Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wings, Fangs, and Flight, Part 2

Shamanna and I remained friends for several years, and while others were there, she was a constant, for better or worse.

There were demonic presences I could sense in the house she grew up in, that were there, I’m sure, in part from the family who lived there prior. The family prior had a son who attempted to kill me with a tire iron when I was less than a year old, I am told, because he “wanted to see what the inside of a brain looked like.” This new family, I had hope would become good for the neighborhood but I sensed, even at 5 or 6 when they moved in, that things would be very different.

For quite a while, I saw her as my closest friend, though when I look back I realize that, no, I was very attached to her but that was not necessarily mutual. We hung out, went to school together, and had the bond of being bitten by the same dog, learned about massage together – inadvertently – and learned about death together when the best friend of a neighborhood girl was killed. I remember one day we found a wallet near the site the body had been found, and I had this sense that perhaps it had been related somehow… either the dead girl’s or the killer’s, I didn’t know for sure. So we took it to Shamanna’s mom… showed her… showed my mom… and for a while, it was kept, though I forget who kept it.

Photos from WeHeartIt.com

I remember sleepovers, trips to the store where I ended up being the only one with money, because she had “forgotten” hers, so I would do the nice thing and get what she wanted for her… until I figured out that’s what she was trying to get out of me. I remember trips with my family together, and with hers… always within a few hours from home, but nonetheless something nice to do together. While there were other friends I was close to, for whatever reason, she’s the one that has stayed on my heart nearly continuously. There were moments with wings together, and moments where fangs came and took their bites out of me, but looking back I realize the bites she got were, often times, more than the ones I got. Because she didn’t grow up in a home where Jesus was known, though she was exposed to him, she had more to contend with on a spiritual level in terms of gaining understanding how things worked outside of the physical realm, which in my eyes, she had her handle on well…

The other main event I recall, though, was when her brother was chasing me down and I tripped on a rock, hitting my knee on the curb on the way home from school one day. There were a lot of people who were considered terrors to the neighborhood, and while I didn’t see most of them in that light, I DID have some fear of this particular kid who had already told me to my face three times before then that he hated me, and even wrote it on the light pole at the end of the block – that is still written there to this day. He thought I hated their WOLF – dog, Bear. I actually liked Bear, but just wanted to admire him from afar because I could tell he wasn’t used to a lot of people around him at once, at that point. I didn’t want to frighten him into doing something, because I had already learned not to fear dogs when I was bit. This happened before Shamanna got bit later on, and to a much worse degree, by the same dog that was later put down for attacking her.

I got stitches on my knee that day… three days after a modeling agency had contacted me and asked if I wanted to take some classes through them to see if I wanted to do some modeling. I hadn’t seriously considered it until earlier in the day, the day I was bit. I got two bites in one that day – a German Shepherd and some fangs sneakin’ on into my skin with the words, “now you’ll never be model material. Why did you ever think you could be?” Not only that, but I was awake to remember the stitches going in because none of the medications they gave to put me out worked. To me, that was the worst part of it… there had been promises made by doctors and nurses who had been made aware that I was very sensitive to needles, and so when a large woman sat on me and they put those stitches in… with me feeling the whole thing. I can still picture it if I concentrate long enough, and feel the needle threading through my skin, the weight of the lady that got paid to sit on top of my legs and hold my arms down while they sowed the stitches in under her jiggly arms. Two snake bites in one day – one to my self esteem, one to my trust of adults in charge.

When Shamanna was bit by the same dog as I after the stitches incident, part of me got proud and even jealous. Nobody had thought it was much of a deal when I was bit, though to me it was terrorizing. In reality, God spared me from having my whole stomach taken out. The dog could only get his jaws to catch into my skin and draw across, leaving a mess that was livable without needing to have stitches again. So a jawful of flesh was gashed, and one German Shepherd nail sunk deep. But when my friend and neighbor was bit more than a year later, tearing out part of her ankle and upper leg, she needed skin grafts, several days of hospitalization, and that meant plenty of surgery. I later thought about it – that could have been me. It was the same dog. The difference was that she had already begun to model before she was bit, and she kept on afterward, if I recall correctly. I had a lot of friends and acquaintances who I saw as just gorgeous at that point, but among them all, there she was, the beauty queen. That’s how I saw her: the beauty queen. Others came in with good rankings, but to me, she far surpassed in outward beauty than I or anyone else I knew possessed, and part of me was jealous because she still had that outward beauty that stunned people even after the skin grafts and etc. This isn’t what caused us to drift apart within the next two years, but I’m sure that it likely contributed some. Before the accident I had prayed for her consistently, and after we were no longer friends, I prayed for her, but in that between time of jealousy, I rarely did, to which I only have the strength to admit now because I know it’s under the blood of Jesus and I’ve made it a point to pray for her now.

