January 08, 2005

Never Again

Updated: Texasbug and I are on the same page (literally).

In 2001, we had just moved into one our most favorite homes. One of my friends had offered to come by with a house-warming present of Coconut Cream Pie. I obliged her. We feed the children "fun foods" and afterward, while they played dress-up, we enjoyed our own lunch of loaded baked potatoes. Between bites of potato swimming in butter and bejeweled with chives and bacon bits and sips of sweet iced-tea, we caught up. After the local news, she mentioned how she hadn't been able to sleep since hearing of that woman in Texas who drowned all of her children. My eyes widened. Believe it or not, we don't pay for television and rarely watch it. The USA Today hadn't been delivered and the NPR station I listened to broadcast ATC earlier in the morning than I rose. I was in the dark. As she filled me in on the details, I became physically sick. I excused myself and went into the bathroom and alternately wept and wretched. After about fifteen minutes, I returned to the table. The conversation never did return to pleasantries, though it wasn't from lack of trying.

When she left, I immediately googled the information. What I read made me heart twist and my stomach once again lurch. In the coming weeks I was disgusted with the attempts of NOW to excuse her actions as due to the difficulties of parenting. There had been plenty of times in my mothering career that I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated. I didn't methodically drown and lay my children out, and calmly call the police and then my husband. I put the children down for a nap; I put them in the car and went for a drive; I ate cake; I took a nap; I read a book; I surfed the internet. I left them with my husband while I escaped to a movie, wandered Wal-Mart alone, or had coffee with a friend. I talked to him, cried to him, saught solace and commiseration with him and my women friends. This was the act of a very sick woman. After reading more, I knew what this was about.

There is a portion of the Christian culture that believes, wrongly believes, that a woman is to submit to her husband without question, without discussion. When I read that Rusty Yates induced his family to living in a broken down bus; and knowing his wife's battle with post-partum depression, encouraged her to go off of her meds and to have more children and in doing so recklessly ignored the advice of a professional psychiatrist, I made my judgment right then. A man who truly loves his wife ("as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her") would not ask his wife to sacrifice her health or the well-being of their children. Convenient for him to supply a 350 foot renovated bus for her to be home alone all day with four children while he went off to an office everyday and interacted with adults. Not only did he subject her to such wretched living conditions, he further isolated her in declaring homeschooling as the only God-approved method for educating their children. The physical solitude to which he now confined her undid the last shred of sanity she possessed. He continually ignored the advice of medical professionals (as fundamentalist extremists often do, as the culture encourages distrust of government and those of higher education and subscribes to conspiracy theories) and concerns of her family.

I decided who the true culprit was. I couldn't believe that he could not see his own heavy-handed contributions to her eventual mental decline and psychosis. When R and I considered home educating, my ability to cope was the biggest concern. R wanted a sane mother and emotionally healthy children above anything else. When I told him that I couldn't have anymore children without losing my mind, he agreed and dutifully called the urologist. Anytime someone declares God has revealed to them the only way in which to rear children, or conduct your marriage, or manage the minute details of your daily living, I am suspicious.

All that said, I agree with Jeff's analysis. Andrea Yates was not in her right mind. The reports of her response to her actions when she has been consistently treated while imprisoned proves that to me. She is astonished, astounded, ashamed, and disgusted with herself. She is remorseful. I think Andrea should have been placed in a mental facility and treated by a psychiatrist and with medications. To Jeff's thoughts, I add one more thing: it is Rusty Yates that I think should have been imprisoned. My belief system induces me to believe that both will somehow be held accountable in some measure and to some degree, but I can't help but think that Mr. Yates, as one in a position of leadership and influence, will recieve a heavier sentence. At least the thought comforts my soul. And that's my final answer.

Posted by Rae at January 8, 2005 01:35 PM

I live in Texas, and I keep wondering why these women (there are more cases like this...) keep losing it in the Lone Star State. You have made some very valid, intelligent points here. Thank you, Rae, for your insight. I needed that.

Posted by: Mrs.E at January 8, 2005 06:01 PM

The things that we do to others and to ourselves, and the things we allow others to do to us in the "name" of Christ are often horrific. Moreso, to me, because they are so often done with the very best of intentions, for the perceived good. That's what makes me shudder. That and the fact that there isn't one of us who isn't susceptible to ruining lives "for Jesus," including our own.

Sometimes I think stark hedonism would be preferable to Christianity. At least then motivations would be less susceptible to twisting self-deception, which is what I perceive as going on behind the Christianity that becomes rule-oriented.

Posted by: Cindy at January 10, 2005 09:27 AM

I think there are times when we are all tempted to "Go Back to Egypt" (aka let someone else rule over us and does all the thinking) but Cindy, I think this is an extreme case. Extreme.

Posted by: Rae at January 10, 2005 09:58 AM

being from Texas...and just a few miles from the Yates' home....my feelings mirror yours. My friends and I talk about how it makes our stomachs lurch when we see Mr. Yates at the gym or at Target, living a regular old life. He is despicable!

For your readers who are not Christians...please don't blame Christianity. Blame those who would twist Christianity to suit their own need for control. Jesus Christ would NEVER condone the way Mr. Yates treated his wife. Christianity is not supposed to be a "religion of rules" but exactly the opposite. Freedom from all that.

My heart breaks for Andrea, because even though her acts were horrific, she is obviously sick. If she's ever treated properly for her illness, which your post alludes she has been, what kind of a life would she have with the coherent knowledge of what she's done? To treat or to punish...it is a lose, lose no matter what.

A true tragedy in every sense of the word, and so close to home for me. It's all anyone can talk about once again.

Posted by: texasbug at January 11, 2005 10:12 PM

Thank you so much for visiting my blog and posting your awesome comments. I believe I stumbled on your blog from your link to the California Hammonds story, and I'm so glad I did!

I've added you to my blogroll and I hope a lot of my friends will drop by and visit. Thanks again!

Posted by: texasbug at January 12, 2005 04:42 PM

I have made a post on Texasbugs site for you. I would like apologize for my comments about Andrea Yates on your Blog Texasbug. I have to admit they where not the comments of a Christian at all. I hope you will accept these apologies.
Pastor Rick

Posted by: Pastor Rick Hill Jr at January 12, 2005 08:37 PM

Oh please. stop blaming the husband for the wicked wife's crime. She did it. Period. She's a freak who will burn in hell one day. I wish Rusty all the best and hope he finds a good woman someday and remains happy. As for Andrea...burn in hell psychotic freak!!!

Posted by: Melanie at July 1, 2005 06:52 PM

May God be as mericful to you as you are to your fellow man, You aren't welcome to come back.

Posted by: Rae at July 1, 2005 08:23 PM
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