. This Ragged Life Renewed

Chapter 1- My Arrival
Chapter 2- Me, Mamma and the Utes
Chapter 3- Mamma, don't let your babies (grow up to be cowboys)
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 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.
It was a very lonely way to live life since making friends was difficult. We ended up in Fountain Green Utah after a few years of moving around with the company that my father worked for.
We lived in a run down house with a wood stove for heating. Snakes and spiders could be found all over.
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. This 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.
My sister Melissa was born in Buckeye Arizona about 18 months prior and then my little brother Brad was just born while struggling in Fountain Green.
Still poor, desperate and frustrated because all of her responsibility my mom forged through, not to mention having 5 step children from my dad's previous marriage that we're indirectly a part of our family, but old enough to be on their own by then.


In Fountain Green I went to school for the first time. This was my first kindergarten class, but shortly after I started there we would move to Sandy Utah and I would go to kindergarten there too.
There were many moves around Utah and I got to see all of Utah and it's various culture.
I noticed in Salt Lake county the religious (Mormon) community was far less dense than in other parts of Utah. We went to the (LDS) church but I noticed that in SLC, I had far more friends who went to different churches or didn't attend church at all.

Many people think that Utah isn't diverse, but it is. Utah county which is about 85% Mormon is far less diverse than Salt Lake county which is declining in LDS population and is only about 55% now and will probably be less than 50% LDS in ten years by the way the Mormon population is waning.

The contrast between predominately Mormon communities and less populated Mormon communities was always obvious. Especially in the sense that in predominately Mormon communities there seemed more of an overly rigid moral system which created a social cliche. For those who are Mormon and go to church, it gave them a sort of superiority complex, a"right" look down on others.

There were also much fewer minorities in a predominately Mormon community.
I remember going to school in Salt Lake city where I had many friends and neighbors of all different ethnicity and cultures, although in Utah County and also in more densely populated Mormon communities I found that I rarely knew of anyone that wasn't a white middle class Mormon.
The only variety that I noticed was there were some that were richer and some were less than rich. But for the most part all were white and most were Mormon.

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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 in Arizona and moved to Fountain Green.

Dad was in the military and was involved in many community positions with the city council and the planning commission. 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 doing 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 a great burden.

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 encouragement 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 my parents feel good about life.
I was destroyed emotionally as a result of having left another whole group of friends behind in Sandy.
I crawled into a secret depression for awhile.

Eventually I met some close friends in Springville (where I went to school). There were a large group of skate boarders that at first meeting them beat me up a lot, but eventually we became good 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 than 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, 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,
s he was like my best friend for many years. Later in life I moved in with her and her boyfriend when I was having tuff times at home, when I was 14.

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 (rehab) made me feel worse because for the first time in my life I had friends and loved ones that I could depend on and now I didn't while in this hospital.

Most of the friends that I had on the "outside" 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 and moved me to (another) new city. She and I had a really good relationship and 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 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. ((See reference #2))

I moved around a lot and as a result I got to know 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 Utahan's, I was prescribed with medications throughout my life. Side note: Utah doubles the national statistics for prescription drug uage.
( See ref #1)

There was also a lot of racism in my life. Not just because the LDS church had a strong stance against people of color for a long time (as well as in the doctrine in the Book of Mormon).

I noticed other things too like the rioters in South Central L.A 1992 and in Miami shortly after that made me question what I had been taught in my life were these people what the Mormon religion painted them out to be? I questioned the cops the courts and the legalists of this world and eventually religion too. 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 and I didn't know very many people that didn't look, act and live like me.
My anger was a product of an ignorance that I was raised in, things just didn't fit together.

Though I considered myself a 'skinhead', I had many girlfriends that were not white.
I loved one girl who was full Navajo 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.
Side note: 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. 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 to find a different atmosphere.
This is where my drug problems got out of control, I found a new atmosphere but I was way to high.
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 "religionists" and we (my family) being less privileged than surrounding neighbors area made me feel a little less accepted.
So hippies and free thinkers were the best thing for that moment in my stage of life.

I was challenged in many other growing situations in the years to follow.I lived in a large group of people for awhile with a proud Native American named Chewy, a group of Hare Krishna's, and various other teachers in a free-thinker community in Provo Utah. (my friend Terri's place)

I ended up at my parents house again after a few years and I just could not grasp any sort of a stable situation.
I could not hold a job, stay sober, stay content, or 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, especially with the hypocritical Mormon church.

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.
That's when it happened. I blacked out and fell to the floor while having a seizure. Cops and family were all around me by then, fortunately.
(My stomach has been messed up ever since)


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 for marijuana possession)

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 religionists 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".
No matter how hard that I tried to free myself, I was not able alone and I got sucked back in.

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)

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, 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 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 and 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 a few weeks prior, that this was a divine appointment between him and myself.
He gave me a ride and his phone number, and offered me prayer and advice whenever I needed it.
I found out that Nathan had lost his dad when he was young and he ended up on the streets at an early age in life too.

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 do door to door sales.
I came back to Spokane again after realizing that I didn't have the capacity then for that kind of work. (it was a scam)

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, it was the first chapter I memorized.

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 other believers.

I eventually got an apartment through the House Authority of Spokane for $25 a month.
I had a job selling insurance 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 even more.
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".

But I was convicted that even using those kinds of drugs are "Pharamecia" or witchcraft. (ref: Duetoronomy)
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 "pharmecia".br> 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.

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.

I now use cannabis as a treatment for sever headaches ! as of 2008

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 lived with them and for 2 years. During that time my youngest brother Justin overdosed and died.
It was one of the most awakening experiences in my life. Life is so fragile.

Chapter 9 - Changes in latitude/Changes in attitude

 

Now I am married and I have a wonderful family with a new baby in the house and a wonderful wife.

I have seen many of my life situations change. Many people around me change and many of the ideals of this world change. There is one thing that I am certain of in this world, is that the Lord is faithful, even when I am faithless.

 

By Ryan Thompson 2002

 

 

I've made videos about this topic and others at YouTube.

YouTube.com/SLU2com & YouTube.com/UtahPirateRadio



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