Shat  terd

Men 

 

The hidden half of domestic violence

 

How to have eternal life


Jonathan Story

Jonathan has just joined Shattered Men.  I am sure this ministry has a lot to offer him but I am also sure he has a lot to offer us.  I met Jonathan in "Yahoo Answers" when someone asked if anyone knew of any real miracles in their life.  Jonathan answered with some of this story.  I fully agree!  The fact that in spite of all of this, Jonathan is still here and he is reaching beyond his own abuse to help others is indeed proof that GOD was there...and a miracle occurred.  

Many have asked us "Where was God when I was being abused"  Often it may not seem so, but HE was there,  We have answered this question many times, but this is Jonathan's story.  Please read on but more important, scars this deep take a long time to heal and Jonathan is still in the process of healing in more ways then one. Please remember to pray for him.

Just wanted to paste my story here... and let you know I am still
struggling but found a good church and I am healing a little at a time
day by day. Maybe this testimony will give someone some hope... for that is why I wrote it. I still am struggling... certainly don't mean to
imply I got it all together... this is just about me.

"Dead Alive; my story"

I was raised in a large English tutor in the rolling hills of Kentucky.
We lived a short distance south of Cincinnati with woods, fields, trees,
ponds, streams; a playground any kid could ever dream of living in and
yet...

My parent's world seemed not as happy as mine was. I am not sure exactly how things started to change. But I vaguely remember when I
was about six; dad scaring us kids when he'd fall asleep while driving
the car. Sometimes he was sick and would vomit all over the floor. Over
the years; mom developed a nasty temperament. I vividly remember her
pulling us kids around by the hair; twisting our arms. We received daily lickings with dad's leather belt. We probably deserved it but if we
truly were innocent; then she'd tell us that it was for something that
we got away with.

We never knew when it was coming. When dad came home from a long day at work; mom would scream at him to do something about us kids and he would hit us too. Dad gave us "love-taps" as he called them. Our bodies were covered with welts and cuts. If that weren't enough then I received black eyes and the rest of us had our hands pushed into
scalding hot water if we got caught stealing food. Every time I got
beat; I learned to disassociate from it; to numb the pain. I didn't feel the
pain as much if I pretended mentally to be an "outsider" peering in.


People around us noticed; some called the cops, but when I was younger we didn't have the child abuse laws that we have today. Most
people would look the other way. And we were constantly warned not to
tell people what went on at home or something worse would happen
to us. As each year went by, I got harder and meaner inside. With all
the beatings I received; I never once was hugged or told that I meant
anything to my parents. Nothing hurt worse than all the screaming
insults hurled at you. I think the things they told us hurt worse than
the sting of the lashes. Mother would scream; "I wish you were never born. She would tell us how rotten and worthless we were. It seemed that  nothing ever made them satisfied. We gave up trying to please them; I avoided them as the result of fear of future reprisals. Mom would get out this black handkerchief and tell me that my soul was as black as that rag before God. She would tell us how angry God was at us for disobeying them. I lived my whole childhood believing that no one could be trusted. Not even God. I was seven when mom penetrated me with her finger; hooked it and pulled out bloody flesh one day in the
bathroom. Bright pools of blood splattered on the floor. It was my first
encounter with molestations; with more to come later when I was a
run-away.

(I learned years later from my grandmother; that she thought mom was
molested by her father. She wanted to break my spirit; so that I would behave... it was terror that kept me in line back then. If someone touched me off guard at school. I flinched or jumped... my nerves
were raw. But no one ever knew what happened behind those closed windows at home. It was a secret held in shame... we and the seed
instilled in me was to hate myself... I hated myself at seven and I
carry that shame with me to this day.

I have seen movies of my father pushing Brian and I into metal garbage
cans while mom took pictures. He took us to the street and told us that the garbage man was going to stop by and take us away. And get this; they actually had the gall to show our relatives pictures of the event after Christmas dinner. Might have been funny for them; but as a
seven year old; I was scared! I rolled the can over; the lid popped off;
I slid into the street; nearly got hit by a car and slid into a sewer.
There was no love at home... I never once was hugged... or praised or
anything.

But understand this! While I was not wanted as a child does not mean
that God did not have a plan for my life... God planned for me to be born... and even if I was not wanted... God wanted me. He has a plan for me... for He says in Psalm 139:13-16 that my body, my  skin, my hair and everything was planned way before I was even born! 

Although my parents did not love me; God loved me. I did not see that
secret for many many years... but I am learning about this now... as I
write this article.

It was also at this time when I started injuring myself. I would bang my
head on the wall or push bobby pins into my skin; it was also at seven
that I first ran from home. Never could get very far... there just was
no place to go. No escape; no where to run.

Some teachers tried to help. But we never talked much. If our grades
slipped, we were beaten. If we did well, then we were treated to a Big
Mac hamburger. I hated report cards. I was scared to show them to my
parents. I just couldn't study well at school. I had a hard time
concentrating. And I rarely did my homework. It was the fear... the
constant lack of safety, the daily room searches. I learned to hide
saved lunch money in electrical wall sockets for the day when I needed to live on the streets awhile. I slept in a roach infested basement with the dog for eleven years. Nothing like waking up in the morning to the sound of your bare feet crunching the water bugs on the floor.

I was very shy in school. I could not talk about any of it publicly. I
had welts, cuts, bruises, scalded arms and hands, cuts from razors on my body, and I had to wear long sleeves because I was embarrassed. I
believed that God hated me and I could not be loved for anything in the
world. So shy that I became easy prey for the bullies there. I had a
difficult time expressing my needs. I just can not tell you in more
descriptive terms what it was like to live like this day after day; year
after year. One time I was even pinned to the ground and given "golden
showers" as a kid. You can't imagine how disgraceful it felt to be
urinated on.

When I was twelve; I was a loner. I went to school and during my lunch
hour I went to the library to study Foxfire books. For those who don't
know about these excellent books. They were written by mountain folks in Appalachia the rules of living on your own in the wilderness. I
spent many hours studying how to build a log cabin, how to hunt for
food, how to use scents, how to live off the land. I was determined to
run away and live down in the mountains of Kentucky; far from society; kind of like Grizzly Adams in the old TV shows.

There was a teacher who took an interest in me. His name was Mr.
Thaxton. This guy took me one step further by learning survival
techniques though hands-on experience. Mr. Thaxton was an experienced climber of some of the world's highest mountains. He taught me how to read topographical maps, use a compass, trail blaze, set traps, create shelters, rock climb up ninety degree cliffs, rappel, canoe entire rivers, make rafts and canoes from trees; and so on. By the time I was fourteen; I was confident that I could survive on my own if I
needed to get out. My younger siblings looked for me to set the example for them. We set up a network of outposts throughout the woods, the neighborhood kids got in on it. Years later those outposts became quite useful in dodging the police.

By the time I was fourteen; I was a skilled shoplifter. Nothing to be
proud of; I was hungry and had to forage for something to eat. I never
got caught till years later. I was very angry inside... and took mom and
dad's silver coin collection and blew it all on pop and candy. They
raced all over town trying to get all those Kennedy half dollars back.
=) They recovered about half. The rest was taken from birthday gifts
from other relatives and so forth. I didn't care... I hated them.

I experimented with cigarettes and pot. I never liked the cigarettes
that much and I had to be careful smoking the pot cause your clothes
really reek with that stuff. I knew people nearby that would grow pot in
the center of a cornfield. By the time the plants were mature; you
couldn't tell the difference between the weed and the corn from the air.
It was a clever idea. 

I became deeply interested in science and burning things. My parents
bought me a Skill-Craft chemistry set at sixteen. I wanted to learn how
to make incineraries and bombs. I was fascinated watching things burn. I once fire bombed a car... and I got away with it. As the fire burned , so did the torment deep inside me... I felt one with the flames... like I was a child in a war torn city... alone in the night as the roar of
flames licked all around me.

My parents send me to counseling. Seemed every time I started opening up and trusting one of them; I got yanked out and sent to someone else. I learned later that these counselors were accusing them of causing the problems at home and mom and dad could not accept that...it was always our fault. Weekly, the entire family would sit in chairs around the room and listen to mom read off a shopping list of everything that was wrong with her children. I kept my chin up; emotionless...vowing not to give my parents the satisfaction of watching me squirm. I was the oldest and I protected my younger siblings. By the time I was sixteen their reprisals had no effect on me. But the hurt inside was deep, I could not express it into words. Like I had an apple in my throat... I could not speak because I was hurting so bad.

When school was out; I had to get away for a while so I could think.
Some days I would just walk aimlessly down a road till blisters formed
on my feet and couldn't go any further. I'd sleep under freeway bridges and behind bushes. The older I became; the further and longer I'd stay
away from home. By the time I was 16, my parents were used to my
excursions. I developed quite a track record of absentees in school. I
spent most of my time writing journals, reading books, and planning my travels for the weekend. Homework was performed with minimum
effort. I barely passed most of my classes, just to get by.

Eventually, the beatings at home stopped. We just screamed at each other instead. I was a teenager now; I vented my rage by smashing
things, putting holes into walls, while vowing to make my house a living
hell for my parents. They feared me... and this only isolated me even
further; because now we did not argue... we would not speak to each
other. The more isolated I became, the more desperate I felt.

