Snakes on the Plains

June 24, 2007 | 58 comments
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An article in the July Ensign provides a short list of dangerous threats to the home. In the article, BYU professor Shirley Klein recounts how early Mormon women used brooms and rolling pins to defend their homes from snakes and tarantulas. She then writes,

Though many of us may not have to worry about tarantulas and snakes invading our homes, we have even more dangerous influences threatening us. Our tarantulas and snakes are moral ones, and they are ever so subtle. They include disdain for household work, the difficulty of holding family mealtimes, changing roles for mothers and fathers, abortion, and the erosion of marriage through divorce, co-habitation, and same-sex marriage.

Yep, that’s the list. More dangerous than snakes or tarantulas. Divorce, abortion, same-sex marriage, and kids who don’t want to do the dishes or sit down for dinner. These are truly the moral tarantulas of our time.

The next time my son complains about doing the dishes, I guess I’m going to have to whack him with a moral rolling pin.

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58 Responses to Snakes on the Plains

  1. Julie M. Smith on June 24, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Hmm. I may be reading you wrong, but it sounds to me like you are mocking the idea that “disdain for household work” is a big deal?

    OK, so it isn’t exactly the worst moral crisis of this generation, but she did say that these threats were “ever so subtle.” And I think disdain for household work can easily translate into (or: translate out of) disdain for women (who, after all, do the majority of said work). It also can be a prime source of friction for couples or parents and children. And maybe your mileage varies, but my 9yo asks his best questions of me when he’s washing the dishes. Also, it is difficult to enjoy calm, happy domestic life with dishes in the sink.

    In other words, respect for women, peaceful relationships, deep relationships, and quality family life are predicated–at least to some extent–on the dishes being done. So perhaps you should whack your son with a real rolling pin.

  2. DKL on June 24, 2007 at 8:52 pm

    I agree with Julie. Disdain for housework is a problem. Like when Hillary Clinton said in the 1992 campaign, “What was I supposed to be doing, staying at home and baking cookies?” As though she was better than all the women who didn’t become partners in a law firm. It’s a form of classism and snobbery, which (as we know from the scriptures) is one of the more pernicious of the subtle evils.

  3. Tatiana on June 24, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    I have disdain for household chores. I resent that they have to be done over again the very next day or week, that nothing of lasting value has been accomplished. I love living in a clean house, and it really does improve my quality of life, but not when all my time after hours from my real job, my paid job, is spent in routine drudgery. I’m all for more automation of these tasks, for technology to make improvements well beyond the post-WW2 era of household machinery. We should have tub-scrubbing robots, window washing robots, laundry facilities that will take five separated loads through the entire wash and dry cycle and ready for folding with no human intervention required between. We should have bathrooms that seal and scrub and sterilize themselves like the inside of today’s dishwashers. All of these tasks should be automated, just as today’s factories are being automated. Human labor should be reserved for more interesting and long-lasting work than this.

  4. Kaimi Wenger on June 24, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    /hits Tatiana with a rolling pin

  5. Kaimi Wenger on June 24, 2007 at 9:36 pm

    July, and DKAugust,

    I agree that there is value to work. Clearly, some people are spoiled rotten, and so on.

    That said,

    1. Isn’t it just a _little_ weird to call this a moral tarantula, more dangerous than snakes in the house, and on par with topics like abortion and SSM? This basically takes a legitimate point — people should learn to work, and to appreciate the value of work — and inflates it into a ridiculous statement through hyperbole.

    2. Tatiana is right. Much of the change in the past century has been about removing drudge work. And this is a good thing. All sorts of books and articles have been written on this. Is it a bad thing that electric stoves, dishwasher, clothes washers, hot water heaters, vacuum cleaners, and so on have greatly reduced the burden of housework?

    3. I agree, Julie, that disdain for housework can translate into disdain for women, and that is bad. At the same time, glorifying housework sends a message to the overburdened LDS homemaker, that your house is not good enough. If your kids aren’t cheerfully washing dishes, then you’re cheerfully allowing moral tarantulas into your home, and being a bad mom. Mormon women already get way too much in the way of over-idealized homes to compare theirs to, and we all know Mormon women who get terribly depressed that their home isn’t up to the mythical Perfect LDS Standard.

    I think it’s potentially destructive to tell the overburdened LDS mom who has trouble getting everyone to sit down for dinner that she’s admitting moral tarantulas into her home. The destructiveness of the unattainable perfect LDS home image is a real problem for lots of LDS women — who overwhelmingly bear the social pressure and sanction for being Not Good Enough in the home.

  6. Adam Greenwood on June 24, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    You’re looking a little silly here, Kaimi W. You know, divorce and abortion and so on are so trivial.

  7. Adam Greenwood on June 24, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t see why you think “disdain for household work” means “not enjoying washing the dishes.” It means that the work that goes on in the home doesn’t get any respect, whether its doing chores that make the home pleasant or raising kids.

  8. Kaimi Wenger on June 24, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Adam (6),

    That’s precisely my point.

    Whatever one thinks of them, it’s absolutely certain that abortion and SSM are major and doctrinally important issues.

    This is exactly why it’s such a problem to equate these to keeping a consistent dinnertime.

  9. A. Barnes on June 24, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Adam…I didn’t get the impression that Kaimi was trivializing divorce and abortion, but rather was questioning why “disdain for housework” seemed a serious enough issue to be grouped into the same category. Which, frankly, I agree with. I could bribe my children or give them so-called morality lectures until the end of time, but I still doubt that anything would make them ENJOY their chores. (I’m curious, what exactly about abortion and divorce is “subtle” anyway?)

  10. Ardis Parshall on June 24, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    “Disdain” is more than not enjoying, or neglecting. The older I get, the more I understand the importance of calm, orderly surroundings, in some large measure the result of routine housework. My housework only incidentally takes care of “things” — more importantly, it takes care of ME, and my spirit and mental peace. I can only imagine the even greater necessity for that peace and calm when the home shelters more than one person, and when a family needs to create a space to take care of each other. “Disdain” implies that those things are unimportant, unworthy of attention, scorned, even something that should be deliberately not done.

    My home life isn’t likely to be threatened by divorce, abortion, cohabitation, or same-sex marriage. It’s more likely to be threatened by the unease, the dis-ease, that comes from disorder.

  11. A. Barnes on June 24, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Hmm…as a mother…I rather resent “raising kids” being equated with “housework.”

  12. Natasha on June 24, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    The one that she lists that interests me most is “changing roles for mothers and fathers”–I don’t know what she means by this. If she means the increasing absence of parents from the home, in particular fathers, then, obviously she points to an enormous problem that has tragic consequences for children.

    However, if she means the erosion of traditional roles, then whether it is a danger is very situational. For example, even though many fathers are not part of their children’s lives at all [tragic], other fathers are far, far more involved than were their fathers [a blessing]. And mothers sharing the financial burdens with fathers can also be very positive for families–allowing more co-parenting.

    That the statement “changing roles for mothers and fathers” is also linked with gay marriage makes me wonder if she is longing for a simpler time, with more defined gender roles.

    Finally, I agree that many societal attitudes are weakening marriage, in particular, divorce and premarital cohabitation [not to mention the cheapness with which public figures treat marriage]. However, no matter how many times the truism that gay marriage threatens traditional marriage is repeated, I simply don’t get it. I understand that the philosophy behind the statement is that it redefines marriage in an unacceptable way. However, how any male-female marital relationship is weakened by the mere presence of an unrelated same-sex marriage is beyond me. It’s really just a theoretical thing unless you are connected to the same-sex relationship in some way.

