Hi and welcome to my little corner of the World-Wide-Web!
I’m Stephany Spencer, Freelance Author blogging my Memoir: “Fleeing Polygamy:” How I escaped 5th-generation Mormon fundamentalism, White slavery, and education-deprivation to graduate with multiple degrees, survive, and thrive.
My autobiography reveals secrets and lies — Stuff they didn’t want you to realize. It’s a story of growing up poor, poorly educated, and deprived in Mormon fundamentalist cults where I was married off at sixteen to a polygamist; then manage to escape, graduate from UCLA with a BA; and CSUN with a Teaching Credential and Post Graduate work, triumphing over seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s a story for those who say it can’t be done.
In my blog, I’m unveiling “all-things-LeBaron,” including my shoot-from-the-hip surreal saga of how I survived stunting child abuse in secluded, extremist cults: The FLDS in Short Creek; then my uncle Joel and Ervil LeBaron’s now fairly extinct cult headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.
In 1967, at age twenty-one, I managed to flee the criminal LeBaron cult; escaped with only my three-year-old toddler, a suitcase, and $5.00 to my name — and lucky to have about six years of formal education from mostly Utah’s small-town schools.
Part of this education took place in infamous Short Creek/ AKA, Colorado City, Arizona/Utah’s one-room schoolhouse that hosted grades first through fifth under the tutelage of Mrs.Verda Lartzen. The rest is My-story … Her-story … History, with much credit going to the good ole USA and my Higher Power.
Five months after escaping the LeBaron cult, and not having set foot in a classroom for over seven years — or since I was 14; nor having had 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grades; i.e., High School — I, nonetheless, miraculously started college in Los Angeles, California:
Earned an Associate of Arts degree in Music; graduated from UCLA in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology — And attained a Teacher’s Credential and Post-graduate work from California State University, Northridge, in 1976, specializing in Liberal Arts and Bilingual Ed.
Presently I’m a member of the California Writers Club (https://cwc-sfv.org) where I officiated as Program Chair and helped with Hospitality. I was also a member of Champagne Toastmasters (https://ChampagneToastmasters). And have been a longtime participant in Songmakers (https://Songmakers.org).
Ever a Creative, the world is my oyster
and I a pearl forming within her …
heading for the “pearly” gates.
Life is my canvas on which I
purposely paint with gusto
all the while it dinamically
sweeps me along to
increasingly new dimensions!
I’ve learned you either live or die.
Bob Dylan so aptly reminds us of this
in a line borrowed from the late, great
singer-songwriter, Woodie Guthrie:
“If you aren’t busy livin’,
you’re busy dyin’.”
So here’s to life!
I’m tryin’ —
Yes, I am;
Though I ain’t thru cryin’,
Cheers and “L’ Chaim!”
(By Stephany Spencer-LeBaron)
“Think in terms of possibilities.”
~MY MEMOIR BLOG~
… But others there are, who, of necessity and by force, are driven to write history, because they are concerned in the facts, and so cannot excuse themselves from committing them to writing, for the advantage of posterity; nay, there are not a few who are induced to draw their historical facts out of darkness into light, and to produce them for the benefit of the public, on account of the great importance of the facts themselves with which they have been concerned.
A true story of the coming-of-age
of a Mormon fundamentalist girl,
her escape from a dangerous LeBaron cult —
and living to tell about it.
Dedicated to my daughter,
Asenath Marie Tucker,
The light of my life;
If I accomplish nothing else,
I’ve produced this precious gem —
My pearl of great price.
AN APOLOGY & DISCLAIMER
My House Of Cards
2. Parts 1–9:
Floyd Otto Spencer, My Father
3. Parts 1-18:
Esther LeBaron Spencer, My Mother
4. Part 19 A-Z:
Mom, Pop, Me, and the Perils of Polygamy
5. Part 20 A-J:
Ma, Pa, Me, and Polygamy on the Down-Low
6. Parts 21-29:
More Memories of My Parents
Esther LeBaron and Floyd Spencer
7. Parts 30-33:
The Mexico-LeBaron Family,
Incest and Mental Illness Issues
8. Part 34-A-P:*
The Mexico-LeBaron Madmen:
Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?
(*As of May 31, 2019, Blogs 34-M thru 50+ are yet to be published.)
9. I Won and I Lost — Or How More Is Less
10. Bright Childhood Was a Gift
11. Should Polygamy Be Legalized?
12. Luna Lindsey Tells Part of My Story
13. A Letter to My Art Teacher
14. Book Reviews:
Mostly my reviews of books written by my relatives
and Mormon fundamentalist cult escapees.
