A Deaf In The Family: Starting Over (ie Dating) Part 1

He said I drove him sane…

2008

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Slyfoot said he was half deaf, half blind, and half crazy, but I didn’t think it was true.  People say all sorts of weird things about themselves on the internet to make them sound interesting. I’m not sure all those particular ‘half’s’ are all that interesting, but I thought it was just an attention grabber.  

I didn’t know Slyfoot, or Sam as I came to know him later, irl (in real life).  I just thought he was some gamer/hacker/computer geek who was way too into Linux and rosaries.  I never put it all together until we started talking in earnest–and that didn’t happen until after the dream and we were making plans to get married.  By that time it was too late. God had already let me set my own trap and watched quietly as I walked right into it.

I couldn’t blame Him. I had given him permission.  I’d invited him to in a flippant moment. Truth be told, I had practically dared him to.  I didn’t think he’d take me seriously, and I never imagined it would end up the way it did.

It all started two years after my divorce.  I was in my mid thirties. I had four children, but only the two youngest lived with me: E, my daughter, and J, my youngest son.  My two older boys, B and D, lived with their father in the same area we had all lived together before the divorce: Katy, Texas.

At that time, I lived in the northwest of Houston in a decent, inexpensive (relatively speaking), townhome apartment, struggling as a single mother still having a difficult time with my ex, even two years after we split.  

My father told me to start dating.  At this time, my father had been divorced three times and married four times–twice to my mother.  I told him I would work on that, with no intention of doing so. I gave the appearance of respect. I didn’t tell him that he was the last person I’d take advice on romance from, or that I couldn’t understand why he and my mother decided to get back together with him. But being my dad, I did listen and I thought about what he said, but not much more than that.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) we have Wards instead of a Parish.  And instead of a parish priest, we have a Bishop. You can’t switch wards or bishops, as some people outside the Mormon church do, with some special exceptions.  

None of the clergy in the Mormon church is paid.

Temples are not like Ward buildings, where Mormons meet every week to partake of the sacrament, attend Sunday School and auxiliary meetings.  They are sacred places where ordinances are performed that tie us to our families for eternity and give a glimpse of heaven. Only worthy members, those with a recommend, are allowed in the temple.  To obtain this recommend, members have to adhere to the Word of Wisdom–a guideline to a healthy, God directed/centered lifestyle–pay their tithing–1/10th of their increase, be interviewed and found worthy by your bishop and your stake president, who is a little like a Bishop of the several parishes in his district.

Sometime after my father had told me to start dating, I went in to my bishop for a temple recommend interview and he, Bishop Slack, told me that I needed to start dating.  I laughed nervously and told him that my father had said the same thing just a few weeks earlier.

I made no commitments and didn’t do anything more about that admonition than I had my fathers.

When I went into the interview with the stake president, I didn’t expect much small talk.  Stake Presidents have even less time to themselves, and more appointments to get to, than bishops. It was a bit of a surprise then, after the stake president started with the question on how my life had been–the trials of single motherhood, how hard that is in a ward full of functional, intact families–that he told me that I needed to start dating.

I laughed and decided that I better take the advice before one of the Twelve Apostles called me.  I didn’t want to take a chance on getting all the way up the chain to the prophet.

 

Previous chapters can be found

Here (1)

and

Here (2)

A Deaf In The Family: Sam Is Schizo (pt 1)

By Samuel Campbell III –

Around 2002, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. There’s a lot of theories about what causes it. Some think it is psychological, while others think it has to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain. It occurs to me that I’ve never taken the time to write out what it is like to have schizoaffective disorder. What follows is a series of experiences I have had with psychotic breaks. I’m not doing this to elicit sympathy or pity from anyone, but simply to put the experiences down so I have a record of them.

I would think that God, angels, demons, spirits, extraterrestrials or other people could communicate with me in my head. The first time I remember this happening, I was in the parking lot of a grocery store and I thought I had “broken through” into a secret area of heaven. I had what I thought was a conversation with angels who asked me a series of questions. One question I remember in particular was “what is a matrix?” This was many years before the movie The Matrix came out, and when I actually saw the movie, it triggered a remembrance of that long-ago conversation, and precipitated another psychotic breakdown.

I would often think that the television or the radio were sending coded messages to me. For example, my dad was a major fan of the original Star Trek series. Years later I developed a fixation on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I believed held coded messages specifically for me, and that the original series had coded messages for my father.

I often thought that other people were sending coded messages to me through hand gestures or some other body movement. I would also think that if a loud car or motorcycle went by me that it indicated that everyone around me was angry at me, and the the loud motors were “growling” at . I thought there was some kind of hidden purpose in traffic patterns. For example, if a car went by me to the left, I would think it meant I was supposed to go left. If a car went by me on the right, I would think it meant I was supposed to go right.