One day during finals week; I arrived to class late as usual. Mike
Schutzman decided to go up to the front of the class to sharpen his
pencil.  When he came back, he deliberately ran into my desk. This caused all my stuff to fall around me on the floor. The class laughed at me and I was really embarrassed. The brief second of shame quickly turned into rage. I got up and turned around and beat the crap out of him. The kids around me egged us on. The teacher stepped out of the room to get some assistance. I felt a firm hand grab me by the wrist as I cocked my fist back. I got up; turned around and knocked Mrs. Cox's (algebra teacher) hand off my arm and screamed out "F**k you Bit*h! The classroom was in awe. I knew I was in trouble. Mrs. Cox stepped out of the room and brought the principal up to see me. He ordered me to step out from the class and go to his office.

I had suspensions for truancy before; I thought here it goes again.
"What will my parents do?" I wondered. I was suspended for the remainder of that year. I was summoned to appear before the Board of Education in a few months for expulsion hearings. When I got home my mom took me upstairs into her bedroom and we sat together on the edge of her bed.  She placed her hand on my lap and said in firm but low words;

"Jonathan, you have disgraced this family and from this day forwards;
you are no longer our son. We disown you.

I swallowed hard; I wanted  to die... and there was the birth of a new idea... I decided to kill myself.

I appeared before the school board and was expelled to set an example
for everyone to never hit a teacher. I was allowed me back the 
following year because this was my first offense of this kind and gave
the school board gave me probation instead. I had to attend a year's
worth of counseling on a weekly basis as part of the terms of my
probation. I was firmly warned that if I broke one more rule at school
that I would be gone for good. I read in the neighborhood papers the next few days; "Kid narrowly escapes expulsion... and has Highlands teachers up in arms!" My parents avoided me with cool silence. And the bullies reveled with joy and were encouraged to test my resolve to stay out of trouble. In industrial arts, for example; during the loud whining of
electric table saws and other equipment; I was often beat up in the
corner of a room by a number of students. I just lied on the floor and endured the kicks in the ribs etc. I feared fighting back; fearful that a
teacher would see me fighting and then kick me out for good. I raced home afterwards; the same group of people waited for me outside every day.  Looking for a way to terrorize me. Then at home, my parents would tell me of how the teachers at school mocked my younger siblings on account of my expulsion. This made me even more distrustful of the authorities.

The next couple of months; I spent mostly outside. I rode a ten speed
bike around the countryside. Ten miles turned into twenty; twenty into
fifty; fifty into a hundred miles a day especially on the weekends. I
received most my spending money by donating plasma in downtown
Cincinnati.

I discovered a group called; "Junior Achievement". Junior Achievement is a high school group that is sponsored by area businesses to help
students learn how to set up and operate a business. At the end of the
school year, students with the most successful businesses are
rewarded with scholarships, and other prizes and recognition. I
participated in "JA" for the entire four years that I was in high
school.

However, by the time I was a junior; I participated in a mighty big way.
JA was my escape from the crazy life I lived. While I was failing in
school; I excelled in JA. I devoted all my after school time learning
about sales techniques, public speaking, and operating a company. I won many awards for outstanding achievement in many areas. JA helped me live a dual life away from my peers but amongst high school
students from all over the greater Cincinnati area.

I spent many afternoons selling tickets for our annual JA trade fair.
(At the end of the school year; the businesses we set up, had a huge
fair to promote all the unique products we produced. The profits of each
company, would then be split up with approximately five percent going
to the stockholders; and the rest into the JA purse to be used for
training students in the years to come. The process would begin again
the next school year.

I sold thousands of tickets to the trade fair. By the end of my junior
year; I had received a two year scholarship to Northern Kentucky
University; eight days, seven nights on a Caribbean cruise touring the
Bahamas. A couple other trips; local news articles of my achievements.

Our company was one of the top five finalists of all the eligible
companies in all of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. I was so proud. I was
sure that now having earned a scholarship that my parents would accept me. This was quite an honor; yet it seemed hollow because my parents never once praised or encouraged me. I realized then that nothing I ever did would ever be enough for them. It's like they had an engraved image of me before their eyes and all they could see was this image.

After my expulsion hearings; my parents tried to have me
institutionalized at a state home in Danville. Mom would cut out
newspaper articles and stick them under my pillow for me to read. The newsprint detailed how kids were being so abused at these homes that a number of them tried and some succeeded in hanging themselves.

I went on all the trips awarded by JA during my sophomore and senior
years. Each summer. I did not enjoy myself much because I spent that
time thinking about home. I decided to repeat the cycle again in my
senior year. I had to get those awards next year to stay out of the
house as much as I could. So during my senior year, I repeated the feat; only this time I was the second highest achiever in the country; topped only by one person. I received another two year scholarship and another
series of trips. But by my senior year; I was coming apart inside. I had
planned my suicide; I had set the day for my attempt.

My parents sent me to a Catholic retreat. I wanted to go but I really
acted like I didn't want to go so that they would "force" me to go. This
pleased them and me; the master manipulator! =) The retreat was at Camp Marydale near Cincinnati. This place was deep in the heart of a
large forest and had a large lake behind our cabins. It was a cool
November weekend with overcast skies. The whitened birch trees had shed their leaves. The ground was colored in the shades of autumn. A frosted wooden bridge spanned over the crisp partially frozen waters of a small pond nearby. I felt like I was dying inside; as reflected by
mother nature herself.

"What would this meeting teach me?" I wondered. I headed indoors to
receive my cherished meal. The person who issued the food happened
to be Mike Schutzman's mother. This startled me. Mike was the person that lead to my expulsion nearly 18 months ago. Yet here I was
standing before his mother!

Mrs. Schutzman was very warm and affectionate. She recognized who I was and beckoned me to eat with her. I sheepishly accepted... and
that's when I broke inside. I started revealing my secrets; yet I forced
myself not to weep. I quickly ate then went back to my cabin. The
suppressed feelings of hopelessness could not be contained. And for the first time in many a year; I sobbed till I could no longer walk. Little
did I know that someone overheard me. And who else but a priest from
another church. I tried to lie and cover my tracks. But he witnessed
too much and would not give in. He was the first person to really
listen; and when we finished; he placed his hands on my head and wept
with me in prayer. He told me one day... one day all this pain will be used to heal others... and this story is for you.

Little did I know that the theme of that retreat was all about "masks".
We all have them. I smile and tell people I'm fine; while thinking about
killing myself. But the message melted within me... I wished I could
have stayed there forever and dreaded returning home to face the
realities of my life.

When I returned, my parents expected a change of behavior. I gritted my teeth and stared at them with venomous hate. It was all a show. I
did not want them to know I broke down the days before coming home. I hid in the basement (my bedroom); where I wept in the still night. I
decided I could not hold on; I made my decision to die. I decided to
overdose on sleeping pills and use dad's medication to boost the effect.
I would do this when my parents were out shopping for groceries... no one around... no one to catch me in the act. I set the date in May... just
before graduation. But then God had other plans...

Sunday, May 1st, 1980; the day of the Nazi Demonstration at Fountain
Square in the heart of ethnic Cincinnati. I had just finished changing
my clothes after attending another boring church service to appease my parents. I sat on my bed listening to the radio when I heard an
announcement to stay away from downtown Cincinnati. I had nothing better to do that day except help cut the grass or escape on to my
trusty steed. Off I went; pedaling down the long winding hill to the
urbanites below.

I arrived at the scene; true to my ears; there was a massive riot.
Thousands of people standing with fists in the air, screaming hostile
gestures at uniformed people on a stage at the other end of the park.
Fountain Square is usually a peaceful place. It consisted of a three
tiered copper fountain; a gift donated from France; located in the
center of a sea of dark cobblestone. Overhead towered the high
skyscrapers that echoed the traffic from the streets below. I used to
come here to watch the pigeons. I moved past the people surrounding
the stage. There stood before me were about fifty cops dressed in riot
gear with face shields. On the stage were black uniformed SS Soldiers.
Each with a red armband bearing the Swastika. The Nazi's were voicing racial obscenities over a loudspeaker. They denounced Baptists,
Catholics, African-Americans, Jews; it seemed like every problem in our society was the result of these groups of people.

I backed away and sat on a black marble wall in the back of the park to
observe what would happen next. The crowd started pushing
through the lines to attack the Nazi's on stage. The police tried to
disperse the crowd through firing volleys of tear gas. This only
infuriated them. They overwhelmed the police and chased the skinheads through the streets. Lucky for the skin heads; they had waiting transportation. The cops were not so lucky. I watched the angry masses overturn police cars and firebomb them. They smashed store
windows and ripped down street signs. I decided to hurry to McDonalds on 6th street to grab a sandwich before they got too crowded. I returned to Fourth street and sat at the park again. By now everyone seemed to have left and the park became quiet.

Three women showed up and passed out little newspapers called the
"Pravda". They carried a red flag with the infamous hammer and sickle
on it. A trio of veterans offered me five bucks to ride up and knock a
lady down and steal the flag from her. I did it! I got paid and they got
their flag. What I didn't know was that they burned it on national
television later that evening.

