LDS, politicians, politics, Trump

Rusty Bowers is one decent American… wish there were more of them in the Republican Party.

Special thanks to Gage Skidmore for use of a cropped version of his photo, which appears on Russell Bowers’ Wikipedia page.

I’ve been pretty busy since I got home from Belgium yesterday, and because I woke up feeling a little icky this morning, I needed a nap. However, I did manage to read one article about the Arizona House Speaker and Republican who put his foot down against Donald Trump and his goons, who insisted that Biden won the presidential election fraudulently. Bowers had voted for Donald Trump and campaigned for him. But he was unwilling to violate the law for him by overturning the 2020 Arizona election results. Rudy Giuliani, a man who was once lauded for the way he handled 9/11 as the Mayor of New York City, came to Bowers and tried to convince him to cheat for Trump. Giuliani told Bowers they had “theories” but no evidence, that the 2020 results were “rigged” against Donald Trump.

This is a brave and ethical man. Bravo to Russell Bowers. As Americans, we should demanding that ALL of our lawmakers are more like Bowers than Trump.

Bowers, who is an artist, storyteller, and devout Mormon, declared that he would not be fixing the results of the election in Trump’s favor. He explained that his faith teaches that the Constitution is divinely inspired, and he took an oath to uphold it. He would NOT be violating his oath for Trump, even though Trump was the candidate he supported. When Giuliani and his lawyer, Jenna Ellis, as well as other Arizona GOP lawmakers pressed him, Bowers said no. And when he testified in Washington, DC about what happened in January 2021, Bowers reiterated. According to the Washington Post:

“I will not do that, and,” Bowers testified, pausing to control his emotions. “On more than one — on more than one occasion throughout all this it has been brought up. And it is a tenet of my faith that the Constitution is divinely inspired — of my most basic foundational beliefs. And so for me to do that because somebody just asked me to is foreign to my very being.

“I will not do it.”

Because Bowers wouldn’t cheat for Trump, he was subjected to death threats and protests. People openly ridiculed him, even mocking him in parades. Trump supporters pushed to recall Bowers, passing out flyers falsely accusing him of child molestation and corruption. Bowers’ daughter, Kacey, was dying as her father was being maligned. His wife, a strong, silent, valiant woman, was standing by as people attacked her husband for simply doing his job and refusing to violate his oath. Kacey died January 28, 2021, and Bowers wonders if her death was hastened by the stress of dealing with Trump supporters who wanted him to “win” by cheating.

On August 2, Bowers faces a new election, and it looks likely that he will lose. However, I think even if he loses, he’s already won, by doing the RIGHT thing and not bowing to pressure. Bowers is a man of religious faith, a strong believer in Mormonism, which I know has its problems. But one thing Bowers can rest assured of is that he has integrity and decency. He may not be re-elected in Arizona politics, but he can hold his head high, because Trump supporters WILL be on the WRONG side of history, just as Hitler supporters were. The more that comes out about what was going on in Washington, DC during Trump’s tenure, the more it becomes clear to me that the man is a menace. And there will come a day when people won’t want to associate with him.

When Bowers was testifying, he read from a journal entry he wrote in December 2020:

“I may, in the eyes of men, not hold correct opinions or act according to their vision or convictions, but I do not take this current situation in a light manner, a fearful manner or a vengeful manner,” he said. “I do not want to be a winner by cheating. I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to. With any contrived desire toward deflection of my deep, foundational desire to follow God’s will as I believe he led my conscience to embrace. How else will I ever approach him in the wilderness of life knowing that I ask this guidance only to show myself a coward in defending the course … he led me to take.”

I’m not a big fan of religion, and I’m really not a fan of Mormonism… but I would say that if the Mormon version of God influenced Bowers to do the right thing by his office, that’s certainly one point in its favor as a belief system. I wish there weren’t so many other issues with the church… like the way it treats people who are homosexual, or don’t want to be LDS anymore… divorced and single women, and the way some members feel emboldened to do Baptisms for the Dead for people who clearly had no interest in Mormonism. On the other hand, there were decent people in the church who helped younger daughter escape her mother’s abusive clutches. So my opinions about Mormonism have softened somewhat for that reason… and reading about Rusty Bowers doing the right thing because of his faith is another reason. Also, I see in his photo that he has a nice smile… probably because he doesn’t drink coffee, tea, or red wine. 😉

Personally, I don’t think it was the church that led to this decision. I think Bowers is simply a good and decent man who plays by the rules. I don’t think a person has to be a believer in a deity to be decent or good. But if having strong religious faith helps one decide to do the right thing, I’m all for it. On the other hand, I know there are many men of “faith” who would have justified cheating for Trump as “God’s will”, the same way they justified his election– a man who is about as far from decent and good as a person can get.

I wish Rusty Bowers well… not just because he’s an honorable, honest, and patriotic man, but also because he has the same nickname my beloved pony had. If it turns out he loses the next election, I hope he will go on to do something rewarding for himself and his wife. I’m sure they need time to heal, especially having lost their daughter during that awful time. Maybe now is a good time to jump off the sinking Trump version of the Republican ship.

If there were more Republicans like Rusty around, I might consider voting for them again. Sadly, too many Republicans are more concerned about money and power and not pissing off a narcissistic asshole than being decent and honorable. Shame on them.