15. Poems and Songs I’ve Written
Today, December 10, 2016, I’ve finally taken my Memoir off the back burner and put it on the front burner, literally, as I begin blogging about my life — “hot” blogs to be later added to the book I’m writing. I’ll post poems and other such now and then. But my Memoir comes first and foremost.
This Memoir blog is written for the escapees and would-be escapees of Mormon orthodoxy and for all those with inquiring minds wishing to know what it was like to be raised in a Mormon Fundamentalist cult, married off in an arranged marriage as a child bride to a polygamist much older than I who already had two rivalrous wives; and to then escape this barbaric, archaic lifestyle and live to write about it.
Many of my Memoir blogs give backstory — stories about my father, mother, grandparents, LeBaron family, and more:
Please keep in mind that my story is told from my own particular perspective, experiences, and memory. Your story of what happened may be different. That doesn’t make me a liar nor you the one with all the truth. Them’s the facts and how the cookies crumble.
If you find me in error somewhere or you have information I wasn’t privy to in my upbringing or experiences, I’d much appreciate your bringing it to my attention by way of my “Comment” box or through my website’s “Contact” information.
Since publishing my first blog in 2016, I’ve found blogging about my life pretty precarious because people skip about, bypassing crucial stories. This leads to misunderstandings, misconceptions, and missing information.
Therefore, once I’ve posted my thirty or so presently unpublished blogs, I’ll probably stop posting new blogs; will repost previous blogs to free up time for finishing my book.
In conclusion, in relating my memoir, I’ve been true to my own experience, acknowledging others may remember things differently or have different opinions. I intend no harm. I’ve written my story as best I can, with artistic aims first and foremost.
AN APOLOGY & DISCLAIMER:
NOTE: An apology and a protection for the innocent — mainly myself: I have changed names in various cases or haven’t used names. I’m more interested in relating what was done, not who did it. Likewise, some dialogue may be paraphrased. And various happenings may be grouped to create conciseness.
Also, in my Memoir, I tell about some peoples’ bad side because it was part of my story. But I know even the worst people have a good side, though I may not have related it. My uncle Ervil, for example: Despite his psycho-sociopathy earning him the nickname “Evil Ervil,” he had a convincingly good side. He used it, among other things, to influence brainwashed followers to even kill for him!
I acknowledge that in writing my Memoir blogs, I know I can’t avoid hurting my family, relatives and past friends I grew up with. Anything I say at all against their church, or their religion, for example, hurts them.
In fact, just my leaving their religion I grew up in hurt them, as did other choices I needed to make for myself — such as dropping all contact with my family for many years during “The Ervil scare.” I decided back then if my choices had to do with the safety and well-being of myself and daughter, I had to do what I had to do, even if it hurt them.
But when it comes to things I do that violate their rights or ability to consent, that’s where I try (and sometimes fail) to draw the line. If I need to say something bad about my family because it’s also part of my experience, I’ll try to be vague, keep their names out of it, and not demonize them. I’ll try to keep them humanized.
I was fortunate to have a fairly good family who simply made mistakes. I see any mistakes they made as coming from ignorance and misinformation. We all make mistakes. Only those who do nothing make no mistake – except the greatest mistake of all: Doing nothing.
Anne Lamott said, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
I am hoping that by telling my stories, I’ll be helping to make a better world through further enlightening and alleviating some of the world’s ignorance and misinformation. In so doing, I can’t help but enlighten myself in the process. That’s one good reason for being alive, and for writing my blog: Enlightenment.
I was born some time ago,
Away out in the sticks,
In a valley of old Mexico,
In nineteen forty-six.
By the time I was eleven,
We were a family of twelve;
For everything I ever got,
I had to dig and delve.
by Stephany Spencer-LeBaron
1959, age 13
(And so begins my saga.)
“I am conscious that my narrative
savers of incredibility:
The fault is in the subject,
not in the narrator.”
~The City of the Saints~
By Richard F. Burton,
*Quote borrowed from Irving Wallace’s
“The Twenty-Seventh Wife”
In four months I’ll turn 71, and it will be the 50th anniversary of my 1967 escape from living “The Principle”/ plural marriage (euphomisms for “polygamy”) in the now largely extinct, Mormon fundamentalist LeBaron cult headquartered in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico.
I was born and raised a fifth-generation Mormon polygamist — “polygamist” is broadly applied to anyone who believes in or lives polygamy.