Along came some college students from Columbus, Ohio. Each took a turn preaching the gospel straight from the book of Romans. They
received howls and jeers from the crowd. I was impressed with their
courage in spite of the resistance they received. I listened to their
message.

I mumbled softly; "God, if your out there, I just want one of them to
come up and talk to me". And sure enough; about twenty minutes later
one did. I was so excited... yet played it cool. A tall black man
introduced himself to me and lent me his hand. He told me his name was  "Chuck". Charlie... he used to call himself Chuck because he was ashamed of his name. His last name is Brown. His mom named him Charlie Brown.

Thought that was cruel of her. But I have seen others do the same.
I told him that I wanted to meet him and his three friends away from all
these people down by the river bank a few blocks away.
They shrugged and agreed to spend some time with me. Chuck was the only black person that remained after such a violent racial obscene
day. I was curious what made a man of peace decided to come down to the park. Apparently they were down here to visit a mother and
thought that it would be a nice day to take a stroll of Fountain Square.
They had no knowledge of what had occurred earlier that day.

We spent hours at the river bank. They knew their bibles pretty darned
well. That really impressed me! They said I was truly loved by God and
He didn't want to see me die. In the end; I bowed my head in prayer and
surrendered my life to the Lord. I felt a flicker of hope for the first
time. Charlie invited me to his mother's house for dinner that night and
afterwards went over the Book of Romans with me and explained to me why the Catholics have it all wrong. They went back to Columbus and I rode home on my bike. I was disappointed that they lived so far away. They promised not to forget me and would faithfully write me each week while at home. He promised to send me Bible studies in the mail. I was still a juvenile living off and on with my parents at the time.

First thing I did when I got home was tell my parents how they got it
all wrong and that they were going straight to hell. Next thing I knew I
was being rushed to a Catholic priest to be straightened out. I asked
Father Fortner one question... tell me; "Isn't there only one mediator
between God and man? Why is it that we pray to Mary?" He could not give me a straight answer. I knew I was correct and firmly grounded
myself into the Word. This really alarmed my parents. They forbade me
from ever seeing these people from Columbus again. They said I had
been brainwashed. They told me that only priests could read the Bible
and that I clearly misunderstood it's meaning. They said that since I
never been to seminary I had no business challenging them or any other authority in the Catholic church.

I continued to go to Mass every week but I could not consciously
participate in communion there because I no longer agreed with many of  their teachings... and this made my parents furious. They thought I was just trying to embarrass them in public; that I was trying to attack
them personally. Now they really wanted me out. I was causing my younger siblings to read their Bibles and this was gave some really
serious headaches for mom and dad.

Chuck and the other three continued to faithfully send me letters of
encouragement. They would send me simple bible studies from
Intervarsity Press. I read and filled them out without delay. I was
hungry for more knowledge. And they were feeding me the best medicine my young soul could receive. When my parents learned of this; they would intercept my mail and destroy them.

I started riding my bike one hundred miles to go and visit them. But
they kept sending me back because I was still a minor. This happened
about eight times. Finally I was permitted to stay there once I turned
eighteen.  I lived in a sort of commune. We all went to the same church yet we all rented apartments near each other within a two block radius. It was neat being able to see everyone everyday. The "brothers" lived in a house across the street and held bible studies and would let me stop by and listen to them play the guitar, share books and go do stuff around Ohio State University just for fun. The sisters lived one house north of me on my side of the street and would bake goodies for us all and chat with us. I felt refreshed; appreciated and welcomed there. So unlike home; I felt like I belonged. I never wanted to leave; it seemed like a small taste of heaven.

But what I didn't learn until many years later that my faith was toxic.
I performed lots of good deeds and all in order to "feel" good about
myself. It was toxic because unlike selfless faith; I was hiding my
painful past from them; and never dealt with any of it. I wanted their
love, praise, acceptance; so I performed in whatever way I could to get that nurturing. Sooner or later; something had to give and when it did; I
collapsed into a hole that I could never climb out of.

I was asked by Mike, one of my room-mates if I would be interested in
going with him to Dayton to give assistance to someone in trouble. He
said he was tired and needed someone to help keep him alert while
driving.

We arrived in Dayton around five thirty in the morning. Standing beside our gray Camaro was a brunette deputy sheriff named "Rhonda".

Rhonda looked tired and worried. I never in my life thought a cop needed assistance; but I soon learned that they are not much different from  the rest of us; they've got problems too. Rhonda invited us into her
upstairs apartment to chat with Mike.

Bored, I let my attention drift off to the curious things that she had
around the room. For example, on her coffee table she had a gray marble chalice with eight cup-lets. My eyes gazed at a bookshelf nearby. Books on tarot cards, witchcraft, yoga, I Ching, the Kabala, and "Fate" magazines caught my eye. I felt a strange curiosity swell within me. On the top shelf was a game called "Runes". I reached for it and found these wood chips with bone images engraved on them. Rhonda told me to keep my hands off. I focused my attention back on the
conversation at hand. Apparently whomever Rhonda was dating would beat her with a dog chain. She was involved in a large coven; and
wanted out of it. Certain people threatened to kill her if she left. I
didn't quite understand all this at the time but apparently members of
this group were also blood kin and her family were involved in it as well.

Rhonda's mother died at a young age of a heart attack. Her father was a
cop and wasn't home much to take care of the children. That
responsibility fell to her aunt and uncle. They owned a witchcraft shop
somewhere in Dayton. Her aunt Pat was the Grand-mistress of this
four hundred member coven as her now deceased uncle was the
Grandmaster/Magus. These two positions are the highest offices within the  coven. Rhonda's family faith was rather weird. Her dad was an Jewish-atheist; her mother was Lutheran. The occult history (Jewish
mysticism) passed traditionally from generation to generation all the
way back to Wales, England in the 17th century! Rhonda was full
blooded Celtic. Celts are uncommonly known for their involvement in the arts; in particular, the Dark Arts.

Rhonda was the high priestess. Third in command. She was to take over
the coven when her aunt died. {For those of you in Wicca; this was
not Wicca. She followed the "Left Hand Path" and was related to the
Order of Nine Angles. {Recognized by the late Anton Lavey.}

We transported her to our church where she lived with the "sisters". For the sake of time; I will skip the great detail in what led her to her
conversion to Christianity and the bizarre details involved.


Rhonda was quite a gifted musician. She earned the name "Iron Lips" from her outstanding ability to play trumpet for hours on end. While
Rhonda worked in law enforcement; her mother instilled in her the
pursuit of her musical talents since she was six years old. Rhonda
played with Doc Severson, Chuck Mangione. He taught her trumpet while attending the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. On a given weekend; Rhonda played non-stop for hours at a Jewish wedding and left with 2000 bucks for her efforts! She was not your average run of the mill person to meet. I had a great interest in her. Nine months later; we
were engaged to be married.

It was Friday, the 23rd of April, 1983; The first Indiana Jones movie
was being seen in the theaters. I took Rhonda to a theater overlooking
the Olentangy River. The moon was full and made the shadowy waters
glisten under it's awesome majestic luminance. We sat outside the
theater on a bench talking... through one showing.... the next
showing... and then, I gently took her hand and knelt on one knee,
gazing into her eyes, and said "Rhonda... will you marry me?"

SHE SAID "YES"! I immediately jumped up and ran to the nearest payphone and called my parents collect and exclaimed, "Guess What? I am getting married?" "YOU'RE WHAT?! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY FORBIDDEN TO GET MARRIED!" mom screamed. It was a sudden blow to the gut.

My joy turned into shame. I hung up the phone and walked back to Rhonda and told her what happened.  It was rash on my part to tell them that. I never even let Rhonda meet them yet. We figured that after a few meetings that they would agree to this. After all! We were in love! And we met... and my mom told Rhonda to her face that she was never going to like her. And she never has.

My first brush with death...


August 23 of 1983, Rhonda and I were to be married at the Park of Roses. This is the world's largest rose park. Acres of roses. We were to be wed in a gazebo surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers. But all those plans were destroyed.

It was a hot sunny afternoon on August 5th, I had just left summer
classes and was on my way home. I tucked my feet into the same familiar steel toe clips and unlike most days forgot to wear my bike helmet. I had a twelve mile ride ahead of me. Long distance cycling was my talent and I was particularly careful to wear a helmet most days. But for some reason I forgot it. I was almost two blocks from my destination; riding down a hill on a four lane road. There were no sidewalks but I was on the emergency lane on the side of the road. I wasn't alarmed, I didn't
notice any danger till it was too late. I saw the metal bumper about six
inches from my back tire. I don't remember anything till I hit the
ground. Apparently I was hit by a drunk driver at 3 in the afternoon. He
wasn't just drunk! He was point 52 (.52%)! That's over five times the
legal limit folks. Three patrol cars were following him. They said they
saw me and waited to turn on their lights till he passed me out of
concern that he would have swerved to the right to get off the road in
response to their signals. But this guy swerved to the right and hit me
anyway; then tried to run for it.

