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There was ritual abuse. From the time I could sit up in a chair and understand the English language… around 4 years old, I was indoctrinated into mom and dad’s system of religious beliefs.

Dad had us sit in one of the broken kitchen chairs and teach us all the invaluable ideas he had discovered. These encircled what my parents called the “Qualitative Stimuli”.

I also learned the meaning of “Phenomena” and the denigrating word: “Parochialism”. Day after day they worked on their children to instill into them these understandings, and so be carriers of their belief system. Since they didn’t believe in life after death, we were to be their ‘immortality’ and so carry on what they so painstakingly put together. Us kids were soaked in these beliefs to such a degree that these became fully our beliefs as well. I acquired some extreme paranoia and anxiety, and a lot of self-hatred and suicidal obsession, as a result of this indoctrination.

The parents both thought themselves above the average person in intelligence. They decided that the beliefs of the average person were beneath them and that it was their job on this planet to hammer out “The Truth” about how life really was. Eventually, thank God, I was able to free myself from some of what they taught me (but not all). And now, as I look back on it, I can see the craziness that led to my paranoia of the human race. I say I freed myself from some of it but I still carry a lot of this paranoia.

At the heart of these beliefs were the ideas of “rating and image”.

The rating” worked like a ladder on which each person was born on their own rung, and faced in one direction, up or down. A person’s value (I’m not sure in what way) comparative to the other people on various rungs, was derived from their position on this ladder. From their position, each one was born innately “better than or less than” in value, to the others around them. There was no such thing as equality between anyone.

The position in which they were placed, either facing up or down on this ladder, was how they felt most comfortable relating to others. Unfortunately it was decided that I was one of those who looked ‘down’ on other people from my rung on the ladder. It was decided that I felt most comfortable feeling superior to others.  I was like Stella Wall (the hated mother-in-law; my maternal grandmother) who dad said also looked down on people. This led to many problems for me but the one I dealt with the most was the violence, since dad was going to straighten me out of my ‘relating’ problem.

Then, according to him, dad was one of those who looked ‘up’ from his rung. Which was the nobler way to be. It was virtuous to ‘relate up’ and only horrible people… like me… ‘related down’. I don’t know how he ever came up with the idea that I looked down on him. I was scared to death of him. He was a force larger than human.  I saw him as a power unequaled to any force on earth… both in nature and people. He looked down on his kids as being of no more importance than a chair or a book. We existed for his convenience, to use and then throw back on a shelf.

The ‘image’ aspect of their belief system rose around pursuing ones gifts… dads’ gifts actually. If one pursued art, than one’s ‘image’ would counter-act their position on the ladder. My question today however, is…  How much art does one have to do to overcome their position on this ladder? I don’t believe there is an answer this question. You always have to do a little bit more to get the desired result. But no matter how hard you strive you can never seem to arrive at overcoming your rating.

I don’t remember dad ever bothering to find out if his children had any gifts of our own. We were a burden to him. I remember how he’d write on the black-board… how much we cost him. It was not just $5.00, but $5.00! and $5.00! and $5.00! ….” . He’d write five’s on the black-board and yell at us. . . “$5.00! and $5.00! and $5.00! ….”

Today I consider all this alienating and paranoia producing. Always considering yourself better than, or less than… never equal… prevents love because you have to consider being equal to any other person before love can overcome judgment. No matter what our station in life, whether  in the white house or in the gutter… we all have a long way to go don’t we?

Mom had a mantra that contributed to their beliefs. It was labeled “You always get what you want”… whether good or bad. If something bad happened to someone it was because they wanted it. She married a man who was impossible to live with… she must have wanted it. Mom played the flute but was never very good (they didn’t believe in lessons)… she must have wanted to not be very good. She washed her children’s diapers in a freezing puddle in the middle of winter… she must have wanted it that way.

Love was never mentioned in my parents belief system. Neither mom nor dad believed love even existed. Love was a myth. There was only “rating & image”. That’s all there was. I’m sure it was mostly the lack of love that caused me to become such a barbaric savage.

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