise Myra to stay in the marriage and be more creative in bed. Myra had tried everything imaginable to interest her husband. Quite frankly, she had run out of options.

The Problem with Elders

The elders’ admonition seemed inappropriate and irrelevant. Sure, they were trying to help — except they were not qualified marriage counselors. By setting themselves up as experts, they were removing healthier options for members with marriage problems. Like, how about the possibility of troubled couples to seek help from real marriage counselors. Myra never found out why Phil was so sexually inept. Finally, after fifteen years she chose to end the marriage.

Suffice to say, Myra vowed she would try out her next man before the wedding day, to make sure they were sexually compatible. Even though such independent thinking was completely contrary to the teachings of the religion, it made absolute sense to me. I took note that this was in direct opposition to what the religion taught about marriage. I wouldn’t take that information to the elders, though. I kept Myra’s confidence. Furthermore, I decided her situation was enough proof that the elders were acting inappropriately by counseling its members without proper training. I didn’t want to go into any future marriage blindly, either. I too, silently wondered about “trying out” the man I fell in love with, to make sure we were compatible, sexually.

Nevertheless, Gabi was sure that she was going to wait until marriage to have sex.

Shifting Circumstances

When I got involved in the dance world, obviously I didn’t have so much time anymore to hang out with Gabi. But, I was still going to meetings, occasionally and that’s when Gabi and Myra grilled me about my state of unusual happiness. My being suspiciously happy meant that some explanation was in order. They were worried I might get in trouble.

Then, one day Gabi dropped by and announced, “I’m moving across town to a new congregation, Esther. I won’t be seeing you at the meetings anymore.”

“Oh, that’s too bad,” I looked at her with obvious concern. I would miss her companionship. “Maybe we can still get together and meet for a movie sometimes—? I’m going to miss you something awful!”

“That’d be nice,” Gabi’s worried face lit up again, as she grinned. I sensed she was afraid to tell me she was moving. She didn’t want me to take her action of moving across town personally.

A Precious Gift

She told me her rent had increased beyond what her budget could manage and she had to find a new place. She found a basement suite that was more affordable. It was smaller than her apartment, but quite suitable, if she could thin out her possessions. She wondered if I wanted her china cabinet. Maybe she wanted to even the score for when I gave her my portable dishwasher when I moved into my apartment, after divorcing Jerry. My suite had a built-in dishwasher, so I was happy for my much-loved portable Maytag to find a new home.

I was enthusiastic to have her china cabinet. “You bet! You have a lovely china cabinet and if you don’t want it anymore, I’d be glad to give it a nice home.”

“I know it would have a good home here with you,” she assured me, gazing around my impeccable apartment.

My son Sean was agreeable to help me obtain the china cabinet. Since he had a hatchback car, he thought the top and bottom halves of the cabinet might fit into the back, without too much difficulty. “We could probably do it in one trip,” Sean assured us.

Sean arrived at the set time and we went over to Gabi’s to pick up the china cabinet.

Gabi Defends Me

Unfortunately, Gabi was in a bad mood and started picking on Sean. Regrettably, on an earlier occasion I had confided in Gabi about Sean’s disrespectful behavior toward me, when I refused to make him a sandwich, shortly after my divorce. I was tired of being the “over-functioner” in the family.

Gabi and Sean maneuvered the bottom half of the china cabinet through Gabi’s apartment door, through the stairwell door, and navigated down the first few stairs when Sean tripped. Gabi snapped at him, “Be careful! I know you don’t care about my things. And you don’t care about your mom! But have some respect!”

“Shut up, Gabi!” Sean yelled back. Sean was not in the mood to listen to Gabi’s rant. He had heard enough earlier about the Relationship Drama Triangles, as taught by Dr. Katt, which he did not agree with. He didn’t want to hear anymore about respect. Besides, he felt sorry for Gabi’s son — a few years his junior — who was at the receiving end of Gabi’s angry outbursts many a time. Gabi’s son, accompanied her to the Kingdom Hall, whenever he was not on visitation with his dad from her first marriage.

I hoped my cheerful demeanor would be contagious. “Hey, you two! Everything is okay. No harm done. You are both safe. The china cabinet is safe.” I was trying to keep them on the topic at hand, namely, getting the china cabinet safely into my apartment. Personally, I wondered how deeply Sean’s anger went. It seemed to me Sean and Gabi were pushing each other’s hot buttons. And their behavior was scaring me.

