NOVEMBER 8, 1996: “What Lied Beneath” …

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On this cool, crisp day in November, John asked me to meet him at a church in Sachse where he had been invited by one of my new Christian friends and mentors, Angie (who he’d also befriended) to attend a Power Team Christian evangelism show where he would also later be baptized that as well. He said that he had “something very exciting and important” to tell me that night, and based upon the tone and context of the recent conversations we’d been having I had every reason to believe that he was actually going to propose to me! Imagine my surprise then when after the baptism I was led into a room in the back of the church, where there he was standing, beside Angie and her entire family, a lot of people whom I’d truly come to admire and respect. It was then that John told me that “he was so sorry”, but over the last months, and completely unbeknownst to me, “God had called them together”, they’d fallen madly in love, and had been hiding their relationship from me. There I stood, just as I had 20 years before, numb and sick with the same stinging, disconnected pain just beneath the top layer of my skin on “the day of the Spic and Span“. I walked out of the church, heartbroken and alone, and just started driving on a 300-mile round trip to Oklahoma City and back. I’d just danced with the devil, a narcissist of unspeakable proportion, who after all was said and done “hoovered me” for years to come, but that’s another story for another time.

When I arrived back in Dallas, it was just about time for the Saturday parking lot meet up with Christian and his dad for our weekend custody switch. I was wrecked beyond belief but doing everything I could to keep it all together for my son’s sake. I needed not to let what had happened the night before break me down completely, and by this stage in the game I was a pro at stuffing painful things down and pretending they just didn’t exist. Despite my best efforts, though, I consciously decided to pick a fight with my ex-husband so I could just run away and avoid having to fake my way through a “normal” weekend visit with son. I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, had just experienced the second biggest bombshell of my life, and although I didn’t know it, was less than 15 minutes away from the first of my nervous breakdowns. I went back to my parents’, where I’d been living at the time, swallowed every single pill, capsule, and liquid medicine I could find in my bathroom. I JUST WANTED TO “GO HOME”!

The details of that morning were never very clear, but I do remember just lying there, rocking back and forth and screaming that I wanted to be with God. It was my sister who first realized what I had done to myself and called 911. Meanwhile, my ex-husband and Christian had followed me home because he’d been concerned that something was just “off” at our meeting and was worried. My parents were ballistic as my sister was frantically pulling me out of the bed and dragging me to the bathroom to throw up everything I’d swallowed. While I cannot and will not ever say that I actually died that day, what I can say is that something did happen within my body and soul in that moment that not only defies logic, but as well everything I’d been taught to believe about life, death, and “hereafter” in my cradle Catholicism. It was “something”. I went “somewhere”. “Somewhere” I can still hardly fathom. No, I never saw “the light” we all hear people talk about when they’ve had a near death experience, because again, I don’t think I was actually dying. Rather, there was a numbing, soothing, lulling void in my mind, as if I were being cradled in blissful nothingness by every single hand from every single shred of the universe at once. It was ethereal to say the least, and even still when I think of it I want to cry, but not in a sad way, in a joyous one. “That moment” fully devoured and immersed me in something so much bigger than my simple mind will ever understand, yet at the same time I very much do understand it.

Meanwhile, my Christian, a mere five years old at the time, managed to slip through all the chaos and come to me. He, too, was ballistic and frantically crying, but had taken hold of my wrist and was patting my back as though HE were the parent consoling their child. Up until that point, I hadn’t been able to focus on anything in the room, because everything around me was just “dark”, yet I could very clearly hear my son was saying:

Mommy, God’s not ready for you to go home. He wants you to stay here and be my Mom.

It’s imperative to note that although I could see his mouth moving and hear the words he was saying, it was not Christian’s voice I was hearing. I firmly believe, and will never be convinced otherwise, that it was God Himself was speaking to me through my son.

I stayed in the hospital for a few days until the state had me committed to a local Dallas psyche ward where I underwent intense treatment for clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the sorely delayed but much needed rape counseling I’d never gotten. My whole family was involved in this process, which was something that by then that we were all in dire need of. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t want to die that morning, I just couldn’t pull myself out of the black hole that I was in. I was lucky. Very lucky. I made it home in time for Christmas that year, feeling lighter and happier than I had in years, clear-headed, focused, and internally combusted with a fire in my soul of epic proportion. Despite the unbelievably selfish horror I had put them all through, my entire family welcomed me home again.

As for the devil? He never ONCE turned back see what he had done! It was such an easy choice for him to just discard me as the unwanted “baggage” he’d also once referred to as my son. As for me? It was everything, because I loved him, I’d trusted him, and had given him every piece of my already broken heart I could have given. As for her? Her betrayal of me “in Jesus’ name” literally murdered my soul and caused spiritual damage within my heart, soul and psyche that would literally take years to recover from.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said: “The devil doesn’t come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for”. It wasn’t for years that I’d finally understand that they were two of the actual devil’s own. He, the consummate wolf in sheep’s clothing, and she, by the name of “Angela”, the most beautiful angel of Light I could have known. My friend, my mentor, and “sister in Christ”, with a pit viper’s tongue and a knife in her backstabbing hand. Indeed, it was my darkest hour to find out what really lied beneath the surface of two of the most truly evil “things” I’ve ever encountered.

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Take a breath. Hold it in. Start a fight. You won’t win. Had enough. Let’s begin. Never mind. I don’t care. All in all, you’re no good. You don’t cry like you should. Let it go if you could when love dies in the end. So I’ll find what lies beneath your sick twisted smile as I lay underneath your cold, jaded eyes. Now you’ve turned the tide on me ’cause you’re so unkind. I will always be here for the rest of my life. Here we go. Does it hurt? Say goodbye to this world. I will not be undone. Come to life. It gets worse. … Don’t carry me under. You’re the Devil in disguise. God sing for the hopeless. I’m the one you left behind. {Breaking Benjamin}