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Fifty Years In Polygamy Big Secrets and Lit tle White Lies

Kristyn Decker


Copyright Š 2012 by Kristyn Decker. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. ISBN: 978-1-4525-4998-9 (sc) ISBN: 978-1-4525-4999-6 (e) ISBN: 978-1-4525-5000-8 (hc) Library of Congress Control Number: 2012905865 Balboa Press books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting: Balboa Press A Division of Hay House 1663 Liberty Drive Bloomington, IN 47403 www.balboapress.com 1-(877) 407-4847 Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them. The author of this book does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician, either directly or indirectly. The intent of the author is only to offer information of a general nature to help you in your quest for emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In the event you use any of the information in this book for yourself, which is your constitutional right, the author and the publisher assume no responsibility for your actions. Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only. Certain stock imagery Š Thinkstock. Printed in the United States of America Balboa Press rev. date: 07/10//12


Contents Preface .............................................................................................vii Acknowledgments..............................................................................ix Chapter 1: The Beginning and Little Sophie .....................................1 Chapter 2: Dad’s Drills .................................................................... 11 Chapter 3: God’s False Promises .....................................................13 Chapter 4: My Salvation ..................................................................20 Chapter 5: Bad and Stupid Sophie ...................................................26 Chapter 6: Our Catastrophes ............................................................33 Chapter 7: Polygyville, Friends, Foes, and Shame ..........................37 Chapter 8: Garments, a New Mother, and Siblings .........................41 Chapter 9: Boys and High School Angst .........................................46 Chapter 10: Engagement and Marriage ...........................................53 Chapter 11: Teaching, Firstborn, and First-wife Duties...................59 Chapter 12: First Separation and Diane ...........................................63 Chapter 13: Discovering Abuses: The Torment ...............................70 Chapter 14: Birth Control and Priesthood Duties ............................74 Chapter 15: Evil Ervil ......................................................................79 Chapter 16: Prospective Plural Wives, and Death in Childbirth ......81 Chapter 17: Murder of Our Prophet .................................................87 Chapter 18: Courtship Agony ..........................................................92 Chapter 19: Unbearable Jealousy.....................................................96 Chapter 20: Overboard Self-sacrifice.............................................102 Chapter 21: Poverty and Dumpster Diving ....................................108 Chapter 22: Truth and Consequences ............................................ 114 Chapter 23: Friendship from God ..................................................127


Chapter 24: A Noble Deity of Love ...............................................135 Chapter 25: Demoted to Nothingness ............................................142 Chapter 26: Coming Out of the Closet—Courage to Heal or Die .150 Chapter 27: The Friendship from God Ends ..................................161 Chapter 28: Reconciliation ............................................................166 Chapter 29: Our First Honeymoon ................................................171 Chapter 30: Work, College, and Religious Perpetrators ................174 Chapter 31: Graduation and Moving On .......................................181 Chapter 32: Following My Dreams ...............................................187 Chapter 33: My Year in Cedar City ...............................................195 Chapter 34: Calling It Quits ...........................................................202 Chapter 35: Leaving My Sanctuary ...............................................210 Chapter 36: For Better or For Worse .............................................220 Chapter 37: Places in Hell..............................................................227 Chapter 38: Enough Is Enough ......................................................234 Chapter 39: Between Then and Now .............................................246


Preface

T

en years ago, when I left my thirty-two-year marriage, I pledged to write about my fifty years in polygamy. My agenda back then was a mile long. “If only they knew this and that and . . . !” At the very least, I figured readers should see the goodness as well as the bad and the ugly in all of us wannabe saints. However, with each developing chapter, it became clear that all my prior motives to publish this book were quickly diminishing in importance. Rather, writing itself became the catalyst; it reflected the shifting and relocating of my values and beliefs, and it was my soul’s way of transcribing my own philosophical conclusions. The significance of what I started to write was no longer mine to determine. In Fifty Years in Polygamy, I tell the stories of that part of my life. This book is about my perceptions and realities—as I saw and felt them. As we are all aware, our own truth depends on which side of the elephant we were standing on. Most of my thoughts, memories, and opinions concerning religious beliefs and doctrines came to me from my parents and our fundamentalist leaders, as well as from meetings, journals, letters, and religious books. These too, are based on opinions, and no doubt many readers will disagree with them. Though many of my years in polygamy were full of sorrow, they were also mingled with pleasant times and laughter, as well as neverending opportunities for personal awareness and improvement. I wouldn’t trade the person I am, the things I’ve learned, or where I’m at today, to have lived my life differently during those fifty years. The experiences of those years, I believe, are the reasons I can now rejoice in true happiness and an abundance of love and life.

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The conversations that are quoted (unless referenced) come from my own memories and journals as well as my mother’s journals and family stories; they may not reflect the other person’s memories or the exact words. To respect the privacy of those who requested that I not write about them, and even those who gave me permission to, I’ve changed many of the names in this book, as well as a handful of dates and places.