Witnesses said that I almost went under the front right tire of the
truck, but that I some how pulled myself off the speeding truck. When I hit the ground some 300 feet away; I hit with such force that the clothes ripped from my body. I don't recall this, but I did get to see those clothes later; they were pretty bloody and torn down the seams.
I was lying face down on the ground unable to move. A police officer on
the scene tried to talk to me to keep me awake. "Where do you live?
Who is your next of kin?" he asked. I told him that my closest relative
was Rhonda my fiancée. He recognized her last name and asked if she
was related to Fred. (I won't reveal her family's name in this document)
It seemed we were there a while. The warm pavement started pooling
with my salty blood.

The ambulance arrived. They had difficulty putting me on a stretcher.
They said that they didn't know how to lay me due to so many fractures
of my body. I heard them rattle off those injuries on the radio. Five
multiple fractures of my left femur, three of my right hip, massive
internal bleeding... it was at that point that I became aware of the fractures and the pain. I screamed in agony and passed out from the pain.

I woke up in Good Samaritan Hospital. I had tubes going down my throat and nose. I had all these machines connected to me. My arms had so many lines going in them it looked like spaghetti. I kept screaming inside my head that I was thirsty. But no one could hear me because they had me on a drug called "Pavulon". (For those who don't know; Pavulon is used to paralyze you body so you can't move.) I was only able to move my eyelids and fingertips. Rhonda was in the room. I slipped in and out of consciousness. Rhonda came up with an idea how to communicate with me. She would go through the alphabet and when she hit the right letter, I would blink. She would write that letter down
on a pad. She then told the nurse that I was thirsty. The nurse told her
that I could not have any water because the reason I was thirsty had
to do with the internal bleeding and I would drown in my own liquid.
Rhonda spooned chips of ice to my lips. It felt so nice and quenched the
pain somewhat, but I had difficulty swallowing it due to the tubes.

Three days later, Dr. Wright called Rhonda and told her that I was not
expected to make it through the night and that she better call my
family and let them know of my accident. She had already done this but
they told her to keep them posted of my condition since they lived
many miles away. She notified my parents of my condition and they said they would try to make it that night. She also called my pastor and
Mike King (My most trusted friend) to come there and give last rites.


My mother ran in the room screaming, "My baby! My baby!" Apparently she was specifically instructed to be self controlled because the staff

did not want me to be tipped off about my condition. But, it was then
that I knew something was wrong. My parents would never have made
the trip here if they didn't think something was seriously wrong.

In the wee hours of the morning I woke from my slumber. I couldn't
breathe! No one was in the room! I tried to push a button on my bed to
alert them but my arms would not move! I saw a pool of blood flow from
my chest to the bed to the floor! What was happening?

I was looking down over my corpse, as if I were in another room watching someone else. I saw the nurses rush in...

They told me months later that my body rejected the respirator tubes.
They said that my lungs were 92% filled with pulmonary emboli. (Bone
marrow was being captured in the small capillaries of my lungs from all
the fractures) I was told that I was receiving the maximum amount of
oxygen at the time and the tubes came up. They said that the reason they came into the room was that my heart had stopped and it set off
an alarm at the nurses station. They could not understand how it was
that I was able to "see" them after my heart had stopped.

Outside in the waiting room, Rhonda prayed... she saw all the commotion and wanted to know what was happening... but no one would tell her anything. A few minutes later a doctor came out and told her that I had died. She told me later that she bowed her head and gave me to God to do as He wished.

When I went under... I dreamt a dream... only, it was real! I'll
describe what death feels like. It feels like holding your breath
underwater too long. You intensely struggle to surface to gasp for air. But the difference is that in death, your body doesn't move like your mind tells it to.  You scream for help mentally but your lips do not move. I think the fear was the worse part. The few moments without oxygen feels like forever. But then you fade out... and then it's like going to sleep. I slipped into darkness but was still conscious somehow. I felt so at peace and felt myself moving as if floating on a gentle stream of water. I was in a tunnel. About one mile wide and about ten miles long. Misty white fog waited for me at the end. Someone was with me!


We spoke to each other. Not with lips and speech, it was like telepathy.  We could understand what each was thinking and answer
spontaneously. I was asked a question. "Are you ready to die now?" I
hesitated. I peered down and was able to see Rhonda crying in the
waiting room. I immediately responded, "No! She needs me!" And then I woke up; or at least I thought I did.

I did not wake up for 22 days. My family was told that while I was
resuscitated; I would be in a vegetative state indefinitely. I was told
that my eyes would stare at the ceiling all the time. My limbs became ridged and hard. There was one who did not give up on me. Rhonda waited day after day at my bedside, praying... and waiting...Rhonda prayed for me... and just after receiving last rites from four pastors from my church one day ... the next morning I woke up.

I was clinically dead three times while comatose per the docs. Clinical
death is not the same as actual death. It's when the monitors are no
longer able to detect brainwaves or heart activity. Yet brain waves came
and went. The day before I woke up, I could hear muffled voices. I
felt Rhonda's hand on mine. I felt a cool liquid on my head.

I woke up the next day. A coma is like going to sleep at night real
tired and then waking up the next morning wondering how time passed so quickly. I didn't believe at first I was out for so long. I wanted to get out of bed and go home. There is a twist in this story. That cool
liquid I felt was my pastor anointing my head with oil for last rites. Rhonda swears that I woke up shortly after they left. It startled some of the staff and spooked my Jewish roommate; whom I had the privilege of getting to know later on.

A nurse was cleaning up the mess in my room. She saw my brainwaves start back up. She called for assistance. This time the staff revived
me. The reason they failed the last time was that they had to clear all
the blood from my lungs first and were not able to help me till this
time... but this time they got me to breathe again. Gashes were sewn
into my arms and more tubes were inserted. In my left wrist an arterial
line was added. In my right a tube which created a circuit by which
blood through a machine to enrich it with oxygen outside of my lungs.
Dr. Snyder told Rhonda to never expect me to ever wake up because I have been deprived of oxygen for a long time.

After I awoke, I was wheeled me down a floor to get some tests and an
ultrasound. Ultrasound is where they would use a probe and through
vibrations, can make a picture inside your body. I learned that my
fractures still had not been set yet. The staff was too afraid that I
would die in surgery if they attempted it while comatose. I went into surgery; I was then told by Rhonda that my surgery failed. My femur was so badly  fractured that the pins would not hold. They were going to try a new technique and have a team of surgeons fly in and see if they can fix it. If not, they said they would take the leg.

My second surgery was a success. The docs inserted a "Snyder" rod from hip to knee through the center of my femur. They put a coil over
the femur to hold the pieces together. The rod was barbed on both ends
to firmly ground it into my joints. But it severely limited my range of
motion. I was not out of the woods yet. They gave me a "local" and
drilled a bit through both legs while a laid in bed watching the blood
splatter. I could not feel the pain but I was sickened by the vibrations
of the bit going through. Next they stuck a metal pin through each leg
that protruded out from each side about a half an inch. They coated the
ends with iodine and some sort of jelly. They connected cables to
the rods and suspended my legs in traction for the next eight weeks. I
can not describe the pain I felt during that period of time.

For the first few weeks I was on Demerol, morphine, and valium. I was in la, la land. I was receiving a shot every other hour for pain. The
physical anguish came around noon. I had to have the sheets changed
daily. About eight people lifted me up while others changed the
sheets. I screamed ten counts that could be heard way down the hall.
"Thousand one, Thousand two..."

Then comes the emotional shame. I could not urinate in private anymore. I couldn't take a crap without some staff member taking a sample to test in a lab somewhere! I had to have someone help clean me up. I was so humiliated and ashamed. But what could I do?

A Pentecostal person came into the room one day and started preaching from Psalms that God was chastising me by breaking both my legs.  He showed me a verse somewhere about how some fool drew near the gates of death and had his legs broken for some reason. I lied on my back for weeks wondering if God was angry with me for sleeping with Rhonda before we actually married. I thought if God was behind all this then surely He could have gotten my attention some other way? I pondered on this quite a while... what else could I do while laying in bed staring up at the ceiling with a respirator down your throat for the
next two months?

In all, I spent four and a half months in ICU. (intensive care unit) By
the time I was out of traction, I was so stiff, I could not move. It
took six weeks just to bend my arms and legs. Six weeks of coughing all that bone marrow out of my lungs. During the stay at Good Samaritan
Hospital, I had received over two hundred shots of Heparin in my
stomach, not to mention all the transfusions (I had 66 units of blood) I
had pumped in through the iv (intra-venous) line.

In the winter of 1984; I was finally released from the hospital. Rhonda
wheeled me to a McDonalds and I had a Big Mac Attack! Apparently, it never occurred to the staff to check for internal bleeding before
releasing me! The burger caused a reaction that put me in cardiac
arrest!  Next thing you know, I'm in a different hospital! ICU for the next thirty days. And then they had more reconstructive surgeries... and more pain.

I spent three years in and out of hospitals. The amount of time gave me
a deep understanding for those in wheelchairs. During those three
years I often wept while sitting in a wheelchair staring up at the
familiar steps to my apartment, unable to step up them without someone assisting me. I wondered if I could ever walk again; would I need a cane? Would I ever be able to run, ride my ten-speed again? And as I write this document... I tell you... the answer was no to most of those questions. I live daily with arthritis and bursitis of both hips and
heel spurs in both feet now. I have been told that eventually my condition will degrade as I get older. Someday that wheelchair will guide me into the life here after.

