Monday, March 1, 2010

Analyzing everyone about me to try to get at the truth

During childhood after I was molested at five years old and came to the shocking conclusion that my dad appearing to have been having an affair with the man who molested me, I became obsessed with trying to get at the truth. My mother was quite transparent to me even though she eventually launched off into having affairs of her own and took to lying with the best of them. Still if you offered a sympathetic ear to her she could not help but tell you who she was thinking about. She did not keep many women friends once she became such a flirt, so we daughters were bound to become her captive confidants.
I started thinking it was very important to observe people and try to become aware of what they were thinking and doing even if it did not jive with what they would tell you. I had decided at six I was going to become a writer. Writers, I thought, must learn to observe, question, and remember in order to get at the truth. People relied on the best writers to determine what reality was really all about since they seemed to be the people the most dedicated to telling the truth, even when the truth was not pretty.
The church people I thought did not have a vested interest in getting at the truth because they always wanted to put the best spin what might be happening that would make the church look good. So people would keep their distance from conflicted parents like mine so as not to have to deal with such horrific problems. They wanted Utah to look as though it was full of very religious people who did not drink or smoke or do other bad things. That's the only explanation I could come up with for my religious relatives being so determined to ignore the alcoholics in the family. Nor did I think they always told the truth about what they might be thinking or doing.
I was the bearer of bad news usually so it was important to shut me up. So I never felt like myself when I was around them. But people seemed convinced that attending church every Sunday was absolutely necessary to go to heaven. You needed to be there even if you found it boring and relatively shallow when it came to dealing with your real life.
This did not make sense to me and I began to rebel against this philosophy at quite an early age. I started getting in trouble in church for saying something that was not deemed acceptable. I would often be tapped to teach Sunday school classes because of my story telling abilities, and one time as an explanation for Joseph Smith's visions I suggested that perhaps they bore some resemblance to those mentally ill people might claim to have. I had not yet gone away to school so I must have only been around 12. I had given considerable thought to the idea that perhaps Joseph Smith had delusions of grandeur which might have made him claim to see real angels. What I meant to do is suggest to the kids how we might react to claims like his in our 'modern' age. I suppose some of them might have told their parents because the next thing I knew I was being told I could no longer teach Sunday school!
Almost anybody could be tapped to teach Sunday school even morons, they were so desperate for people who could be relied on every Sunday or Tuesday to do the job. So I figured they must have had quite a conference to come to the conclusion that my thinking was too dangerous for me to be allowed to pollute the minds of their kids.
I had after all had an uncle, my father's brother, who was known for the sermons he preached to the spirits when he took to talking to himself. Everybody thought he was delusional. I didn't suppose any of the church people had given much thought to how some of his neighbors might have reacted to Joseph Smith's fantastical claims. But when he really got into trouble was when he received a revelation that the Lord wanted the good and true male members of the church to start taking other wives. I just could not swallow this as a revelation from God. I thought it more likely Joseph Smith's heated imagination after he started receiving such success as a charismatic leader and had begun to attract beautiful women to his church. I did not doubt but what he had convinced himself this was a revelation from God, and even that he did have special powers and had indeed been called upon to establish the only true church on earth. I thought it was probably a good thing I had been banned from teaching Sunday School before I started in on polygamy.
So I was always one to question every claim thinking that not the whole truth was being told here. Something was hidden people just weren't getting. People were too credulous. They tended to believe anything that would lift them out of the tedium of every day life, even it ended up getting them into a lot of trouble with the rest of the world as polygamy did the early Mormons.
I do not believe that Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum plus two more men would have been killed by the mob in Carthage Jail if it had not been for polygamy, so Joseph paid a terrible price for this particular revelation and caused the Mormons to go west to seek unsettled land to establish a Mormon home where people of other faith would be encouraged not to settle. This new land would be Mormon country. It was even thought at one time by some Utah could become an independent country. The governing body in Washington objected to polygamy but would not allow Utah to secede either. In fact, the government finally got tough and said Utah had to ban polygamy. It could not stay a territory or become a state and practice polygamy either!
My grandmother on my mother's side had been raised in the last town in the United States to practice polygamy and communal living called the United Order. In the United Order all resources were pooled together. Everybody ate in a big hall. People were assigned different tasks. My grandmother was the daughter of the third wife and there was not enough money to go around, especially when her father began ailing.
