If I Could Turn Back Time


Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 051

HELLO AND WELCOME TO EPISODE 51 OF ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon and today I’ve been thinking about regrets—things I’ve done in my life that I really wish I hadn’t. In my last podcast, I spoke of some of my ex-wife’s failings and highlighted how the cult that is Jehovah’s Witnesses is a law unto itself when it comes to alienating children from their ex-JW parents. That is the truth of the matter, but that’s not to say I’m without my faults. I’ve made some absolutely awful decisions in my life and that’s what this podcast is about. Basically, I’ve been beating myself up today and I want to share my emotional self-flagellation with you. So, here goes:

1. I regret ever getting baptised as a Jehovah’s Witness. Life might have been completely different if I’d not done that, but I didn’t know what I know now—that Jehovah’s Witnesses is a cult that controls every aspect of your life. I was 16 years old. Baptism was expected of me. I wanted to please my parents and be accepted by the only group I knew. That was my first mistake which went on to impact every other major decision in my life.

2. I regret ending my relationship with my first girlfriend. I really did love her. I wish I’d been patient and allowed our relationship to develop slowly rather than trying to rush things against her parent’s wishes. But she was a Jehovah’s Witness, and if we had married I might never have questioned the cult. I might still be a Witness today, blissfully ignorant. So maybe it was for the best we didn’t end up together?

3. I regret marrying my wife on the rebound. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t love her, at least not in the way I loved my first girlfriend. It felt like an arranged marriage in many respects. I hoped I would develop feelings for her, but I never did. In hindsight, that was unfair to her. I had doubts a few weeks before our wedding, as did she, but we suppressed them for the sake of the cult. That was wrong of me. It was my biggest mistake. 

4. I regret being emotionally distant from my wife throughout our marriage. Yes, she was emotionally abusive, but knowing I didn’t love her—and she must have felt that—can’t have helped things. Maybe she would have been a warmer person if I could have just found a way to love her?

5. I deeply regret cheating on my wife when someone showed me the love and respect I craved for. That must have been demoralising for my wife. I wish I’d told my wife I didn’t love her instead of pretending I did. I wish I’d told her I had feelings for someone else and divorced her before starting a new relationship.

6. I regret raising my children as Jehovah’s Witnesses. I regret how strict I was with them. I regret allowing my daughter to get baptised at 9 years old. I regret home educating our children rather than sending them to school. I especially regret shunning my two oldest children when they disassociated. I know I’ve hurt them, damaged them, and I would do anything to change that.

These regrets have led me to ask myself, “Am I a bad person? Or am I a good person who just made some terrible decisions?” Why did I make the decisions I did when in hindsight I would now do things so differently? Have I just learned from my mistakes or am I fundamentally a different person now? How much did being in a cult affect my ability to make the right decisions? I’m trying not to make excuses, but I’m also painfully aware that I was dealt a crap hand from the very beginning. I was in a cult for God’s sake! But then why, when I realised I was in a cult, did I carry on pretending for so long? Why wasn’t I just honest?

I wish I could turn back time. I would do everything so differently. If I could have my time over I would have pursued a spiritual path, not a religious one. I would have gone to University instead of devoting my entire life to a cult. I would have married for love, not religion, and I would have given my children much more freedom than I did. But I can’t turn back time. What’s done is done. All I can do—and it doesn’t feel enough—is to say I’m sorry for the mistakes I’ve made and learn from them.

I have tried and will continue to try to repair the damage I’ve done, albeit inadvertently. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all my children. I genuinely love my children, of that much I am certain, even if my poor decisions in the past make it seem otherwise. My heart aches so much for them that sometimes I wish I wasn’t alive. I hate myself more than anyone affected by my decisions could ever hate me.

Forgiveness from those I hurt may not be forthcoming, so I have to forgive myself. It’s the only way I can salvage something out of all of this. I can be a better man and in becoming so I can be a better father if my children ever decide they want a relationship with their dad. Moving forward I am trying to bring honesty and integrity to my new relationships without a cult dictating my every move. In this, I hope I’m succeeding.

Thanks for joining me again. Bye for now.