Donald Trump is a criminal who needs to go to prison. I doubt it will ever happen, but I sure would vote for it. The more I read about what happened after Trump LOST the election, the angrier I get that he was ever allowed to run for president. We’ve GOT to do better.

ETA: I read that Mr. Bowers would still vote for Trump if he ran against Biden, and I think that’s not a good thing. But I also think people should be free to vote their consciences. Like I said– I don’t agree with his politics or his religion, but I appreciate that he was brave enough and had enough integrity to uphold his oath. That is admirable, given the pressure he was under not to do right by the American people and Arizona.

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Ex, LDS, mental health, travel

Home again, and ready to write up our trip to Antwerp… but first, more on the wild world of Ex.

I’m sure I could write one of my usual testy manifestos right now, but the travel blog beckons. I had a great time in Belgium. and am looking forward to sharing what I learned about Antwerp. But rest assured, I’ll be back to complaining on this blog very soon. 😉

At the very least, I can add some more complaints about Ex, who now claims that she’s a “senior dog rescuer”… but she NEEDS a puppy to train for her “severely autistic son”. And she begs for money to put up a fence, but also lacks the $12,000 she says she needs to train a dog. What will she do when the dog needs to go to the vet? How will she afford to feed it?

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, yes, she did used to have an elderly poodle named Fifi… but Fifi was definitely not better off for the experience, since #3 kicked her so hard that she lost an eye. What’s even scarier is that #3 works as a CNA. Maybe he’s better now, after twenty years. I’d still be leery of him as a healthy person, let alone as someone who needs nursing care. I hope he’s gotten better about controlling his temper.

But anyway, this is what she says…

I wish I could adopt a senior dog; I’ve always been a pound puppy mama. I cant this time. I have to find a puppy for my autistic child that will be trainable to take care of his emotional needs.

😭

I am going to put a fundraiser on PayPal!! I tried once to get help but no replies

Um no, Ex, you’ve not always been a “pound puppy mama”. And your “child” will be a grown man in three short years. You have also unsuccessfully tried to raise funds on PayPal at least twice, not just once. Give it up.

Yes, I know I sound really bitchy, but I think I’m owed. My husband is still trying to mend the relationship he and his younger daughter missed because of Ex’s selfishness and stupidity. We’re losing hope for older daughter, who is still the caregiver of Ex’s “severely autistic child”.

And she’s still stuck on Star Wars, which hardly makes her unique, but maybe if she spent less time tweeting about celebrities and more time earning money, she might not need to crowdfund.

Personally, I am LOVING the attention to detail and the explanations of the backstory of not just Obi-Wan, but Leia and Anakin… just gives us more depth the Vader’s character, don’t you think?

I never got into Star Wars myself. I know it’s very popular. Of course, I grew up with people talking about it all the time, so I am basically familiar. But if I had big goals like building a fence or getting a service dog for my “autistic child” (teenager), I would hope I’d be more focused on that.

One last thing before I move on to happier topics on my travel blog…

Aww Chris, you’re so cute. Ok, you can marry my daughter. There… it’s between you and #keanureeves . Oh wait… there is one more,. His name is on the tip of my tongue. (Will edit when I recall.)

Oh!!! Och aye!!! The third is

@SamHeughan zzzzzzzzz I’m falling asleep!!! Good grief !!

Which daughter does she mean? Her 19 year old pansexual daughter who just started college? Or her almost 31 year old daughter who has basically been working as Ex’s scullery maid? I’d be interested to know… ETA: Not that there’s ANYTHING at all wrong with being pansexual… it’s just that the daughter might have something to say about it, right? Maybe she’d rather date someone without a dick.

Meanwhile, younger daughter still feels alienated because she’s a devout Mormon, a belief system that Ex forced on the family and later abandoned. Ex now ridicules younger daughter for being a believer, even though she’s the one who made her go to church in the first fucking place! And she did that only so she could control/alienate Bill.

Yep… it’s a hell of a world Ex lives in… and I wouldn’t want to visit it. But I would like to visit Antwerp again, so I’m going to head over to the travel blog to explain why. And yes, on Monday, we did enjoy plenty of wine. In other words, it was an ordinary day, save for the flaming torch I got when I had dessert last night. 😉

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book reviews, LDS, religion

Repost: A review of Jessica Bradshaw’s You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons…

Here’s a reposted book review from my original blog. It was written in June 2017, and appears here as/is. Some things have changed since I wrote this. Bill’s younger daughter came around, and now talks to him.

As many regular blog readers know, I frequently hang out on the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard, although I have never myself been a Mormon.  I started hanging out on that site because my husband, Bill, used to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He and his ex wife were converts at the end of their disastrous marriage. 

Bill was once a fairly enthusiastic Mormon; when I met him, he still claimed to believe.  I think he had high hopes that the church would help him save his first marriage.  But over time, it became clear that the church would not save his family and, in fact, made his situation much worse than it might have been.  Unfortunately, Bill’s two daughters became devout members of the LDS church and he pretty much lost them when he divorced their mother and later decided to resign from the church. 

