Tuesday, January 7, 2020

My Old Friend

One Sunday when I was five, dressed in my best, I waited for the grown-ups to be ready. The usual hustle and bustle to leave for church on time was in full swing. I sat on the floor in the kitchen playing with the dogs. A Parental came in, swooped me up. He laid me over his knee and began spanking my bum.

Of course I began to make noise.

A GrandParental came in and scolded the Parental. The Parental put me down, straightened my dress and they went on with their hustle and bustle. Dazed and sore, I sat down with the dogs and solemnly waited.

That night the Parentals and I arrived at our home. I went to my room and readied myself for bed. The Parental came in and gently began to explain how my punishment was interrupted. Authority had been usurped and we had unfinished business. I had been on the floor in my Sunday Best with the dogs and that was unacceptable.

So They said, “Let us resume.”

I was picked up and placed back on that knee. The “spanking” commenced. However, it was different. It hurt. I began to wriggle, say NO and try to get away. I began to kick and squirm. The spanking turned to hitting. I heard a metal watch snap. My body stopped fighting because the pain was too great, and I just sobbed.

Parental gently and compassionately lifted me from the lap, looked me deep in the eyes and said, “Now, honey. I’m sorry I lost control. I’m so sorry I hurt you. BUT you broke my watch and that really hurt me. You need to learn how to accept consequences when you are wrong. When I get that angry I just can’t control myself, you can’t let me get that angry. I’m simply not responsible for what I do.”

My Five Year Old logic heard, “I cannot ever say No. I cannot ever fight back. If I fight back it will always be worse. That worse will always be my fault because I asked for it. If something unpleasant happens, I need to accept it and never fight it. My body doesn’t belong to me”

A little over a year later the Parentals and I went on a Christmas trip to meet family. I stayed the night with a part of the family I had never met and something mysterious happened. When I came home, sleeping was never again the same.

The terrors first tickled my feet in the middle of the night when I was around 6. They would reach up from under my bed, grab my ankles and drag me down to a dark, hot flaming place filled with screaming and pain. I could hear a laughter that made my skin peal from my muscles. I would get out of bed and run to my parents. They would pat me on the head and arm me with verses like:

“Jesus came to conquer death and heal, so we have nothing to fear.”

“God is greater than he who is in the world.”

They would instruct me to go back to bed and fight these spirits myself because Jesus gave me the power to conquer all of this myself. I was fine. I was silly to be afraid.

My little girl logic heard, I had little faith. Jesus shamed the disciples for having Little Faith. Jesus didn’t have any power to do things if I had Little Faith. So, I had to have Big Faith all the time.

So I prayed, and cried and worked my Big Faith until I fell asleep. Perfectly in the middle of that bed, wrapped in the sheets and blankets. That way I was maybe protected from anything that might try and reach up from underneath.

We first became friends when I was very small. He was known by a different name at that time. I was told stories about the place he lived. How it was a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. There were no tears or torment. No fear. He prepared a place for me. God was there. Jesus was there.

The Bible said the Days were Evil. We were to Watch for the Signs. Jesus was coming and would catch us all up in The Rapture. Jesus was going to rescue us from all of this pain and torment. Jesus was going to wipe away our tears forever.

That sounded wonderful to me.

When I felt insecure and I asked Parentals about that Thief in the Night. About my dreams of having a family and a future, I was told that it wasn’t to me. I shouldn’t plan for vain things like that. God was in charge of that. I was to look forward to being caught up in the clouds. To that wonderful place of no more suffering. Then the chastisement of my rebellious and sinful heart wanting selfish things like a future would inevitably follow.

My Childlike Faith honored, just like the Bible told me to do, my Parentals. I began to focus on that Wonderful Place.

That meant I would have no more nightmares. I would be able to sleep the whole night through and feel rested. I would never walk through a door and tremble wondering what was waiting for me on the other side. I could wake up every morning and not worry if I would have a house to live in at the end of the day. No longer would I worry about if there would be enough food for my sisters and I.

I would be free to tell the truth all the time. If I felt sad, I could say I felt sad and I would be comforted. If I felt afraid, I would be heard. If something was wrong, I could ask and help would be given. No longer would I have to say things were fine when they weren’t. No longer would I have to “protect” the Parentals so God’s power could work in the church. I would be free from the daily suffering of an ever-shifting reality and unpredictable abuse.

I really like the sound of that.

Then at 14, he took on a different name. He offered the same comfort. The same release. The same secrets. Only I didn’t have to wait for it to happen.

Really, what was the concept of Heaven and the Second Coming/Rapture really at it’s core?


Why did I have to wait?

I see through another day of pain. By this time, I was invisible to most people anyway. From my perspective, being unseen made everyone the happiest. My opinion didn’t matter to the Parentals at this point. They told me often I was rebellious, awful, lazy, selfish, nagging, self-absorbed, proud, etc. The only time I achieved approval was when I was silent and fulfilling duties. I focused all of my energies on doing as well as I could in school and making life as loving as possible for my sisters.
I stood in the kitchen at 14 with a serrated stake knife at my wrist. I could hear my sisters playing outside. I felt Death’s warm comforting arms wrap around me. The numbing silence absorbing the pain that filled me. Then a small shaft of logic light played out all that would happen next: who would find me. Could I be at peace with that being their las t memory of me? How could I guarantee I would be gone? No mistakes. This wasn’t an attempt. This was a guarantee.

My sisters were in enough pain. I couldn’t contribute to their burden. I put the knife back. Death warmly hugged me and said it was ok. We’d work it out some other time. The Light of Logic said it was Ok. This pain was unbearable.

So, I focused on choosing to live every day. Reminding myself of those I would disappoint if I didn’t.
Heaven and the Second Coming/Rapture however no longer held hope for me. They made my heart sick with longing. I got to the point where I had to stop listening. I made myself stop believing. It got in the way of my ability to live and grow through all the pain that came next.

In college I met someone. He wanted the same future I did. A family who laughed and love. To work together. Go on adventures together. Love fearlessly and simply. He wanted a simple life too, at the time. A family, memories, grandkids, happy holidays, gatherings, adventures, warm quiet nights, etc.
That was the only future I ever wanted. That was the life I chose to stay alive every day for. To build, work through pain. Walk away from unhealthy practices. End toxic relationships. It was a simple, quiet, stable future.

This summer, after almost 30 years, that future told me I needed to find a new future and it walk out the door.

For the last six months I have found myself back in that 14 year old’s shoes. Standing in the kitchen staring at the serrated steak knife wondering what now.

 Slowly, with lots of help, I choose to live each day. I say good morning to Death and we make a list of things to accomplish. I have a list of people who would miss me. Logic Light reminds me that they really would, they aren’t just pandering. I no longer have a conventional family. My future is a huge unknown. People try and encourage me with “do whatever you want.”

Logic Light says, I’m 51.

I had what I wanted.

The best I can do is take the pieces of what is left and be content with making it all good enough. To create a space of light and peace where I am.

All of it in hopes that when Death naturally comes and gently takes my hand,

I am not leaving anyone disappointed.


Thanks for visiting the lily pad.