If You Love Them Let Them Go


Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 074

HELLO AND WELCOME TO ANOTHER EPISODE OF ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon. So, if you’ve been watching my podcast, you will know that I was disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses back in 2019 when my marriage broke up due to infidelity on my part. It’s a long story, but understandably at the time my JW wife was pissed with me and wanted nothing further to do with me. She filed for divorce, which if I’m honest is what I wanted. What I didn’t anticipate was my JW children, my daughters, at the time 17 and 13, completely disowning me as well. I figured this was the result of parental alienation on the part of my wife, my very angry wife, and I think there was a degree of that involved due to her still being a JW at the time, and all the pressures of being in a cult, but over the past couple of years or so a number of things have come to light that have really shed some more light on what actually happened behind the scenes while I was out of the picture.

So, recently, I received a message from a friend of mine that still has JW connections telling me that my ex-wife had disassociated. It turned out that my ex-wife had woken up to the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses were a cult. I was really happy about this, but here’s the irony—from the moment that my ex-wife disassociated, our daughters, according to her, started to shun her, even though they were living in the same home. They started to treat her exactly how they’d treated me, completely disowning her to the point of not even speaking to her under the same roof. Now, some might be quick to say it serves my ex-wife [right] for having encouraged my daughters to shun me in the first place, but that’s not how I feel. I honestly do think that shunning of family members is wrong, regardless of the situation. 

Anyway, since then my ex-wife and I have had the opportunity to speak with each other, and it’s been very amicable, and although we are both agreed that we’re better off not married to each other, we’ve finally reached a place where we are on the same page so to speak, at least in as far as the cult is concerned, and especially the effect that the cult is having on our JW children. The thing is, it seems to be that my daughters were not actually acting on their own initiative, and may have been less coerced by my wife than I originally thought. It seems that behind the scenes, all along, were my ex-wife’s parents—uber JWs, typically judgemental and self-righteous. And it would appear that they were largely responsible for my daughters shunning me a couple of years ago, and now shunning my ex-wife as well. The thing is, when my ex-wife disassociated, her parents were there, waiting in the wings like vultures, and very quickly they orchestrated my daughters going to live with them. And having spoken to my ex-wife about this she feels very much like I do that her parents effectively “stole our children”. That’s what it feels like.

So, of course, I’ve had no say in this at all. My ex-wife’s parents are in their 70s, and like I say, totally living the JW life. They’re judgemental and self-righteous, and my ex-father-in-law in particular is verbally abusive. He has a really short temper. He’s an angry man with very little self-control—quite a nasty fellow. I can’t stand him. I never have been able to stand him. I just pretended over the years for the sake of peace. And now my daughters are living with him and his equally crazy JW wife which I’m not at all happy about.

So, I tried to do something about it. I filed a court order, what’s known as a Child Arrangement[s] Order. This was basically intended to establish my parental responsibilities, namely that I should be able to provide a safe, loving, family home for my daughter, particularly the youngest one—she’s still under 18, she’s only 15 at the moment—and that I should be involved in her education and medical decisions, things such as blood transfusions and so on. I was all prepared to take this to court, but last week something happened that has changed my mind.

I decided to just text my youngest daughter. This is what I sent to her:

I said, “Hello [duaghter’s name]. I just wanted to tell you I love you lots. Please tell [your sister] I love her too. I hope you are both okay. Love Dad x”

And this is the reply I got:

“Ok, but if you truly [do] love me, please respect my decision[s], and leave me be, I have already said this, I know you filed to the court and that [has] coursed (sic) me alot of stress, if you do truly care [just] stop and think how I feel [in all this], can you just respect my decision[s] please, [thanks].”       

Now, if my daughter had just told me to leave her alone I might have just taken that as being told by her grandparents that she’s not to speak to me, or the Witnesses around her telling her she’s that “good” for shunning her father, and I might have continued with the Child Arrangement Order on the basis that she maybe doesn’t know what she’s doing, or maybe she’s even looking for an opportunity to have something to do with me but is fearful of the fallout if she does so. But because she specifically mentioned the court case and told me it was causing her a lot of stress, I felt I needed to rethink things. 

So, the idea of a court order, the Child Arrangement Order, was to establish legally that I have a part to play in her life, and I was just hoping that she might take that opportunity to drop the shunning. If she’s got a judge saying, you know, she should be seeing her dad, then maybe that would give her the excuse she needed, even if she was being coerced into it. But her reply is very clear—”leave me alone”, and taking the matter to court is “causing me stress”.

So, even if that is coerced, even if it’s brainwashing on the part of the WItnesses that are surrounding my daughter, I have reluctantly decided to withdraw the Child Arrangement Order and I’ve prepared a statement to the court asking them not to proceed. So, the statement, if you’re interested, reads as follows:

“I recently texted my daughter, to let her know I still love her very much and would like to be in her life despite me being disfellowshipped as a Jehovah’s Witness. She replied as follows: ‘If you truly [do] love me, please respect my decisions and leave me be. I have already said this. I know you filed to the court and that [has] caused (sic) me a lot of stress. If you do truly care just stop and think how I feel [in all this]. Can you just respect my decisions please.’ I told my daughter I would be there for her if she changed her mind and she replied: ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen so please just move on. I have.’ I then asked her to explain why she feels this way and she replied: ‘I don’t need to explain myself to you.'”

And it’s just little expressions like that, “I don’t need to explain myself to you,” that make me think the Witnesses, and particularly her Witness [grand]parents have kind of really got to her because once upon a time [she would have never said], she’d have never spoken to me like that—”I don’t need to explain myself to you”. That’s to her [her] dad.  

The statement continues: “In view of these very clear messages, I feel it would not be appropriate to continue with a Child Arrangement Order, even if her responses are the result of parental alienation, brainwashing, or coercion by her JW grandparents and social network. Although I love my daughter very much and would like to fulfil my parental responsibilities in respect of providing a loving family home and being involved in decisions regarding her education, medical welfare etc., I certainly do not [want] to cause her any stress. I will always love my daughter whether she is a Jehovah’s Witness or not. I would like her to know that if she ever changes her mind and wants me in her life she only needs to contact me and I will be there for her regardless of what is going on in my life, or where I am in the world. Regards, Daniel Torridon”

So that is the statement that I’m hoping to get off to the court, and file that along with a C2 form which basically requests the judge to put a stop to the Child Arrangement Order. And if the judge agrees with that, that statement that I’ve just read out will actually be sent officially to my daughter. She’ll have a copy of that which she can keep and look back on in the future, hopefully, if she ever does change her mind.

Of course, there’s a very small chance that the judge, having been told that my daughter has been taken by her JW grandparents, there is a very small chance, I guess, that the judge could actually overrule it and force the Child Arrangement Order to proceed. In which case I’ll keep you updated.

But that, folks, is it. I don’t feel it would be right or effective at this time for me to force my daughter to have contact with me if she doesn’t want to, even if she is being brainwashed into shunning me. At this point, I think I need to accept that she is adamant—or at least sounds adamant—in her “personal decision” not to see me. And I hope, I hope, if I back off, as she gets older maybe she will wake up just like her mother has, and realise that Jehovah’s Witnesses is indeed a cult. Hopefully, she will remember that I tried to be in her life, but that I was turned away by her, albeit coercively.

So, that’s all folks. Thank you for joining me again. Join me again soon. Bye for now.