Several years ago, at the age of twenty-eight, I found out that my father is a Bad Man. I had already known he wasn’t a good father. He was a father who belittled his children, who wasted money on his hobbies while his children wore hand-me-downs, who walked around quoting scripture and claiming visions while refusing to treat his family with dignity and respect. I spent my childhood believing my father when he told me I was a dirty, bratty, impossible child, the kind of child that wasn’t worth spending time with. I knew that already. I have spent a lifetime coming to terms with the way my father treated me.
What I hadn’t known was that my father was a Bad Man who has done Bad Things, resulting in him spending the first year of my life in jail. I wish that I could say forget and forgive. But in all honesty, my father displays very little remorse for his actions. He was given twenty-eight years in which he could have demonstrated to me that he was a good man who made a mistake. He did not.I don’t know what role Mormonism played in all of this. Although my father is responsible for his own actions, I suspect that his religion did a lot to downplay the effects. I know that my father was only disfellowshipped for a year, his temple recommend restored to him after being released from jail. He would go on to fill callings as ward clerk, Boy Scout leader, seminary teacher, and temple worker. I know that my mother almost divorced my father but she decided not to after going to marriage counseling from the local CES leader, a man who lacked counseling credentials but was a full-fledged Church employee. I know that I was raised to place absolute faith in the authorities and the priesthood holders, of which my father was one. I know that no one ever stood up to my father: no one ever called him out on his behavior or his lies. He was, in essence, handed a blank check.
Right now, I am at a point where I don’t what to say or do. How do you talk about this, what words can you say? But I do know one thing: the foundation of my life was been built on the refusal of others to face the truth.