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A biography of a young life in dire straights

Chapter 1- My Arrival
Chapter 2- Me, Mamma and the Utes
Chapter 3- Mamma, don't let your babies
Chapter 4- Drug Store Cowboys
Chapter 5- Sleepless in Seattle
Chapter 6- Cup of Cool Water
Chapter 7- A friend of who?!
Chapter 8- Then came a light!
Chapter 9- Changes
This Ragged Life Renewed
© BehindZionCurtain.com 2001-2003

This is a true story of a young man caught up in a fallen world.

Chapter 1 -My Arrival

   From what I have been told, and from what I can recall, my family started out with many problems. 
My father left a marriage in which he partially raised 5 children. 
The divorce, as well as separating from his kids, brought him much pain. My mom,
who was 19 and only a few years older then my father's oldest child,
lost her father when she was only 11 and struggled to have a relationship with my grandmother. 
They got married when my dad was 31 and my mom was 19.
   This is where I came into the picture.  Probably the last responsibility that my parents needed at this time.  
From the time I was 6 month old, my parents had to move around a lot, and stayed with family and worked odd jobs to keep food on the table.
By the time I was 5, we had moved through out 3 different states, and Lord knows how many homes.
 A very lonely way to live life, since making friends was difficult.
Ending up finally in a place called Fountain Green Utah.
 In a run down house, with a wood stove for heating, where snakes and spiders could be found all over.
When we landed there my dad had a hard time finding work and we had a hard time keeping our stomachs full.
Though my father did everything in his power to keep us happy and this I know but he did sometimes have a taste for the wild side of life which is what landed us in a position of going from an income of $90,000 per year to living on government assistance.
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Chapter 2 -Me, mamma, and the Utes

(still in Fountain Green)
My mother and what she had to go through with us.  Having 3 kids now.  
As she had my sister Melissa in Buckeye Arizona about 18 months prior, then my little brother Brad was just born.
Still poor, desperate, and frustrated because all of her responsibility.  
Not to mention having 5 step children from my dad's previous marriage, although they did not live with us, or visit much.

 There was still a lot of child support involved. My father made clean start after leaving that marriage;
having gave all he had to his family and ex-wife.  
We only got to see those kids a few times, they were reluctant to come by.
My mother was very 'stand offish' with them, kind of in a mean way from what I recall.

So many times my parents fought, and fought.  
Lord knows how I wished and prayed that they could just get over their insecurities and just live life peacefully.  
But that day came and went.  
Many times how I prayed when that day came when they would try to love each other, how it would grow like a seed, and continue to grow.  
But the love would wither and the fighting would come back.

I always had to TRY to intervene. I always wanted to antagonize them enough to focus on me, and fight with me.
 If for nothing else then just a little attention.
 All in all I thought that I could fix things.

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Chapter 3 -"Mamma, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys"

It took me years to get to know my dad.  He was always busy and he was often out of state on business meetings.
 He was at one time an executive type for a large world wide construction company.  
He lost that job as an end result of a car accident.  
That is when we sold our house and moved to Fountain Green.

Dad was in the military and was invloved in many community positions with the city council and the planning comission.

My dad even in his lowest times was and is my hero.

Eventually we moved from Fountain Green to Sandy Utah.
We were still struggling and my dad worked at a Skaggs Alpha Beta (a hardware store) and other side jobs for construction making very close to minimum wage at these jobs, in order to support his at this time now, 9 children. Child support for his other family was great.

In Sandy is where my youngest brother Justin was born, and where we lived for about 4 years, before moving to Mapleton

Times were hard in Sandy and I passed out flyers and got odd jobs so that I could afford a little fun and a little pizza every now and then. 
I had older friends in the neighborhood that taught me how to accomplish some of my hearts desires through petty theft.  
I was desperate and easily lead.  I made stealing one of my daily activities with the support and encouragment of these "friends".
Certainly moving around a lot and changing schools often made me more influential by others. It was hard changing friends so much.

We moved to a place in Utah called Mapleton.  This was a place of refuge for my mother and father. 
Mapleton was a fairly quiet area, and this made them feel good.  
I was destroyed emotionally though, as I had left another whole group of friends behind in Sandy.
 I crawled into a secret depression for awhile.

Eventually I met some close friends. There were a large group of skate boarders that at first meeting them beat me up a lot.  
Eventually we became friends.  

But even after getting on 'solid ground', I was still getting into trouble.
 I was always walking 12 miles to go from Mapleton to Payson, where my grandmother lived.
Grandma Jennie, I loved being with her because she was good to me and I had 2 cousins that were a little older then me who lived with her.  
They took me places with them and I learned a lot from them.  
 
