Year of Polygamy

Paige’s story

Bio: Paige is lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has four adult children and she and her partner Lynne like to garden and go on hikes when they aren’t snuggling grandbabies.

My dad began having his first revelations when I was five years old. I didn’t think this was out of the ordinary, as I would realize that revelations were just something good men of God did. Throughout my life my dad would always have revelations. When he was made a counselor in our stake presidency, people often sought him out because of this. They’d want special blessings and instructions from him. People would go to him on advice for many things. Should they move to a new house? Should they marry a certain person? What should they do if they were deeply in debt? My dad would often ask if he could inquire of the Lord and when he did, he always had an answer for whatever question came his way.

I was always used to my dad being someone important. When we would go to church or community events, people would approach us and tell us how lucky we were to be part of his family. We did feel lucky! He was a good father in the sense that his job provided well for us, even though his church callings took him out of the home a lot.

My mom struggled with depression and stayed in bed a lot. Dad would pray and give her plenty of blessings, but he wasn’t around much to help her out with daily life. I still remember the effort it would take Sunday morning as she would finally drag herself from bed and we would all get ready for church. Sundays were the only days she really got dressed and did her hair but we knew that people in our ward looked to us to set a good example.

There’s a joke in our church that when people are children of a bishop or stake president, that they are the wildest kids. That joke rang true for our household. My older brothers experimented with drugs and alcohol and my older sisters with sex. I used to think that Satan tempted our family more because he knew we more righteous. But now I just think that dad was gone a lot and mom was really struggling and they weren’t there for us kids.

I tried to overcorrect and be really righteous. I was a good kid and stayed out of trouble (mostly). It was easier for me because I didn’t have much interest in boys, I preferred reading and math. My dad sometimes helped boys prepare for their missions and he got particularly close with one returned missionary.

When I turned 18, my dad came and told me that he had had a vision. He said the Lord showed him that I should marry this returned missionary. He asked me what I thought. I was shocked. I had never doubted my dad’s faith or his connection to God, but this just didn’t sit right. I told him I was unsure as I definitely wasn’t thinking of marriage yet. My dad told me that maybe I should be, that the Lord had told him quite forcefully in a dream and that I should consider it, and that if I didn’t, I might “end up like” my sisters. I asked dad if he had talked to the missionary and dad said that he had and that the boy agreed.

It’s all a blur now, but I did end up marrying the man a few months later. I remember praying about it and feeling like maybe God did want this for me and just submitting to it all. I won’t go into all the details of my marriage, but it was not a happy one or a safe one. I tried to leave during the first year after my husband broke a glass over my back in anger. My dad was furious for “stirring up such a good man” and sent me back to my abuser. For years I tried to endure the marriage but finally left when my exhusband started to sexually abuse our children.

My dad is old now and no longer asked to serve in high callings in the church. I know he feels slighted and frustrated by God that he was never called to be an apostle. He was last in the ward bishopric a few years ago but that’s about it. I’ve since heard of many visions my dad had on behalf of other people and their lives. He arranged a lot of marriages in his dreams, gave faulty investment advice and even told one woman to prepare to die within a few months (she’s still living, somehow). My dad’s authority and visions were never questioned, but they’ve done a lot of damage to people. Especially to me. I wish I would have listened to my own internal voice, not the voice of my priesthood leader. My life would be very different and so would the lives of my children, who didn’t deserve any of this.


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