The drunk driver was a five time offender. He was cited for four
felonies and misdemeanor . He received ten days and was in and out of
jail long before I woke up from the meds I was on in ICU. After killing an eight year old girl, two years earlier; one would have thought he
learned something? I was not as upset with his sentence as I was at the judge! My fiancée attended the hearing. She asked for just one request and that was that he see what he did. His attorney stated it was against his constitutional rights to see me. The judge agreed. All four felonies
were dropped on the grounds that he was too intoxicated to be
consciously aware of his actions; so I was told.

For years I was bitter. I raised my fist at God and cursed Him for
allowing me to go through this trial. I wanted to kill the drunk driver.
But I couldn't see going to jail the rest of my life for getting revenge
against what he got away with. I even had offers from others to do him
in. But as a Christian, I knew that if I killed him, I would still have to one
day answer for my actions. One day he will have to give an accounting.
It just was not my place to do it.

We finally married and then... nearly lost our lives again!

We managed to stay clear of trouble for the next four and a half months. We married October 26th of 1985 and moved into a third floor
apartment over looking the Olentangy River here in Columbus. Across the river was a park. The Columbus Symphony would play there
sometimes.  When I felt strong enough to go back to work, we had to start paying off the bills from the wedding we paid for, no help from my
trusty parents of course. No honeymoon. We had little left over. I was
saddened that my parents could not let go of their controlling
influences over me even on the happiest day of our lives. They came to
the wedding and sat in the back pew; dressed in black. When we walked up the aisle after the wedding ceremony; I stared at the floor
in shame over what they did. I dared not look into their eyes. I 
grieved.

The day before Easter in March of 1986, we had a fire. Rhonda and I were asleep in bed at the time. It was about ten in the morning when a
lady out walking her dog noticed smoke rising from the eaves of our
roof. She ran inside and banged on everyone's doors. But no one
believed her because we didn't see any smoke. I thought she was a kook
and went back to bed. I woke up about twenty minutes later to the sound of our front door crashing in! I ran out of my bedroom in my underwear screaming; "What the hell is going on man?" The fireman yelled, "Get you pants on and go!" I got dressed and fled barefoot leaving Rhonda asleep in bed.  (Rhonda has always been a deep sleeper) The dude woke her up and helped Rhonda get dressed. Rhonda noticed flaming pieces of the roof  falling lazily past her bedroom window and was worried that her plants might get burned. She took the liberty to remove them from the window sill and place them on the floor. She calmly gets dressed, takes my wallet, shoes and our wedding rings and walks to down the stairs. Meanwhile the roof collapsed over 12 apartments; catching all of them on fire! Rhonda was still not out of the building yet! I was worried. Did she make it... is she dead?  I saw her and she ran to me and hugged me. She looked back and watched every memory of her late mother go up in flames. She cried and said that she guessed this was real and not just a dream! What a sleep walker! She made me laugh.

Together, with 126 homeless people, we watched 32 apartments go up in flames. It was a four alarm fire. Hoses were spread from blocks
away. There simply was not enough water pressure. A fire truck got stuck in the river bed and pumped river water on it. In ten minutes there was nothing left! Nothing but the clothes on our backs. Very little
money in the bank. Not even to stay in a motel for the night.

The building smoldered for three days. The landlord was gracious to pay for everyone's lodging for one night only. We got three because we
knew how the fire started and he was afraid of us. He did a bad thing
and we had evidence to prove it.

The next day, the fire marshal "Tom Maxwell" allowed us to return to
search our units before he was going to raze the building to the city
dump. We arrived to the blackened shell that remained. As mentioned
earlier, we lived on the third floor. The floors were cement. The stairs
were still intact. The second floor burned from the melting steel
reinforcements from the floor above. The first floor had water flowing
through the windows from all the water pumped inside. Everyone suffered loss. Yet no one died. Today is Easter Sunday, and most would
return from their families by tomorrow morning with nothing left.

Outside were fire trucks, heavy duty ambulances, the Red Cross, TV
camera's from places as far away as Houston, Texas. Vultures, ready to
gobble up every drop of news that they could film. They interviewed
victims. I watched an old lady weep as the firemen brought out a safe
full of money. When opened, the paper was still smoldering. Neighborhood kids tried to steal what remained. But were quickly pushed away.

We sought help... and learned we were quite on our own.
Rhonda and I nervously stepped up the scarred stairwells. Fearful of
whether they would support our weight. We made it to what remained of our two bedroom apartment. At the time, we had a guest stay there. Kim;  Rhonda's sister also lost everything as well. She was staying with
us while looking for work. Now we were homeless. We knew we were in big trouble; we hoped that our church would help us out. But they did
not. They told us that this was the will of God for marrying despite my
parents wishes. Honor your parents; they claimed. We married despite
them and now God was punishing us. We looked to other churches such as World Harvest; with Pastor Parsley. A five thousand member
church with a fat wallet. We were turned away there as well. We did not fit into their benevolence budget because we were not regular
attendee's there. We were shocked when we were rejected. I cursed God that day and vowed to never step foot in another church again. And for the next eighteen or so years, I never had.

But despite these hardships there was a silver lining. When we entered
under the twisted frame of our door; there stood a tilted crucifix from
Rhonda's mother's casket, sticking up in the ashes. The ash was about
three feet deep. We had to remove the fallen embers of the roof
before examining what remained. We tossed the wood and ash over the side of where our windows used to be.

Once we reached bottom; we were surprised at what we found. Rhonda and Kim had many books; they all burned; except the bibles. We
thought that was odd. Granted they were damaged; but since this fire was hot enough to melt our porcelain bathtub and my craftsman tools
together, these should have burned! All my tapes melted; except those by Keith Green. The Freon in the fridge exploded the door off the
hinges. Our TV looked like a bowling ball, bed springs were all that was left of our king-sized bed. Yet the lyrics of Rhonda's songs survived.
They were sitting next to a deformed plastic bottle of kerosene! This
gave Rhonda inspiration to search for her treasured musical
instruments. She was thrilled to find the lead case to her prized
trumpets intact. She could not open the case for it had melted shut. We managed to pry it open and found her 18 karat gold-plated Shilke
trumpets intact! Rhonda was so thrilled!  She climbed up to the highest pinnacle of the building; and cheerfully played "Taps" for the miserable people below! This was the highlight of  our lives back then. Everyone was shocked! The TV vultures wanted to interview her. CNN was there. They got to her first! While that was going on; the trumpets were to be put in our car.  I walked up to her side and listened to the questions. "What do you plan to do now?" Rhonda said, "Go to church!" They asked, "Don't you  plan to seek a place to live instead?" She replied; "I am going to praise God for allowing us to live! God will take care of us!" That's "Iron Lips"! Such wit and courage! I was pleased with her response.

Meanwhile a few kids stole the trumpets and fled into the woods nearby. No one did anything to stop them. "It was none of their business",  they said.  Our clothes stank with the acidic smoke from the fire. Little survived. We had put off renter's insurance... a stupid mistake. We were still reeling from the last calamity. We were struggling with the bills from our recent marriage. We were newlyweds, at a very vulnerable time in  our marriage. We owe our lives to the Red Cross. They donated the first month's rent and deposit into a new apartment! This kept us off the streets! The Red Cross also loaned us five hundred dollars to help us buy clothes to wear to work and food to eat.

Some unchurched people had more mercy than the time honored Christians had. Many gave food, small monetary donations, even an old
couch and black & white TV was appreciated. Domino's Pizza provided free pizza for us. Somehow through the gifts from others, Rhonda was encouraged. She would tell me that God had provided.
I became bitterly angry. Both times I was told that God was behind  these calamities by pious Christians who thought they were right. Seems the ones that are closest to you are the ones who stab you in the back and twist the knife! I wondered why it is that evil people can go
unpunished while we get slammed twice! I wondered if there really was a God out there at all! I failed to see that though others abandoned
us, many did not. We survived... but I couldn't see past my anger to
recognize this.

In our new apartment, we slept on the floor together for months. We
still believed in doing the right thing and try to pay our bills on time. All tenants from the past units including ourselves were sued by Warner-Amex and AT&T. Warner-Amex claimed that we were responsible for not removing the cable boxes when we fled! AT&T sued for the lost wiring that occurred in each unit that had a phone hooked up. The IRS came along and cited us with the failure to send in our April 15th filing on time! We couldn't because everything burned in the fire. They thought we were lying to them. We had to support our story through testimonies from the fire marshal and chief engineer. Of the 126 people homeless in this fire only 2 had insurance!

We sought legal counseling. We went to two attorneys and were turned away. "We only lost $26,000! (That's 1986 dollars). There are bigger fish in this pond!" one attorney quipped. We were told our case was not worthy of their time. The third attorney was young. He told us how these cases can take years to challenge in court. He said that the power is in the hands of the wealthy owners of this building and that we
would place them in the position of "defendants" and may be required to pay for their defense if we lost. He explained that he would take our
case if we filed class action. This was impossible because the landlord
was the only one in possession of that info and he was not going to
give that info to us without a court order. So there you see... legal
advice in this matter was out of the question!

