Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reaching my father's crisis years with alcoholism in my memoirs

I got my cousin Stewart's terrible death in an alcohol related death written about, finally. I did not even want to hint that Uncle Glen's death was only three years away who was probably driven into an even greater depression over his oldest son's death. I felt that his father having to leave the country over having been caught in a compromising position with an underage neighbor girl affected Stewart and the rest of his family so badly it could well have played a part in his excessive drinking and subsequent death in the motel fire. I could not really blame the family for charging Uncle Glen with the crime. They did not want a trial or to send him to prison, but I have thought since how many men I know who have committed crimes just as bad in that country who did not pay a similar price at all, simply because theirs did not come out. Nobody wanted them punished. Or decided that the price would be too great to charge them, or too much harm might be done.
I was talking to my son Raymond about the man who molested me at five years old which was certainly a crime equally bad as the one Uncle Glen was charged with. He abducted me three different times, too, and took me to the corn field. But I feared he would have been instantly murdered by my father if I told. As it was Raymond told me something that happened to him after I had started surfacing a story about him molesting another girl when I was eight, because I could not bring myself to say it was me. I had heard he got shot at, but Raymond said a rancher told him up there that he was shot in the leg and that he took him to his father who kept him for a few days before he was helped by the family to leave the country. I thought that the molesting story must have played a part in him getting shot although the rancher told Raymond it was over whiskey, but the fact that Bill was willing to leave the country probably indicates he thought worse might happen to him if he stayed.
Was that punishment enough? I know that years later my cousins, Stewart's sisters, did not want to come back to the country at all even to see their relatives because they thought their dad's reputation would be so bad. They thought he had disgraced the family so terribly with his behavior they could never go 'home' again.
How I wished we could somehow have talked. I wished that I could have told them their dad was not the only one in that country to be guilty of such a crime. Their dad was found dead in circumstances that suggested suicide, a 'faulty' gas heater. His wife had divorced him. He was living alone in another state. I am sure that he got horribly depressed.
I always related to my uncles, my father's brothers, because they all developed a drinking problem. I was always trying to help my father to stay alive. I was very sorry my Uncle Glen did not think life was worth living any more after what had happened, so he was not around for the rest of his family. He must have thought his family would be better off without him.
My sisters and I would always try to convey to our father that no matter how bad his problem was, suicide was not the answer. He could have been thinking about bad stuff he had done. I still wanted him to struggle with his flaws. I always believed in repentance and trying to do better, even if there has been a lapse into some very bad behavior especially while drinking.
I do not believe in the death penalty. I believe that trying to work with criminals helps them to get started on the road to repentance and rehabilitation, as very often a crime is committed in an atmosphere of criminal behavior. Too many people are doing it, and so those under the influence of alcohol especially find it even harder to resist committing a crime.
I felt that my father was committing the crime of infidelity by having an affair with Bill, which caused him to become jealous and therefore more prone to attack me out of a desire to get revenge. So for my dad to think he would be justified in murdering Bill I just could not see. He had helped turn him loose, but I did not trust him to be able to admit that to himself.
I had witnessed him threaten to shoot another man over rustling his cattle. That was certainly an excessive reaction to the crime I thought, so how could I trust him to handle this crime done to me without committing a worse one? The only way I could be sure he wouldn't murder Bill was not to tell him. Not to give him a reason.
I always tried to talk as much as I could to Uncle Glen's sons who did return to see Utah relatives. Park and Ray came back quite often. Ray was closest to my age, only two years older, and I saw him any number of times in the years that followed, but I never saw any of Glen's daughters.
Of course both Park and Ray developed a drinking problem, and I even heard later that two of the sisters did also, for a certain amount of time until they decided they just could not handle alcohol and quit altogether.
Both Ray and Park died a death related to their alcoholism, but Park was in his sixties and Ray was over seventy. I wished of course that they had not become alcoholics. I took the same vow my Grandfather King did, never to drink, and none of my four sisters developed a drinking problem, which was a god send with so much drinking in the King family. Dean, however, my first husband, had a drinking problem as did his father before him, and both of our sons developed a drinking problem.
I have been struck by my son Raymond's revelations about the AA program he has encountered in Austin, Texas which he said is the strongest he has ever taken part in. He says they emphasize discussion. They introduce a topic and they all discuss it. I believe that this is a greater key to controlling any substance abuse, which includes drugs, smoking, and over eating. I feel such a need to discuss and find that discussion is very hard to come by.
My sisters and I always discussed problems with my dad. He responded to discussion even if he had to shout and get mad. How I wished I could have discussed more of the problems with all my other King relatives, including Park and Ray, Stewart's brothers. If Stewart could have talked more during those crucial months following his family's departure from a ranching community where they had lived for many years, perhaps things might have turned out different for him.
I am writing my memoirs to start discussion among those who read them. I wish the bloggers would discuss more. I don't know how to get discussion going more, but I am drawn to bloggers who do try to initiate discussion wherever they are writing, in their blogs, on Facebook, or in their own lives.
I have become allergic to big fights in the family which has often been the outcome of trying to start a discussion. People shouting and saying stuff it will take weeks if not years to get over. No, discussion must be conducted in a civil manner to be effective. That is what the alcoholics in Austin, Texas appeared to have discovered, how to discuss problems effectively.
I hope my son Raymond will try to initiate discussion in Utah in such groups in order to control his impulses to drink. He says he is going to have to do that to stay on course.
My oldest son Gary is an alcoholic who does not discuss his problem with drinking, but I always try to initiate some discussion with him of other problems he deals with, mainly helping the construction company he works for keep in work. I worry about the effects of alcohol on his health as I worry about its effects on Doc.
It is never too late to try to stop drinking, but some alcoholics never reach that point. I don't know that Doc will. He is highly resistant to any talk of reform. He was raised in a tight German Lutheran community and apparently got too much religion in his diet growing up.
My dad's mother was very religious but not too good at discussion as many religious find it hard to be, if they are dogmatic about belief. Think this is the way it is and no arguments or disagreement allowed. So with the best of intentions, sometimes those termed religious can turn off their children with their preaching.
Doc was forced by his parents to ride a bus a long ways to his Lutheran school when he could have gone to a public school just a few blocks away. He thought his parents did not recognize how hard that was for a little child to do year in and year out. He says he would be the only little child on the bus coming and going at that hour. His parents would not even let him go to a public high school! By being so forceful, they actually I think did him more harm than whatever bad influences he might have encountered, they thought, in public school. They turned him off. There are other factors involved, of course, but enforced religious instruction seems to have been one he resented the most.
My word, when a brilliant guy cannot be reasoned with because of what transpired in his life all those years he was growing up, something appears wrong with people's thinking who are trying so hard to do right. It is not easy to affect people when it comes to their addictions, that is for sure.

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