I loved to be with my cousin Aimie, she took me to dance clubs, and parties, and let me hang out with her.  
We grew up together from the time I was 2 years old.  She lived with my parents for awhile when she was younger.  
She was like my best friend.   Later in life I moved in with her and her boyfriend when I was having tuff times at home.  I was 14 at that time. 

My parents split up and I went to live with my grandmother.  
When my parents got back together a year later, they wanted me to move back in with them, I wouldn't. 
When they tried to force me, I tried to over dose on pills.  I was tired of battling with my parents, and them battling with each other.

I wasn't serious about dying then, I just wanted to make a statement.
 After taking a bunch of pills and coming back awhile later to my grandma's house,
my mom had the police waiting and my parents committed me to a rehabilitation facility.

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Chapter 4 -The drug store cowboy

Being in the hospital made me feel worse because for the first time in my life I had friends and loved ones that I could depend on. 
I had a large group of friends that came over to my grandma's house every day.  
Most of them were young girls that I had met at school.
One was "the love of my life" (or so we thought at that point in time), who I lost contact with since my parents took me away from my grandma's house.  She and I had a really good relationship, I hated to have to leave yet another good friend.

When I was released from the hospital, I had to move back with my parents who were then living in a trailer park in Provo, Utah.  
There I made some friends with girls in the neighborhood, and kids at school.

Provo High school, as well as being in the hospital is where I found connections into the drug scene.  
This is where I met my friends who I would move in with in the near future.  Several were 'skinheads'.
 Racist and non-racist.  We all B.S.ed about our politics, and our fears, and our hopes.  But our friendship was based on pride.
 Lord knows that we had nothing at all to be proud of, regardless of how 'profound' that we may have thought our accomplishments were. 
Another reflection of the culture that I grew up in, not only in the Mormon church but in rural Utah in general, a very tight nitched community, where a lot of prejudice and racism can be found.  (The Mormon church until 1978 would not let black hold their most honored blessings, and would not let them in their temples..)

I moved around a lot, and I knew many different types of people.
The things that I noticed most in my environment, is that poverty, violence, tragedy, and emotional situations were always able to unite people.
I guess that those things break down our pride, and other such things that would 'normally' hinder our connection to one another.

I found that anger was medication for my depression. Much like other Utahn's, I was prescribed with medications throughout my life.
Utah doubles the national statistics for prescription drug usage.
(sources, Salt Lake Tribune articles: Boredom in Utah; CBS NEWS: Utah Pressure & statistics in Utah)

The rioters in South Central L.A 1992, and in Miami shortly after made me question what I had been taught in my life, were these people what religion has painted them out to be? I questioned the cops, the courts, and the legalist of this world, and religion.  For some reason I thought that if I tore things apart and put things back together, that I could make sense out of my great deal of confusion.

I never hated anyone.  I didn't know very many people that didn't look, act and live like me.
So my anger was a product of an ignorance that I was raised in. 
Be it the religion that I was raised in or my many friends who were ignorant and seemingly racist.

Though I considered myself a 'skinhead', I had many girlfriends that were not white.
 I like one girl specifically who was fully Navaho and two other girls who were twins and were mostly Hawaiian.  
I have always appreciated diversity as it was strongly enforced in me by my mother.
  The term "skinhead" is broad and often misrepresented.  The first known skinhead groups came from England, and they consisted of men at a pub who hung out at pubs, drank and watched football (soccer to us in the US).  Race was seldom a matter.  Their unity came from being working class drunks typically, and even that definition doesn't give proper credit.  Music and social atmosphere had a lot to do with it too.

  After separating my mind from skinhead ideology many years ago, when I was still a teenager.  
I started understanding where my misunderstandings came from. 
I started going to Grateful Dead concerts and Rainbow gatherings.  
With 'modern day hippies'.  This is where my drug problem's got out of control. 
I went to dance clubs, and "raves", and things that were completely out of character for me, just to find love.

I wasn't very well accepted by local "religionist" and we, being less privileged then surrounding neighbors area made me feel a little more odd.
 So hippies and free thinkers were the best thing for the moment in my stage of life.

I was challenged in many other growing situations in the years to follow.  
Living with a proud Native American named Chewy, a group of Hare Krishnas, and various other teachers.

I ended up at my parents house again, and I just could not grasp any sort of a stable situation.  
 I could not hold a job, stay sober, stay content, and stay still. 
I was always restless, and I worked awfully hard to screw things up, but I thought that I had a cause.  
That was my excuse, my cause was to be the most 'non-conformist' person that I could be.
I felt betrayed at many levels and I was going to make life hard to deal with.