  13. Julie M. Smith on June 24, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    KaiMay asks, “Isn’t it just a _little_ weird to call this a moral tarantula, more dangerous than snakes in the house, and on par with topics like abortion and SSM?”

    Well, abortion and SSM have never touched my household. But all of the peripheral issues related to housework that I mentioned touch my household on a weekly if not daily basis. So I suppose it depends on how you measure.

    Kaimi, I agree with you that LDS women don’t need more pressure. But I thought the comment in the article did just the opposite–it called to account those people (husbands, children) who are disdaining housework and therefore not decreasing the mother’s burden.

  14. cchrissyy on June 25, 2007 at 12:02 am

    wow, I just read it aloud to my husband and we laughed, I’m surprised people are defending this. his immediate assumption was severe generational disconnect.

    hating housework listed alongside abortion?
    disintegrating family mealtimes with same sex marriage?

    well, since we disdain housework and don’t make family meals… umm, send on over some abortions and lesbian wife? huh? Am I supposed to be on that path? Am I part of “the problem”? Does this BYU professor assert that the way we run our family is “dangerous”?

  15. Meg Stout on June 25, 2007 at 1:31 am

    I guess this was the author\’s attempt to address the range of \’threats\’ to the home. A parent of younger children is probably much more worried about family meal times and chore-related laziness than same-gender attraction and abortion. Perhaps his(?) style was influenced by the juxtaposition of Mormon\’s sermon on baptizing babies and Mormon\’s epistle describing the rapine and cannibalism being practiced by the Nephite forces. For my part, I always took that juxtaposition to be an indication of how quickly the society had descended into a state that cried out for the retribution of a just God. But perhaps I mistake Moroni\’s intent in placing those documents together.

    I think the christian thing to do is to seek the meaning the author meant to convey rather than skewering him for his delivery (and/or how it was edited by others).

  16. Ben Huff on June 25, 2007 at 1:32 am

    Hm. As ugly as tarantulas are, I don’t think they are all that dangerous, unless maybe to a very small child. And many snakes are not dangerous at all, though others of course are deadly. I don’t think it is that weird that the list is a bit heterogeneous. But I also think that disdain for household work is a serious problem today. I know it sounds a bit tired to say that doing chores builds character, but which is better for a child’s character, cleaning the bathroom and mowing the lawn or watching vapid television? How about playing Grand Theft Auto? For adults who know how to use their time well and responsibly, time-saving appliances and such are great, but given the particular way that liberated time is being filled for a lot of people, especially young people, and the dearth of constructive projects to spend it on, I think disdain for housework is a serious problem.

  17. Larrea on June 25, 2007 at 1:40 am

    Hmm, I’ll come to the defense of tarantulas and snakes. I grew up in a place where tarantulas and snakes really did come into our home. I hate to break it to you guys, but despite all those scary movies you saw as a kid, tarantulas in the American west are not that dangerous. I used to pick them up all the time as a kid and was never bitten. If they got really irritated they might kick off a few hairs from their abdomen. I suppose if you got the hairs in your eye it might hurt. Even if you did manage to irritate a tarantula enough that it would bite you, the bite would be no worse than a bee sting. As for snakes, most are not dangerous and they keep down the rodent population. Rodents and the fleas and ticks that live on rodents are vectors for all sorts of nasty diseases. I suspect far more pioneers died from rodent associated diseases than snake bites.

  18. Larrea on June 25, 2007 at 1:52 am

    And I obviously didn’t refresh before posting that last comment.

  19. Tatiana on June 25, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Oh, and I forgot to say: best post title evah!

  20. Wilfried on June 25, 2007 at 2:54 am

    (Immoral) snakes and tarantulas come in various sizes and degrees of danger according to the (moral) circumstances one is dealing with. The sentence quoted makes you realize that option: pick out what is your closest problem, because that’s the one with the dimension that counts, and don’t worry about others you do not face. I think that putting them all together in one sentence is meant to achieve that very effect of little shock.

    Ah, I need to add my international perspective: family mealtimes ! Holding our daily family evening meal is for us (Belgians, and most Europeans I presume) a traditional priority. Time of togetherness, of partaking of healthy food, of telling what happened during the day, of conversations on small and big topics, etc. In our culture no outsider would dare to disturb other families at that very time (take between 6 and 7.30 PM for Belgians). But try to maintain that tradition in Utah County where the tarantulas of phone calls, door calls and meetings at any hour try to destroy it. Repent, repent ! (add smiley).

  21. AlexG on June 25, 2007 at 6:11 am

    This is the kind of articles that has made me stop subscribing to the Ensign, as it is filled with spiritual twinkies. There are even worse problems than those listed such as neglect (spiritual/temporal), obesity (which is, in a way, against WoW), abuse (of any kind) lack of communication, self esteem issues, amongst others. Do we really need an article such as the one mentioned in this post? I miss articles such as this. It is appalling. If I were a BYU professor, I would feel ashamed.

  22. The Backslider on June 25, 2007 at 8:07 am

    If disdain for household work is indeed a immoral tarantula – then my fate is sealed for the worst.

    Also, since God created all living things – including tarantulas – should we have more respect and not use them as symbols of immorality?

  23. Russell Arben Fox on June 25, 2007 at 8:20 am

    I think I have to agree with Wilfried here. The article presented a list of “moral tarantulas” in an arguably clumsy way, but with a purpose: to shock people into recognizing the moral seriousness involved in the breakdown of traditions, whether those traditions have to do with the management of the home or the definition of marriage or the sanctity of life. I think such shocks are both necessary and good, if only because (as Wilfried’s comment also makes clear) in the United States–perhaps even especially amongst American Mormons!–the priority of family togetherness at mealtime has been knocked way, way down the ladder.

    If anything, I would fault the author for failing to be entirely coherent or forthright in articulating what she clearly understands to be necessary for “building a sacred home”; putting housework and family meal times on the same level as abortion and same-sex marriage ought to have been followed with denunciations and positions supportive of that seriousness, but that is not what the author did. (Perhaps if she had been more thoroughgoing in her advocating of traditionalism in the home, her opening lines wouldn’t have seemed so strange to Kaimi.) It’s not that she doesn’t make some moves in that direction: she makes some disparaging remarks about “modern conveniences,” and quotes President Kimball about the tragic collapse of “social restraints” which once helped prop up the family. But then she follows that up with milquetoast comments along the lines of how “a child, a spouse, or even a roommate may chose to contribute in the home by seeing what needs to be done and doing it happily.” Surely we can do better than that.

    To really follow through on the shock and the challenge which a charitable reading suggests the author wanted to achieve through her opening comparisons, she should have dug deeper. Where is the condemnation of the careerism of husbands, whose work takes them away from the home and their children for hours and days on end, sending back a nice paycheck but not being there for the sake of supporting family traditions and routines? Where is challenge to families to cut back on supposed work-saving technologies in the home, or upon extra-curricular activities? And so on and so forth.

    I strongly support the effort to recognize that the (admittedly conceptually complicated) advocation of traditional virtues goes beyond matters pertaining to marriage and sexuality, which I think is what Professor Klein’s opening remarks were groping towards. But if anything, the bulk of the article suggests that we American Mormons may not yet be able to grasp how radical a task that may be. (Though, to be fair, this is a fault shared by most conservative Christians in America, who remain–from what I can tell–genuinely flummoxed and annoyed when someone points out to them how profoundingly unfriendly to tradition the economic expectations of modern suburban life in America often are.)

  24. Mark IV on June 25, 2007 at 8:59 am

    I share Kaimi’s confusion.