It is certainly no secret that I despise my husband’s ex wife for many reasons– many of which have nothing to do with the LDS church. The truth is, what happened to Bill would have happened whether or not they had been Mormon converts. My husband’s ex wife delivered the same despicable treatment to her first ex husband. She effectively influenced her eldest son to reject his father. She did the same to Bill’s daughters. She will likely engage the same method if and when she leaves her third husband, with whom she has another son and daughter. That is simply what she does because she’s an abusive person, who thinks her children are extensions of herself, and uses them as weapons.

However, although I don’t believe the church was the main cause of my husband’s split from his now adult daughters, it’s been my observation that the LDS church is an excellent parental alienation tool. The importance of the church and its ridiculous lifestyle tenets– its insistence on being privy to the most private aspects of a person’s life and focus on perfect families– made it much easier for my husband’s young, impressionable daughters to reject their perfectly good dad as “unsuitable” and “undeserving” of them. To be honest, I agree that Bill doesn’t deserve his daughters. In my opinion, they aren’t good enough for HIM. Fortunately for them, Bill is a lot more forgiving about his daughters’ decision to reject him than I am. He once had a very close relationship with them. He is their father, and will always love them, while I have only met them in person once. I have no connection to them, and I think their behavior is unreasonable and just plain stupid.

Perhaps my brief rundown of my personal experiences with the church will offer some insight as to why I read so much about Mormonism– particularly about those who choose to abandon it.  Since I’ve been with Bill, I have come to know a number of impressive ex-Mormons.  It takes a lot of strength of character to go against the grain and reject one’s family religion, especially when it’s a very demanding belief system like Mormonism.  I have found that many ex-Mormons are very intelligent, sensitive, and open-minded.  I truly like them as a group of people.  For that, as well as for her decision to divorce Bill, I will always be grateful to Bill’s ex wife.  Her decision to go LDS and Bill’s decision to leave the church indirectly influenced my life in many positive ways.  Of course, had she not divorced Bill, I might not have gotten to be his wife.

It’s indirectly because of my husband’s ex wife that I “met” Jessica Bradshaw, who just published You’re Not Alone: Exit Journeys of Former Mormons. I read her first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: A Confessional, which she wrote under the pseudonym Regina Samuelson. I enjoyed the book and reviewed it, and Bradshaw and I became Facebook friends. I was delighted when Bradshaw announced her second book, which would be published under her real name. She also solicited stories from her ex-Mormon friends and acquaintances. I wanted to get Bill to submit his story, but he never got around to writing it.

Over the past almost fifteen years of marriage, I have seen firsthand what can happen when a person decides to leave a high commitment religion like Mormonism.  Some Mormon families truly believe in “free agency” and are okay with family members deciding for themselves what to believe.  There are many more families that can make leaving the church extremely difficult.  Some ex-Mormons wind up getting divorced, being shunned by family members and friends, and even losing their jobs or getting kicked out of college over deciding that Mormonism doesn’t work for them.  Deciding to leave Mormonism was a huge decision for many past members; it can be overwhelming and terrifying.  Many ex members feel that they are alone as they make this monumental decision for their own lives. 

Bradshaw’s latest book is a compilation of stories by former church members who left.  Each story is very well edited and offers valuable insight into what makes a person decide to leave Mormonism.  I was amazed as I read about how each person’s eyes were opened to the world beyond the church.  It was gratifying to read how many of these ex church members began to develop insight, empathy, and an expanded perspective of the world around them, even as many of them found themselves ostracized from their families and friends.

One contributor wrote about how, as a Mormon missionary in Japan, he experienced extreme cognitive dissonance.  He observed how happy, moral, and loyal the Japanese people were to their families and employers.  They were able to be this way even without the direction and interference of a church’s oppressive lifestyle restrictions or strict “moral” code.  As the years passed, the contributor experienced a series of life events that led him from being an “acting Bishop” of a huge ward in Salt Lake City to a convicted felon who temporarily lost his license to practice optometry.  This was a decent person– a good guy who was having a crisis of faith and could not talk to his wife, other family members, or friends about his feelings.  He started playing racquetball, took his new passion too far, eventually got seriously hurt, and was put on opium based painkillers.  He developed an addiction to the painkillers, started calling in his own prescriptions, and soon lost everything. 

Many church members would look at that story and determine that it was the man’s decision to abandon the church that led him to such disastrous consequences.  Indeed, when church members resign, a lot of active members think it’s because they want to sin, are too lazy or weak to live by the church’s rules, or were somehow offended.  Active members tend to avoid those with weak testimonies because they fear they will lose their own testimonies.  It occurs to me that active members who fear those who are losing their testimonies must also have weak testimonies, because if their testimonies were strong, someone else’s doubts would not be a threat. 

A person leaving the church often feels very much alone and may turn to habits that can turn out to be destructive.  In the case of the contributor I just wrote about, he turned to racquetball.  Racquetball is not a destructive habit in and of itself, but if one plays to the point of becoming seriously injured and needs pain pills, that can lead to a serious disruption of one’s life.  Perhaps if the man could have talked honestly to his wife or church leaders about his doubts, he might not have experienced such a calamity.  Maybe he would have eased up on the racquetball and not gotten seriously hurt.  Or maybe the positive feelings he got from the drugs would not have been as seductive, since he might have been able to get a sense of normalcy and calm without needing medication.

