After all the drama of the past several days of Carolyn’s Hawaii vacation, we finally get a moment that doesn’t completely suck. Enjoy it while it lasts: it’s going to be about the only one.
Content note for verbal, emotional, and religious abuse.
The family flies to Kauai, which Carolyn thinks looks like the Garden of Eden. She’s always lived in a desert, so all this greenery is incredible. I know those feels well, having lived in the desert Southwest for nearly the entire first three decades of my life. I used to think Flagstaff, Arizona was lush and magnificently green. Then I moved to Seattle and encountered places where you literally cannot see the ground for all the plants, and was awestruck. Also intimidated. Temperate rainforests have a way of looming at a person.
Carolyn is free to enjoy her first day in this paradise, as Merril decides to take a nap and Tammy and Cathleen stay with him. She and her other mother Rosie have a lovely walk on the beach, where Carolyn enjoys the waves washing over her toes. However, this is an FLDS vacay, so you know there has to be some fucked-up shit going on.
But swimming in the ocean was unthinkable. I didn’t own a bathing suit and never considered swimming in the ocean or even a pool during the week we spent in Hawaii. FLDS members are usually not allowed near water because it’s considered the devil’s domain. We’re taught that if you put yourself in a place where the devil has sole power, he can take your life. But this belief was often ignored. People swam in the FLDS, but only completely clothed. If your body is covered, swimming is considered daring, but not evil or wrong.
Great. Avoid the devil killing you by risking drowning in bulky, waterlogged clothing. Sheer genius. A++ religious reasoning right there.
So Carolyn has a lovely beach walk with her other mother, whom she can’t confide her troubles in, because she’d just tell Carolyn to suck it up and honor “man of God” Merril. Bleck.
They make the mistake of picking up some fresh coconuts on the way back and serving them to the rest of the family. Merril loves them so much that he puts his wives to work – on their bloody vacation – picking and shipping them to all his friends. They spend all afternoon doing this instead of enjoying Kauai. And then, at dinner, Carolyn has to put up with Tammy’s tantrum over being snubbed once again by Merril: he wants to fuck Cathleen instead. At least Carolyn gets to sleep alone on the couch that night. It’s practically luxury compared to everything else she’s endured on this trip.
Sightseeing happens the next day. Merril promises he’ll sleep with Tammy that night, so all is bliss until dinner, when Carolyn has the audacity to order shrimp for herself. Merril completely loses his shit over them.
Merril doesn’t eat shrimp, which meant I couldn’t either. It was wrong for me to like something he didn’t. As his wife, I was to become one with him in every way. In the FLDS, a woman is supposed to be in complete harmony with her husband. A devout wife would never even desire to eat something her husband disliked.
So, because Merril is a shrimp-hating ass and the FLDS is ridiculous, Carolyn can’t have crustaceans for her own damn dinner.
Cathleen’s suitcase full of magic underwear goes missing on the flight back to Honolulu. She’s terribly upset, while Carolyn thinks she scored. Just imagine having to basically wear long johns and three pairs of heavy socks under your bulky dress in Hawaii. Eww.
Merril decides he’s going to fuck Carolyn that night, and Tammy explodes. Merril has let Tammy sleep in his bed twice this trip, but refused to have sex with her both times, and she’s past the breaking point now. She annoys Cathleen so much with her tirade that Cathleen locks her out of their room and barricades the door until Merril scolds her into letting Tammy back in. Oh, yes, truly this is a marriage arranged by God. You can tell because it’s completely dysfunctional.
I mean, it totally couldn’t be that Merril married Tammy for political reasons but isn’t attracted to her in the least, right?
The next day, completely out of fucks after all the drama, Carolyn finally unloads on Merril for enabling his daughters’ abusive behavior toward his wives. Merril screams that it’s all her fault, natch. He orders her to be quiet. He blames her for causing his daughters to “correct” her. He yells that she should be thanking those girls for setting her straight. And then he has the bloody gall to declare, “I know you are in the wrong because you never come talk to me about it.”
Carolyn basically calls him a massive fool, pointing out she never comes to him because he always sides against her, and the abuse always gets worse. He tries to shut her down by saying she has “no right to interfere in any way” with anything his family members are doing, but she’ll have none of it. She’s done. If he and his daughters want to start a war, then she’ll finish it. Mama Bear is done being backed into corners.
And astonishingly, so is Tammy, who basically tells him he’s not only wrong, he’s a coward hiding behind his daughters’ skirts. Go, Tammy!
Merril threatens to make them pay for their defiance, but by now Cathleen’s also boarded the Nopetrain to Fuckthisville. She lays into him, telling him he’s a sinner for setting his children against his wives.
Go Team Merril’s Wives! They can’t change their situation, and Merril won’t become a better man, but at least they forced him to listen for once.
Of course, all that lovely teamwork is temporary. After dinner, Tammy has a rage-filled fit when she finds out Merril gave Carolyn extra spending money, and then she starts complaining about all the “heathen sins” Merril’s committing by fucking Carolyn and Cathleen while they’re pregnant. The arguing continues into breakfast, and so Merril gets to play the martyr.
Thus endeth their completely unrelaxing Hawaii excursion. They go back to Arizona, traveling in virtual silence because Merril mostly ignores them.
You know, there are poly relationships that work great, where everyone’s equal and problems get resolved and everyone can even vacation together without constant strife. But religiously-mandated polygamy, where virtual strangers marry for power and/or faith but not for love, and where inequality is mandated, and there is no way to exit the marriage via simple divorce, is nothing like healthy polyamory. It empowers narcissistic assholes and leaves women battling each other for tiny scraps of power. It’s rancid.
And it’s going to be far too long before Carolyn’s free of it.
I’m reviewing Escape chapter-by-chapter. Pick yourself up a copy if you’d like to follow along. The full list of reviews to date can be found here. Need a chaser? Pick up a copy of Really Terrible Bible Stories Volume 1: Genesis or Volume 2: Exodus today!