    I have a very difficult time drawing a direct line between a clean house and righteousness. Don’t we all have differing tolerances concerning the amount of clutter we are willing to live with? When our ward performs chapel cleaning duty, they invite three families per week to participate. I’ve noticed that with three families, there are usually three different definitions of the word “clean”, and this has been a source of amusement for me in the past. I know some wonderful people, certainly better than I, in whose homes I would not want to live. And I know others who are so fussily fastidious that they almost make an idol of their home and possessions.

    Here’s another way to read this. Maybe the author meant that it is a form of pride to think that household work is somehow beneath us, and that pride is destructive of family life. At any rate, no matter what was meant, I think we can agree that the household work part of the paragraph is indeed very subtle.

  25. Russell Arben Fox on June 25, 2007 at 10:08 am

    My wife just suggested another, I think equally valid reading: given that this is a BYU professor speaking at a devotional for BYU students, and given the way she drops references to current social and moral disputes in America, it is reasonable to conclude that the audience she had in mind while preparing the talk was not the poor rural or blue-collar saints of the Third World, but rather middle and upper class white American Mormons and their equivalents around the globe. (For what it’s worth, the photos accompanying the article use as their subject what appear to be some relatively prosperous East Asian families.) For such a population, mostly earning their money in the service and information economies, “household work” may well be one of the very few areas of physical, productive labor available. So for this group of folks to hypothetically “disdain” such labor could be emblematic of a larger refusal to learn from the value of work entirely, something which modern prophets have repeatedly warned us against. This certainly fits in with her comment about “modern conveniences.” But then, if this were her intent, you’d think she would have said something about laziness or sloth, which she didn’t. Still, that might be just another way in which Professor Klein’s article, while thoughtful, is less than the sum of its parts.

  26. guy on June 25, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Personal Perspective…

    I was a software consultant, earning a good salary. But I had to travel. Being away from home put a great burden on my wife, and made my fathering skills less effective. I took a permanent job (same line of work), that paid less than 1/2 of what I was making before. This required a move to a smaller home and a considerable reduction in the niceties of life. But my wife is happier, our 3 year old son has made a complete turn-around in his demeaner, and as a family things are much better than before.

    When we do chores, no one enjoys them. No one pretends to enjoy them. But when we do them, we do them together. They don\’t become a drudgery as some have suggested. We have some of our best – and meaningful – conversations during these times. And our son actively participates with nary a complaint – because like most children at that age, they want to replicate what their parents are doing.

    When it comes to the family, we put our selfishness aside. We do things together – whether it\’s work or play. We try to put the family first, and as a result, the individual members are stronger and happier for it.

    I don\’t fully understand the metaphors used, or the point that was being made, in the original posting. But in my opinion, there IS a breakdown of the family unit that is taking place (generally speaking of course) in this country. And it\’s happening because of selfishness. We\’ve become selfish in individual terms – whether it be to career, money, convenience, technology, play, whatever. Put the family first and not only will the family be stronger, but the individual members of that family will be better off for it.

    Note: I disregarded SSM and Co-habitation in this post because I feel that that moral issue should be judged by a power much greater than myself.

  27. Justin on June 25, 2007 at 10:31 am

    FWIW, the text of the original address can be read here.

  28. Russell Arben Fox on June 25, 2007 at 10:50 am

    We’ve become selfish in individual terms – whether it be to career, money, convenience, technology, play, whatever. Put the family first and not only will the family be stronger, but the individual members of that family will be better off for it.

    Guy, I think your family’s experiences reveal the truths that the Ensign article was pointing towards much better than the article itself did. Kudos to you, and thanks very much for sharing.

  29. guy on June 25, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Thanks Russell… I’ve been reading the blog here for a few months (never posted before – shy I guess) and I like to say that this site gives me some new insight into Mormonism. It has broaden my perspective immensely.

    Now this site has become apart of my daily reading.

  30. CS Eric on June 25, 2007 at 11:40 am

    I agree that the probable point that the “housework” part of the list was trying to make was better done in some of these comments than in the article itself. It isn’t so much the specifics of housework, but housework is an example of letting vital yet seemingly insignificant things be neglected because they aren’t flashy or sexy. It would have been much the same point but more obvious if she had said “neglecting prayer and scripture study.”

    When Adam and Eve were placed in the garden, they were told to till and take care of it. When was that commandment revoked? Isn’t it more important now that the earth produces thorns and briars? Isn’t housework in many ways the same thing? Many people think that something that can be characterized as simple drudgery (like housework) is below them if they are at some “higher stage” in life. That is why my favorite Buddhist saying is: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

  31. Michael Lallone on June 25, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    All of our kids had their own chores to do, and even though we had a typical middle-class existence, that didn\’t absolve them from their responsibilities. Sure they had all the latest toys, video games, etc., but they also had to make their contribution to the household. Sometimes it was more work than enough to oversee them doing their chores, and sometimes when it wasn\’t quite up to snuff, my wife and I spent time ensuring that they did it to our satisfaction. Did they enjoy it? Absolutely not. Did we appreciate spending time in an oversight role, sometimes coaxing, cajoling, threatening? Not particularly. But was it vitally important that they understood that there was a distinct relationship between actions & consequences, between responsibility and reward, and between duty and fulfillment? Unequivocally, yes! I don\’t imagine they\’ll ever thank us for actually helping them to learn some of the household skills that they would ultimately need when they lived on their own. However, they hopefully will have assimilated the lesson that to exclude their children from doing their fair share, no matter that it isn\’t done to perfection, is to deprive them of the opportunity to develop self-discipline, a sense of contribution, and a sense of achievement.

  32. annegb on June 25, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Kaimi, could you e-mail me? gardnera@netutah.com

    I need to ask you something.

    Good post.

  33. hello all on June 25, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Well, maybe getting people to sit down to dinner is new. Having trouble getting children to do chores is old…old….old. The scriptures speak of the individual who said he would and did not and the individual who said he would not do the chores and did the chores.

    Getting children to do their chores was a challenge of all ages. There was a show on PBS where people lived like Pioneers. The men seemed to eventually enjoy their tasks as they got in shape. The woman seemed depressed at the drudgery even at the end with the laundry and the greasy dishes to do over and over.

    I do think I would get a lot of satisfaction if I could clean a house sparkling clean even if it got messy later. There is satisfaction in a job well done.

    But we need to make sure that we know that people are more important than tasks.

  34. hello all on June 25, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    I know this is judgmental of me and all, but I have a real problem with people who criticize others for poor homemaking skills. People can have messy houses for a variety of reasons including depression, lack of energy, poor organizational skills, attention problems. Once I was involved with some people in helping a woman get a little more order of her property. She said she had attention deficit disorder and that doing things in an organized way was hard for her. Afterwards, one of the men helping criticized her. We were away from her and she probably never knew about it. I think it is so rude to serve someone and then talk bad about them. Either help or don’t help. It’s not your place to judge.

  35. ronito on June 26, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a hundred times. Disdain for housework will be the end of our civilization!

  36. Ray on June 26, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    I also would suggest that disdain for household work is a very legitimate reprimand when it is pointed at MEN who refuse to share that responsibility with their wives. guy’s comment moved me particularly, because it illustrates how mutually embracing such “mundane” tasks can have tremendously positive effects on a family. I have to admit that I needed to hear that comment, since I have slipped from the active participant I used to be into a more passive director of my children’s efforts. Thanks, guy.

  37. ronito on June 26, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Ah but Ray couldn’t the man doing housework be the hidden tarantula of husbands and wives *gasp* switching roles?!