Unfortunately, for many people, the church does not lend itself to open discussion or honesty.  Married couples must cope with less intimacy because the church is a not so silent partner in their relationships.  Important decisions about things like religious beliefs are not left up to the married couple.  The church must be involved.  And the church’s involvement means there will be less privacy, pressure, and the potential for punishment and humiliation.  Many people who have doubts about the church don’t speak about them openly.  Instead, they simply fake it.  They lead lifestyles that are not authentic.  They miss out on a lot of wonderful life experiences and freedom due to fear of disaster and abandonment.  Being “fake” is also psychologically unhealthy and can ultimately lead to unhappiness.

I have only described one story in You’re Not Alone, but rest assured that the book is full of enlightenment about why people leave the LDS church and encouragement that there is life after Mormonism.  While the immediate consequences of leaving the church can be heartbreaking and devastating, most people are able to pick up the pieces and live better, more authentic lifestyles.  They make their own decisions and can accept their successes and failures as their own. 

I’ve seen firsthand how liberating leaving the LDS church can be as I’ve watched Bill.  When I met him, he was living on $600 a month and thought his life was ruined.  He thought God hated him.  What a blessing it’s been to have watched him blossom into a self-confident man who loves freely and enjoys his life.  He has plenty of money (not paying 10% gross to the church is a great thing), gets to travel, wears whatever underwear he prefers, and drinks whatever he pleases.  He is not afraid of being exposed to other people’s experiences and no longer has a testimony that must be protected at all costs.  And although he was abandoned by his daughters, Bill has found out that his life is still very much worth living and he is free to do it on his own terms.  I’m pretty sure that is what Jessica Bradshaw’s contributors have also discovered. 

Naturally, I recommend You’re Not Alone, especially to anyone who has been thinking about leaving the LDS church, but also to those who are in any belief system that has them in metaphorical chains.  I also think You’re Not Alone is a great read even if you aren’t LDS, although it probably does help to know something about the church before you read it.  I also recommend Jessica’s first book, I’m (No Longer) a Mormon.  Five stars from me.

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family, LDS, music, social media

My life is incredibly absurd…

This is going to be another one of my much too long personal postings… Some people might think it’s “inappropriate” to write this, but it’s what’s on my mind today. This blog is, really, more for me than anyone else. And maybe a few of you out there can either relate, or maybe there are even some “curious” people out there who wonder WTF when they read my posts.

I got a bit upset last night. I didn’t mean to get upset. In fact, the evening had started out relatively well. Bill came home from work with five boxes that were waiting for us after our trip. One of the boxes that came was from Bill’s younger daughter. In March, Bill sent her a box of gifts from our trip to France. Bill’s younger daughter, Catherine, who will be giving birth to her third child within the coming weeks, decided to send us a box from Utah.

Before she sent the box, she wondered what to include in it. Bill requested for her to send us things exclusively from Utah. He meant things like “fry sauce”, or maybe certain types of candy or locally produced products that are specific to Utahn culture. Catherine, who is a devout Mormon, joked that Utah is best known for sugar. We had a laugh at that, since we know how true it is. Since Utah’s population is heavy with people of the Latter-day Saint persuasion, sugar is the one vice in which many people freely indulge.

Sure enough, the box younger daughter sent, addressed to both of us, was full of sugary treats. She did send us a bottle of fry sauce, too. I’m eager to try it, since I’ve heard how good fry sauce supposedly is. Also included within the box of goodies was a Book of Mormon. In fact, when Bill saw the book, he said “We got BoM’ed” (pronounced “bombed”). He was amused, especially since Catherine served a mission for the LDS church and has clearly not stopped being a missionary.

I shared the below photos on Facebook.

The comment I made with this post was pretty banal. I wrote “Bill’s daughter sent us a care package from Utah… complete with a BoM.” I don’t think that comment indicated that I was upset about or threatened by the gift. On the surface, my comment was rather matter-of-fact, but I probably should have clearly indicated that I’m happy to share in receiving this box. The reality is, I am delighted that Catherine is talking to Bill and sharing with him.

It’s true that I don’t like Mormonism, but I understand why Catherine is grateful for her faith. I know that people in the church helped her when Bill couldn’t. And no, I don’t mind that she shared a BoM with Bill, especially since she underlined passages that she finds comforting. This is a way for her to connect with her father, a man whose company she was denied for so many years. He can read those passages and relate to her. They will help him understand her more. I have no concerns that he’ll go back to Mormonism. Even if he did go back to the church, I’d still love him, as long as he didn’t try to convert me, too. I have no interest in being LDS.

Reactions to the post ran the gamut. A lot of people don’t know the intricacies of our story, which is pretty convoluted and, frankly, absurd. I think some folks might have thought I was offended by Catherine’s gift of a BoM. One person wrote, “Well, it was a nice gesture.” I assume it’s because a lot of people would be turned off by getting a Book of Mormon.

Another person wrote “You have to try to look at it as someone sending you their favorite book for you to read. You might not enjoy it as much as they did, but it’s the thought.”

I was initially somewhat puzzled by these comments, but I realize they come from people who either don’t know the whole story, or know full well that I don’t like Mormonism, and figured this gift would be objectionable to me. I think I have good reasons for not liking the LDS church. BUT– I absolutely do understand that there are some good things in the LDS church, and there are also very fine people within the organization. I don’t have to like Mormonism to appreciate Catherine’s gift. I’m just thrilled that she’s reconnected with Bill before it’s too late.