My great-great-grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson, was the self-proclaimed Prophet Joseph Smith’s confidante, brother-in-law, and power of Attorney. Joseph Smith also sealed him to himself as a son! So, in a roundabout way, that makes Joseph Smith my Great-grandfather, three places removed!
That’s the most prestigious bloodline one can come by … if Mormon. As I was growing up, Mother didn’t mince beans about letting me and my thirteen siblings know we were part of the royal blood. She held her head high as she proclaimed we were of this enviable Mormon lineage.
Had fate not intervened, we could have been children of the self-proclaimed prophet, the late Rulon Jeffs — father of the now-incarcerated, infamous FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs: While Mother was single and residing in Utah in the early 1940s, she dated polygamist Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs’ father!
My sister born on my wedding day facetiously quipped,”Warren Jeffs could’ve been another brother by another mother!” “Yeah, or we could’ve been his sister by a different Mister,” I retort.”
More ironic, when you consider our “royal” blood: Mother’s brother, my once beloved Uncle Ervil LeBaron, is the now-deceased infamous Mormon Manson or Evil Ervil — the past Mormon mafioso leader and malevolent dictator of a now-extinct LeBaron crime family. Uncle Ervil was also the all-powerful, priestcraft-working, cult-creating Second Grand Head of the Mormon fundamentalist cult in which I spent eight years of my adolescent life.
At that time, he was next only in power to Uncle Joel LeBaron, his brother — one of Mother’s seven brothers. Uncle Joel stood as the self-proclaimed prophet of “The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times” — the name of the cult these two uncles started. It was headquartered on their land in Colonia LeBaron, Galeana, Chihuahua, Mexico.
I had loved, feared, and revered Uncle Ervil — before his scandalous schizophrenic psychosis and sociopathic psychopathy worsened, leading him completely and hopelessly off the deep end.
A coincidence: My Aunt Irene Spencer, best-selling author of the Memoir “Shattered Dreams,” used as her second book’s cover, “Cult Insanity,” a photograph I took of Uncle Ervil holding my eight-year-old daughter — before I knew he was a paranoid-schizophrenic psycho-sociopath. (See below.)
You may see Aunt Irene’s book, Cult Insanity, in my Menu under “Media on Some of My Extended Family.” Uncle Ervil’s then right-hand man, my brother-in-law Dan Jordan, is also in the picture. I took the photo of them in 1971 while studying at UCLA. The two had come to my home, at Mother’s behest, to go with me to the US Immigration Office to bear witness I was indeed an American.
At that time, I was trying to get my US citizenship papers in order to become a public school teacher in the United States. Born in old Mexico of American parents, they neglected to register my birth with the US Embassy. So now I was having to verify my citizenship, twenty-five years later, in order to get these legal documents.
I had no idea, when Uncle Ervil LeBaron and my brother-in-law Dan Jordan came to my home, they were at that very moment plotting the murder of people like my Uncle Joel LeBaron, Ervil’s own brother and the self-proclaimed Prophet of the backward, Chihuahuan-desert cult enclave I had escaped four years earlier.
I consider myself lucky these two sociopaths/ psychopaths didn’t kill me during that visit — I being a “daughter of perdition” for having abandoned their so-called church. I think all that saved me is, even though I fled Uncle Joel’s and Ervil’s cult four years earlier, Uncle Ervil held a fantasy I was going to go to all the trouble to get my Bachelor’s Degree and Teaching Credential, then return to his cult to teach “the Saints,” for free, of course — as I had from ages fourteen to nineteen. Well, thanks but no thanks!
I started teaching in the LeBaron colony shortly after my family repatriated to Mexico in 1960 to live again in LeBaron, a colony my maternal grandparents Maud and Dayer LeBaron started in 1944. It was built on Rocky Mountain desert land left them by my parents when they returned to the United States. I was only a year old then — and fourteen when they returned again to live in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Seven years after their repatriation, I escaped LeBaron to return to the United States. That was rather a miracle in itself. But more miraculously, I entered California’s East Los Angeles Junior College within five months after I made it out of the cult! I was twenty-one, penniless, had a three-year-old child — and only six years of a largely country-school formal education. Sadly for me, I was never allowed to get a 9th through 12th-grade education — something no amount of college could ever make up for.
When Uncle Ervil came to my apartment in 1971, I was in my fourth year of struggling through college on little education and less money — struggling to earn a college degree and teaching credential so I could get a job, support myself and child, and move up in the world.