Our young apprentice did help us in some ways though. He did do some background checking on his own. Through him, we learned that the fire resulted from a leaking roof that apparently had been leaking for years! The landlord did not want to pay the money to fix it so he poured tar over the cracks on his own. The roof apparently caught fire as the result of melting snow seeping through the tarred crack. It corroded the electrical wiring in the kitchen.

Warner-Amex; we learned later; already had insurance on their cable
boxes and were trying to collect twice! We found a loophole in our
contract with them. It stated that we were to return the cable boxes to
them upon leaving the units; it didn't say in what condition! So we
returned their boxes and demanded a handwritten receipt. I set my molten heap on their front desk and left a satisfied man.

Our young attorney helped us write a strongly worded letter to AT&T. We told them that we are intending to go to the press about the
harassment of innocent fire victims and would splatter their name all
over the airwaves if they did not drop their suit immediately. In 48
hours, they dropped it. Wonder why?

For the next three years we struggled to get by. Both of us were pulling
two jobs to make ends meet. With no emotional support... we grew
weary. I started drinking. The abused child becomes the abuser. The
cycle continues... from generation to generation... till all thinking is
changed or until everyone is scarred forever.

Rhonda would spend long hours in the bathroom praying for me. I would heckle her and say God doesn't answer prayers. During those three years, we stopped going to church. No one missed us anyway I thought.  Rhonda and I were frustrated and at the end of our wits. Before we knew it, we would scream at each other. I started putting my fist through doors and walls when things got out of hand. One day I tore the cabinet doors off the hinges. Another day, I picked up the TV and threw it across the room. One day we argued again... that time she
screamed, "What are you going to break now? There is nothing left to
break!" I turned around and clocked her. She had to go to the hospital
for a concussion. She lied to protect me. I never forgave myself... I
have become the batterer instead of the victim of my childhood.

That night, she called me on the phone. It was late... She told me that
she flew to Boston to stay with some friends. She said she was afraid
of me and wasn't coming back. She worried if one day I might kill her.
Funny how those you love the most get hurt the worse.  I hung up the phone; I felt strangely numb. I went to the supermarket and bought two bottles of Nytol. I went out to my car and drove around... eventually I parked in a lonely parking lot and swallowed 52 pills. (Noted per the police on the scene who deducted what was missing from the total amount each bottle contained.) An hour passed...I was getting sleepy. I turned on the radio and listened to a Christian station. They were playing heavy metal that night and I liked to listen to them. I prayed in the car and ended up crying a lot. I sobered up and called the radio station.

"WCVO" the dude answered. "I got a Christian friend of mine who is
suicidal. Would he go to hell if he killed himself?" I asked. There was
a long pause. "Where are you?" he asked. I responded, "I need to know so please tell me soon!" "WHERE ARE YOU?" he said sternly. I tried to control the slurred speech... but I realized he already knew. I pleaded; please tell me?" He screamed, "Where are you now?"

I heard someone praying in the background. I dropped the phone. I
reached down to pick it up and started seeing triple. "I am sooo
sleepy." I said. "Talk to me! Let me help you!" He screamed. I felt a shiver go down my spine. I thought this is real, your going to die if you don't tell him.

I feared I'd go to hell if I were to die...(Today, I know better) I
labored to breathe... I could barely hold the receiver to my face. I
told him where I was. I dropped the phone again. I slumped in my seat and was passing in and out of consciousness. I saw the flashing lights and slipped into a coma.

I woke up in the emergency room of St. Ann's Hospital. The familiar
plastic tubes ran through my mouth and nose. I carefully pulled the
tubes out. A doctor yelled at me to leave them alone, but it was too late. The staff strapped my arms down. An ambulance crew picked me up
around nine o'clock in the morning. They carried me out of the hospital
on a stretcher. I asked them where I was going but no one would
speak to me. They looked away and stared out the windows. I tried to
humor the place a little by calling the ambulance a "Twinkie Twuck".
The silence was deafening.

The Psycho Ward

We pulled up to a series of plan brick buildings surrounded by woods and trees. One of the paramedics; a black lady spoke to me and said,
"Son, you need a religious experience." I almost burst in laughter! "If
she only knew" I thought. I was wheeled into triage. I was screened with a battery of tests. For the next three days, I slept. I did not wake to even get a bite to eat. On the fourth day, I weakly stumbled into a kitchen. I still did not know where I was. I noticed bars on all windows and doors. I feared that I was in a insane asylum! I now wish I never survived! I dreaded the thought that I would spend the rest of my life here with crazy people! The movie "Midnight Run" clearly etched in my mind about what happens in these places. While there I met a Baptist minister in there for depression. I met teenager kids there for eating disorders. It was there that I learned how to lose weight by bulimia. Most were normal people with problems. A girl tried to slash her wrists for being abandoned by her boyfriend. My heart went out to them. I tried to help each of them individually. Problem was... my needs were not being met. At twelve step groups, it seemed everyone sought me out for advice. I thought my issues were too deep for people to understand. Just before being released thirty days later; I was told by one of the docs that they thought that I was just "faking" my attempt and was not suicidal at all. They said to go somewhere else if I just needed attention. I responded; "If you only knew..."

Rhonda flew back to visit me. She said she could not believe what I had
just done. My parents said I must not live in the past. They would not
accept their lack of support as a major underlying issue in our problems
back then. They did not support us when we married and they turned
us away after the fire. Rhonda left me for someone who could take better care of herself than I could. I was a broken man... and then I
abandoned God.

My rebellion against God

I relocated to a more affordable apartment and spent the next six months alone. During that time I closed up and stopped seeing anyone
period. I picked up the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. The first chapter
was hard to read because it was full of cursing, so I skipped over it. I
read it and then picked up his next book called Satanic Rituals. I went
to a occult bookstore and picked up some Tarot cards. The cards were meaningless until I understood how to use them, they were like a deck of cards to me. I knew I was not to practice divination... but I wanted so badly to gain power over my bitter enemies; I was willing to try anything once. I had a checklist of books to study. I consulted with LaVey's First Satanic Church based near LA, in California for direction. I read the all of Crowley's books and wrote down anything of particular interest. I studied TM to control my breathing and my self-control over wandering thoughts. Mr. Crowley was into
Jewish mysticism big time. But his teachings were twisted by different
ideologies over the course of his life. After I completed my research of
his writings, I moved on to the Kabala. It was here that I learned to
read tarot cards as they were meant to be understood.

Before I continue let me state something to those in the Dark Arts and
those even considering entering this field and to skeptics as well.
Understand this; there is power in divination. There are ten cards used
in a tarot card spread of more than eighty cards. What I experienced
was real and the events really happened. But it scared me to the bone.
Think about this. The odds that the first card making an accurate
prediction is: 1 in 168. As each card meanings can be reversed. The
second card in a row to be true and accurate has the odds of 1 in 27888.
(1 times 166 times the odds of the first card. Ever take probability and
statistics in college?) The odds that the third card coming true in
succession is 1 in 4,573,632! The odds of the fourth card coming true in
succession is 1 in 740,928,384! The fifth card is 1 in 18,548,541,440!
The sixth is 1 in 2,930,669,547,520! The seventh is 1 in
70,406,405,209,620,480! Get the point? The eighth card 1 in
10,701,773,591,862,312,960. That's over ten thousand times our national debt right now! (2004) The ninth 1 in 
1,605,266,038,779,346,944,000. And lastly for you diehards... the tenth card is 23,757,937,373,934,334,771,200 TO ONE!!! Thank God for computers to figure this out! This is just for one spread of cards. If
you really want to comprehend this multiply the tenth card by every
prediction correctly given at random to every human being in the world!

(My point is that there is a spiritual element here. There has to be
because the odds of a string of ten cards in succession accurately
predicting events in my life coming true randomly is truly phenomenal!
If there is a spiritual element here then one must agree that more
research is needed to determine the extent of that interesting idea! I
have covered this in greater detail in one of my other writings:
"Biblical  Creationism: Fact or Myth? Scientific Evidences for Skeptics to Ponder".)

Once I had the kabala under my belt, I then began my journey into
spiritism and became a student of Satanic Draconianism. This eventually led me to The Temple of Set and Vampirism and then finally the ONA. The end result of all this research was that I found all the
Left Hand Path and Dark Arts to be shallow and lacking. Those of you who are only involved in the occult for social reasons are merely
pawns to the masters to use at will. Your like goats to be
slaughtered... the power you seek will be the very power that will
destroy you. Satanism and all the other ideologies are lacking because they are all rooted in astrology. I have met many who teach that this is not so but they have not done their homework for it they had, they would know better.

I was a practicing Satanist... mocking God after we broke up. I vowed to
hurt God back for every thing He allowed to happen in my life. I did
not commit myself to Satanism really; but I learned so much I could have been very high up the chain of command by now. I have earned the
respect of many of them on line. Unlike many Christians who are too busy condemning anyone they don't try to get to know; I never
condemned them. Instead; I listened to them. And many of them came from violent backgrounds such as I did. They saw a lot of double
standards and the only way for them to get a grip in their lives was to
believe in atheism. For how could a loving God ignore a innocent child's cries in the dark closet in the basement? Listen to what I wrote
describing that pain...


"Remember me God?


"Remember me God? Remember those times so long ago...