Sean regained his composure and his balance and the rest of the move went smoothly, without any more outbursts.

Gabi’s Concerns about Me

“Do you want a ride home, Gabi? Or are you staying to visit Mom for awhile?” Sean asked in a perfunctory way, as he jingled his keys in his pocket, preparing to leave.

Is there no end to his patience?

“I’ll stay with your mom. We have some catching up to do,” Gabi smiled impishly. “Sorry about my outburst earlier.”

“Aw, it’s okay,” Sean reassured her. “No big deal.”

“Thanks for your help, Sean. I appreciate it.” I hugged him, as he made his way out the door.

The Talk About Our Respective Sons

Gabi was not okay about Sean, though. “That boy is a lot like my boy,” she warned me, as soon as I had closed the door after Sean. She shook her head. “Disrespectful as can be.”

I shook my head along with her. “I don’t know what to do. I am afraid of what he’s going to do next. I tried to talk to him about his temper and his anger, but I think the issue goes deeper than what I am capable of helping him with. I taught too many ‘subjection’ beliefs for him to suddenly start listening to women — even if I am his Mom.”

“Why don’t you ask him to move out?” Gabi asked. She hesitated, then added, “Before he hurts you.”

“You think he could hurt me?” I looked at her, bewildered.

“Well, first he punches the wall, then he punches your closet door off its hinges, maybe next it will be you,” she reasoned, eyes widening. “He’s not a little boy anymore. He must be over six feet by now! That plus a bad temper — need I say more?”

My eyes widened. I recalled the time in Lethbridge, when he made Monique cry and she accused him of being a bully. I shivered.

“I can’t think about that now,” I said. “Tell me what’s new with you, while I wipe down this beautiful cabinet.”

More Clandestine Dates Across Town

So Gabi moved.

I’m thinking back wondering if she moved out of her apartment complex because there were too many JWs close by. She wanted to be meeting and dating men. A basement suite would be more conducive to privacy. Fewer prying eyes. Less so than an apartment block full of JW eyes peering out their windows and seeing her dating “worldly” men.

On the other side of town, Gabi began to hang out at a local pool hall and that is where she met Tom. They played pool together, late into the night and Gabi let him walk her home.

Tom came by her new basement suite the very next day and waited at her door until she arrived home. She did not have the heart to say, “go away” or “I’m busy”. Instead, she fed him and let him stay over, making him sleep on the couch. They cuddled and necked and finally after only a few weeks, Gabi brought up the subject of marriage.

Tom said he’d think about.

Gabi became hopeful that she would marry again.

From then on, when I called or came over to Gabi’s, Tom was around and I was uncomfortable.

The Stray Cat

the stray tom catBefore ever meeting him, my impression based on the stories Gabi shared of Tom was that he drifted from place to place, staying wherever a woman took pity on him, or fed him — like a stray cat. I didn’t like this man right from the start. One time, while Tom walked Gabi home, he saw a guy on the street wearing a leather jacket that he liked. Tom assaulted the man, literally ripped the jacket off his back, and claimed it as his own — while Gabi protested.

Tom laughed over Gabi’s lame objections.

Another time, Tom rummaged through Gabi’s blue jeans, in search of her bus pass. He planned to sell it for street value, so he could hang out at the pool hall for the evening. She burst out crying.

She learned quickly that, if she cried, he took pity on her and on that occasion, he stopped short of stealing her bus pass.

I tried to reason with her about what life would be like married to a man she couldn’t trust. After all, weren’t we both desirous of meeting brothers? “You better hold out for a brother or you’ll be sorry. Haven’t you and I learned anything from choosing a worldly kind of man up until now?”

A Fight with Gabi

She was incensed and lashed out at me, “You’re prejudiced against native Indians. You’re still mad at Jerry, because he is living with one — after leaving you!”

It’s true, there are a lot of First Nations people in Saskatoon. And it’s true that my ex was having an affair with one. But prejudiced? I didn’t think so because even when I was in high school, I had a crush on an aboriginal boy. It’s probably good that he wasn’t interested in me because he liked to get high by sniffing gasoline. That spooked me. Besides, I was glad to be divorced and certainly wasn’t looking back, wishing I could be with Jerry. That was history well-forgotten.