Though I loved teaching, I never ever was going to get stuck barefoot and pregnant again in Colonia LeBaron teaching for free — like before. But Uncle Ervil didn’t know what was going on in my mind. That may be why I lived to tell this story!
Going back to where I was before digressing, I said the reason Uncle Ervil had come to LA, bringing along with him his sidekick and bodyguard Dan Jordan, was to testify before Officials at the US Immigration Office that I was indeed an American citizen — born in Mexico of American parents. Uncle Ervil thus helped me get my Citizenship papers in order so I could obtain a Teaching Credential and be able to teach in the US.
It was a God-send he did this for me, given that in his maniacal mind, I was considered an apostate. Apostates were often abandoned by family, relatives, and the rest of the cult because they had left the truth. It was said in leaving the truth they turned their back on God and joined the devil’s forces.
Such people were considered in their eyes to be the biggest dangers to the Lord’s work because they had once known the truth and then turned their back on it. Really, that catchphrase was an understatement– a “glittering generality” used to create a smoke screen so people wouldn’t suspect what the cult members were up to.
Now I know I have to take understatements, such as that glittering generality above and re-word them. For example, a number of them were involved in illegal activities. They cloaked their illegal activities under the guise of the glittering generality, We are doing the Lord’s work.
The following are other favorite cloaks and glittering generalities they used to cover their secret activities from others–children, outsiders, et Al: We’re doing missionary work; We’re going on a mission; We’re preaching the gospel to these people.
For example, when I was a kid, Mother used those terms from time to time, as in when she locked us out of the house one day while Daddy was away so she could do missionary work (in the missionary position?) with a certain man she was attracted to.
It worked because we kids were well-indoctrinated as to the perfection of our parents and the importance of spreading the gospel, being Saints, and doing what was right. It would never have occurred to us they were doing what was wrong–were NOT preaching the gospel.
It was years before I realized such statements as Apostates are the biggest threat to the Lord’s work and building up of God’s Kingdom were but cover-ups, smokescreens, alibis, and understatements for their underhanded activities.
Wayward members of cults greatly fear people who leave their “Church” because such people know too much. For example, they know about at least some of the illegal activities done and justified in the name of bleeding the beast to build up God’s kingdom.
Yes, people like me who leave such a cult know too much. And I definitely did “know too much,” though I didn’t know it at the time. If I want to take my life in my own hands, I may explain to you later what I mean by knowing too much. Meanwhile, you must read between the lines.
But going back to my family being related to the royal bloodlines Mother was so proud to be related to, it’s an oxymoron to say Uncle “Evil” Ervil and his fourteen wives and about sixty children were also related to these royal bloodlines and very proud of it. An irony, yes. You might say I’m getting it from both ends! But as one of Uncle Ervil’s children told me recently, “You can’t choose your family, relatives, or bloodline.”
Many people to whom I have told my story over the past fifty-plus years have said: Your story would make a good movie. You must write a book! If you do, I will buy it. Let me know when it’s published.
One reason I didn’t begin publishing my story until now is it wasn’t safe to tell the truth. Only if I could tell the whole truth did I wish to write my memoirs. It is still not safe. I can’t tell the whole story without compromising my safety and lifestyle. But at long last, I have begun getting this book out that has been simmering on my back burner since 1967, the year I escaped the Mormon fundamentalist cult I was born and raised in.
Another reason I have not written my book until now is for the first fifty years after fleeing the extremist Mormon fundamentalist sect (and thus all my family, friends and foundation) it was too painful to dwell for long on my past life in that “Church.” It depressed me so much I couldn’t write a book on my past even if I had felt my present status and security wouldn’t be compromised by publishing my truth.
But I have journaled regularly from age nine till the present day -– did an awful lot of stream-of-consciousness writing. Therapists say this kept me from “going under” all these years. But some may beg to differ. They’ll tell you I am crazy/odd/unique/strange/weird! To such comments, I say, “If only all my writing, reading self-help books, and talking to the occasional therapist could’ve saved me more from the ravages of my despotic, cultic upbringing! And if only my life could’ve been normal!”
People have enough to deal with and overcome in life without the deprivations, devastations, and privations added to it by being raised in a backward, isolated, cult. For starters, it’s very discouraging and humiliating to be seen by others as odd, weird, crazy, different, backward, naïve, neurotic, gullible, unsophisticated, poorly educated, a Plyg — and so on.