This depression got me very far down.  I seriously attempted suicide, in a blur of bad memories,and emotions I took nearly a full bottle of anti-depressants.  The pills were so toxic, that I fell onto the ground in convolutions. 
I remember the cops showing up, because my Grandma sensed that there was something really wrong with me,
after I got in a big fight with my mom. 
So grandma called the police and I was in the middle of talking to them and denying that anything was wrong with me.
That's when it happened. I blacked out, and fell to the floor while having a seizure. (My stomach has been messed up ever since) [top]

Chapter 5 -Sleepless in Seattle

After waking up from this blotched attempt on my life, I was so weak, that I couldn't even think clearly, or move.
I just laid in the hospital bed and rested.  After that, I had second thoughts on that idea, and decided to move to Seattle.
Apparently they thought that I was ok to go home, because they didn't try to institutionalize me.
So I left for Seattle.. (not before getting arrested one last time)

Eventually, after landing on the streets, and having restraining orders put against me from my mom.
I moved around the USA. I traveled all over for 3 years. I pretty much lived on the streets, and I had nothing.

Sometimes I would get a job, like washing cars, or doing construction labor.  
Sometimes my parents sent me some money.

This desperation landed me in many compromising situations.  
I ended up in the hospital on many occasions, beat up or something as a result of the environment that I lived in.

This is where I found that my weakened sense or morals and lack of standards, put me in a very vulnerable shell.  
Even though I let few people get close to me, some times my shell got broken and I had to paste back the pieces again.

I was nearly de-sensitized to sin.  I was willing to live a very dishonorable life just to continue to "fight the man".
 I had felt betrayed by the judicial system and religionist and wanted to do drugs, and live an unruly lifestyle just to make my stand and to kill the pain of living in what many journalist and writers have labeled Utah as being an "overly ridged moral system".

This battle against the system is just another distraction by the enemy.
No matter how hard that I tried to free myself, I was not able alone and I got sucked back in.[top]

Chapter 6 -A cup of cool water

After first leaving Utah and going to Seattle I met up with a Christian ministry called New Horizons.  
They were always willing to lend a warm shoulder and sit me down for a hot meal once and sometimes even twice a day.
Many times that took us street kids out for and activity.  They had very personal relationships with us, just as they do with the Lord.

They made us feel very welcome, and they were very hospitable.
Even though they spent 100's and even 1000's of hours serving the ministry, with no financial reimbursements
(some got paid minimal salaries) and they were always joyful, and always friendly.

I remember Chris, Mary, 'Grandma Penny' and so many others, giving me hours of their time,
just letting me whine about how awful things had gotten.

For the first time in my life, I truly experienced the love of the Lord in a true Christian fellowship.
 This was not religion.  This was not mans take on how things should be.  
This was what Christ taught.  This was a true relationship with the Lord, this was the everlasting Word of the Lord.

I was reluctant for years to accept this kind of discipline.  I thought to myself, "What do I know about love?"
How can I possibly trust something so simple?  It didn't make sense to me and I ran from it.
I traveled around for another 2 years.  I went from Santa Cruz, to Minneapolis and back several times.
 I stayed in many different cities and spoke to many different people about the Lord. 
I got the opinion and testimonies of many different people (about everything imaginable) [top]

Chapter 7 -A friend of the who?

Eventually I ended up living in Spokane WA.  I was living with a girl and I was going to marry her. 
But her parents put pressure on her to leave me, because I wouldn't marry her in the Mormon temple.

Many times I tried to get a job and 'do something with my life' to prove to her and her family that I was worthy.
But I was not going to marry her in a temple that was built on a foundation that I didn't believe in.

One time when we were living together.  It was during the holidays in 1998. It was right after Christmas, and times were tuff.  
We had no food in the house, and I was going to be evicted soon.
 My family was poor, and her family hated me. So we had little hope of surviving together.

So I found a car, the people selling it were going to let me pay them payments.  I got in it for a test drive.
 The care needed a battery and my parents sent the money for it, I put it in and took it for a test drive.  I was driving without a license and there was no registration.  The car had been sitting for years and there was no traction on the tires.

So I was driving down the highway and I tried to turn around to head home and I slipped off of the road into an ice embankment.  
I flooded the carburetor with gas, and I was stuck with no way to get home.  
It was nearly a blizzard at this time and I knew that if I flagged down a highway patrol
and that the car would get impounded and I may get a ticket or go to jail for something.
 So I prayed.  I prayed for any kind of relief. 
I just asked for the Lord into my life, inspired by all of the kind people
and the testimonies that had been shared with me about the Lord and His mercy and love.