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you; 

(Matthew 5:44, Webster's Bible)

Around the same time I got to know and become friends with Shamanna, I became friends with a handful of others whose influence I didn’t necessarily understand at the time for all that it was. Two were twin sisters, one was the son of a teacher’s aide at school, another was the daughter of a teacher, and then there were a brother and sister duo. I had classes and got to know the brother first. Aamon. And then, after a while, I befriended his sister Lisa, as well. To understand these dynamics, Aamon and I were into He-Man and She-Ra, while Lisa and I connected over Barbie. The twins and I – as well as my sister – connected over school, dance, and softball, among other things. I remember we used to tumble in their basement, the four of us, and rarely did we ever invite Shamanna but then again, I reasoned, she and I didn’t invite them to a lot, either. We were all friends but the relationships were all too different for there not to be side-choosing if the twin I was more attached to, Shamanna, and I were all in one place. The teacher’s aide’s son and the teacher’s daughter were two of the genuine friends I had, I can honestly say, looking back. The rest, I had things in common with and we were in the neighborhood together, but when it came to mutual agreement and respect, it was these two… Ryan and Susan… who made their mark and who I used as a measuring stick after first grade or so when new people were introduced into my life. Would I befriend them, or stay away? I believe the enemy was keeping tabs even then, because the people who are now strong Christians- who I know where are in life – are the people who I thought of a snobby then, and therefore I didn’t get to know as well as I wanted to because I figured they didn’t WANT to be my friend.

Until the end of my freshman year of junior high, that was how I looked at things, but then many changes took place that caused me to shift some paradigms. One was meeting Justin. After Shamanna, he was the next “best friend” – and in many ways, he truly was a great friend, as was the other person I met a few months later, Will. The two of them became my closest friends- along with a gal named Carrie - after things with Shamanna had been severed, and I was glad for the friendships.

My relationship with Carrie was based a lot on football and the media, as she was from a family who was in the spotlight and we both enjoyed football. We were two of only a handful of professing Christians – staff, faculty or student – at the school and this was our other tie. I was a closet girly-girl, trying at first to hide who I really was, as I’d done most of my life… and she was a tomboy through and through. Over time, as I started to embrace who God created me to be and accepted the fact that I was, indeed, not a tomboy, but a girly girl, there was more tension between us, and though we stayed friends for a few years, things fell apart partly due to this change.

As for Jus and Will,, I ended up dating them both – not ever at the same time, but a bit like a see-saw… back and forth – primarily Justin. This was while not knowing, though having a sense, that they were both dating several people while telling me it was just me, while they both knew what I was doing – dating one as primary and the other through some of the “downtime” of the other. I had already learned not to trust by then, and had been told so often that nobody would love me that I ended up with people who, spiritually speaking, were among the least common denominator. At the time, I knew God put them on my heart and I genuinely prayed that He would save them – as I do to this day though I had to say goodbye to both of them more than once through the years… but I’m getting ahead of the story.

I went to a “special school” through most of junior and all of senior high school. The long and short of it was, emotionally I was at a different place than most other kids and nobody knew how to deal with that. I was different. More sensitive. More in tune with what was happening around me in the spiritual and emotional realms, but not as much the physical one, as other people. I didn’t realize at the time that’s what it was, but looking back, it’s what I recognize as the truth. By the time I had entered this “special school,” I had already had several people call me crazy, family members try to put me away in a looney bin, and therapists say along with my family that whatever was happening wrong with the family, essentially boiled down to being my fault. I will grant that I was far from perfect, but even I knew that the world didn’t revolve around me and I didn’t have THAT much power that I caused so much damage. I had a strange way of speaking, and people often misinterpreted what I said to my detriment and to mutual pain, and I think that is what they were trying to relate, but to a child’s ears… “It’s all your fault” sounds like what it says: “it’s all your fault.” I didn’t have the spiritual discernment then to filter out all the negativity that was shooting my way with bullet fierceness.

SWITCHFOOT- Meant to Live!