I fear Catherine’s older sister will miss the opportunity to really know her extraordinary dad. I’m torn between feeling compassion for older daughter, and anger that she’s already thrown away so many years with her father. I know this is a choice that older daughter has to make and live with. I still think it’s an incredibly stupid move on her part. It would be one thing if Bill were the kind of guy who didn’t care about other people, but Bill is an extraordinary man. He is so kind hearted, unselfish, and forgiving. He is loving, thoughtful, and brave. I haven’t met many people like Bill in my lifetime. Very few people trigger protective impulses in me. Bill does. He is a rare specimen who, sadly, tends to attract predators who take advantage of his decency.

It’s been heartbreaking to watch the fallout from the dissolution of Bill’s first marriage, even though Catherine, at least, had the good sense to reconnect with her dad. I wish older daughter would wise up, but that’s something she has to choose to do. Once again, I find myself cursing about the fact that Bill spent more than five minutes with his ex wife, who wasn’t fit to wash the shit stains out of Bill’s shorts. That may seem harsh, but it’s the God’s honest truth. Ex is a sick woman who has done some really vile things in the name of avenging her “shitty” childhood. She makes other people pay for her tragic past. Her actions have had devastating ripple effects on so many people, many of whom seem to be blind to the damages she’s wrought until it’s too late.

Last night, as I was pondering the comments left regarding Catherine’s gift to Bill, I chatted with my sister, who reminded me of my own “fucked up” childhood. On the surface, we had pretty normal and fortunate upbringings. My parents were married for 56 years. They came from families where there was no divorce. In my dad’s case, there were many other siblings who loved and cared about each other. My parents always had work, and we never had truly serious worries about finances. I had a pretty privileged lifestyle as a child. I owned a horse, and attended horse shows and fox hunts. I had a car to drive. My parents were even home all the time, because they owned and operated a business out of our house.

And yet, there was so much dysfunction… my sister wrote that she’d sent our mom a Mother’s Day card with a unicorn on it that read, “Keep on doing ‘mom’ things. You’re so good at them.” I knew she was being passive aggressive and sarcastic, because our very talented and beautiful mom was famously not into being a mom when we were growing up. Our mom wasn’t the type of mom who doted on her children, or her friends’ children, or served as a role model to others. She couldn’t wait for us to grow up and get out of the nest. She should not have had four children. But she did have us, and here we are… all four of us dysfunctional and neurotic, in spite of the many privileges we enjoyed when we were growing up.

I don’t mean this as a slam on my mom. Actually, I have generally gotten along fine with her, in spite of acknowledging that she was often pretty negligent and had some screwed up priorities. In my case, it was my dad with whom I had significant issues. He once told me I would never make more than minimum wage. He was an abusive alcoholic, although he was probably more into being a parent than my mom was. He and I didn’t mesh for a lot of reasons, but I do think he was the more caring of my parents. Of course, he also wasn’t doing the “heavy lifting” of parenting. That was a task that fell to my mom, who really wasn’t into the job. In a different era, I’m sure my mom would have made different choices, but she grew up at a time when women were expected to get married and have kids. So that’s what she did. In spite of my seemingly negative comments, I do think she did the best she could, under the circumstances. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that my memories of growing up mostly aren’t idyllic.

So I had a bit of a meltdown last night. Bill came down to me, having just spent an hour talking to his analyst. I was drinking red wine, wondering how I ended up in this bizarre situation I’m in. My life is incredibly absurd. To people on the surface, it seems like I live a “dream”. I don’t work outside the home. I don’t have children. I get to travel a lot to some pretty lovely places. That would seem like a fabulous lifestyle to many people. In fact, last week, a long time friend of mine told me that she envies my life. I didn’t know how to respond to that. She really has no idea… and yet, I absolutely CAN understand that most of my problems are of the first world variety. I do see why some people might feel envious of me. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I feel like so many people don’t like me.

Unlike Bill, I don’t feel the need to try to please others in order to get them to like me. I figure that if people don’t like me, that’s their choice to make, just like it’s older daughter’s choice to throw away her wonderful dad without ever taking the time to try to understand why he had to leave her when she was little. He had to leave, because staying with Ex would have meant dying… perhaps literally, but almost certainly metaphorically. He could not live with his ex wife anymore. If he had been a woman and Ex had been a man, absolutely no one would begrudge him for leaving. Ex is a domestic abuser. Even Catherine realizes that. She even went as far as to send Bill a link to an article for victims of domestic violence, which makes me wonder what she’s witnessed in her mother’s relationship with #3.

Maybe some people don’t see this when they talk to me, but I really am a good person. I am a decent, loving, kind person. I’m not always “nice”, but I am, deep down, “good”. I come by these qualities honestly. I try to do the right thing whenever possible, even if it doesn’t seem “nice”. Last night, I was frustrated, telling Bill about how my life has gone completely off the rails of what I thought it would be before we met. I meant to have a career and children of my own. That ordinary lifestyle was what I had planned for my whole life. But instead, here I am, writing blog posts in Europe, watching my friends and family members with regular jobs, children, and grandchildren… wondering how this happened, and if I make a difference to anyone besides my husband. It’s not a bad life at all, but it’s not what I planned. I also know that some people probably think negatively of me because of it. A few years ago, I was interviewed for my university’s alumni magazine. The person who interviewed me approached me because of an extraordinary experience I had when I was in college. But when he heard the reality of my life, he must have figured there was no story there worth putting in the alumni magazine. I didn’t become “someone”. I am just an “overeducated housewife” with an absurd lifestyle.