After praying, and receiving the comfort of the Lord.  I got back in the car, and it started immediately.
 I got back on the road, with no push or pull. Then I drove back to where I got the car with no worry at all.  
I parked the car in the driveway from where I took it. It never started for me again.

So I was on the "heel - toe express" again. I was going back and forth from the small mountain town that I lived in,
to Spokane Washington which was about 25 miles away. I went for a job, for food, for prayer.
About 2 weeks after my experience with praying.  I was hitch hiking back from Spokane;
and a young man named Nathan picked me up, to my surprise he was a youth pastor at a local church.
Him and I both decided after talking about this experience that I had, that this was a divine appointment.
He gave me a ride and his phone number, and offered me prayer and advice whenever I needed it.

I called him often and he helped me get home to Utah in March (1999) to visit with my family for a few weeks.  
After that I went to Minnesota to sell magazine subscriptions,
then I came back to Spokane again after realizing that I didn't have the capacity then for that kind of work. [top]

Chapter 8 -Then came a light

I came back to Spokane and shortly after arriving, I got picked up by Nathan while I was hitch-hiking, in the very same place again.
I went to his church with him that next weekend.
This is when I sincerely believed in God and was moved to open the Bible and read His words. I opened it up to Matthew 10.
 I will never forget it, Lord willing.

I was living on the streets again.
Walking back from Nathan's mother's house one beautiful summer day I came upon a man who was sanding his car.
He looked as though he was having a very bad day. I asked him if I could pray for him.
He accepted, and then brought me in to meet his wife. By the end of that night, after feasting with them, and praying.
They invited me to live with them. They actually kicked their daughter out of their house and moved me into her room.
I was shocked. But I was thankful for the Lords blessings.

I got hooked up with Nathan's former church eventually too, it was a non-denominational church called the Life Center.
They had a college age group of kids, and they had a cook out in the park every Friday.
I was invited to river rafting trips, Christian concerts, and to stay the night at the houses of some of the members.

I eventually got an apartment through the House Authority of Spokane, for $25 a month.
I had a job selling insurance for credit cards, and I was making a fair wage.
There were also great fellowship meetings held right around the corner from my house.

At one of these Bible studies, we read Romans 13 and I was convicted to be accountable for my actions.
I was mad about all of the hypocrisy that I seen around me; that convicted me anymore.
I had warrants in Utah for possession of marijuana. I was still smoking marijuana. Thinking to myself that "the Lord made it, so why not use it".
I had a lot of excuses. But the Bible told me that taking medication is called "Paramecia" (witchcraft).
I used marijuana just like some people use Prozac, or aspirin.

But I was convicted that even using those kinds of drugs are "Paramecia", or witchcraft.
It was when the Bible study leader was smoking a cigarette, and he told me that smoking marijuana was wrong in the eyes of God,
this is where I learned the word "pharmacia" from. He made so much effort to convict me of that. 
I got mad and that is when I truly questioned my 'need' for using marijuana.  
I found that there was no need at all, that it was simply a desire, that I could do without.

I knew that it was best do to without it anyway.
As it wasn't healthy, I wasn't focused or productive and I wasn't connected to God.  
My thoughts were about me and me only when I was on drugs, and that had never gotten me too far,
I just kept sinking farther and farther.

So I came back to Utah being convicted that I should not be using marijuana or any other drug and so
I turned myself in on 4 separate warrants all for possession of marijuana.
When I got out my family was reluctant to let me come back, but they seen the change that the Lord has been making in my life and they were inspired to participate in my life again.  
I have been lived with them and for 2 years, and our relationship was just as off and on as it had always been and unpredicable.[top]

Chapter 9 - Changes in latitude/Changes in attitude

I have grown to see many changes in my 26 years of life.  
I have seen many of my life situations change.  Many people around me change and many of the ideals of this world change.
It seems like an endless cycle to some who don't pay close attention to the life struggles,
the pain, the motion and the growth of what is around them.  
I flew by so un-amused by the situations around me.  
I remember as a teenager, that I couldn't see 2 minutes into my future, but I could see very far into my past.  
Pain has a way of holding people back.
The more that I let go of pain, the more clearly I can see the present and the more I welcome the future.
Watching my dog give birth was one of the most amazing things that I have witnessed.  
Now with a child of our own on the way, I can only imagine what is to come.  
But for the first time in a long time, the anxiety of having kids has left.
The Lord has provided for us, and he will continue too.  
There is one thing that I am sure of in this world, is that the Lord is faithful, even when I am faithless.

 

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www.behindzioncurtain.com © 2001-2003 by Ryan Thompson