On top of this, I wasn’t always sure how to handle all the emotion I was carrying because I didn’t know that was part of one of the gifts that God had given me: picking up on what others are going through and carrying some of it to ease their loads. So there were a handful of times that I acted out at school… and there was a time I stood up for myself which seemed to me to be the last straw, when at the regular junior high the fill-in for the vice principle hit on me and I refused his advances. I didn’t know until over five years later that a friend of mine had overheard the conversation and decided he would do something about it by dumpstering the guy, with some of his friends. I was in the dark on that one. So anyhow, that is what led me to meet Justin and Will, who I wouldn’t have otherwise met had I not been sent to the school for the special kids. To me, it was insulting… adding salt to wounds and mixing in some vinegar for good measure. My pride flared up because I didn’t understand why I was being sent away for refusing to be taken advantage of my yet another adult in my life who disappointed me. I held a pity party for the first month I was at the new school before finally getting over it and accepting that it was what it was. I had made some friends by that time, though not yet met Justin or Will. And the day I met each of them, another friend had been earlier removed with force due to something in their own lives: one had brought a semi-automatic to school, and another, a bomb. Had I known them better I might have sensed more about them… I knew to be nice but not overly friendly with them, and then it was revealed later on when these events occurred. God once again stepped in – both of these days – with removal of something the enemy wanted to get some glory for – and the addition of someone significant to who I have become. I got some substance to the wings I had a feeling might not be totally gone after all, despite that they were filled with fang-marks.

Other than things related to Justin, Carrie, Will, several other people were in my life in significant ways, but mostly it was specific events more than people.

For instance, Friday, October 13th – the only one during those years – I was staying with some people I knew, acting stupid but still having spiritual sensitivity turned up. We were watching movies related to the day, the only time I’ve ever seen them because I’ve never been a fan of horror, gore, etc – and all of a sudden out of nowhere I had the sense that one of our schoolmates had just died. I didn’t know why. I had never experienced that before… but it turned out to be true, as I found out that coming Monday. It was the person I thought it was; sensed it was. And the way he died wasn’t revealed in total at the assembly but I knew in my knower the missing piece because God had revealed it to me when he died. I could feel it in my body. I felt my body shatter at the moment of impact and then once I sensed who it was, I was back to “normal” again. The experience frightened me so much I asked God to take the gift away. He didn’t, but he has given me grace with it. The thing about this experience, though, is that in all honesty, it haunted me for years. See, the young man, God had revealed to me, was trying to get out of the gang he was in… and they had told him he could do one of two things… he chose the one that seemed less painful to the detriment of all who mourned his loss afterward, because it cost him his life. Three blocks away from the trainer I was sitting in, our schoolmate died, and it haunted me because for over five years afterward, I kept asking God, whenever a Friday the 13th came around, “Could I have stopped this from happening? I was right THERE, God! Three blocks away…”

I was also attacked physically and sexually assaulted while at that school. Justin is who helped me through it the first time it occurred… I told NOBODY else. I didn’t feel I could. But I acted out after that for quite a while… including in the area where the attack had occurred… because the enemy of my soul got an in that day… so I not only had PRIDE, REBELLION, and RESENTMENT/Trust Issues, I had a deeper sense of unworthiness for love than ever before. It got to the point I gave parts of who I was away to try to fill my need for love. And until I married at 21, including getting married to who I had, that was my pattern As a result of all this, I had miscarriages physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. That ol’ snake did a real number on me, and I helped him continue to bite with that one! My heart, mind, spirit, soul, and body all paid the price of listening to the wrong voice. God was still there, but I didn’t listen to half of what He was telling me, because in all honesty, I was mad at Him for allowing me to go through what I had… and then again and again to go through hard, heartbreaking events.

ASHANTI ft. Larenz Tate- Rain on Me!

At 20, Justin and Will were both taken from my life… for the long run that was a blessing but it hurt more than I knew how to express. That is when I met my now ex-husband, whom I will call JJ. I met JJ while waiting at a bus stop over at the mall… the second person I had met there, and apparently I hadn’t learned the lesson God had for me about that. Anyhow, he asked the time, and I gave it. Then as he was boarding the bus, I heard in my spirit “you’re going to marry that man.” While I had intended to board a different bus, with this bit of insight, I followed and got onto the one he was on. Part of me wondered why I’d marry a man who wore full-on wool sweaters with overalls in July, but I paid no mind. I turned my headphones on and by the time we were fifteen blocks out my eyes were closed and I was humming and gently singing along. The next thing I know, I hear clapping. And conversation starts. So, not too long – not long enough later – he was proposing and telling me he know I was the one, that God had told him we were to marry, and saying “I’ll prove it. Guess what song I’m thinking of right now.”

