Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How I developed my religious thinking

I was not much older than I am in this picture when a crisis developed in my life that required divine help I thought, since I was unable to get any on this earth. I was molested by a hired man about 40, but because of all the factors involved I was unable to tell my parents. For one thing my dad's behavior on other occasions led me to believe that he would kill this man, and I had to decide whether what he had done was bad enough for him to die over it. My dad had already threatened to kill another hired man who had rustled some of his cattle. I was a witness to the fist fight he had with him. He jumped up after being knocked down and shouted that he was going for his gun. He ran and jumped in the car where my mother and my sister Margie were sitting and yelled that he was going home to get his 30 30. I don't know what would have happened if this man had not already been arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. The judge had just let him come home to get his affairs in order. My mother was finally able to talk my dad out of any more violence by warning him he would go to prison if he shot the man after justice had already been meted out to him by the law.
If he would act that way over a few rustled cattle what would he do to a man who had molested his daughter? I reasoned that the molester was a dead man. I could not get my wits about me to do anything before he had abducted me two more times and took me down to the corn field, where under the leaves he advanced each time until he was able to cause sexual sensations.
I finally came up with the plan of staying in the house close to my mother. I kept Margie close so he wouldn't be able to take her. If we went outside, I made sure we played just around the door. I kept up this vigilance during the months we lived on the remote ranch in Salt Gulch. During the first winter I went to school on the bus that picked me up and other children from other ranches. I made a huge fuss if my parents did not pick me up as soon as I got off the bus. They thought I was afraid of coyotes, but it was another kind of predator I so greatly feared.
I thought I needed God as I had never needed him in my life before. I reasoned that he knew what was happening and would advise me on what to do. I felt that he had advised me not to bring murder into our already very troubled household. My dad was a bad alcoholic and I had become suspicious during the previous winter to the molesting that he was having a homosexual affair with the neighbor who later molested me. This man got very angry at my dad for not taking him to party with him on the weekend. I suppose he had developed feelings of affection for him that were now being violated. My sister Margie and I had been taken along by my dad to the neighbors where we would play for an hour or so outside, while my father and the man did 'business' inside. I could not see any trappings of a 'business' and asked my mother if Bill had a business. She was scornful and said no, he was coming to our ranch to work for my dad when the spring work started. Bill also said something to my dad where I could clearly hear him that was long and very obscene. I did not know exactly what it meant but I looked at my dad in shock.
I was very close to my dad at that time. He had been taking me with him to ride since I was very young. He had put me on his horse probably as soon as I could walk. He did not approve of my impatient mother's heavy hand with her small children. Margie and I got whipped every day, not especially for anything we did, since we tried very hard to please her, but for just being kids, whatever. My sister Margie would fall down and turn blue when she got whipped which convinced me my mother was going to kill her. I think my mother finally let up a little when it came to how hard she spanked her. We found out years later Margie had probably had a hole in her heart since birth and it was not long before severe asthma kept her from riding horses with my dad anymore.
Since my dad had no sons, I became his companion on horses as often as possible. I love horses and so did he. But now I was having to face that my dad was not like any other husbands I knew of at the time. I tried to wrap my mind around the idea that men did have sex with each other, which is what it looked like he and Bill were doing. I thought about my mother home with a new baby and I knew very well why she whipped us so hard. My dad's weekend partying with the guys had convinced her he had never accepted her as the love of his life. She was bitter, frustrated, and terribly unhappy.
It was laughable to think that I could get any help for all of this in the Mormon church, since this was Utah, or any other churches for that matter. This was a problem I was going to have to take to God and Jesus. So for years I did not talk about what had happened that terrible summer, nor did I talk about it to anyone when another hired man connected to the family began to act inappropriately with me when I was ten years old. My mother and dad were having extremely violent fights by then. I did not trust my mother to be able to handle what I thought was the problem. I feared murder would result. I had seen my dad hold a butcher knife to her throat in a fight. He was drunk. He turned to us and said, "Should I kill her?"
He went insane when drunk and the fight had accelerated. We had constant crisis in our home. My dad would sober up during the week and work hard, but every weekend almost without fail he would drink. I started cracking up at the age of 12 after he nearly killed himself drinking a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He had nearly died previously from hemorrhaging from a perforated ulcer. I had developed chronic fatigue symptoms and thought I was going to die. I had a fire phobia which caused me to excuse myself twice during every meal to go outside and see if the house was on fire. I would run out all day long to check to see if flames had erupted from our roof.
It was obvious my fear of fire was fear that our family was going up in flames. Who would help us? I still thought only God could understand these problems. I don't know what would have happened if my parents had not gotten alarmed about my behavior, because one night after a particularly horrible day, I won't force the details on you, I just sat down to the kitchen table and started crying softly. I would not answer when they asked me what was wrong. WHAT WAS WRONG? What had been wrong for years and years. I just went on crying. My sisters and my mother and dad just finally went to bed and left me there. It was obvious they thought I was acting so strangely they did not dare force me.
The next day my aunt called and asked that I come down and talk to her. She said that she thought I needed to be taken out of this home. She had called my aunt and asked her if she would not let me come and live with her. She had agreed. She told me I would be going to her home in northern Utah the following school year. She also said she had advised my parents to let me go easy during the summer, not to work me so hard. This helped with the chronic fatigue symptoms.
