Things That End: Final Judgement

The Divorce

After more than eight years of marriage, I finally felt like I had put in my time, I had battled my demons, and from my perspective, David’s cycle of repentance, dishonesty and unchanging habits would never end. All of the leaders at this point were aware of David’s repeated infidelities and issues with anger and violence. I had once attempted to “Matthew 18” him, for repeated repentance without change, but was stopped in the first step of the process by the first witnesses I pulled in when I was informed that I was not following the correct procedure.

 Once again I wrote a document outlining the biblical reasoning for asking the church for a divorce. I felt a very clear release from God that my marriage was over. I believed I had done all of the work that God asked of me and I was able to finally free myself. The leaders decided to appoint a “peer counsel” to decide my fate.

For some background, David and I were never legally married since my parents and Marble leadership were in agreement that state marriage licenses were unconstitutional and unbiblical, and Washington is not a common law state, so if I was to be divorced, it would have to be through the church, a release from David as my spiritual authority.

The peer counsel convened with myself and David, as well as Jim and Ronnie Buck and Steve and Cheryl Melzer. The group included my sister and her husband, my close friend Tamara and her husband Trent, Judson and Anne Carleton (David’s sister and her husband) and more.

After David and I were given an opportunity to present both sides of the issue (David was not in favor of the divorce), the counsel asked for a few days to pray and discuss the appeal that I had submitted. When we reconvened, they had drafted a document that outlined the requirements I needed to fulfill in order to garnish their support of a divorce. My brother-in-law Judson read the judgement out loud to the group.

I was asked to stand up before the entire congregation and publicly repent for a laundry list of sins that went on for pages. It included things like “rejecting my role as a mother,” stating an instance years earlier when I called my sister out of frustration, telling her I was on the verge of strangling the herd of small children I was dealing with. I was asked to repent for “flirting with married and unmarried men,” “dressing immodestly,” “not stewarding my home,” “dishonoring my husband,” “rebelling against spiritual authority,” and of course, infidelity, along with much, much more.

I was shocked. I asked if I could take the list home and pray about it. I was told no, that they did not trust me to take the written format, fearing I would disseminate it among Marble’s enemies, which at this point were growing and looking for evidence of just this type of spiritual abuse.

Once again I felt utterly betrayed and alone. These people - my best friends, my sister, my confidants - leaders whom I had trusted and who had all of the biblical justification of infidelity and abuse in front of them, were still seeking to control me as I begged for release from my own personal hell.

I remember standing up at the end of the meeting, feeling a strange sort of out-of-body sensation. “I never thought I would say something like this, but I am glad that I can at least turn to the state for a divorce,” I told all of them. And then I walked out.

I wrote my parents a letter with the same request, asking them to release me from the hell that I had been in for almost nine years. Their response was in keeping with the deeply held belief that marriage is a sacred vow and as a woman, I needed to have a spiritual covering. They would not support me in my divorce.

I am sure at this point, especially for my parents, it seemed like the worst storms of my marriage had subsided and they didn’t understand how unchanging my husband had been through the years. I had learned to carry the pain, or bury it, and govern my own emotions to avoid being disqualified from everything I wanted to be a part of. I was wearing my trauma better, so maybe it appeared that I had healed. I had not.

As I filed for divorce through Stevens County, I had never felt more alone. I had no one behind me, no one supporting me, except for one friend at Marble who could never verbalize his support publicly. I had asked David to move in with his mother when the whole process started, so I was living alone with the girls in our little hay house, smack dab in the middle of a community that continued to heap judgement and condemnation my way.

I had taken a summer job with the Forest Service as an archaeology technician, and I was finally making friends in the real world. As I told them my story, they voiced their support, and I grew a little braver every day. I knew I needed to get out of Marble, so I rented a spare bedroom from an older woman in Northport where I lived for the summer until I found a farmhouse to rent just north of town.

As I moved ahead with the divorce, I was told by leaders at Marble that they were concerned that I was an unfit mother to my children. They knew I had made outside friends and had started dating and there was talk of supporting David to get custody of the girls. When I heard these thinly veiled threats it lit a fire in me and I made sure that David and everyone at Marble knew exactly what lengths I would go to if they tried to take my girls from me. Knowing the illegal nature of so many of the violations they had allowed in my life, they opted to stay out of the legal battle, David and I signed papers out of court and I had primary custody rights.

Given the nature of David’s issues,  I had conversations with my sister (who by this time was married with her own child), and some of David’s own family about the dynamic between him and our four girls. Never at any time have I had the slightest sense that David was a threat to our daughters (other than his violent temper, which I never saw him unleash on the girls physically). His sexual predilections, while questionable, never gave me any indication or gut feeling that he would harm our children or any others, but I knew my kids were under the watchful eyes of many family members on weekends and during the summer while I worked on fires. I have come under criticism for co-parenting with the girls dad, but I will still maintain that it has always felt like the right thing to do, and my girls, as adults, would probably all agree with me.