Let’s say I should have asked him to write it down, but I was 21, in my own place for the first time, and there was someone giving me what I thought of as positive attention who was saying the same thing I had heard in my spirit… marriage. So, I took a bite from that pomegranate, and it was sweet. I guessed the song first thing, or so he said. No way to really know. But a month later, we had a courthouse wedding… NOT what I wanted at all but I was desperate to hold on to the little bit of attention I was getting because the last thing I had heard from someone regarding who I was before I met him was the mother of someone I helped out who I caught stealing from me and had to have removed from my apartment that same thing I’d always heard: “nobody’s going to love you for who you are. You really have to be what everyone else wants, and you aren’t doing that.” Said in anger, I knew, but the words sunk deep. They left fang marks in my soul.

There were some warning signs right before JJ and I married, but I didn’t want to see them. They were evident in pieces though not as much as the same day as the wedding and the days to follow when we were in the same place, when he moved into my apartment and promptly tossed nearly everything worth anything to me that people had gifted me with over the years. In less than a week, I had seen his cheat with my own eyes two hours after saying “I do,” kissing someone else inside the courthouse; he had begun to treat me with contempt; he revealed he had tried to kill eleven people, from the time he was five years one, including his mother. He let me know he married me because I had told him God wanted to use me as a minister and he had already decided that either God would have him, or the devil would, but that he thought he’d go both ways… that he would either minister or become a serial killer. He revealed three days into the marriage that why he married me is that he decided God called him to kill ministers by becoming one himself and then nobody would ever suspect him. Threats several times a week ensued the whole year and a half we were under the same roof; miscarriages were forced… two of them, both planned for just before Christmas so that if I survived his attempts to kill me I’d always think of him at Christmas. Cheating that turned to bragging that turned to bolder and more frequent cheating, some of which I witnessed, and some found out through the Spirit of God. We were attending church, and I was gaining a lot from that… strength, new friendships, and a better understanding of God’s word. I also began to understand the gifts of the Spirit that were within me that I hadn’t acknowledged because I had listened to the enemy, and to well-meaning people, rather than to God. But the last straw for me to walk out the door was the day God said, “if you don’t leave tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.”

THIRD DAY- Cry Out to Jesus!

On that day, I had accidentally opened the wrong bank statement, and saw hotel bills etc. charged into his overdraft… the overdraft my Grandma and step-grandfather paid off for him because I had a handful of books on the list of back bills, too. JJ had been addicted to payday loan , and was stuck in that cycle, on top of the violence, murderous thoughts and tendencies, infidelity, intimidation, physical and sexual violence, and boasting. God revealed to me that day… four days after JJ had told me he would kill me if I didn’t turn into the best actress there was and allow him to “exorcise a demon from” me in front of the church so he would look good. That was the second time he had cowed and intimidated me with something that big: when we married, I was working and looking at houses… my finances were looking very good. To me, being told to act demon-possessed or I’d be killed in front of the whole church reminded me of when he told me to quit my job right away or he’d kill me in front of all my clients, who were children, because I had been working with abused and neglected children for a living when we met. God took my mind back to the two events, then to earlier in the day, and to the miscarriages JJ had forced, and other things that had happened, and said, “if you don’t leave tonight, you won’t live to see tomorrow.” I listened, and I left.

PILLAR- Frontline!

I had no idea what would happen when I left, or how dramatically my life would change. I just knew if I didn’t get out, I’d be like the voice I heard several weeks earlier in the park, when walking the dog. The voice who was screaming “He’s going to kill me,” preceding the image of someone being stabbed on the wall of the building. My dog barked the whole time, ran toward it, and growled at the gate between the two. I asked later if anyone else heard it and they thought I was crazy… but there was a rusty knife handle lying in that dirt. I didn’t know then if it was something past or present, but I knew it was real. I had that same REAL feeling the night I left as JJ slept. I had our finances separated and a restraining order set in place as soon as possible. That is how the year 2001 was rung in for me.

Stay tuned to find out what happened next…

UPDATE 7/16/13-- COME OVER and check out my FUNDRAISER! Journey to a Thousand Voices...