I replied to her accusation about me being prejudiced by saying, “Sure, and Jerry has to lock up his wallet and other valuables in the trunk of his car when he goes home to her each night! How’s that for ‘the good life’?”

I was concerned for Gabi’s safety and well-being, just as much as my own. I tried in vain to persuade her that she deserved so much more than what Tom had to offer.

But, my pleading fell on deaf ears and I tried to avoid the subject after that. I didn’t want to lose Gabi’s friendship. That was likely our first fight with each other, ever. I really loved her as a sister. Interesting that our first fight was about a man she loved and I hated!

Gabi’s Stray Cat Gets Busted

A few weeks later, Gabi stopped by. Her new friend, Tom, got arrested and was committed to the psychiatric ward for petty felons. I hoped the arrest and incarceration would open Gabi’s eyes to the sheer ugliness of her new relationship with Tom.

No such luck. She visited Tom in jail. It was then that they decided if the two of them were married, they could have conjugal visits. She confided to me, “I kind of discovered I like it when he’s in jail, because I always know where he is then. Jail provides structure for our relationship, until we can find it on our own!”

She was beaming! Try as I might to wrap my head around her reasoning! I couldn’t. Jail enabled Gabi to keep tabs on her stray cat. On the street, when Tom had money, he was gone for several days at a time. But when he was broke, he showed up at Gabi’s door and she never had the heart to turn him away.

Wedding Bells for Gabi

In view of their upcoming nuptials I soon phoned Gabi with an offer, “Gabi, let’s meet at the mall and you can tell me what you might want for a wedding gift. I want to get something special for you because you are my very best friend — ever! You can choose anything you want.”

She answered immediately, “I have my eye on a set of microwavable bowls. I’ll show you.”

We hung up the phone, caught the bus to the mall, and she pointed to the bowls. “These! Aren’t they great?” The bowls were in a set of four, turquoise blue, plastic, washable bowls which were advertised on the packaging as multi-use.

“They’re wonderful! I’m happy to buy them for you — unless there is something else you have your eye on, too.” I repeated my offer. I wanted to give her the option of choosing several thoughtful gifts. They weren’t very expensive.

“Nope, this is all I want!” Without hesitation, she scooped the prepackaged box of bowls and marched me to the checkout. I paid for the bowls and after handing them to her, I said. “Happy wedding! Now let’s celebrate. I’ll buy you lunch!”

Girl Talk

Over the din of the food court, Gabi gushed, “My plans for a happy future are finally falling into place. Thanks so much for these bowls. I know they will come in handy and help me be a great wife to my new husband.” Then she nudged me on the shoulder and beamed, “It will be so nice to have sex again!”

We both giggled.

I replied, “I hope you’ll be very happy. I wish only the best for you, Gabi.”

I really meant it — even if I objected to her choice of husband.

Then Gabi got serious. “Esther, now that I’m getting married, I won’t be able to hang out with you as much as before. Maybe you should move home to Selkirk and be with your family.”

“I have thought of that, Gabi,” I admitted. “I even talked about that with Dr. Katt, my therapist. But after all is said and done, I think I would suffocate in Selkirk. I doubt that I could go back and truly be happy with that choice.”

“It would keep you out of trouble and get you away from Vince,” she looked at me deadly serious with her beautiful, big, brown, round eyes — which revealed her true motive.

I realized she was worried about me, which is what friends do for each other. But, I paused and studied her expression. I didn’t say it out loud, but I found myself yelling in my head at her, “Vince doesn’t steal my bus pass from me — Vince isn’t a thief — Vince isn’t a petty criminal — Vince has his own home — Vince is a complete gentleman with me — unlike Tom who is nothing like that by any stretch of the imagination!”

But I bit my tongue. It was enough to be confident in my own choices. I then became aware of my pursed lips and stern eyes as they met hers.

Gabi sat back in her cold steel chair and grinned. She was very pleased with herself, “I’m happy, Esther. Tom and I managed not to ‘commit fornication.’ We are waiting until marriage before having sex.”

“Ah, I’m glad to hear you are happy, Gabi. You deserve to be happy. Deeply happy! You know — I really mean it.” And I did.

“I know you do,” Gabi squeezed my hand.

Gabi Gets Married — Again!

Gabi and Tom get marriedSo, when Tom got out of prison, they were married in a private ceremony, with a Justice of the Peace. Since they chose to tie the knot on a weekday, I was working, so was unable to attend the wedding.