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Acknowledgments

M

y first and foremost gratitude is always to my near-perfect husband LeRoy, who never ceases to amaze me with his love, support, wisdom, and generosity. He encouraged and sometimes prodded me to start writing, and to keep writing, especially when there were episodes that were excruciating to re-tell and remember. He held me through many bouts of anguish and often cried with me in recounting some of the most dismal times. LeRoy read, listened to, and reread my stories. He asked questions, fixed grammar and spelling mistakes, and read some more— even the love stories that were so difficult for him to contemplate. He was and is still the backbone and spine that held me together whenever I doubted myself or wanted to quit for fear of hurting others. Every day with him brings me more joy than I can comprehend. To Linda Mulleneaux! Without her belief in me and my memoirs, you may not be reading this book. She found me at the Apple Fest in 2010 and said she’d heard from her aunt Deanna, who works at the New Harmony Library, that I’d written a book about my life. Linda wanted to read it and help get it published. So I pulled it off the shelf and started rewriting. Nearly two years later, with the help of my Higher Power, my book is in your hands. Kudos to my darling niece in-law, Mary, who typed so many of the illegible long-hand chapters I’d written. Her help saved me eons of time. Much love and appreciation go to my literate, articulate, well-read friend Suzette. She was the first brave one who muddled through my first scratches of garble, to help make some sense of it. She continued to plough through my final manuscripts and buoyed me onward with much praise and adoration. ix


More gratitude than possible to my friends and editors Elaine Jeffs, Elaine Tyler, and Rhoda Thompson for their valuable input and the hundreds of hours they donated. While they lovingly laughed with me through my many mistakes and the twisted words that attempted to convey the depths of my feelings, they too encouraged me onward. Also my appreciation goes out to Connie Garrison-Wehner, Irene and Hector Spencer, and Donna Goldberg for their donated time and invaluable input. Honor goes to all of my family and loved ones, whether by blood or heart bonds or little of either, for my experiences were both lessons and joys in this life that would never have been the same without you. Lastly, to all of my friends, family, acquaintances, supporters, and readers whose names are not listed: Thank you for your consistent encouragement and interest in my life stories. Thank you so much for reading and for caring.

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Love, joy and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance. —Eckhart Tolle


Chapter 1 The Beginning and Little Sophie 1957

O

n our front porch, which was also used as our laundry room, I climbed out of Mom’s galvanized tin tub half full of cold, murky bathwater ringed with swirls of lye soap residue. The stiff yellow towel that had hung on our clothesline for a whole day felt scratchy around my five-year-old chubby body. Inside our three-bedroom basement house, photos and memorabilia concealed most of Mom’s pastel blue tricot bedspread. I longed to sprawl out and bask on its silky softness. Instead, I gently sat on the corner of the bed and stared at a five-by-seven picture of a younger version of her. I thought my heart would burst with pride. I told her, “Mom, you look so pretty in this picture!” Quickly, she wiped her tears from her cheeks and nose. “What’s the matter, Mom?” I asked. “Oh, nothing,” she replied. “Then why are you crying?” “Oh, I don’t know. It seems like I’m always crying.” To me, my mother was always beautiful no matter her age or whether her eyes glistened with tears or sparkled with joy. In her younger years, my mother, Vera Cooke, was a vivacious, slender, blue-eyed blonde. She loved to hang out with her friends, attend her LDS Church activities, swim, dance, and roller skate—but most of all she loved to hike.

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Kristyn Decker

Listening to my mother reminisce about the happy times in her life was always a joy to me. I pictured her joyous occasions as if they’d someday be mine. “The twelve-mile hike up the steep hill to the Black Canyon Dam was as easy as pie,” Mom told me years later. “I used to pick apples, sell magazine subscriptions, and watch children to earn spending money.” Then Mom blushed as she brought her voice to a whisper, maybe so Dad couldn’t hear. “It was that summer when I was only nineteen years old that I fell for Lee Flinders. He was tall and handsome!” She giggled a little. “We’d been going together for quite some time when a real pretty girl came up and asked me if I was in love with him. You know what I told her? I said, ‘Well, I guess I am in a way,’ but then all of a sudden the words that shot right out of my mouth were, ‘No, I guess not, so you can have him.’” Mother sighed. “I wonder who he married and where he’s living now? Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had stayed with him and not lived plural marriage with your father . . .” After a long pause she said, “Well, you know what, Sophie? I really believe the Lord must have put those words in my mouth to keep me from marrying the wrong man!”

 For many years before my mother was pregnant with me, her “devils” had been driving her mad. She’d been married to my father for sixteen years and been through plenty of heartaches. With my mother’s seven children, my father’s second wife Eleanor’s three children, his third wife Maryann’s son from a previous marriage, and my father and Maryann’s one-year-old son, my father had twelve children to provide for, and another one on the way. According to my mother, it seemed her family was being blown to smithereens. Her sister-wife Eleanor’s ongoing selfinvolved behaviors, Dad’s inability to be fair, and the anguish she felt from her thirteen-year-old daughter Lucinda running away to Colorado City and getting married off—all fragmented her testimony of plural marriage and threatened her salvation. She’d either die of a broken heart, or God would have to intervene. 2

Fifty Years in Polygamy - by Kristyn Decker  

In Fifty Years in Polygamy, I tell the stories of that part of my life. This book is about my perceptions and realities - as I saw and felt...

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