Many years ago, one vain person jeered as he told me, “You can take the girl out of the mountain, but you can’t take the mountain out of the girl.”
And another city girl called me a “country bumpkin.” All this and more I’ve had to endure over the years — even people making fun of my Tex-Mex drawl. But there is a bully born every moment. When I take a look at the people grinding me under, I find their words tell more about them than about me.
But as for writing my Memoirs, I’m only sure, given a choice of leisure-time activities, writing was and still is my first choice; despite how time-consuming and how much work it is. I enjoy writing. Especially like the creative aspect of it.
But through writing, I also find company when isolation and loneliness become unbearable. And I unwind from the anxiety, tiredness, and tensions of the day, gain insight and find answers through inspiration that comes during my writing meditations — my deep thinking.
There I cathart (“thot-fart”), find solace, am my own best friend and companion (my mind, my muse, and I) — and there I unravel the pains, plans, and mysteries of my past and present journey towards self-actualization, individuation, and fulfillment. Through stream-of-consciousness writing, I grow and develop as I ponder each breakthrough — each step of my awakening into this brave new world.
While journaling, I also compare my new insights and experiences with the drama, trauma, and brainwashing of my past. And celebrate and come to better understand each epiphany and step I encounter in life’s kaleidoscopic adventure as I look through my telescopic new window — my new “looking glass” on the world — and reflect on the past and present.
Actually, like Alice in Wonderland, when I was seventeen and still in the cult, I too, looked through a “looking glass;” i.e., a different window, saw a new window on the world and was catapulted through it and out of that tunnel vision — as well as the tunnel I had been raised in. Yes, I fellright through that new and open window and out of my secluded cult tunnel into this “foreign world” — the USA. I’ve been progressively making my way through it ever since.
During my first few years in this new world, the USA, I questioned whether I had done the right thing — whether I had indeed been turned over to “the buffetings of Satan” and his wicked world. But the longer I was away from the cult and the more I saw what was happening there, the more I became confident I had made the right decision in 1967 when I fled “God’s only true church.”
Many of my past-life experiences and the cult brainwashing I grew up in blocked my feelings and thoughts. Writing helped and is still helping me unblock these feelings and the mind control, allowing me to gradually move ahead in life’s journey, free and unencumbered.
It is through journaling — and now this blogging and book-writing — that I assimilate all. Like taking notes in a college course, I compare each new idea, feeling, and insight with the dogma and experiences of my past -– the craziness of the cult I was finally able to escape from–in person, at least. But try as I may, I have not been able to thoroughly escape from its bind on my subconscious, my persona, and my life. To completely escape that cult-created backwardness, damage, wrong teachings, and abuse is one of my fervent goals.
At least it gives me something to live for when all else seems hapless, helpless, and hopeless. And old age threatens to devour me before I’ve even half-fulfilled my hopes, dreams, and goals.
I understand the ACLU requests we don’t call the extremist sect I escaped from a “cult.” Also, that we don’t say “I escaped,” and was “brainwashed,” for fear we may offend those who belong to what I managed to finally escape!
But my opinion is that such words as “cult” are the truth it takes to jolt -– to help awaken the mind-controlled, brainwashed, true-believing people who continue to be born into and bound by the grips of these Mormon-fundamentalist doomsday cults. In other words, some trees won’t grow without a fire. If we can’t use some social pressure, what hope have we to stop this vice vehemently invading our quasi-unaware world?
The “political correctness” protectionism of being unable to call it a cult only helps reinforce and propagate the captivity of the many born into bondage and White slavery in Mormon fundamentalist religious organizations — that, by the way, are growing by leaps and bounds as I speak, due to polygamy, child bride marriages, mind control measures, and not practicing birth control.
Of course, those embondaged by Mormon orthodoxy are the ones least likely to read what I write. Therefore, I mainly write for those who have managed to get out and are looking for backup material to further assure them they did the right thing by leaving.
And I write for people who want to learn and to become more aware. But I especially write for escapees of Mormon fundamentalist groups who are looking for more understanding as to what happened to them in their cult and why.
I write, as well, for all Ex-Mormon fundamentalists who are looking for more information on how they can better make it in this “foreign land, “The United States of America;” i.e., the normal world they have found themselves in. I hope reading my story of success and redemption, upon having escaped radical Mormonism, will help Mormon fundamentalist cult escapees better make it in their own new existence.