“It’s for the best,” I mused out loud.

But, shortly after the wedding, Gabi was under a great deal of pressure to confess her sin of secretly marrying Tom, a worldly man.

For Shame!

After deliberation, the elders decided that since Gabi broke down and cried during their Judicial Committee Meeting with her, they concluded that she was repentant. As a result, she could not properly be disfellowshipped. Instead, she was publicly reproved.

For those who don’t know what a public reproof is in JW-ville, it is a lesser form of discipline than to disfellowship. Given formally by a judicial committee to a baptized JW who is considered repentant of serious sin, the reproved person temporarily loses privileges of service, like going door-to-door and commenting at meetings, but suffers no restriction of social or spiritual fellowship within the congregation. She didn’t get shunned, in other words.

I figure the worst part of being publicly reproved is that it’s crushingly embarrassing for the recipient. Because a public announcement is issued in front of the entire congregation, any who knew of the circumstances would learn that the “sin” was dealt with by the elders.

Being publicly reproved meant she did something that shamed the congregation’s good name, so members needed to know that the elders had dealt with her.

In the minds of the elders, Tom was a worldly man. More than that, Gabi had developed the relationship with him, secretly married him, then informed the elders, after the fact. The greater sin — from the standpoint of the elders — was that all of this was done in secret from them — meddling elders. They needed to know EVERYTHING!

I didn’t want Tom to know where I lived. I didn’t want him coming to my apartment if Gabi were to visit me — and sift through my things to see what he might pawn.

It was a sad day. I was losing Gabi as a friend.

Gabi Shuns Me

I didn’t see Gabi again until after I got disfellowshipped. I accidentally ran into her at Zellers in the mall. She kept a pillar between us. “Are you coming back?” She whispered, her eyes darting around on the lookout for spies. She meant are you returning to the “Big J.”

I wanted to run up to her and hug her. I wanted to cry on her shoulder. But I didn’t dare show any emotion.

I can’t let her know I’m upset for being thrown out of the congregation like so much garbage.

I forced a chuckle and sneered, “No way!”

A look of disdain came over her face. Tilting her head high, she turned and walked away from me.

I was an outcast — a pariah. I was caught between a rock and a hard place. It was my time of transition — the choosing between two divergent paths.

I had chosen a new path.

Gabi hasn’t spoken to me since the “pillar” incident in Zellers. Knowing her, she prayed for weeks after our encounter, asking God to forgive her, for her sin of talking to me when she was supposed to be shunning me.

My “Dear Esther” Letter

A month after my disfellowshipping, I received a letter in the mail with Gabi’s unmistakable scrawl. I hurriedly opened the letter, wondering if she was now “out” too, or if she was pleading for me to come back. It proved to be the latter. The letter read as follows,

My Dear Sister Esther,

Thank you for returning my book, but the Bible is the only Book we really need be concerned about. The Power of Life!

I just wanted to say, I still love you. But this man, he does not love you, he’s too in love with himself. You are a toy to him. I know from personal experience, from living for 44,-45 years, + from being clued in by other people who truly care, I know that if a man doesn’t marry you within one year, he will never marry you. (N-E-V-E-R) Period. Why should he? You will never leave him. Right? He’s got you, HOOK, LINE + SINKER. Satan’s got you, + now he bothers you no more because he knows he’s got you. Just like Vince a worm + not a man knows he’s got you so he’ll bother no more to marry you. Sure, he’ll drop tidbits of hope now + then, because he impostor knows it makes you happy. But it will never happen. And he has his little reasons, which even make sense to you. But if you die tonight, you will turn back into dust, + the memory of you will be forgotten. Even now you are being forgotten. How dare that man say the words “I AM a Christian.” He is a Fornicator + a Liar. Nothing more. I got up at 4:45 AM to write this letter. Because I love you + I miss you + there is a huge hole in my heart without you, Estee.

Your sister (forever, I thought)

Gabi

P.S. With tears I say Good-bye. And remember Lynn? She was my friend before you + a sister. SHE had a ring + a date on June 2000 + the guy, for the 4th time, never married her. Oh, they’re still together. 6 years. But not forever. Look around you the earth is already on fire. The people are drowning in their own sorrow and disobedience. (You know the rest)

P.S. I suggest you move to Manitoba. It’s the only way. . . Hold your ground, girl!!

