Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reading "You Cant Go Home Again," by Thomas Wolfe struck a sad chord in this would be writer's mind even then

I feel a little less agitated now that I have put off indefinitely the plan I had to go to Utah this summer. I am writing in a far too critical way about the past for me to go back among people in my home state I have surely stirred up with my words, but that was bound to happen when I surfaced any history of what transpired in my childhood. I was molested, not once but twice, coming close to a complete breakdown of my nervous system and my general health. I had to suppress these facts for years because telling about the molesting was simply made too difficult. My father although not the molester played a role in agitating the men who did it. He would not allow me to talk about it ever. He was too powerful for me to defy. His alcoholic behavior also caused a great deal of stress not only for me but for my sisters and mother.
I attempted to surface this past while away to college and this attempt resulted in my being incarcerated in a psych ward against my will with electric shock therapy in store for me, a fine way I thought to treat the victim. Because of this incarceration and threat to shock me back to 'normalcy' my health broke down completely and I nearly died in there, but by this happening I was released without being shocked. I was deemed too ill for electric shock therapy, but it was not acknowledged that the threat of it was what brought on my illness, which had its roots in childhood due to stress.
A Mormon psychiatrist put me under guard and incarcerated me after only asking me three questions. I am sure the unorthodox silence that I responded with he saw as insubordination.
I continued to react to insincere questions from other psychiatrists in the mental hospital with silence. I had to go silent to register disagreement and disapproval of their policies of not really taking an interest in talking to the patient if electric shock therapy would do the job without so much investment in time and effort. As a mental patient, I would not have been allowed to disagree with their policies enough to make any difference. I had to go silent to have any hope of taking the discussion of my issues to a deeper level.
Women and young girls in Utah were expected to be even more obedient, respectful, and non critical when men of authority were involved than most. Questioning authority no matter where you found it was just not done.
I believe this attitude to have been retained from the years of polygamy which caused women to become even less equal than they were already. Men could take as many wives as they wanted, while women could aspire to be only one of those wives who must not make waves if polygamous marriages were to work.
Polygamy always produces the lost boys who are left out of the circle because ultimately there are no women for them to marry. The more powerful men in the community would take too many. Mother Nature produces as many boys as girls even in a polygamous society. My father represented one of the lost boys who become the cowboys, the rowdies, the drinkers, the rebels, the non believers, the critics like I was only they drank. Good Mormons girls were warned to stay away from them, so all too often they had to find sexual outlets with each other.
The recent headlines made by the large polygamous cult called the Fundamentalists let the nation see the inside working of an original Mormon society that had refused to give up polygamy. Mainstream Mormons have been accused of being soft on polygamy even as it was given up in the mainstream Mormon church. Polygamy is indeed still on the books as introduced by a prophet who is still worshiped as a man ordained by God to bring the only true church on earth into being. This was the man who introduced polygamy taking women back to a dark place that had not been practiced in civilized society for hundreds of years. I don't even know when and where polygamy was practiced in other cultures as it was in Mormon Utah in the early years.
I still have many relatives active in the Mormon Church, so to leave Utah in order to criticize what is practically a theocracy was to cause a dreadful wrench in my emotions. But I believe that the only way a people can grow who have been born into such a church is to keep trying to accept criticism leveled at its practices and attitudes until they can recast the church into less extremist molds.
Results from deifying kings, emperors and church leaders may sometimes take centuries to rectify. If followers are taught not to criticize but to endlessly support church policy, progress is going to be very slow. Of course a powerful leader may do anything that will support the prophet's claims and keep the organization powerful and the same even when out of step with the rest of the world.
Brigham Young was the powerful man who assumed leadership after Joseph Smith was killed by a mob in Nauvoo, and he led the Mormons to unsettled territory to set up a Mormon state. He wedded 26 wives and had over a hundred children. No potentate in any exotic far East province could have had a more loyal and faithful harem of wives.
No woman who was not obedient and subservient to male authority was going to gain approval in Utah. It was a tradition. I defied that tradition and soon found myself ostracized to the point there was nothing I could do but leave.
My memoirs are about the culture that produces outlaws like my molesters and yes, my father, who although he did not molest me, I thought was capable of involving others in sexual activities, boys, underage or not. I observed him closely for many years and this was the painful conclusion I came to. I did not trust him, but I thought he was only one among many of that kind of outlaw. Generations of them. The lost boys all good Mormon girls were warned to avoid because they broke the word of wisdom, drank, and criticized the church.
Some of them were molesters, some were merely cruel when under the influence as my first husband was. He threatened to kill me many times when drunk and almost succeeded once or twice. Molested. Slapped. Tortured. There is not too much difference in how any of those assaults make you feel. I stopped loving him despite his understanding of a female skeptic. He became too dangerous because of his alcoholism. I had to work a long time on my escape, making sure I was well enough to support our boys by myself if I had to. If I miscalculated and made him too angry I might not live to escape.
He was defended. I was the one who was crazy. I had criticized the church. Stepped out of my role of passive supporter. I had been incarcerated. I was the worst rebel of all. I tried to get him help because of his murderous behavior and suicide threats under the influence while in another state and I was locked up for a week.
Nothing was done to him.
Utah does not have a monopoly on producing men who will attack women who have done nothing to them and who may kill them. Every day there is a murder of a woman in the news. If no one has tried to kill them some women even might say I am exaggerating.
I have feared for my life many times not just in Utah but elsewhere, for there are outlaws everywhere who drink and do drugs, knowing they might get crazy and try to kill somebody. Even if it is in a car on a highway driving too fast while under the influence. A woman who is as outspoken as I am is going to risk a hostile reaction more.
I always praised my sons for their efforts to remain sober and I always have withdrawn to a distance if they drank. I would not allow them to drink in my home. Doc can't drink in my apartment. If he drinks too much and gets crazy I leave his and will not return.
I am willing to work with alcoholics since there are so many of them, but it is a difficult path to walk with male companions who drink too much, who abuse any substance. Drinking is not what they get with me. My biggest problem is food. Which is why I cannot say I am free of substance abuse, because an addiction to food puts on weight, alters the personality and eventually causes severe health problems. I am flawed as well, but I believe that if I write my memoirs and publish them, telling the truth as I see it, I will be doing the world a favor.
We need all the thinking we can get about restraining outlaws and protecting children. We are not aware enough of molesters. Our children may fear to tell us if they are being taken advantage of.
My father did not want to hear about my molesters. He knew about the first one because my mother told him. I first began to talk about him in the mental hospital to a doctor I finally found in there I could trust. He told my parents.
But my father would never allow me to talk about him, probably because he feared I would want to discuss the affair I thought he had been having with the molester. He forcibly kept me from talking about it. He was too threatening for me to be able to do it any way while he was alive. So the writing of my memoirs is long over due.
But I can't go home again. Not now. I am getting people too stirred up. They are finding out what I am saying, and they know the memoirs will be more of the same.
So if I don't want to be shouted at, snubbed, and violently upset I will keep my distance.
It is not an easy thing to seek justice long over due for wrongs that were done to you. Not easy at all.


Have Myelin? said...

I think my ex-husband is a serial-polygamist and adulter at the same time. Seriously.

Connie said...

No-I don't think you're exaggerating..I can't believe that anyone would...they should have to walk a mile in your shoes .... it's sad that you can't go home again when the naysayers are the ones who should hang their heads ...I'm glad you remain close to Doc even though he does drink...


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