It took me years of University courses, other reading, counseling with therapists, and simply living free from Mormon Fundamentalism before I could stand back and realize what I had grown up in was nothing but a cult. It helped me immensely to understand that! Because then I could better see that I had done the right thing, at age twenty-one, to get my three-year-old child and I out while I could.
It helped me to know that I had definitely made the right choice — despite being warned that I’d be damned and turned over to the “buffetings of Satan” if I even dared question the words of the prophet, let alone dared leave “the truth/the church;” i.e., The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times and Mormon fundamentalism.
The Sociological definition of “cult” is: “A body of religious rites and practices associated with the worship or propitiation of a particular divinity or group of supernatural beings.”
Also: A religious group and way of life that secludes its members from the world so much so that they are unable to fit into normal society.
The American Heritage Dictionary describes “Cult” as being a religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living communally under an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
That said, I believe that if it looks like, feels like, and rattles like a snake, it is a Diamond Back– a “cult”! Who are we kidding?! Why call it by any other name? A rose is a rose by any name. Besides, where is my right to freedom of speech?
And how do we warn or make aware those who could benefit from our observations and experience if we can only cover up for and placate the vice that the Mormon Fundamentalists have already been too adept at perpetrating? To pretend they are not a cult is doing just that: It’s helping to perpetuate the many evils of the Mormon fundamentalist sects.
For example, Mormon fundamentalist sects perpetrate AND perpetuate: Lawlessness, being Laws Unto Themselves, Pedophilia, Polygamy, White slavery, Welfare Fraud, Child Labor, Child Abuse, Child Trafficking, Racketeering — and much more, all in the guise of “An alternative lifestyle full of Saints just trying to live God’s laws under the freedom protections of the U.S. government” –- a government they bleed daily, and regularly pray for the destruction of!
Note: At the same time the adults in these cults demand “freedom of religion” (i.e.,protection from the U.S. government) they, in the name of religion, take away all the rights and protection of the children born into their cult! And they refuse to accept that “One person’s “Rights” ends where another person’s “Rights” begins!“
As my years in freedom roll on, since having fled the Mormon fundamentalist “underground” slave trade, barbarism, and bondage I was born and raised in, I continue to become more deprogrammed and more sure of what a wayward, warping, diabolical church–cult monster I was born into and my life ruined by, in the name of religion.
The more I continue to think, question, read books, and listen to educational documentaries and interviews done by Rebecca Kimbel, Doris Hanson, Ed Kociela, Kristen Decker, Victoria Reynolds, and others on YouTube, C-SPAN II, and other such, the more aware I become that many of the main tenets I was taught to most revere and embrace were and are complete rubbish; i.e., the total opposite of what is good and righteous.
Therefore, in my memoir blogs, I make it a point to unravel untruths and cover-ups, so as to show the world what I mean by “The total opposite of what is good and righteous.” This way I may better dispel what “the snake”– “the Diamondback”– would have us see as God’s Plan, rather than the devil’s!
This is a Memoir as opposed to an Autobiography, because of the leeway given me thus. In other words, though I have, from age nine, kept journals –- They reach from the floor to the ceiling by now — I would never get this history written if I were to go back and uproot every piece of Info in my journals to make sure of the exact day, etc.
So where it is not necessary, I don’t worry about petty details. It’s the big picture that is important. This said, I’ll leave off here, continuing my story in “Memoir Introduction: My House of Cards.”
Thank you for visiting my Website.
Stephany Spencer/AKA: Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron
MY HOUSE OF CARDS
The Cards of Life
Life dealt me cards — I played my hand
With confidence — I had it planned …
When, later, life revealed the score
It shook me to my very core!
I wondered then — still wonder now:
Could I have changed my life somehow?
And — if life dealt this hand again —
Would I repeat my life of pain?
Or would my hand, ignoring me,
Repeat this life and destiny?
Hiding in a Cave of Trunks
By Ester Benjamin Shifren
“I learned that even when life deals you a bad hand,
you can still have a happy life if you are willing
to take a chance and put the past behind you.”
~ My troubles all started when I was born … Actually, while I was being born. It seems from the moment I entered the “tunnel/canal” that leads to this world, I began suffering pain. And gave my mother a lot of undue pain, tears, and stitches, too — leaving her with scars, both figuratively and physically:
I was born a “breech” baby. That is, I came out butt first, “bass-ackwards, and upside down.” One could only wonder what was next in the cards for me — what next gift or “breach” of contract did life have in store for me?