“Aww—Gabi loves me and misses me,” I supposed out loud. “I love you too, Gabi — but I can’t live like you.” I tore the letter in half, threw it in the garbage — hesitated — and retrieved it. I taped it up and carefully placed it in my jewelry box.

Goodbye letter from Gabi after I got disfellowshippedGoodbye letter from Gabi after I got disfellowshipped. [Click to enlarge.]

Is Marriage the Be All and End All?

Apparently, Gabi doesn’t feel “whole” unless she’s somebody’s wife. That’s a patriarchal view in the Jehovah’s Witnesses Babylonish religion, sadly. According to many religions, wives are nothing more than chattel or property. Husbands are heard to call their wife “The Wife”. I choose not to be owned by anyone. I choose freedom for my Self and anyone with whom I choose to be involved.

Gabi seems so sure that I’m “missing out” on marriage. She wants to “save me” — but what she doesn’t know is that I feel like staying single. Staying single doesn’t leave me feeling “not whole”. I don’t feel any need to “be saved”. After my divorce, I feel happy that I’m single. I feel free and I like that. I could be married if I want to, but I choose to stay single.

Governments have made marriage into an “institution”. Likely we have all heard that expression, “The Institution of Marriage”. Well, I’m in a “relationship” — not an “institution”.

I’ve also seen many good romances fall apart after marriage. It’s like the “institution” of marriage comes with much baggage and expectations that one never discovers until it’s too late — after marriage. I defend my right to remain single.

Gabi’s Conjugal Visits with Tom

The next time I saw Gabi, Vince and I were in his truck. We rounded a corner, approaching his neighborhood. Suddenly, I recognized Gabi walking along the sidewalk. I sighed deeply.

“Are you okay, Esther?” Vince queried.

“There’s Gabi, walking the route again, in the direction of the psychiatric ward for felons. Tom must be once again incarcerated. Tom and Gabi must be having conjugal visits,” I shook my head sadly.

“Gee, Esther. It seems like they met only a few months ago. Is that right? — or have I just lost track of the time?” Vince was taken aback.

I paused to think, then shook my head sadly, “Actually, that’s about right. The marriage was a very sudden decision. Not to mention, some of that time was spent in jail.”

Vince laughed, then noticed my sadness. “Aw, Esther. I know it’s hard to lose a friend.” He reached over, gently took my hand in his, and gave a gentle squeeze.

“Thanks for understanding, Vince,” I wanted him to know his thoughtfulness was appreciated. I added, “My life is so much more pleasant with you in it!”

In a moment, we swung around the next corner toward his house, and the conversation shifted onto our plans for the evening.

Torturous Bus Rides

shattered heart, torn from walking a divergent pathOne part of me was glad that work and dancing were consuming all my time. Busy-ness was probably beneficial, as a means to escape my intense feelings of grief and loss. That and my visits to Dr. Katt, my therapist. Really, the bus rides to and from work were the only times I found myself being tortured about my religious life and what to do with it. I was so torn inside. My entire world had been ripped away from me after getting disfellowshipped.

But torn because I didn’t want to go back to the family religion. Ever!

jws shun don't shun with the flip of a switchDuring one such bus ride, I began to realize, on a deeper level, how all the congregation members who I thought were my friends, were really false friends. They were only “allowed” to talk to me if I was a member “in good standing” — otherwise a friendship was not permitted. Like only platonic friendships were possible in JW-ville, because what if someone you cared about left the religion? How do you just “shut your heart off” from such a friend?

I awoke from one of those sad daydreams on the bus to realize Gabi was sitting across the aisle and two seats up, just ahead of the rear exit. I could not imagine missing her board the bus — my beloved Gabi — which revealed the depth of my anguish.

The bus had just rounded the corner. It was time for me to ring the bell and approach the back door to exit.

I paused behind Gabi’s seat and just before stepping off the bus, I commented just loud enough for her to hear, “Hi Gabi. I saw you walking by Vince’s again. I guess you know — I know what that means.”

Her body stiffened and she turned her face to the window, as she clutched her purse on her lap.

The bus door opened and I stepped out into a cloud of dust.

That was the last time I ever saw Gabi.

Watch Gabi: From Fashion Model to JW Part 1

Watch Gabi: Shuns Her Best Friend, Me! Part 2


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