    Slippery slope my friend. Slippery slope.

  38. Ray on June 26, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    Marriage is a slippery slope, my friend; all you can do is enjoy the ride. (so pull down your pants and slide on the ice)

    (Thought I’d never find a way to use that quote in a forum like this! Even though not its origin, I miss M*A*S*H* – new episodes, that is.)

  39. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Julie,

    I’m happy to give it a reading that encourages men to better share household responsiblities. I just don’t think that that’s the reading the typical LDS audience is going to give it.

    This is a concern I deal with. M. is in school now full-time, as I’ve mentioned before, and I’m sharing responsiblity for the kids and the house. At the end of the semester, she had finals or end-of-semester projects in six classes, and I had a final to write and then grade, and the house sort of went downhill for a month or so.

    Right after this, family came into town for a baptism. And a few people made remarks about it. And they were always about how awful it was that _she_ wasn’t doing _her_ job at keeping the house clean. And how she needed to take fewer classes, so she could keep the house up better.

    No one said, “gee, Kaimi needs to do more laundry and dishes.” The approbation fell entirely on her.

    In my experience, this is the norm. And so, I look at that statement, and I don’t see more people thinking, gee, husbands should pitch in. I see a talk that’s going to be used by passive-aggressive relatives against M. — entirely against her, and never against me — next time they come to visit and the house is messy.

  40. Guy on June 27, 2007 at 1:56 am

    In my opinion, the roles are different than just doing chores, or being the bread-winner. The roles are complex, and involve more than just the type of physical labor you do. For example… My wife is definitely the nurturer in the family. She’s very good at it. I on the other hand, am the enforcer of rules and boundaries. If she tried to be the enforcer of rules, we would have chaos in our family. If I tried to be the nurturer, everyone would be crying all the time. So in that regard, we both recognize our roles, and we each let the other perform to their particular strengths.

    Note: Sometimes, if I am too harsh in how I enforce the rules, then as the nurturer she’s allowed to overrule me. She rarely does, but on occassion it’s definitely warranted. It’s a good check and balance.

    This is how I view roles in a marriage.

  41. Seth R. on June 27, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Maybe in your marriage Guy.

    It’s not that way at our house.

  42. Guy on June 27, 2007 at 10:56 am

    It works in our marriage Seth. I realize it won’t work in all marriages. What works for one couple, may not work for another. The key though, is finding what works for you and your spouse through meaningful discussion (and sometimes trial and error), and being happy with it.

  43. just venting on July 2, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I know I should be in therapy rather than venting on blogs. This blog may have hit a little close to home. I sure hope that I never promised never to make comments here again, but I am good at breaking such promises. Due to embarassment, I hide my identity. Here goes:

    I don’t think having a messy home bothered me growing up. My mom was busy doing housework and I would often see her in the yard with a knife to pull weeds. It just would get messy from being lived in and all. It was a cool place and very child centered. We moved to a larger house. My mom went through a lot of depression when her mother died and maybe did not clean as much. It was not until we moved here that my dad started going stark raving mad and screaming at the tops of his lungs about how filthy we were. I don’t think my mom is a very organized person and was not cut out for the encompassing aspects of housecleaning. She is a sweet and caring woman. Very attentive to her children through reading and helping with homework. She is a great cook. She never really taught me how to clean.

    When my dad would try to teach me to clean, he would scream an insane rant about using a system. I could never do things right and he would scream in my face. It may be partly me because I overheard my brother and sister washing or waxing a car saying that if I were doing it I would be…not sure what they said anymore but it was mocking. I probably have learning disabilities that I do not process the physical world like other people do. I think he would shove me sometimes when he became so frustrated with me.

    During a year-and-a-half span, I lived with different people and some of them let me know how I can’t do things right either. One of them said that she would allow the other person in our three-some to clean the toliet because she trusted her to clean it right. Granted she had never seen me clean a toliet. I used to clean toliets every week at my families’ home before leaving for a year-and-a-half. A lady who we were cleaning her home commented how good the other person cleaned and how I did not know what I was doing. Plus, a later roomate would comment how I did not know how to clean a bath tub as I would just go until I was tired and stop.

    I was not bothered so much at the time with their comments. But when I broke down with ocd and it spiraled and spiraled, I got to the point where I am worried about being filthy because my mom does not know how to clean very well. I think she can clean better than she does much of the time but she shut down a lot because my dad is always bringing stuff home as a compulsive buyer and this overwhelms her. She has done a good cleaning hear and there. But I see things that I never noticed before and worry about things that never crossed my mind. In fact, everywhere I go and everything I do, I think I am contaminated because I am too stupid to do things like everybody else. I don’t care about contaminating myself for the most part in the sense of being worried for my safety. I worry about being a risk to others. And I am not sure what is safe and what is not. I cope. I limit where I go and what I do. I rehearse in my head that people have told me that things are in my head. But I think that when I do everyday things that everyone does that are too personal to mention that I do it wrong and am thereby more contaminated than everybody else.

    And I feel like I am a failure because I don’t know how to cook or clean although I graduated with honors from College. I feel pretty worthless in the domestic sense. And I do enjoy cleaning to some degree. I just can’t do things right. I like the rhythm of cleaning. I like having music on while I clean. I don’t clean much though because the smallest things that I do lead to madness for the most part. It is like everything I do is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    And my room usually has a terrible pile of laundry because I shed my contaminated clothes. And I don’t like carrying them down the hall to put them down the clothes shoot because that contaminates everything in their path. And I have trouble going to our basement so I can’t go down there. I don’t focus on all this too much because I don’t want to live in shame. I have a lot of things that I feel good about.

    I have dreamed that someone could help teach me in an ordinary environment how to take care of myself. But maybe I am just not cut out for all of that. I have lost much of the skills that I once had. It scares me just to go and open a fridge. That much therapy would cost too much! I have been to therapy and they just had me talk to them for an hour but were not with me in my environment. It helped some, but no more than talking with people who would tell me that things are in my head.

    I used to dream that some kind person would take me in and help me be independent, but I have since decided that is expecting too much of people. Fortunately, things are often good in my home these days. And I get to spend a lot of time on my computer which I rather enjoy.

    I think it is easy to judge. I do it myself. I hope that this vent might help someone understand anothers’ circumstances. It generally does not help a person to criticize them to their face or talk behind their back. Teaching a person how to do something is what is needed at times or a helping hand is what is needed at times.

  44. gc on July 4, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Just Venting… Your situation was painful to read. My heart goes out to you.
    I hope that one day that “some kind person” will find you and help you.

    OCD is rough. People who don’t have it, can’t possibly understand what it’s like. There have been times in my past when I thought my OCD would be my undoing. There was a time, when I would be the last to leave my place of business, and I would be responsible for looking up. As I walked out the door, I would lock the main door. Then I would check to see if it was locked 3 times before walking to my car. In the beginning, this would suffice. But when things started getting bad, I would walk to the car and walk back to the building to start the process all over again… and again… and again. On some nights I would return to the building as many as a dozen times.

    I’ve never told anyone that story (or the countless other stories that involve OCD). Not even therapists. It was far too embarasing to do so. But I share it now because I want you to know it gets better. Sure, I still have my episodes, like: counting the steps from my desk to the bathroom, or counting the number of times someone taps their pencil on the table at a meeting, or washing my hands over and over to make sure their clean. But it no longer controls me like it used too. Why’s that? Don’t know. Maybe I no longer have a chemical imbalance in my system, or maybe my dysfunctions are breaking down in my old age. I can’t say why, but it’s getting better.

