I am a five year-old boy, who dreams of a better life away from my private hell. My father has manic depressant schizophrenia. As a child it is like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One moment my Dad is the kindest and most loving person I know. Suddenly, he becomes Mr. Hyde. My heart thumps hard and loud when he becomes a mean man.
It is a hot and hazy July. After seeing my mother beaten up many times, I feel helpless to protect her. I escape like Walter Mitty under our willow tree into a fantasy world, where I am a hero. I am not weak. I am not that helpless innocent boy, who sometimes wishes God would strike his father dead. In my world as a Captain of a World War II fighter bomber I am strong, heroic, and courageous.
In that private world I have the power to kill my father. I could swoop down with stealth and destroy him. No longer would I have to witness my mother’s suicide attempts. The image of her hanging in the bathroom by a belt haunts my dreams. I would toss and turn at night. The scene of my mother choking to death plays over and over again in my mind. I would scream out to God in those lonely and dark nights, “Lord, please take these bad pictures out of my mind. I can’t sleep. I don’t know how You could be so cruel! I don’t want to see my mother hanging herself anymore. I know Dad used a knife to cut the belt my mother used to hang herself. I’m happy she’s alive, but Lord I’m so sad. I feel so guilty because I couldn’t help her. I’m just a bad boy like my father says I am.”
Many of the times I escape under the willow tree with its branches dancing with the wind, I would have my own private time with God. I would yell at Him that He was being really mean. I would say things like this. “God, I don’t want my father to hit my mother again! My stomach feels real bad inside. If You can’t stop Dad hitting her and making her so sad, then I don’t want to live anymore. Just take me home to be with You. Take me home! Take me home! I can’t stand this life. I can’t take any more pain. It’s a bad dream I want to end now!”
The tears fall upon my cheeks. I don’t know it then, but God sees, hears and feels every one of them.
One of the times under that willow tree the Lord speaks to my heart. He says not to give up. God tells me He has a wonderful plan for my life.
He says to my spirit, “Kevin, I love you. Don’t you know I love you? I was there every time you were beaten. I was there every time your mother cried out to Me and asked me to kill your father. I hear you and her yell at Me.
I don’t think you’re a bad boy. You’re a good boy. I had you see, feel and hear all of these things because where I am taking you in your calling with Me, you will need to know what it feels like to be helpless, like you do when your father beats up your mother.
Don’t hate your father. He is a very sick man. Your dad loves you, but he is the victim of a very sad and dark childhood. You are too young to understand now, but your grandfather on your father’s side is an evil man. You remember when your mother said he could look at the sky and make it rain? You remember when she told you she saw a book fly around the room? Your mother told you she felt cold inside and scared.”
“Yes, Lord, I never forgot what my mother told me about my grandpa.”
If God hadn’t rescued my mother, brother and me, I would not be alive to tell this story. My father would have killed us in one of his manic rages. It was one of the many miracles to come of God’s miracles for Him.
I am so glad that before my father died I had one last time with him. I pray with him and sing songs to him about a God who loves him. He cries as he fights for each breath as the pneumonia worsens. He shakes with fear. I hold his hand. I tell him that I love him as tears come, a message of parting love from son to father..
Dad is in Heaven where he has no more pain and sorrow. I will see him again when my Kingdom work is done and I am called home. What a day of rejoicing that will be!
Dad, I love you and miss you. One healing image I carry in my heart is you carrying me piggy back on your shoulders. I am about four years old. Ice=cream drips down my face on to your shirt. You tell everyone we see how much you love me.
Did it really happen that way? I honestly don’t know. That is what abuse does. You get memories that you aren’t sure if they are real or not or partial fractured memories.. I think the Lord gives of those memories so the pain of our abuse doesn’t destroy us.
Thank you, Lord, for the healing memories You give us to help us heal from our abuse and live the life of purpose and joy that is the right of every human-being. Amen.
Kevin Osborne, B.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, BTh Canada Christian College & Graduate School, D.D., D Sc., Diplomate in Creative Ministry and his wife, Karen, B.A. in Clinical Christian Counseling St. James the Elder Theological Seminary, graduate divinity student Trinity College University of Toronto, are graduate Christian counseling students at St. James the Elder Theological Seminary. Kevin is a certified Christian counselor. He is a member of The Word Guild, a Christian writer’s group in Canada.