My fire phobia started disappearing soon after I got to my aunt's house and my chronic fatigue symptoms abated. What chores I had to do to my aunt's house seemed like child's play.
But what I did not like is that she told me I had to go to church to live there. I attended Mormon seminary every weekday and went to Sunday school and meeting on Sunday most of the time, if she went, and Mutual on Tuesday night. This was a lot more church than I was used to, and I resented it.
I never told her any of my problems at home. As usual, religious or not, I did not think she could handle them. She had been at odds with my dad for years and as far as I could tell did not like him at all. This is when I began to realize that the church always advised family members inclined to be religious to abandon rebel brothers like my dad, and to make the church people their family.
Horses had been my family on my dad's ranches. They were the most stable creatures in my life, since they did not drink. How could God be in a church approving of this abandonment, when he was the only hope of families like mine. God could not abandon anybody or all hope was lost.
I felt like I had been born into such a family because God knew that no matter what I saw my father do I would not abandon him. Only through love, could he be brought out of eternal darkness. This was why I reasoned that God put children into the homes of men like him. He knew these men had something worth saving. Their children were messengers from God.
My father had taught me to conquer my fear of horses. He taught me to risk my life if necessary to become brave and strong. He and my Grandfather King were great horsemen. I wanted to be like them. When they were doing their work out on the cattle ranges, there were no men I admired more.
My Grandfather King had taken a vow he would not drink because he saw his father die too young because of his gambling and drinking. He could not understand why his sons all drank. I had to study my dad constantly to see if I could not find the key to his suicidal tendencies. When I deduced he had developed a bisexual personality in his years of camping out, maybe starting in town, I don't know, I made a life time study of bisexuals like him, and there is much to learn about why a man develops this split.
But it is a condition that is bound to cause a great deal of trouble and unhappiness. I felt my dad was every bit as unhappy with himself as my mother was with him. I was not able to discuss what I thought was mainly wrong with the marriage with my mother until she was 77 years old and I was 58. So never give up. Some day understanding might flower even in the rockiest ground.
Churches have always had a great deal of trouble dealing with the homosexual problem. Most just use the bible to condemn the homosexual, both male and female, to hell and that's that.
No, that's not that. I do not believe that God intends any person to be abandoned, to be judged not worthy of God's love and mercy. I think for that matter, my dad was probably molested long enough and at such an early age he had no chance of not developing these tastes. He could have been one who is born feeling they have this nature. But he was not happy, obviously, which is why I am sure he married and tried to live a normal life and failed. As a matter of fact, certain signs point to my Grandfather as having perhaps had the problem which might explain why my father thought marriage would work for him. It might have worked a lot better if he had not also had an alcohol problem, but of course if my Grandfather was a bisexual he was never able to be honest about it. So he could not help his son very much at all, when and if he saw that he may have developed the problem.
This also may have been why my Grandfather would never attend church or be a Mormon, which confused people because he did not smoke or drink. I thought he tried to be honest to that extent, but I would never have tried to talk to him. He used the bullwhip on his sons when they were full grown men. I felt my Grandfather kept people at bay with his temper.
My dad did not have his temper. I could get through to him. In later years we daughters would have big raging discussions with him about church and everything else we could think of. He had a brilliance that was recognized up there in the way he handled his business when he finally did sober up.
My struggle to surface this problem is what led me to being incarcerated at the University of Utah. I decided to try to surface it here with many brilliant minds to respond. I ended up getting all my teachers involved and many psychiatrists. This took a lot of nerve that my father had developed in me in my years of riding with him on the cattle trails. Had I not been my father's daughter, but one who did not drink, I would never have tackled so many people to try to get to the depths of the problem instead of just skimming the surface of it. I saw professors I thought had the same split as my dad unable to bring forth the truth because of the way those with homosexual behaviors were ostracized and condemned. They felt they had to lie and conceal this split even to survive.
A strong church influence such as exists in Utah tends to cause homosexuality to be condemned even worse. If the young are not being targeted it is my belief that we do wrong to condemn and judge people of legal age for participating in homosexual acts.
I could not even talk about the problem as connected to my dad for years and years. That is wrong. That policy caused me years and years of suffering. I never even discussed what I thought with my sisters until I was 58. I thought they would be very upset, and they have been. We have had a lot of trouble over it, them not even seeing such a thing in the shadows where my dad I felt had to live part of his life. This is why I call my blog Daughters of the Shadow Men. My dad was forced to live in the shadows.
We don't ever get the truth from people if we punish them for telling it. It is not God who abandons people with such problems. It is judgmental people who do.


kanyonlandking-annk.blogspot.com said...

This is a profound entry when very young. You did lose your childhood!

madcobug said...

This entry brought tears to my eyes that you were treated like that at such an early age. Bless your heart, you didn't know what to do or which way to turn. You were very protective of your dad and didn't want to see him get into any bad trouble on what you thought was your account. Those men that did that to you should have been put behind bars so as to not harm any other young children. God bless you Gerry.

天空之城 said...

面對光明,陰影就在我們身後!加油哦! ....................................................

Paula said...

Your last line says it all. You were a darling little girl and I like your birds on your header.

Connie said...

sometimes the truth hurts
no one wants to hurt

Missie said...

A very well written entry!

Amrita said...

I am so sorry to hear about the suffering and stress you went through Gerry.

May God comfort and heal you.
I went through rejection and sufferd emotional abuse as a child , it still hurts me.

Must be hard on your Mom too

Cheryl said...

Very well written and thoughtful entry. This is why you need to keep working on the memoirs.


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