    And as far as there being a right or wrong way of cleaning?… There is none. Doing it as a family helps, because it’s bonding time. And it helped me to deal with the OCD over the years.

  45. just venting on July 5, 2007 at 10:15 am

    GC, thank you for being willing to share what you have kept private. Also, it means a lot that you care. At one time my ocd was so painful and consuming, I have improved a lot. It may not sound like it from how much I limit my activities. But mentally, I am able to have good days. It is hard to go places and I generally just go to work. That can be hard. However, most days my worries are below the threshold to the point where I do okay. I remember when I was full of dread at work over things that no longer bother me. Also, I used to have worries plaguing me before going to sleep at times. Generally, I am okay by the end of the day and able to go to sleep just fine. This may involve annoying my parents by telling them what bothered me and having them tell me how stupid it is that I think such a thing.

    I share what I do because a person could look at a given enviroment or person and not realize what has happened in their life that may effect them. I am thankful that we live in such an enlightened age with understanding of abuse and also mental illness. I will say that I do not know exactly why I am the way that I am as far as whether it was enviromental or biological or other factors or the exact combinations. I think that I have an impairment with the right side of my brain. I never learned how to drive. I also have a very poor mental map. Thank you for saying there is no one way to clean. When you grow up withsomeone telling you that you grip things wrong and that you don’t do things right, it hurts. As of late, there have been a few healing moments when he was happy about some of my efforts in yardwork. It was very touching how very happy he was. Once I helped a friend paint a house and she was using these little spongy things. I thought I was not doing things right and she was so laidback. As a side job and sometimes his sole income, my parent used to paint houses and I would often go with him. I was mainly a gopher or helped put up scaffolding. When he would show how to paint, it was a precise way of doing strokes and such. It has been liberating to see others who don’t have his same standards of perfection. I will share a little trauma from those days just because it helps me. That actually is where much of the trauma took place. When I was small, I went with him and he was so nice and would tell me what a good helper I was when I would move a tarp. He did not have violent episodes then. Later, he would get irate with me if I did not do something right. He would shove me sometimes. One time, I couldn’t understand something. I think it was two occassions that were alike. I think one time that I did not see the spot that I was missing in whatever I was doing and another time, I think I was messing up putting up scaffolding. Somehow he brought me to the ground and held me done. He was so crazy and it was so scary. Once when I was in a much worse place with my ocd and I put a lot of blame on him, I was mumbling stuff. I said something like I have ocd because you pushed me down. It caught him off guard and he thought it was so funny. I later explained that he was not really pushing me, I don’t think. Now he has this running joke where he says for me to tell him a sad story about him having his knee on my neck. I don’t remember if that is what he did. I think he is seriously bipolar and shows what has been recently called intermittent explosive disorder. I honestly don’t think he remembers much of what he does. What I am going to tell now is not something that I have told anybody outside of my family. I will preface it with saying that I am not addicted or anything to self-mutillation. I have only done it about three times in my life unless you count pinching. I would pinch myself sometimes to try to make myself not think ocd thoughts as I heard about a rubber band technique where you snap a rubberband when you have a bad thought. That sounds too painful to me. I rather liked seeing bruises. And I would think of all the times that it was so scary and I dreamed of someing helping me out of my home enviroment. I have heard that by the law that you have to have a bruise or something to take a child out of their home. And I am not sure what kind of marks that I have had from the very few physical abuse incidents in my life. Much of the trauma had nothing to do with physical abuse. Having someone stark raving mad in your presence is so scary even if they don’t lay a finger on you.

    I felt like hurting myself when people came on my front porch when I told them not to do so. I resisted the urge then and had not done any self-mutillating other than once years ago in College when I was mad that I could not understand logrithms. And there was a suicide gesture once. But I really am not a person who can imagine harming myself. But you get things bottled up like when I have told people about my situation and some of them seem to have eyes glazed over or even mock me and those that act like they care do not follow up and also seem to later make light of the situation.

    One day, I was upset after being outside for sunshine that I came in and worried about a glove that had green on it. I am always telling my parents not to have gloves right on the edge where I go out the door. I had been feeling stronger like I could brush things aside. But I was mad and wanted to make a point. I was in front of my dad and started scratching at myself because I wanted to bleed. It was not coming out too well so I kept scratching on both sides, My dad is thinking this is so funny and laughing all the while. I think he may have affect disorder. Finally, I get it to blood really nicely and he is thinking it is so funny. With my ocd, I was very upset aftwerwards due to worries about it being contaminated. So when I have felt like making myself bleed again, I think of that and don’t do it. My mom really gets mad at me. My parents are of a different faith. She says that what I do is not something someone of my faith should do. I know she is right. Again, I am usually not in a place where I want to hurt myself. I hate pain too so I don’t do things to create pain. I was like numb at the time that I did it to the feelings, I think. I know people addicted to cutting so I am glad that I am not addicted or anything.

    I will add a little more in a moment and hopefully round it off on a positive note.

  46. just venting on July 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Although the self-harm incidents were within months, I have often thought I was in a pretty good place much of the time even then. I can often feel happy. I have not had serious depression for a long time. Maybe my subconscious is a wreck, but on the surface I often feel pretty good.

    I have pondered that maybe some people have other purposes in life and that maybe the domestic scene is not mine. I do recall my dear elderly neighbor who said that sometimes in life we have to do things that we do not like. I also believe that people can be cheerful doing housework or other work. It is good to have a tidy house. Yet, I read a letter to an advice columnist where someone pointed out that she grew up in a home and I think said the floor may have never been cleaned. She said she had loving parents who I think both had graduate degrees. She said not to always judge things by the environment.

    I used to have low self-esteem and had internalized so much of what my dad told me. I was also afraid I would not do well in school. Through the years in the Gospel after converting and positive experiences at school as well as what I learned at school and surprising myself at being able to hold a job despite my spacey nature, I have a pretty good self-esteem in a lot of areas. I am ashamed at times.

    In my later years in College, I realized how much I love abstract thinking. In addition, I think my thinking in some areas can be very good at times. Maybe I just think so. If it were not for my years of mental abuse, possible learning disabilities, and the many, many, many ways that ocd humbles me, I may be so arrogant that nobody would like me. Also, my disabilties have made people protective of me at times and made me accessable from others. So there can be a purpose in it all.

    Maybe I am not tieing this enough to housework. But I want to shift gears to talk about my true love, research. I dreamed that the person who took me in what not only teach me to clean and cook but that they would be a mentor to me. I have so many diverse interests that I don’t know if anybody could be the right mentor for me. Also, I am a bit whimsical too and I would not someone who would be the right mix and not too dry if you know what I mean. I really think that maybe a compreshensive program might help me. I read about a woman with a learning disability where she did not process visual things correctly and was having trouble reading slides. Somebody helped her to compensate for this by training her how to view the slides. I don’t think just anybody could help me learn how to clean or be independent. It would take more than a psychologist. I think I would need more in the ways of an Occupational Therapist.

    If none of the things I worry about in my head come true, then I will be very happy come the end of this life provided God is happy with me.

    Right now I don’t think I would want to leave home unless the man that I really love in California has a change of heart about me. :) But I don’t blame him if he would not want to marry me. Given the above, how could I blame anybody.

    But things are usually very good. I have fun at home spending time with family much of the time.

    And back to my true love of research. I subscribed to an online site that has Academic Journals and I can research to my hearts content. I can read access articles that you can not get on normal search engine searches. I am not sure to what end all of this research will lead. I do things with the hope that it may serve a good purpose. Even if it gives me something to occupy my mind, that is worthwhile. Well, I probably better go back into lurking status here. I hope I did not make anybody mad about being so open and all.