I do know that I serve a huge purpose in Bill’s life. But sometimes I wonder if that’s the only reason I managed to be born. Was I just born to keep predatory people like Ex and former landlady away from Bill? Was I born just to encourage him to have fun and travel? How is it that I’ve managed to land in this weird existence, where I feel envious of people with careers and children to worry about, as some of them envy me for my supposed “good life”? It’s absurd, isn’t it? Especially if you know just how totally FUBAR and totally bizarre Bill’s life has been. Even the way we met was very strange and kind of hard to specifically talk about with other people.

This morning, just before I started writing this post, I watched the funeral service for my cousin’s wife, Chris, who passed away last month after a lengthy cancer battle. I didn’t know Chris as well as I would have liked to, especially having heard several well-spoken people sing her praises. Chris was a very beautiful, vibrant, creative woman, who obviously touched many people’s lives. She was much beloved by friends and family, and so many people had stories of how she’d blessed them with her happy, warm, and thoughtful presence. Chris was a devout Christian, as are many of her bereaved friends and family members. I don’t know who she voted for in 2016, but I’d be willing to bet lots of cash that she voted for Donald Trump. I know for a fact her husband, my cousin, did.

I don’t understand how decent people can’t see who Donald Trump is, and why he’s so bad for the country. I know my family members were raised with conservative Christian values, and that means they feel they must always vote Republican. I can respect that on some level. I used to feel the same way. But how can a Christian ever cast a vote for Trump or anyone like him? How can they not see how truly awful and inhumane he is?

I listened to several people extol Chris’s many wonderful qualities as they spoke about her. I know they were a small sampling of many people who were touched by Chris. And please don’t get me wrong. Chris genuinely deserved every one of those accolades. She was a very special person. But I know, that as nice as those people are, they aren’t always as good as they seem to be. They are good to acceptable people within their own communities. I’m not sure they’re as good to people who are in trouble and need help. I don’t mean designing a room or catering a party. I mean offering real help to people who have very serious problems, sometimes arising from so-called “bad choices” they might have made. I mean people who might have done things that crowd would find immoral. As good as my relatives are, they probably think I’m immoral for swearing, drinking wine, and voting against Trump. Some of them might feel like I abandoned my family. I feel like very few of them miss me. If I died tomorrow, my funeral would probably be a pretty lonely affair. I know I haven’t touched people in the way that Chris did. I also know that my extraordinary husband is much better off with me in his life, even though a lot of people probably wonder what he’s doing with me. They don’t see the big picture. I guess I don’t see it either, at least as it pertains to older daughter.

Bill is probably like Chris in a lot of ways. He’s generous, thoughtful, loving, caring, kind, and incredibly smart. I can’t believe he married me. I would love to be more like him, because I admire how decent he is. However, this morning, when we were talking about last night’s little “meltdown”, Bill pointed out to me something I said during my rantings. He said, “you pointed out that you offer a counterbalance to my overly generous, people pleasing nature. If we were both people pleasers, we would be sitting ducks for predators.” And that’s true. If Ex thought she could drive a wedge between us, she would definitely try to do it. But she knows I can see who she is. And she knows not to fuck with Bill, because she will be fucking with me… and I am not nearly as “nice” as Bill is. But I would like to be nice. I would like to be thought of as a light in people’s lives, as my cousin’s wife, Chris, was. I don’t like to be annoying. I certainly never aspired to be a stepmother, or even an “overeducated housewife”. But here I am… obnoxious as the day is long.

I probably will address this video later, because there’s a lot I can say about it.

Which brings me to another point… One of the bones of contention people have with me is that I refer to myself as “overeducated”. I know a lot of people in the military community think I look down on them because of my education. If they got to know me, they might find out that part of the reason I call myself “overeducated” is because I literally am overeducated for what I do. That doesn’t mean I disparage others for not having degrees. In fact, if I had known this was going to be my life, I would not have gone to graduate school. But then, I probably wouldn’t have met Bill, and he was obviously meant to be in my life. I think education is very important, and I am grateful that I had the chance to go to school. The way our country is going, I worry that females may find themselves marginalized as they were in the not too distant past. I realize, again, that I’m fortunate. I just wish I could have used my education in a way that feels more significant. I was taught by my family that I needed to “be someone” and do something important. And I feel like I haven’t, in spite of multiple efforts… even though I know that I have made a huge difference in Bill’s life. But was this the only thing I was meant for? Was I, the daughter of parents who really didn’t seem to want me, and even told me on many occasions, only meant to help Bill evolve into someone who values himself more?

I love this song so much. I relate to it on many levels… although I did manage to find love.

Anyway… as Beau says in the video above, “it’s just a thought”. I would like to close this mishmash of a blog post with the beautiful lyrics to Ron Block’s song, “Someone”. If you ever wonder WTF when you talk to me or read my posts, you might consider these words and apply the context. I really need to hear this song every day. I hope someone reading this post will take the time to listen to this song. Maybe these are words you need to hear, too.

