Light is absent as I stand in the hallway…alone. There is darkness inside and out; silence pounds in my ears and terror grips me. My 6 (or 7) year old feet are rooted to the spot as my fear-widened senses search for someone, anyone. But the only thing sharing home with me was the night.
Reverse time for a moment to gain a clearer understanding of the monumental significance of the above event. My sister and I had been living with my Dad at his parent’s house after my Mom had committed herself to a mental institution. Our approximate ages were two years and three months respectively. It was there the first six significant growing years of my life took place, and in my child’s eyes my granny was my mother. An addition was built once the conclusion was drawn that Mom would not be returning soon, and at two years my crib in the flower curtain draped living room was exchanged for a gray upstairs bedroom shared with my sister. My Dad also had his bed upstairs. Like the Dark Island where dreams come true in C. S. Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia), the second floor became a murky fog shrouded realm after Dad began using me to fulfill his warped sexual desires. Following the nightmare nights, descending the stairs to the sun-shiny-yellow kitchen seemed akin to entering heaven. Almost invariably, my granny, working at the sink, baking/cooking or sitting at the table would turn and greet me with a smile. Her presence became my rock in a storm tossed sea; that light filled room became my sanctuary. In the evening when Grandpa relaxed with the newspaper in his easy chair, I would crawl onto his lap and lay cradled at his side. There I found a rare place of rest and safety. Silently my depleted soul would absorb his affection and warmth as the roots of a water starved flower absorbs moisture after a rain. Both grandparents struggled with their own issues, but they were my pinpoints of calm in an otherwise tumultuous existence.
My first memory of Mom was at my grandparent’s house; she threw up in her napkin during dinner after having too much to drink. Stability was not her strong suit…she would emerge from the hospital to try to set up housekeeping with us (I don’t remember how often that happened) at which time we would move to her mom’s house until she would retreat again. Her presence became a scary shadow moving in and out of my life like a phantom silent tornado leaving chaos in its wake.
At age six my frantically sobbing figure clung to the front steps of my grandparent’s home as I was being torn from my care givers to live solely with those I feared the most, a mentally unstable alcoholic and a child molester. Across town in a gloomy downstairs flat, I would stand on the couch and longingly gaze out the picture window in the assumed direction of my lost refuge. Home had become a dirty, messy twilight place which was a horror to my sensibilities, trained for cleanliness by the obsessive neat freak who was my granny. With dark circled glaring eyes my mom would loudly accuse me of looking just like her (my granny…whom she hated). Swaying unsteadiness was often her posture and fear of her anger and unpredictability engulfed me. A picture of finding her sprawled on the floor is etched in my mind. I can only assume she had passed out from too much alcohol consumption. If children my age loathed, that was how I felt towards her. And, my sister was her love object; I was the one she disliked. (In all fairness when living with our granny, I was the one on which Granny doted at the expense of a neglected older sister.) My father travelled for his job which often left us alone with the fearful person who was my mom. My guess is he was gone when that gut-wrenching night of abandonment struck (as described in the first paragraph).
Unknowingly directed by the law of cause and effect, my unconscious mind came to the only child-like-logical conclusion it could in response to being rejected and forsaken. I was to blame. Because of who I was my mom left me, hated me and scorned me. I determined I would become whomever I needed to be to insure she would never leave or hate me again. Withdrawing from my personhood, I surrendered myself to the need to be “loved and accepted” so I could survive. The beautiful God creation that was me became a black hole of horror on the edge of which I spent my life desperately scrambling to avoid being consumed. For years I knew that abyss existed and wondered what it was…I suspected the answer, but now I am certain…it was my suffering child.
At this station in my tunnel journey, I am being called by the Lover of my Soul to finally embrace all that is me and to yield this open sore to the Great Physician for cleansing and cauterizing. When He gently closes the healed wound, it will no longer negatively influence me and will leave behind only a scar…a reminder of the miraculous compassion of my Savior who took all the pain of my suffering on Himself when He was nailed to the cross and who allowed Himself to be deeply and fatally wounded so I might be healed. (Isaiah 52)