One didn’t have to wonder long — The cards continued to be dealt. When the midwife found I was coming breech, she worriedly sent for the tiny town’s noted obstetrician, Dr. Hector Reyes Tirdada. He arrived not a minute too soon: Mother had already begun to dilate fully; expediency was of the essence.
Once any part of a baby’s body has been in touch with oxygen more than twenty-five minutes, it begins to breathe. It would strangle to death if not delivered in time.
Therefore, after sterilizing his hands– while twenty-five-year-old Mother screamed out of her mind with excruciating pain as he tore her–Dr. Reyes rapidly forced his huge expert hand into Mother’s small birth canal. (He had to quickly turn me around in her womb so he could gather me up by my feet and pull me out safely without breaking my neck.)
The miracle is: He succeeded. He didn’t have to pull me apart to get me out — which sometimes happens in “breech birth” home deliveries.
But Mother didn’t fare so well. I’m not sure you want me to go into the details, so I won’t. Other than to tell you she was in bed with phlebitis/”milk leg” for the next six months, due to complications from my birth.
Breech births create a very painful and dangerous delivery, especially for the mother! But to add to our pain, the doctor was holding me upside down by the feet, slapping my tiny bare butt, and crying loudly, in his accented English, “Breathe!! Breathe!!!”
Having just been pulled through a too-tight tunnel into a world of hell, I didn’t want to breathe. But it wasn’t just that trauma: The minute it was announced I was a girl, suddenly I heard a boomeranging, ill-tempered male voice taking the Lord’s name in vain as he vehemently cursed, “Goddammit!! Another girl!! Breathe!! Dammit, breathe!!”
NOTE: See my Blog and poem posted October 2016, “I Entered the World Foot First,” for more details concerning this part of my story. But for present purposes, the above paragraph stands as my first example of how Mormon fundamentalist fanatics often preach one thing while doing another.
For example, they claim to totally want and value all the many babies they have, —“all those little spirit children up in heaven just waiting to come to good Mormon fundamentalist homes.” That is their ideal — their ideology. But, in reality, they aren’t as righteous and forthright as they let on they are — or convince themselves they are.
Add to this that from the day I was born, I never was a favorite in my father’s eyes, and it wasn’t just because I was not a boy: I was literally and vociferously “cursed,” (by my dad) you might say, right from the start! I’ve always kind of thought so … or wondered … sometimes. But all my cards haven’t been bad, by any means. So that leaves me to wonder some more.
You shall hear what I mean, in my upcoming blogs, when I tell some* of my earliest memories of being raised a “Saint” — just more contradictions and ironies to come—contradictions wherein my seemingly pious parents said one thing, did another. E.g., Daddy commonly used profanity; i.e., He broke the commandment that says: Thou shalt not take the Lord, thy God’s name in vain.
But in their self-righteousness, my parents did not see nor acknowledge their contradictions … nor have the integrity nor strength to admit it to themselves, often — all the while claiming to be Saints when they were really just humans.
The hypocrisy was palpable! Their shadow-self was hidden even from themselves.The Shadow Effect Excerpt – Deepak Chopra – Oprah.com They were taught that they were God’s chosen people; therefore, were better than others. If they lived God’s highest laws( plural marriage and not practicing birth control), they were going to “the highest degree of glory” for sure, they fervently believed!
Mormons believe Heaven consists of three degrees of glory, and each of these is broken down into three more degrees of glory — the highest degree being called the “Celestial Kingdom.” The middle degree is called the “Terrestrial Kingdom,” and Hell is called the “Telestial Kingdom.”
I was taught we Mormon fundamentalists were fore-ordained to return to heaven. That only all those people “out in the wicked world” — those who didn’t convert to Mormon fundamentalism and live God’s highest laws — would be excluded from heaven due to their wickedness.
It was a double bind because at the same time my parents and our leaders taught this, I, for one, was constantly excoriated to the point I felt I was born to go to hell. Such inconsistencies in the belief system’s practices versus their teachings were and are problematic in themselves.
My parents and other Mormon fundamentalists are unable to understand nor accept their shadow side. The Shadow Effect Excerpt – Deepak Chopra – Oprah.com
They have no idea they even have a shadow side. Such a concept certainly didn’t fit the beliefs handed down to them by their prophets. So they tried to hide their downsides, slip-ups, and sins.
They were ashamed and afraid of their “shadow“/their dark side.” But did bad things anyway … and covered them up by projecting their faults onto others, while pretending to be perfect themselves: i.e., Saints.
They fooled most people. But hindsight shows me the people who pretended to be most righteous were actually living the most sinful secret lives — all the more sinful because they pretended to be perfect saints living the Gospel.