My father was an old man, he worked so hard and long
He asked me to believe that he had all that he could want
Holding up his hands he said, ‘These hands have bled for you
Lord knows you’ve been worth it, too’

He smiled at me sadly as I walked out of his door
I told him once again, just like time and time before
I know that you’re contented but before my life is done
I am gonna be someone’

I set out on my own to find the life I planned for me
I was longing for a high and lonely destiny
Spending all my days on the debt of my tomorrows
Looking for some love but I found none, ’cause I was gonna be someone

It took me years of pain to find what he already knew
Contentment doesn’t come from what you say or what you do
Peace just like a river comes by resting in the sun
And I don’t have to be someone

I set out on my own to find the life I planned for me
I was longing for a high and lonely destiny
Spending all my days on the debt of my tomorrows
Living comes from resting in the sun and I don’t have to be someone

Peace just like a river comes by resting in the sun
And I don’t have to be someone

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Bill, divorce, Ex, LDS

Lessons never taught– or, how to camp like a champ.

Morning, y’all. I hope all of you had a nice weekend. I know not everyone celebrates Easter, but if you did celebrate “resurrection day”, I hope it was a pleasant experience. Bill and I had a nice quiet day at home. I did some writing, of course, and afterwards, picked up my guitar and played “The Old Rugged Cross” with surprising ease. I was inspired by Rhonda Vincent’s beautiful live version, which is easily found on YouTube at this writing. Although I don’t play the song perfectly, I do play it reasonably well, especially for someone who has learned everything from Fender Play at this point. I might be a fairly decent player by now if I had an in-person guitar teacher. Maybe someday, I’ll get around to investing in one. For now, though, I am really glad I used the pandemic as an excuse to expand my musician skills/cred. I hope to eventually get good enough that someone besides Bill will want to hear me play.

After I played my guitar, I tried and failed to finish my custom made puzzle by Collage.com. My mother-in-law gave me a puzzle by them for Christmas. She found a photo I took in Slovenia and had it made into a one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle. I was so impressed by it that I ordered another one of a photo I took in Croatia. Unfortunately, I was not finished with the Slovenia puzzle when I made that decision, and didn’t realize that the quality of the puzzle wasn’t quite 100 percent. So, the Slovenia puzzle had five pieces that didn’t fit properly. I must have made a mistake, but obviously, there were pieces in the puzzle that were very close and fit convincingly. I had an even worse problem with the Croatia puzzle. Now, it could turn out that I put the puzzle together again someday, and somehow get the puzzle right. But I won’t possibly be doing that for some time, since I have several to do that I haven’t done yet.

Bill cooked baby back pork ribs on the grill that were delicious. We enjoyed some adult beverages and listened to music. We did some talking about current events, some of which have been pretty sad and dramatic, if you read yesterday’s post. Bill and I both feel kind of cut off from our families, and yet we do talk a lot about how completely dysfunctional some of our experiences have been. In fact, last night, we were talking about a post the actor Wil Wheaton shared by a Facebook page called The Holistic Psychologist, that we both could relate to with ease. Bill probably related more than I did.

Wil Wheaton, as many people know, has said that his parents were abusive to him. He describes them as “emotionally immature”. I’m sure Wil Wheaton’s observations are perfectly accurate from his perspective. I liked the link he shared, and commented that maybe it would be even more useful for younger daughter. There were many examples of “emotionally immature” parents included, and descriptions of how a child who was raised by such a parent might respond by their behaviors as an adult. Wheaton also shared another link by The Holistic Psychologist that might also be useful to anyone who has grown up with parents who never quite matured properly– at least in the emotional sense.

This morning, Bill got a video message from his daughter. She looked pretty, wearing pearls… like maybe she had come from church. She was talking about things she did on Easter and for her kids on Easter. Younger daughter is about seven months pregnant right now, so she’s pretty tired. She yawned a lot as she talked about her celebration, which somehow segued into talking about her experiences as an older teen.

Younger daughter says she doesn’t like to camp. She doesn’t find it appealing to pack up stuff, go out to the country, unpack, and sleep in a tent. As someone who worked for two summers at a Presbyterian church camp, I can understand why camping might not be so appealing. I lived in a platform tent for both summers, as I was the cook, and didn’t have camp programs to lead. It was rustic living for sure, although there were aspects of that experience that I really loved. For one thing, the camp where I worked was in an absolutely stunning area of Virginia. I would love to own property in that place– it was so tiny, unspoiled, and just pristine… We had so much fun there! Some of the fun included staff training, which included a short campout/canoeing experience– one or two nights in a tent, if I recall correctly. The first summer, we canoed on the Shenandoah River. The second summer, we canoed on the Potomac. I remember at another time, outside of our camp sessions, some of us got together and canoed down the Rappahannock River, but that was just a day trip.

I do remember learning how to pitch tents, cook food over a fire, and enjoy nature. But, to be honest, as fun as those experiences were– and as amazing as it was to be PAID to do that– I can admit that camping isn’t for everyone. It’s not always comfortable to sleep under the stars, even though it’s something that people ought to try. Yesterday, I even read about 8th grade kids in Alaska who camp out as part of their science class. It’s a learning project, yes, but it’s also taught because Alaskan kids, more than other American kids, may really have an actual need to use survival skills. But even though I think youngsters should learn outdoor skills, I know that not everyone wants to camp.