  47. gc on July 5, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    JV… I’m glad you wrote again. Sharing like this may be a risk, but who knows, it may be a risk worthwhile.

    I’m new here, so I can’t say how long this particular blog will remain open. For as long as it’s open, I’m willing to listen, and to share – if it helps. And it appears that most of the other regular bloggers have moved on to other threads, so hijacking this one for a little while may not be too bad.

    In reading your comments, there is a lot going on. I’m not well trained in the human psyche, so I feel like I am missing much that others may not. There are many underlying issues, but some are so subtle that I can not put my finger on them. So for now, we can just share our thoughts, and see where this leads.

    It’s interesting that your ocd could be the possible result of some abusive behavior in your childhood. I also had parents that were abusive. And they had parents that were abusive. And their parents were probably that was as well. I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase – the sins of the father are visited upon the son. It’s a cycle – parent to child, etc – that is difficult to break.

    Growing up, I got beat a few times when I wasn’t a “good boy”. But the beatings were nothing compared to the emotional stress placed on me. I grew up believing that I was never good enough. So it became a constant battle in my life to be just that – good enough. Then, at some point it got to where being good enough wasn’t even good enough, I had to be perfect. Arrrrgggggg. I could tell you story on top of story about my strive to be perfect. From work, to hobbies, to relationships, to… everything! But I’ll leave those in the bin for now.

    There is one that I’ld like to share though…

    Because I had this immense desire to be perfect (for a parent who was just as dysfuntional as I was) when I left home I began to question everything about my life. Specially the church, Christ, God, and everything spiritual. My belief was that, if my own parent could not accept me in my own imperfection, how could God accept me. I wasn’t perfect, and my struggle to be so consumed me. It consumed me to the point that I began to reject the church, and everything that I had been taught as a child about God. Salvation wasn’t for me, because I was not perfect, and could never be so. So I was not worth saving.

    During my darkest days, the OCD and the depression were bad. Outwardly, most people would have said I was pretty normal. But inside, I was a mess.

    Fortunately for me, I have a couple of brothers who never gave up on me. At their continual prodding, in my late 30’s I began to re-investigate the church. It paved the way for me to open my mind to the possibility of being active in the church again. Then, I met my wife when I was 40, and it was with her, and through her, that I was able to transition to the life I live today. Sure, I still have my dysfunctions. And I don’t think I will ever be cured of the ocd that occassionally hounds me. But life is so much better now. And I’ll tell you why…

    For the first time since I can remember, I realize I don’t have to be perfect to be loved, to be accepted, or even to be forgiven.

    So now – this is the concept I live my life by…

    “From perfect knowledge – comes perfect understanding. From perfect understanding – comes perfect love. And from perfect love – comes perfect forgiveness.” … God has perfect knowledge of all things, and because of this his understanding and love and forgiveness of me is complete. I can accept me for who I am because I know that God accepts me.

    Since I made that turn in my life, my dysfunctions and my ocd no longer control me. No, they are not gone altogether, but they are at a minimum now.

    Whether it comes to cleaning, or researching, or whatever you are doing at the time, God loves you exactly as you are. The struggle for us is accepting that love.

  48. jv on July 5, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    GC, it means so incredibly much that you would invite me to continue to vent. I don’t think I will want to after what I say now. I sure hope the people at T and S don’t mind all I am saying. I have had friends that I vented with online by email. That has helped some. I did not feel that I could share with them about the couple times I self-mutiliated within recent months. I don’t want to be one of those friends that startles friends. In addition, I don’t like to continue to vent to friends about bad times.

    I do feel the combination of the following is what may make me feel bottled up at time and want to harm myself. My dad thinks abuse is funny. Don’t get me wrong, I think he is a good person. He has tremendous compassion towards some people and is generous to a fault. I don’t think he really remembers a lot of what he has done. He is very intelligent with a IQ just a few shorts shy of a genius. Yet, he may not be all there. When he is like a man man, he is most certainly not there. It is hard when you see this side of him resurface even briefly and it is not like I feel I can email a friend and say that he was like that. Fortunately, it was short-lived and did not escalate to violence although I was worried that it would. He has such a nice side to him.

    My parents do so much for me. And they help me function and are usually very nice to me. I don’t understand why they can’t just clear the path out the door to the house. My mom will usually watch me go out and make sure I don’t bump the things on the table such as the gloves. I feel like it is not a lot to ask not to have those things there. Really I think they accomodate me far more in so many other areas. I also have this thing about Old English and that was when I mutilated the other time in recent months. Only that time I was taking a pair of finger nail-like sizzors. It was like the blood wasn’t coming at first. But I was relieved to see the blood. I started crying like a baby. I intended to show my parents anyways to let them know what they drive me to when they have Old English about or use it. It is like they buy it by the case or something and I have to see it in different places sometimes. But right now, it is not really anywhere that I normally go. And they don’t use it on the floors much as I freak out so much. I know self-abusers usually want secrecy. But I wanted my parents to know both times. But then I would feel so bad if they actually changed their behavior for me. They did not move the gloves on any ongoing basis for me or at all. Those are gloves that they work in the yard with. I would of felt just sick if they have. I don’t like to seek power in bad ways. There have been a lot of times when I would have liked to make suicide gestures, but did not want to draw that kind of attention. My only suicide gesture was when I was almost 16 and felt a need to get out of drivers ed.

    I feel bottled up because people never follow up to ask if my dad is having any episodes. Asking someone if they are okay is not the same as asking point blank if there are episodes.

    And I feel like maybe people write me off as being a little manic or write me off because of my ocd in ways that they rationalize that it is okay for me to be in a bad environment.

    I have never had therapy for abuse. OCD therapy usually does not dwell on the why. But I would tell how bad things were in my home at the time. My Psychiatrist just kind of looked at me. My Psychologist seemed more sympathetic but minimized it by saying how people had done worse. When my dad hit me on my head(I think with the palm of his hand a few times), I told my therapists. She said to prepare to move out in about a month. Yet, she gave me no resources or help. And eventually, the most she said about abuse was to ask, “How is dear ol’ dad?” So I didn’t say much more. My dad would go all crazy when I went to therapy and made me stop going to her. My Psychiatrist did say I should move out after there was a physical incident but never followed up. He did suggest that I get a boarding list from school and did. I had a lady I was going to move in with, but I think my parents saw her number and sabatoged it. But now I am at the point where my mom helps me get dressed and out the door. I have been mocked by others when seeking help as well. And those who told me to move out never provided resources. Once I decided to email a home teacher even after a former Home Teacher had told me that I needed to hug my dad and tell him I lived him when he hit me. Other people said to call my Bishop but I did not at that point. And I am glad I did because maybe he would be under a legal obligation to have me call the police. I would not want to get my dad in trouble with the law. He has never seriously hurt me. It was years later when I wrote this new Home Teacher as I thought mabye being a doctor that he would help. He was very nice saying that what I went through broke his heart and said there are services to help me and told me to start with my Bishop and Stake President. I did not want to go that route so I write him back saying that I was going to take an online writing course as if I was going to be a reclusive that I should make the most of it. Also, I guessed that services that he meant might have been like welfare and I have this thing about not taking welfare. Maybe that is stupid of me. But he never followed up. You would think a person could follow up or something. But domestic situations are complicated and people often back out of moving out.

