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
It was the second Friday of November 1996 when Jay excitedly asked me to meet him at a church in Sachse where he had been invited by one of my new Christian friends and mentors, “Abby” (who he had also befriended) to attend a Power Team Christian evangelism presentation 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 Abby and her entire family, a couple of whom I’d really come to admire and respect. It was then that Jay told me that “he was so sorry”, but over the last several months God had “called them together”, that they had been hiding their relationship and that they were engaged. There I stood, just as I had 20 years before, numb and sick with the same stinging, prickly disconnected pain underneath the top layer of my skin from “Spic and Span”. I walked out of the church, heartbroken and alone and just started driving, to Oklahoma City and back.
When I got back to Dallas it was already morning and I had convinced myself that I just needed to LET IT GO! “Pull yourself together Catherine! Shrug it off! Suck it up! Don’t be weak! DON’T FALL!” I proceeded to the regularly scheduled Saturday morning meet with Christian and Him at the mall parking lot for our weekend custody switch, wrecked beyond belief but fervently trying to keep myself from coming unhinged for Christian’s sake. I needed not to let the night before breaking me down completely and at this stage in the game I was already an old pro at “stuffing all the painful things” as far down as possible and pretending they just didn’t exist. But despite my best efforts to keep it all together, I consciously decided to pick a fight with Him so that I could just run away and avoid having to mottle through my weekend visit with Christian. 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’ house where I’d been living at the time and proceeded to swallow every single pill or capsule, I could find in my bathroom cabinets. I JUST WANTED TO “GO HOME”!
The details of that morning were never very clear, but I do remember laying there rocking back and forth and crying that I wanted to be with God. My sister heard me and quickly realized what I had done and called 911. Meanwhile, He and Christian had followed me home because He was concerned that something was “off” with me at our meeting and was worried. My parents were ballistic, and Julie had frantically pulled me out of the bed in a desperate attempt to drag me to the bathroom and make me throw up all the pills. There were flashes of light, like neurons snapping on and off, and fuzzy, swooshing sounds that I can’t really describe with words. Then my Christian, a mere five years old at the time, managed to slip through the chaos and come to me. He too was crying but had taken hold of my wrist and was patting my back as though he were the parent consoling their child. Up to that point, I had been unable to focus on anything in the room, yet I could clearly hear what 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 is imperative to note that, although I could see his mouth moving and hear the words he was saying, it was not Christian’s voice that I was hearing. I firmly believe and will never be convinced otherwise that God Himself was speaking to me through my son that day.
I stayed in the hospital for a few days and from there the State had committed me to Green Oaks Hospital where I went underwent intense treatment for clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and also the much needed but sorely delayed rape counseling that I had never actually gotten. My entire family, including Him, 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, but 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 and focused. And despite the unbelievably selfish horror I had put them all through, my entire family welcomed me home again.