My children have never, at any point, displayed any indicators that David has subjected them to physical abuse (sexual or otherwise), and now as adults, most of them still have some level of positive, or at least non-antagonistic relationship with him. Until I began to write these words, I have never told my girls the reasons that our marriage fell apart. When I left David and Marble, he told the girls that I was having an affair, and other members of Marble fed into that narrative as well.

I started dating in the fall of 2004, about the time I appealed to the church for a divorce. It had been more than a year since the first time that I had asked David to move out of the hay house. The divorce of course wouldn't be finalized for many months, and that gave David’s infidelity claim against me some validity, and to this day my choice to date put the moral responsibility of the divorce on me in the eyes of most of my friends and family.

I believed firmly that the girls would understand someday, based on observing their father's character over the years, the real story. And now, for the most part, they do. I cannot speak to who David Glanville is now. He may be a completely reformed version of himself. He has been a stranger to me since 2004. We have formed an amicable co-parenting relationship that has always put the needs of our children first. I have never intended to cause a breech in the relationship between my kids and their father, although I have been questioned and I have questioned myself whether he was a better father to them than having no father at all. I believe he was, and he tried in his own imperfect way to become a better father as time went on.

If David was not surrounded at all times by other family members I would have felt more trepidation about leaving the girls with him. I know for many readers, the idea that he has contact with my children, or any children, seems ludicrous, but from where I stand, David was a far, far better father than he was a husband and I do not believe he would ever hurt a child intentionally or has ever had sexual proclivities towards them. He is many things, but mercifully not that.

Understanding as I do now the prevalence of hidden sexual abuse in not only Marble, but churches everywhere, it chills me as I become aware of other cases of sexual abuse that transpired at Marble, and I am grateful that to my knowledge, my children were spared that horror. I would offer encouragement to other victims from Marble to seek help - reach out. None that I know of have felt able to speak openly about what happened to them, and it is time for the blinds to be pulled back on the dark corners of this church that proclaimed the authority of God in their cover up of horrific crimes.

For anyone who still lives under the weight of spiritual control and abuse - there is life and hope outside in the clean, fresh world of your own choice. God created you and you don't need a middle man to find your way with Him. Be free.

Summer, 2004. Lake Ellen

Things About Pain

Hurt people hurt people. It's an unavoidable truth.

I have been working on the end of the story of my time at Marble and I've been struggling with taking an honest look at who I was when I left that place and how I did it. It was an ugly time for me and I have to own a lot of mistakes and the pain that I inflicted on a lot of people in the process. It's not fun. It's not comfortable. But as with every other season of my life, it is imperative for me to take responsibility and look my failures full in the face. To not whitewash or rewrite history. To tell the truth however shameful and heartbreaking it is for me.

As I began to ask other people about that time in my life, the feedback was almost universally aimed at my deviation from the moral standards and principles I had been raised with. My breech of relationship with David and the community. My "infidelity" when I began dating - or as it was termed to me: "sleeping" with other people.

The hot shame of facing other people's version of these memories is searing and real, but no less valuable to the process I am in. It forces me to recognize the damage I inflicted, whether I agree with the standards used to measure my failures or not. It isn't about what other people thought, or think of me, it's about hurt I caused to them and others... and it's very real.

As I began to break away from the sheltered life I had grown up in, I was still very much a child. I had limited experience with the "real world" - or so I thought. In my imagination David had been a caricature of evil that rarely occurred in normal, all-American life. Turns out, nearly 30 years later, I have to admit that abuse, control, narcissism, manipulation and sexual infidelity are the norm out here in the "real world," not the deviation.

I plunged headlong into dating like a unbroken pony out of the round pen for the first time, with no expectation of consequence to myself or my children. I was unbridled, but I was injured in ways that I refused to admit. I charged through life recklessly while the innocent victims of my rampage were drug along behind me with no say in the matter.

I sought out counseling a handful of times, but failed to find anyone very helpful in navigating my internal conversation. I eased my pain with alcohol and momentary substitutes for love. I was so intent on being wanted that I exposed myself to rejection over and over and over again, always with the same results.

Growing up with the belief that all of my Disney-esque dreams would come true if I followed the rules I saw laid out in scripture, I fell into the chaos of disillusion when I realized that neither god nor life works on such a regimented schedule. I decided that if being good had earned me such heartache and destruction, that there was no reason to be good any longer. I seared my conscience and attempted to reject consequence. This pathway was even more false than the religious one of my youth, with equally brutal fallout.

I cannot escape from or re-write the history that I have lived, I can only own it and recall it as part of my journey with the painful honesty it requires and try to find gratitude for this dark season in my life, and forgiveness for the damage that I inflicted on others, especially my children. All of these things, the loss, the heartbreak, the hardening of my conscience and the reawakening of my soul happened for reasons I may never fully understand, although this journey of storytelling has helped give me insight, closure and purpose.

As you read my story, I hope that the realness of my human experience is conveyed with the humility which it requires.

Nietzche said: "My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it... but love it."

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