    Things are so much better than they used to be. And I am often spoiled. Therefore, I feel like a baby venting. And I watch signs when things start getting bad and fortuntately they do not escalate. One of the things that used to make me so nervous was when my dad would break things and I don’t think he has done that for a long time.

    My dad is one to tell people they are stupid. And yet, he has told me I am smart in other ways.

    Also, I seem to go from one extreme to another in how I feel before the Lord. After being a member of the Church for a time, I felt God’s love so much. I felt so worthy. I had repressed something that happened to me by someone close to my age that would later make me feel very unworthy. It is not like I did not know it happened all the while. I was rather disconnected type of person. I tried so hard to be good and when my dad was at his craziest I was like this sweet woman in my 20’s trying to please him and be an example so that maybe he would become LDS. Later, I would become bitter towards my dad and chalk everything he did whether he was being nice or mean to the abuse cycle. Now I believe that deep down he is good and when he is nice to me that he is sincere. It has been so important for me to believe that my dad is good.

    I would also with my ocd feel so unworhty like I am probably going to go to Outer Darkness. Later people would tell me that my worries were not real. I hate to think what would have happened if I had not been met with kindness with Priesthood leaders. I was so vulnerable it so close to a break. I don’t know what would have happened if they made me feel like a sinner rather than treating me so kindly. They even offered to pay for my ocd therapy and I took them up on it for a couple of sessions but then started paying on my own. I had insurance from work that kicked in as well. Now, I think there is hope for me in the hereafter. I am scared because of my ocd.

    I may actually see someone in regards to ocd, but it is someone that my dad knows so I don’t know if I can talk about trauma. I really would prefer abuse therapy to ocd therapy. It is hard to talk about ocd and I have only touched the tip of the iceburg of all the ocd things that I worry about. Plus, I worry that he might make me worse. What if he tells me that some of things I worry about are a risk to others though others have told me it is okay. I survive by rehearsing things that others have told me that things are in my head. I don’t always know if something fits in the same box, but I try to assure myself that it does. There are some situations that are just too painful that I avoid at all cost generally. And they really make me want to kill myself right there and then. But then I think about how I would be doing what I fear most. I would be killing somebody.

    It is not like I have not forgiven those who have abused me. And if my dad would be all contrite at this stage of the game, that would upset my balance as I have reconcilled myself to all of this. I say that knowing that as I was hurting myself in his presence that I was trying to make him connect to how he has hurt me.

    I have a lot of positive releases. And I feel that I have arrived at a pretty good understanding of things.

    GC, it means so much that you were willing to listen. I don’t think I have more to say. After all, you have almost my life story here. Having felt ignored at times, I am so grateful that someone cares. When I get in a bad place, I think of those people that were nice to me and it helps me cope. Knowing there are kind people helps me to cope. If you were single, I could vent more in private. Due to my problems, I have to be careful about venting to married men. Thank you again.

  49. gc on July 6, 2007 at 9:26 am

    JV… If your Dad is bi-polar, I can certainly understand the difficulties that have come from that. Bi-polar is nothing to sneeze at. They can be cheery one minute and manic the next. I don’t know if my parent was bi-polar or not, but it could have been something like that.

    Anyway… Let’s move on from the gloom now.
    I want to share a fun little story with ya.

    Over the years I’ve had several re-accurring dreams. One of them concerns a house. This house is always the same house, but in each dream it is different. In the beginning it was an average size house, with the average type of ammenities. Nothing really special to speak of, except for two things. It always had hidden rooms – rooms that I had difficulty finding or accessing, but I knew would be beautiful and wonderful once found. And it always had a basement – that was always in a state of disrepair – a place full of dread and anxiety.

    Later on though, this house got bigger and bigger. The basement gradually went away, and the hidden rooms became easier and easier to find. Sometimes the house would have unique ammenities, like once it had a bowling alley in it, and once it had a big gym connected to it, and once it sat on a large estate with a golf course all its own.

    Then there have been times when the house had it’s odd, quirky features. One time the house was all crooked. The floors were all at a slant, and the walls were never straight. But it wasn’t crooked by mistake, it was crooked by design, which made it really cool. And then once there was a night-club in the house. Only at this night-club, everyone drank non-alcoholic drinks and danced to celebrate life.

    I never used to talk about the “House” dream, because I didn’t want people to think I was weird. But I always told my wife about it whenever I had a dream about it. She would always analyze it, thinking it had some deep and important meaning. Then one night a couple years back, I had the same dream and told her about it in the morning. This time, instead of trying to analyze it, she simply told me I was dreaming about my eternal house. …… I thought about this a bit, and concluded that maybe she was right.

    The dream started when I was a young adult, inactive in the church. The hidden rooms (the wonderful rooms) were hard to find, and the basement – so full of dread and anxiety – was always the most prominent feature. Then, as my life transitioned, the basement went away and the hidden rooms became easier to find and access. Eventually these rooms weren’t even hidden, but were prominent features of the house. Also, the house went from small in the beginning, to a very grand house sitting prominently in the town or on an estate in later dreams.

    So now I have reason for hope. Despite all my faults and failings in my younger adult years… If this house represents my eternal abode, then maybe – just maybe – I’m on the right track now. :-)

    GC

  50. jv on July 6, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    GC, that is a very cool house with amazing ammenities. Thank you for sharing.

    Also, you paragraph that you wrote yesterday that talks about perfect understanding and perfect love from God is very beautiful.

    I should add that my dad has never been diagnosed as bipolar. However, he has never gone to any mental health professionals to my knowledge. I just look at his behavior where he has so much production at times and is so driven that he has to produce. He can go from being very funny to irate. He really can be like an older brother who likes to tease at times. Much of the time he, my mom and I are really good pals. And any bad times in recent years have been fleeting enough that I can take it.

    I just thought of something ironic that I want to add. My dad coached a lot of sports. He was very known for breaking things down to the basic. We had very cool drills. Although i did not master all the techniques, I learned a lot of sports. I used to slide like a pro. There were a couple times when he was very belligerent. In pitching, I never brought up my hip like I should and one time there was a physically abusive incident regarding that. Also, the first time I ever recall him yelling at me really mean was when he was teaching me a jump shot around fifth grade. But for the most part, he was good at teaching sporting techniques. If he had broke down cleaning like that, maybe I would know how to clean better.

    The following is something that I wanted to express for a long time but I don’t know if I ever remembered to tell any of my friends. I don’t really like to vent to them much about abuse any more. I don’t want to be a broken record…

  51. jv on July 6, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    I got called away. I feel guilty venting when they bought my favorite Supper from a Mexican place. And it had tamales too!

    But I have wanted to express this for a long time for whatever it is worth. As I have mentioned, I do not feel I can clean correctly no matter what type of cleaning is involved. I also do not think I do good at yard work.

    What I prefer to do is the automatic task of carying a box from point a to point b including up or down stairs. I would prefer to have someone hand me the box as I do not have good lifting technique, but so far I have been fortunate when lifting. I have not had back problems for a long time and never very serious. I like to carry the box to someone else where they can place it where they want it. After carrying a few boxes, it can be too challenging spatially where to place them so having someone else place them where they need to go is ideal. But I do like carrying those boxes!

  52. jv on July 6, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    GC, reading what you said about houses and features was actually kind of uncanny for me. I don’t always dream about the same house. And sometimes I think it is my grandparent’s ranch house, but there are added features. I think I have had dreams with houses with night club like or ballroom like settings in them.