Remember me when I was eight? Remember when I cried my heart out as I sat in the crisp autumn leaves in the woods behind that school? I stared up at the intertwining branches and gazed at the warm rays of the September sun sparkling through the orange and red maple trees under the clear blue umbrella of sky? Remember God the tears I shed there... all alone... that was me God... alone... all alone back then.

Remember God how many times I stood waiting on the playground staring down at the cold cement waiting... dreading... longing for the deed to end. Kids picking people to take sides for teams... I was always the last one picked... always the lowest outcast in school... the tears
dripped in silence... no one saw them freeze on the snowy ground under
me... no one but you...

Remember me Lord God... when I drifted with dread from class to class in the third grade... waiting for my peers to scorn me... spit on me...
steal from me... and hit me... the fear I felt when they waited for me
to leave the building... the same six... waiting to beat the crap out of
me every day after school. No one taught me how to fight... where was my dad when I needed him. I remember... I went home God... running home...out of fear of reprisals from the kids at school... to the safety of
home... my fortress of protection from everyone around me.

Lord God... remember how many times I hid in the basement behind all
those clothes in the closet. I sat on that cold damp cement floor...
eating ice cream or anything I could steal from the kitchen upstairs.
Remember God how hungry I was... how my young hands would shake... so afraid I would get caught... wondering how I could get rid of the evidence.

Remember God... do you remember me? Do you remember how no where I went was safe? Do you remember how I gulped down any food I got at the supper table? How fast I ate... and then ran back into the basement... to my dark shelter way down below. Do you remember God the screams that echo in my head night after night... the fighting the endless fighting? Do you remember the black eyes? The dad I needed to protect me was the same dad that punched me... remember Lord.... I was ten back then...

Remember God when I had to go to school and hold that secret in... to
protect the innocent... cause I was the bad person I deserved to get
hit... remember how they told me how much You hated me?

Remember how I hid alone across the street in the sewers.... fearful of
the rats.... but more fearful of coming home... knowing that dad was
waiting for me... pacing the floors like a lion... waiting for me... to
walk in the door... remember that?

Do you remember me Lord God when mom pulled me around the room by my hair? Do you remember how they screamed how they wish I was never born and didn't deserve to live.... I remember Lord...

Do you remember God.... when mom ever nurtured me? Do you remember one time... just one time when she ever told me that she loved me? Do you remember one time when I was ever hugged? I don't Lord... I don't remember any times where I had fallen and anyone was there to help me get back up... where were you mom to put the band aids on and kiss the pain and make it go away?

You abandoned me... your first born son... both of you did... cause I
was nothing to you but the sperm that ran down mom's leg right?

Remember me God when I walked aimlessly down the lonely highways... with no where to go? Soo lost... with everywhere to go but no where to hide? I was in the sixth grade then.

Remember Lord how I would sneak in the church while kids played
outside... I hid there in the back pew in the shadows.... Lord I looked
for you.... remember how I would gaze at the stained glass windows and
listen to the sanctuary creak? So quiet... so safe... so lonely... so
broken... you remember? Do your really remember? Or have you forgotten me?

Remember God.... how many times I slept on the gravel beds under those freeway bridges down in Kentucky? Listening to the roar of tractor trailers over my head... staring out at all the stars... watching my
breath drift and disappear... wondering where are you.... and yet the
stars were so beautiful.... I was soo cold inside....

Remember God the long journeys I made on my trusty steel steed... that ten speed bicycle? How many miles did I travel... where did I go? Lord I kept a diary remember? I rode over eight thousand miles.... remember all those bald tires I had? I rode and rode and rode... any where.... no where ... no place to go...

Remember the cornfields... how I would close my eyes and sniff the air
out in the farmlands... it was hot Lord... my skin salty... but I was
free... no one could hurt me there could they God? I was 16 then.

Remember God? Do you remember me? Well Lord... I am tired of asking.... but I will ask you again... you remember me now? I am going to be 44 in six days... I am still that kid Lord... my body ages... but I am still that kid Lord God... in six days I am going to see you.... I hope you
will remember me.... because I remember you.... you were with me
throughout all those chapters in my life... giving me hope giving me a
reason to hold on.

Will you forget me.... and abandon me.... like the others? Will you
condemn me when I kill myself? Guess I wont know the answer to that. I just wanted to say... I remember you... the question is... will you
remember me?"

There is power in evil and there is always a price. And this "power" to
rule over all is ruled by a higher authority. Once I knew within the
core of my being that there really is a supernatural element in the Dark
Arts; did I realize that God ruled over them. Why? Because true
Christians know the power of blood sacrifice and that they are protected by God only to be tested as He sees fit. Read Job and you will
understand. I can not tell you how many times we have been "hexed" by
others only to have it reflect off us and back on the curser! When I
concluded that there was a spiritual world out there... then I began my
search for why there is a God and why the Bible is more than just any
other book on the market. My course of study changed. I studied
astrophysics and learned that the universe is finite. It had a
beginning. I studied archaeology and learned that the historical evidences agree with the historical data recorded in Scriptures. I learned from reading the writings of Josephus Flavius that Jesus really did exist and did perform miracles. Josephus was not a Christian. He approved of Jesus death and called Him a devil. I studied Roman history and the persecuted spread of Christianity throughout the world. There is truly something to learn my friends. Most Christians blindly accept their faith at face value. Satanists call that herd-thinking. The herd of sheep blindly following a crazy shepherd to their deaths. Many cults do the same thing... so from a skeptic's point of view this is the case. The fault lies within the churches. We teach Christians but do not raise them up to be Spiritually mature; capable of defending their faith for anyone who asks of it. Because we are comfortable being complacent, we become the stumbling block that causes others to question our logic. They read through us and turn away from the Bible on account of our lack of wisdom and knowledge. The blood of those who have rejected  Christ as the result of our careless remarks and our herd mentality will be on our heads one day because it was our Lord who commanded us to be ready and accountable to answer questions that people ask us. 

The reason I have spent much time on this issue is because there is a
grave misunderstanding between born-again Christians and skeptics
today. It need not be so. I decided to note my journey through the
occult because others may decide to take that journey too and I believe
that if God has His Hand on you... He will allow you to walk in heavy
darkness in order to find the flickering candle of light from His Word!
A  candle can be seen from great distances in the darkest of nights! The
gnawing of the pangs of hunger for one's meaningful purpose in life
may drive them as they did me; to find out the difference between
reality and myth. Darkness and power of the occult is nothing to fear if
you truly are a Christian. One needs only to take authority over it to
master it and that may take some practice and faith grounded through
experience. For those wandering blindly in the darkness; there is hope.
You have three choices. Continue as you are and meet your fate as
Anton LaVey has; search the depths of the occult and learn as I did, how sadly shallow it is; or three, pursue a deeper knowledge of the
Kingdom of Light. My journey took me twenty three years before I could write this article. I hope for your sakes, you will not squander your
lives as I have mine. But then, perhaps my message will fall on your
minds and hearts and somehow influence you to reconsider your
positions.

The knowledge is out there... it is up to you to grasp for it. Only
through knowledge can one develop wisdom. Proverbs 2:2-5.
Rhonda has had four relationships since we broke up. I reeled from
watching one affair to the next as I watched her life draw to a close.
In all, I have tried more than four attempts to end my life. But God has a
sense of humor I think. I will describe one such incident below.
I volunteered to go into New Life Treatment Centers under Dr. Fred Gross Treatment Center in Anaheim California. I was a suicidal mess. I will try to write some of what I learned there briefly. But this document was gleaned down from over two thousand pages to just under thirty.

In the course of then next two weeks, I learned to slowly trust again.
And I learned so much at that hospital that I began to have hope again.
Before leaving, the staff passed the hat and gave me some money to help me get back on my feet again. I was deeply moved. But I needed
more time... but the insurance money ran out. I left with raw wounds and after a few months I got depressed again.

The cycle of suicidal anguish would continue for many years to come. I
wrote many journals, cried many tears, and even carved bloody
messages on my arms to send people a message that I was serious about my suicidal intentions. Each time I get suicidal, I'd carve a letter. I decided that I would die when I reached the last letter in my message. I carved the words "DEAD ALIVE". People thought I was crazy; but I
knew what I was doing.

Some of you don't understand why people carve. I carved when the
internal anguish is so great that turning to physical pain dulls the
internal pain. I learned that the reason I do this is because of the ritualistic abuse I seen as a child. If no one is there to punish us; we punish ourselves. It's a form of self-hatred. Carving feels better because the mind can really hold a lot of internal grief. The mind has synapses that regulate the stress that our minds can handle. When over-bearing
stresses are testing those synapses, they become dull and eventually
stop producing the Serotonin that suppresses the internal anguish, Serotonin  is like morphine. It's the biochemical antidote for releasing the stress in our lives. When we experience ongoing trauma; our biological minds can not keep up. This is what brings the chemical imbalances in our brains. Like war vets; I have seen a different kind of war. Yet in many ways were have much in common. Major depression is anger turned inwards. It's like burying your feelings cause you don't want people to know you are hurting. An analogy might be that of someone who sweeps dirt under a carpet. Eventually that dirt bleeds through. So it is with our lives. We can hold it in for only so long; everyone has a thresh-hold. Eventually we all get to a point of fail-safe. And when we do; look out! We just come apart at the seams.