Once the United Order broke up, her mother lived with her children in direst poverty. She like most widows did everything possible to earn a little money to keep the wolf from the door. Polygamy when you got close up was more a life of deprivation and lean living than it was anything else.
I recall reading a history written by one of my granddad's ancestors on my mother's side, also. This man had been asked to go on missions constantly even though he had several wives and all their children to take care of. His oldest sons would be put in charge of the farm work when their father was serving on his missions. At one point on one of his missions, he became very unwell and a young woman was brought in to nurse him. You guessed it. He fell in love and persuaded this young woman to become his 4th or 5th wife and return to Utah with him after his mission was over.
I was so indignant for the sake of the poor wives left behind, especially the oldest one, I could hardly bear it. The father continued to suffer poor health even as his new wife began to have babies. The oldest sons were were forced to work even harder to take care of her and her family as well as all the rest. Reading this history was quite enough to make anyone decide to leave the church, I thought. What a mess!
But you can see that those who had been raised in the church as it went through many changes would cling to it as the only true church on earth since they had been raised to think that way and had taught their children to believe the same.
It was all relative to whose child you were, a believer's or a skeptic's. I was mighty glad I had been born to a skeptic as my father was one of the few who did not scold me for falling away from the church at a relatively young age. He had already fallen away years before, but had been so thoroughly indoctrinated by his mother whom he highly respected, he could not be persuaded to utter any criticisms of the church.
I protested to him that he had spent all his early married years drinking and partying the weekends away and since I would not drink I could not be expected to keep quiet about the church's faults and failings as he did. Besides he was probably afraid he might really get his children taken away from him for being an unfit parent if he talked against the church. His best bet was to keep quiet, so he would accuse us of lying about his drinking in later years after he had all but stopped and was claiming to be religious so he could preach to us. So those were more lies he told, that he had not been an awful drunk, and I knew very well he would be apt to kill me if I expressed any opinions about what he and the hired man had been doing. I had to conclude that a whole lot of lying was going on in the adult world, every which way.
It was no wonder the rest of the sisters highly objected to my flat out stating our dad was having affairs with men when I did dare to start talking and revealing what I thought and what had happened to me as a result of his partner becoming jealous and full of malice. He molested me, I said.
Was not the truth valuable? Well, not really. Not truths like that. I was just causing a lot of trouble. But I do not like to suppress crimes especially when I am the victim. I was determined that someday I would reveal all. I did not know what would happen to my relationship with my father after that. What if I encountered him in the hereafter? After he heard what I was saying about him, he probably would not speak to me, but so what, a lot of children became estranged in this life from their parents. They often did not even have a relationship, so I decided to take the consequences whatever they were even should they extend into the hereafter.
We had gotten through this life without becoming estranged but just barely. I tried to keep my father alive for many years. Had he died when he was in his early forties as he was constantly threatening to do, the family would have inherited nothing but debts. After around 20 more years of sobriety and hard work he left quite an inheritance to his daughters.
But I must insist that my mother stayed married to him for 35 years trying to outlive him so she would have the bulk of his money when he died under her control. I fully expected her to do so and I am sure the rest of his daughters did, too. He had put about 20 thousand in trust for each one of us which my mother even objected to, but he was determined we would inherit that much at least. He was convinced she would find a 'gigalo' and spend all the rest of it once he was dead.
So I never gave any thought to having money once he died. I was as surprised as he was when my mother fell in love and divorced that fast taking a very small settlement so she could marry the man before he found someone else. When my father died, my mother seemed to regret what she had done and had a very hard time accepting the fact that we daughters had inherited the bulk of his money. He died when he was 64, which we did not expect either. He seemed made out of iron. I thought he would live a lot longer than he did. By then he might have found a way to make whatever money he had simply vanish.
I had had a lot of tolerance for my dad, so maybe that was why his money somehow found its way to the daughters rather than to my mother. I might have been rewarded too for trying so hard to keep him alive. I was always trying to understand him, not to judge but to accept what I did not think he could help, his own split personality that seemed to give him more grief than it did anybody else.
He knew his daughters were quite innocent of any wrong doing when it came to mistreating him. Nor did we mistreat our mother either. They were both well taken care of by one or two of the daughters preceding their deaths. I did not use the truth I sought about my dad to punish him. But I did want him to own up to the abuses of his family he was responsible for. He was an awful drunk. I got mad at him for attempting to lie about that.
So I have always been a stickler for the truth. Is there anything wrong in that?

1 comment:

Missie said...

Have a good week!


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