Heavy religious social pressures within a sect, as they demand perfection of their conscientious members, may elicit this two-facedness — for the members’ survival, if nothing else.
But social misfits and imposters also use this guise of perfection within a secluded religious group to get away with things like rape, pedophilia, and you name it. You shall hear what I mean as my story unfolds in future blogs.
MY REBIRTHING EXPERIENCE
In 1986, I learned it was possible to be hypnotized and taken back to the moment I was born. Being a curious person, and looking for personal growth and healing, I hired an excellent female therapist who specialized in doing “Rebirthings.” Through her hypnosis session, she guided me back to the moment of my birth!
That’s when I became certain about two things:
1- Everything is stored in our memory from birth.
2- There were even things in my memory that took place before I was born. So now I also know we are present in spirit, watching what goes on before we’re born.
For example, I wasn’t born yet, but saw Daddy come rushing anxiously into the small mud adobe house with a lantern and rope, then quickly attach the rope to the ceiling and the gas lantern to the rope.
He lit the lantern, exhaling a sigh of relief when it began to glow. He was preparing the room for my birth!
The coal oil lamp they generally used didn’t provide enough light for my at-home emergency delivery. World War II had just ended, taking with it many of the adversities of the Great Depression. But there was still no electricity in the little Mexican townsite where my parents lived.
The town’s noted Doctor and Obstetrician, Dr. Reyes, was there — sent for by the Midwife when she saw I was coming breech.
After much ado and good lighting, the amazing physician succeeded in delivering me alive — as well as saving Mother’s life! It’s not unusual in breech deliveries for both mother and baby to die when delivered at home; i.e., without the benefit of surgery and other hospital procedures.
Through luck, supernatural intervention, and the experienced obstetrician, Mother and I survived the home-delivery breech birth, at 4 AM, Thursday, April 18, 1946, in the little town with the big name: El Valle de San Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico.
I was the second child of my Mormon fundamentalist parents, Floyd Otto and Esther LeBaron Spencer. They so wanted seven boys in a row, because Mother grew up in the middle of seven brothers and loved it. They got seven girls in a row, instead. Karmic justice?
The rest is “Her-story and a mystery.” You shall hear how I fared in Mexico, down past the Rio Grande. Let’s begin with the following poem describing much of what I saw and re-lived during my rebirthing session:
In a little adobe hut,
Down past the Rio Grande,
Hung a brightly lit lantern
Near a bed stand.
I also hung …
Upside-down in Doc’s hand,
As he slapped my butt
With the other;
All were screaming, “Breathe!!”
Including travailed Mother!
But I refused to breathe:
I’d barely been delivered,
Through Mom’s small canal,
In a painful breech birth,
When I heard Daddy howl,
“God-dammit! Another girl!!”
So I didn’t want to stay
In this resentful world —
Not another day!
Furthermore, there was Doc
Cruelly walloping me,
Alongside loud noises
And lights glaring brightly.
But the spanking was more
Than a new born can bear,
So I inadvertantly sucked in
My first breath of air.
Then began my life
Down past the Rio Grande;
I breathed “The breath of life,”
But couldn’t bear its strife!
So I let out a scream,
And started to cry;
Thus began ups-’n’-downs
“Till death do I die:”
First upside-down in
Big Doc’s hand;
Then nestled up close
Caressed by Mama’s
Down past the Rio Grande.
Well, that’s how life’s been
For me on this earth:
“From the womb to the tomb,”
It’s been gloom ‘n’ mirth —
First down suffering
A painful breech birth;
Then up at Mom’s bosom
Learning to nurse.
But things could be worse,
So I’ve decided to stay —
Ups, downs, and all —
Till this very day!
(by Stephany Spencer-LeBaron)
* Continued in “My Memoir” blogs.
See Menu and Home for all work posted so far.
NOTE: It has come to my attention some people think they can only get to my website through one of my social media sites such as Facebook. Here’s my URL so you may access my Website directly: https://StephanySpencer.com — Stephany with a “y.”
If you click on my “Follow” button and leave me your e-mail address, each time a new blog is posted, you will get an e-mail alerting you.
Much thanks in advance for Comments and for advising me, should you find errors; including spelling and grammar.
Till next time, thank you for visiting my website.
Stephany Spencer/AKA: Beulah Stephany Spencer-LeBaron
*The following video depicts much about the Mormon fundamentalist cult I was raised in and escaped in 1967.