    I also have dreams with houses with all sorts of hidden rooms and maybe they are one in the same. I am often being chased and try to go through hidden room after hidden room to get away. I also have dreamed of going to a safe house in the neighborhood. I don’t know if there are houses like that. There are for kids after school if they are scared, but it is not a shelter or anything. One time, I thought that no matter what that my dad would haunt me. If he died I figured his ghost would haunt me. I thought that even if I moved to Australia that he would hunt me down to torment me. This was during the period when there were lots of screaming episodes and I think he was so down on me more than most periods. It was probably very unrealistic. While my dad and mom have not wanted me to move out most of the time, I don’t think he would terrorize me if I did. But I was scared then. I also figured if I killed myself that my punishment might have to do with having to see him all the time when I was dead.

    In recent years, I have come to see my dad as my protector. I really have been scared when I am alone in a house at time. There was something that happened that we were spared when I was in about the 7th grade. If my dad were not home that night, my mom may have been raped. He got up stark raving mad and cussing when my mom said there was someone in the window. There were other women raped in the neighborhood. Someone else my mom knew from our school was almost a victim. He must have had his timing off and I think that is why he came to our house a little earlier as my dad would have left later. My dad used a lot of vacation and would have people come over and they would spy through our privacy fence to see if anybody was going through the alleys. When my dad woke up from sleep and my mom said someone was in the window, he was like the incredible hulk. That man probably would have been very hurt.

    In about the third grade, I was at a neighborhood drug store with my best friend and it was robbed. Three men did it and at one point they held a gun on us. I thought I was going to die. Home situation was good in those days and school was great. My mom said I was white as a ghost.

    I have seen my dad be the champion for people that he thought needed saving from circumstances. He fought to get his father-in-law out of a nursing home that he thought was a bad environment. He had tunnel vision at that time and that was his sole cause. He visited his father-in-law several times a day. He also slept over at a friend’s home after his mom died and he was having a lot of flashbacks from Vietnamn. He would stay up to the late hours with this friend as he was afraid to go to bed.

    I am not often afraid to come home. Usually I look forward to getting off of work. And when I am afraid, it’s not like I think my dad is going to beat me or anything like that. He just may be a little more explosive.

    Much of the time it is such a great place to be these days.

  53. gc on July 7, 2007 at 10:52 am

    JV… When I was at college, in one of my Lit classes, we played a little game.

    Here’s how the game goes.
    Name 3 items that you think best represent you, describing how it is that they represent you.

    I’ll go first.

    1) My Leather Loafers. These guys are old, and worn, but easy going and confortable. Like me, with a little sprucing up (leather oil in the case of the shoes) they could be a good fit for any occassion.

    2) My Telivision Chair. This old guy is like an old friend, patiently waiting for me to come home and sit in it to watch an old movie. Though he’s not much to look at these days, he’s extremely comfortable.

    3) My Pocket Knife. This guy is always there, ready for anything. Handy for any moment, ready to serve, willing to work hard and get dirty – but can polish up nice when needed.

    That’s kind of how I see myself. Easy going. Comfortable to be around. And a hard-worker, ready to serve.

    If you decide to play, remember that the 3 items you choose have to accentuate the positive in you.

  54. jv on July 7, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I answered this earlier but there must have been problems so I will try again. It was not an easy exercise for me. I really relate to metaphors although I may not always understand me. The ability for the ordinary to stand for something else or teach something amazes me. The light bulb really went on a few years ago. I feel I am in touch with myself, but it was hard to find objects to say what I want them to say about me. I have a rather Spartan life because I have few personal possessions although my parents have a lot of things. I may not necessarily own these objects myself.
    1. remote control: changes channels from History, Movie Channels, Music Choice, Cooking Channels, etc.
    2. needle and thread: makes repairs to clothe and can afix one object to another object
    3. recorders whether audio or visual takes they allow one to play back the past later
    How they apply to me
    1. remote control: I have a lot of different interest that I shift gears to from time to time. I also can shift registers and relate to a variety of different people. I can be serious or silly depending on who I am with and the situation.
    2. needle and thread: In small ways, I try to keep in touch with my family and connect them to one another. I am by no means the glue that holds it all together but I try to let family members know the positive that is going on in each others’ lives from time to time to keep us together. I can also sometimes through experience or understanding help a patch a person up a little.
    3. recorder: I often feel that I have gone through life observing although I was not aware how much of it I was doing years ago. I was just being quiet and not aware how much I would recall and later analyze. A good director can take it and edit it together to tell a story and tie it together. I am often writing things in my head. I really enjoy doing character sketches of people that I have known.

  55. jv on July 7, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    gc, thank you for keeping the conversation going. I usually get embassed when I am so open on blogs and exile myself. I plan to exile myself forever but when you keep reading a blog there often comes a point when you want to say a little something. I think that I experience the virtual equivalent to social anxiety sometimes after I am so often. And when I am open and what I say is ignored completely, it makes me think that people must think I am odd. I realize that threads get old and that many responses do not get any affirmations. In addition, I have a strong part of me that thinks seeking validation is a very poor thing. And yet, I have wanted to belong a lot at blogs. Because of my insecurities, I usually end up having to leave blogs. I have managed to make a lot of friends on forums though. I really look up to bloggers on the group blogs and some of the individual blogs. I know it is probably a little pathetic but if someone just says my name and maybe will remark even slightly about a comment that I made, I feel so good. I don’t like people to be patronizing. But it is nice to feel that you are not invisible. I realize that a better place to vent may be on a personal blog. Yet, my online journal that is part of a LDS forum is very positive in tone. I have done guest blogs for a friend and will address issues but only if they are part of a larger theme. I don’t like to appear self-absorbed. I have said a lot to online friends about my past, but I get to the point where I don’t want to broach the subject. I don’t want to be associated with all that. I have even tried to establish friendships on academic subjects of interest so that my life would not spill into it. I usually don’t like to share problems with friends. And I feel guilty if I say things about my dad to people that I actually know in person. I have had a lot of friends that have no idea. And those that I have told, do not seem to bring things up again and it really does not even seem to stick in some cases. It is funny how I have had people vent and vent about their pasts and they think I came from a “Leave it to Beaver” home. Well, that really would have been true to my earliest years. I don’t like to be stuck in the past. I do feel that being so open has done me some good. I would like to say I am extremely altruistic in all this. I like to think what I do is for a greater or more noble good. I hate to be selfish. While there is the hope that something I say may help give another understanding, I am so glad that I have said all this for me. Maybe I will be more normal and less impulsive in the future. Well, people often repeat patterns. So I will probably do or say stupid things in the future. It is so great to relate to others. I don’t want to be the center of attention. But I don’t want to be a wall flower either. Well, I am probably talking in circles so I will close for now.

  56. gc on July 8, 2007 at 12:02 am

    I understand. Sometimes you just need to be noticed. I can’t think of one person I’ve ever known who hasn’t felt that need at some point in their lives. My wife is the closest person I can think of who is like that. She’s very happy sitting back and letting others get the acknowledgement, or the credit – and often for the work she’s done.

    Myself, I love to do good for others. I love to serve. But I also enjoy being acknowledged for the service I’ve given. And she sometimes reminds that true service is given knowing that no acknowledgement will be returned. She’s an angel that way!

    I have a feeling this thread may be closed soon (it’s been open for quite awhile now, and seems we are the last ones left on it), I just want to wish you the best of luck with your life, and finding that special someone who can help you be all that you can be.

  57. jv on July 8, 2007 at 12:25 am

    GC, thanks for your well wishes. And if that person does not come along, I will try to make the most of my life. I don’t plan to be back to this thread. Thank you for showing that you understand much of what I feel.

  58. gc on July 8, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Your welcome.