Most of the psychotic delusions occurred during periods of intense religiosity. Curiously enough, when I wasn’t particularly interested in religion or when I outright disbelieved in God, I never seemed to suffer from any of these symptoms. My mother was of the opinion that it meant that the devil was trying to destroy my mind. And for a long time I actually believed that too.

One of the earliest memories I have of a psychotic break occurred when I was living with my best friend and his wife. I was extremely agitated and confused that day, and I think I was challenging God to reveal himself to me. I don’t know what led me to do this, but I decided I would try an experiment. I took a bowl and filled it up with water. I then poured the water all over myself in my bedroom. After that I took a wire hanger, straightened out the hook, and stuck it into an electric wall socket. I received no shock. Since I didn’t die from doing this, I became convinced I was immortal. I opened up the window to my bedroom and pushed the screen out. I then jumped out of the window. Since I only lived on the second story, I was not seriously hurt. In fact, I landed on my feet. For a long time after this, I was convinced I was immortal somehow.

A lot of the religious delusion revolved around what I felt was my place in a “spiritual war.” I was convinced that I was a “warrior” of some kind for God. This particular delusion was coincidentally reinforced by a Pentecostal “prophet” who delivered a prophecy over me that also stated I was going to be a great “spiritual warrior” and that I would be a “father in the house of God.”

Because I have tinnitus, I often experience a persistent ringing in my ears. I would sometimes interpret these ringings as angels trying to guide me on the right way. If I was thinking something, and my left ear would ring, I would interpret that to mean that I was on the wrong track. If I was thinking something and my right ear would start ringing, I would interpret that to mean I was on the right track.

Since I never knew who my real biological father was, I would sometimes become paranoid that I was the antichrist. I also thought at one point that my father was Lee Harvey Oswald. I thought I received a vision once of who my real biological father was while I was watching television. There was some golf professional playing on a beautiful green field, and I somehow ‘knew’ that this was my real father. I was happy that he was enjoying himself.

Continued in part 2 next week.

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Sometimes The Magic Works

They’re making fun of my underwear again…  But I guess that’s what happens when a Mormon runs for political office on a national stage.

Because I am in a deaf branch of the LDS church (IE Mormon church), I get a lot of text messages from numbers I don’t recognize.  The deaf, in my experience, often change phones and numbers, and it is difficult to keep up with those changes.  So when I got a message from a random, out of town number, I didn’t think it very strange:

Since this was Family Home Evening night, a good deal of my family (my brother, his wife and son, and my father) were with me already, leaving only two sisters and two brothers this could possibly be.  But none of them had the name “Cales” in their family that I knew of.  I considered calling my mother, but decided that it was better just to ask for clarification first.

Kara is my best friend.  Erin is her sister.   Neither Kara nor Erin is deaf.  Both are members of the LDS Church (Mormons).

When it comes to “miracles” the definition from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary is:

1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
Most of the time, Mormons aren’t looking for the parting of the Red Sea, or fish turned into loaves, or manna from the sky.  What we usually recognize as a miracle is something like this:

My husband and I are perfectly willing to do temple work for friends.  Most of mine is completed as far as it can be done and my husband still has pedigree’s that need to be filled out.  We enjoy going to the temple and the spirit of peace we feel there.  It is the one place we can truly feel in the world and not of it.

Now that there are more questions about Mormons and temples and what we believe, there are also more criticisms, mockings and belittlings.  That’s okay, we are kinda used to it.  When I was still a teenager, The Godmakers came out.  I was told by many of my Protestant friends “Did you know you believe (fill in blanks with misinformation and propaganda)?”  Why no, I didn’t know that I believed that.  I did study my religion every day at seminary, and I had done baptisms for the dead.  I knew what it felt like to be IN the temple.

Because it is restricted to worthy members of the church, most people in the world do not know what it’s like to be in an LDS temple.  There are opportunities to visit a temple before it opens, called open houses, and you can always walk the grounds or go to the visitors centers.  Many people visit temple open houses and live to talk about it.  Even liberals are allowed to visit the temple at those times.

Lots of people mock Mormons.  Anti-Mormon sites are a dime a dozen.  We, as Mormons, take this all in stride, and sometimes even laugh along.  We are full of self deprecating humor.  But there are the rare occasions, like this article in the Huffpo, when people are evenhanded and fair and the members feel like there is a little more room to breathe.

You can mock Mormons and temples and garments, their belief that they are granted special blessings and protections for using them, but most of the people that wear garments and go to temples are true believers.  Call it ‘magic underwear’ if you want, but sometimes… the magic works.