Younger daughter says that she went camping as part of her LDS church indoctrination. I wasn’t surprised to hear that. I know, for instance, that part of the LDS church experience for young people includes going to camp. From what I’ve read, those experiences are very “churchy” and religious, and they include a lot of emotional bonding around a campfire, testimony bearing, singing church songs, and discussing passages from the Book of Mormon. I don’t know how skilled the people leading younger daughter’s camping experiences were, but from what I’ve read on RfM, the people who lead the camp experiences in the LDS church aren’t necessarily super well-schooled on camping outdoors. In fact, from what some ex members have said, the camp experience is more about creating meaningful church experiences, in remote places where outside influences are few, than teaching youngsters the joys of camping.

Likewise, I’ve heard and read that a lot of the Boy Scout troops affiliated with the LDS church are not led by people who are very skilled outdoors. I know that wouldn’t apply to every church affiliated Scout troop, but apparently, it did apply to more than a couple. A lot of former members have shared horror stories about their times camping with the LDS church. Of course, since the Scouts are now letting girls in, I think the church is less invested in encouraging boys to be Boy Scouts.

Anyway, younger daughter says that her experiences at LDS Girls Camp led her to realize that she doesn’t enjoy camping. If her experiences were like what I’ve read on RfM, I can understand why camping doesn’t appeal. But what’s really sad is that her perfectly good father, who was not allowed any access to his daughters when they were growing up, knows a whole lot about camping and how to make it enjoyable. Bill is a retired Soldier, and he’s spent a lot of time in the field. He could have taught his daughters how to camp effectively. Maybe, if they had been allowed to go camping with Bill, those girls would have ended up loving camping. Or maybe younger daughter might not have liked camping, even if Bill had taught her how to do it properly and used good equipment. One of younger daughter’s complaints, for instance, was that she had to sleep in a leaky tent and didn’t get any rest. I’m not surprised, as people on RfM have written that the tents used at the camps were basically Army surplus variety– circa the Vietnam era. But she would have had a bonding experience that she might not have forgotten. I had a couple of camping experiences with my dad (in a pop top VW van, rather than a tent)… but then, my dad wasn’t as good of a father as Bill is.

I don’t know if Bill would have taken his girls camping if he’d been allowed to raise them. But there would have been the opportunity to camp. Maybe, if they came back after girls’ camp complaining about being outdoors, Bill could have showed them a better way. He was denied that opportunity, though, because his ex wife is a selfish person who is more interested in punishing people than doing the right thing by her children. And so, Bill and younger daughter have a lot of years to make up for. I’m glad they are, at least, getting that time now. As we’ve learned recently, tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. Ex meant for Bill to NEVER see or speak to his children again, all because– over Easter in 2000– Bill didn’t grovel enough. Bill didn’t succumb to her demands that he humiliate himself to an LDS bishop and confess to hating women… which he certainly doesn’t, and never did. Worst of all, in her mind, was that instead of refusing to divorce his abusive ex wife, who used his parents’ home to, once again, emotionally abuse and humiliate Bill, Bill decided to accept Ex’s proposal to split up. She very clearly did not expect Bill to say “yes” when she proposed a divorce; it injured her deeply that he agreed. She had expected him to fight for her, and the fact that he didn’t want to fight anymore deeply disappointed her. She was so aggrieved that she decided to try to destroy Bill’s relationship with his own children.

Now, we’re seeing the result of that decision, and Bill’s choice not to insist on having contact with his kids. In retrospect, he probably should have involved the court system and law enforcement. Or, better yet, he never should have gotten involved with her in the first place. Hindsight is 20/20, I know.

It’s hard for me to understand how a parent can be so hateful, selfish, and misguided that they would deny their children’s access to another loving parent. I mean, yes, if a parent is severely abusive and harmful, it makes sense to limit contact. Bill is not an abusive person. He’s a very kind and loving person, who simply couldn’t tolerate his ex wife’s abuse anymore. Now that younger daughter is an adult, we’re finding out that he was not the only one who could no longer take her shit. It sounds like she simply reached saturation. I relate to that. I am pretty saturated by abusive people, too. I can’t tolerate them like I used to.

As I was listening to younger daughter, living in Utah, and not long from adding her third child to her family, I felt sad that after her parents’ divorce, she never had a chance to go camping with Bill… or eat at a fancy restaurant… or visit a museum. And now, thanks to the way our lives have gone, she may never have that chance. On the other hand, at least they can exchange videos and talk on Skype. And now that the world has reopened, maybe Bill will go back to Las Vegas for TDY and take another side trip to Utah, to see his daughter and her family. Ex had wanted to deny Bill that. Thank God they’re no longer giving her that power to divide and drive wedges.

Every time I think I’ve evolved beyond the mess that is Ex, and the massive damage she’s wrought, I see evidence of more damage that was done. But again, I am grateful that she wasn’t able to permanently destroy Bill’s relationship with his younger child. There remains hope that maybe someday, the older one will wise up and reach out. Even if she doesn’t, though, Bill never thought he’d have what he has with younger daughter. So we can be grateful for that… and the fact that thanks to what happened on Easter 2000, Bill can still enjoy life.

However, I doubt he’ll convince me to go camping. 😉

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