For years I lived in this black hole. I was blinded and unable to see
the love and care that others have tried to give me. I reasoned over and
over that there was nothing to live for and refused to accept the good
that people offered because of a couple of reasons. The first was that I
was confronted in counseling of two fears that was keeping me from
healing. The first was that I feared success. I feared letting go of the
pain. For the pain was my identity. It was who I believed I was inside.
Molded by the experiences that life had dealt me. If I slowly; very,
very,  slowly,... released the pain, I feared that I would lose control of who I was and I would be completely and utterly defeated. I tried to keep people away from me because I feared they'd find out what a miserable wretch I really was inside.

Each revolution of the cycle of self destruction goes deeper. The reason
is because we become no longer satisfied with the previous cycles and
seek even more destructive ones. Eventually I was left with two choices.
The first was either commit suicide and end the pain or... fight to live
and get the help and knowledge I needed to break out of the chaotic
cycle I was coping with.

Emotions create powerful chemicals in the brain to control the pain.
Eventually the brain can not keep up with it all and the pain becomes
unmanageable. That is where medications become useful. The meds takes the edge off. But it does not take away the internal anguish. It
only controls the symptoms of the underlying problem.

The pain must be released... but how did I do it without losing my
sanity or everyone else's around me? After many trips to hospitals; each trip released more of this pain and each time I was getting healthier. The journals I wrote became a map of my trip out of the black depression I was wrestled with. Before I started journaling, I drew pictures. I sat on the floor of my living room or bedroom and
focused on feeling as young as I could remember. By sitting on the floor, I felt smaller while everything seemed larger to me; just as I would as a
child.   I had a large notebook and lots of crayons. I turned on classical music because there were no lyrics, and I relaxed and listened a few minutes. I then drew whatever came to mind. Perhaps nothing did... but I drew meaningless colors... before long the pain surfaced and those colors became flashes which then inspired scenes in my mind surfacing the unconscious and buried anger and grief that under lied below the
depression or whatever I was experiencing.

The second fear I had was the fear of failure. I feared success and I
feared failing! I was fighting to live while praying to die!!! I can't
tell you the many times that I held a 45 cal pistol in my mouth, contemplating pulling the trigger and instead, chose to writhe in the pain and live! After many brushes with death, I came to realize that as much as I wanted to die; deep down I kept hoping things would get better tomorrow.  But even at this deep cycle... I tested my fate more and more seriously  each time. There is a book called "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plaith.; she died in this manner. God is with me... even on the darkest nights while I played rehearsals with a gun.

A long time ago someone told me that it is the people who have been
through hell that make tomorrow's leaders. The experiences that you
and I share can affect many; many untouchables that could not otherwise be counseled because the best counselors are the ones who have learned about life the hard way and not by some textbook!

With this thought in mind, I had to realize that maybe, just maybe, if I
resisted this darkness long enough to fight for the hope; then the
sorrow and grief in my life will have purpose. For by them I hoped to gain the humble acceptance that other's like myself could use someone like me to reach them in ways that no one else ever could. It is this hope that gave my life new meaning and purpose.

"Diamonds are only created in coal under intense heat and pressure. We can stay the way we are and die young and be buried at 70 or
eventually kill ourselves; or we can writhe in the fires and be purified
from it."   My road out of this nightmare began with finding a good hospital where I felt safe enough to express myself. I had to have the courage to trust people. But insurance companies will not let most stay there long enough to get the help desperately needed. So repeated trips need followed; for most on an annual plan. The good hospitals were the
Minerith Meyer Clinics which can be contacted through 
http://www.newlife.com  or 1-800-new-life. Most of these counselors were unlike any I had ever experienced. They cared because they walked the same path that I was on and not by some textbook you read in college. My visits were rigorous from sun up to sun down. Unlike many public hospitals that keep you in waiting for your 15 min session each day. New Life is a privately run Christian network. When I was in their hospitals I tested them. I carved; I electrocuted and hanged myself. I was living as a practicing Satanist and they all believed in God. But they would not give up on me. Three nurses cried when they saw me lying on the floor after a failed suicide attempt. They each held my hands and prayed over me; how many counselors would care enough to pray with you rather than give lip service?

I looked in their eyes... and I felt as if someone really loved me for
the first time and I started to melt away and trust them. But it was too
late.  My time was up and the insurance company said I had to go. So I never got the help I craved so bad for ever again till many years later.

In February of 2006 I had another suicide attempt by overdosing on
tranquilizers. I did not have my gun any more because my friends took it away from me; and then in September I tried it again with
anti-depressants. I came to realize that I really did not want to die. I
wanted to end the emotional pain. I ended up in a coma a few weeks ago after that last attempt. It was a close call.

I am currently hooked up with a very loving and supportive church called "The Vineyard". They really care and hug me and stuff like I never had before. I get teary eyed when I think about it now. But I am slowly recovering. I am letting people help me. This is something I was
trained as a child never to do. But you know... as I let people into my
life... it is starting to feel good. I am no longer as numb as I once
felt. I still cry a lot. But crying is helping me get the poison out.

God sees me and grieves with me in my hopelessness. My journey back to Christianity came slowly. It took people who loved me by action and
not by lip service to begin the process. There are people who mentor me
now and teach me what a healthy family is supposed to be like. Some even treat me as one of their own kids. It is humbling to be honored in this way.

I had this dream one night;

I saw myself as a young child being held in Jesus' loving arms in
patience as I screamed and beat His chest again and
again with my fists. And yet He held me until I had no strength left. I
was comforted in that dream.

Many people see God as through the eyes of a child before an angry
parent. The image of God becomes distorted because as abused
children of physical authorities in our lives they come to see God as
some abusive or careless perfectionist tyrant as their parents were to
them. The only way to learn who God is is by searching for answers.

Maybe I am supposed to live? Maybe I am here to recover from everything that happened to me and someday help others? Suicide is the last resort. It takes courage to focus on staying alive... I am used to
living in pain... but to step out... and away from that pain frightens
me. I am stepping into an unfamiliar world now. Accepting people's love for me and abandoning the pain with the past. I am learning that there is only one way to truly let the past go. And one thing I have learned; I can't do this alone. I need people to help me along the way.

To let the past go... I have to learn to forgive everyone who hurt me.
Not because they deserve it. But because by handing what they did to me over to God I can walk away a free man.

This is a process:

Forgiveness is like an onion. I have to peel off a layer at a time. Each
layer gets smellier and stronger. Eventually I will get to the core and maybe some day put my past at peace. I am not healed yet. I wonder if I ever will be. I have to surround myself around healthy and positive people. That is why I had to cut my family off in my life. Our family is not healthy and does nothing to support me.

When Rhonda and I broke up ten years ago; I was a mess. All the dreams we shared together were shattered. Many of the problems in our marriage could have been avoided. The biggest problem was that we failed to talk to each other. People if your marriage is in trouble...
please... remember your both best friends... you got to trust each other
and really try to talk!!! And if you really want to move forward... one
of you has to be strong enough to forgive the other... and both of you
need to remember to be accountable for your actions because you are
hurting each other.

I am still that hurt child hiding in the closet down in the basement in
Ft. Thomas. I was the altar boy at St. Catherine's that stared back
into the stained glass windows and wondered in awe at the dancing colors on the pews. I was the same kid... that many never knew... would
spend long hours there after school reading every book in the library;
in search for a hungry solution in my life. And I was the same kid that
rode a ten speed over a hundred miles to Columbus to be with a group of people who loved me for who I was and not for what I could do for
them.

A note to some of the Christians out there:

When you see someone carving up their bodies... you do not know the dark secrets they carry. Just know that the Lord pays particular
attention to unwanted children... and the adult children whose bodies
age but their minds are still reeling from the pain of the skeletons
that  still rattle in the closets of their minds. It is not of the devil...
when they carve... they do it to feel physical pain so that they do not
go insane dealing with the mental stuff. I remember writhing in bed many nights in warm soaked sheets from all the tears of despair I shed. I attempted suicide four times, been in fourteen mental hospitals... and you know... despite what many think... if I would have died... my blood
would cry  out like Abel's did in the garden of Eden... I was innocent and those who would drive me to death would have committed the act because death was preferable than the insanity of the abuse that I endured.  I cling to this hope in Psalms 27:10-14. That I will not have to go to the land of the dead to find resolution... but wait on God to find it in the land of the living.


To those who are suicidal:

"Tomorrow's greatest leaders will always be today's strongest survivors.
The harder and meaner life gets... the more beautiful is the diamond
in the making. Diamonds are rare... but a lump a coal is not. Effective
leaders must be purified through the fires of great testing to stand
fast against the wiles of the Devil. And trust me... if you survive, then
Satan's kingdom will quake to the foundation once you are liberated from your hellish life... because you will know a heck of a lot more than
those who skimped by in the comforts of this world. And it will be you
one day that God will use to influence thousands if not millions around the world that others could not touch."

I am healing a little more; day by day.

Sincerely,

Jonathan


Please check these messages:

Suicidal?      IS GOD TOO BUSY??    Humpty Dumpty     

Where is GOD? Answers for an "Atheist"        REJECTION

THE NEED FOR FORGIVENESS

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