Dead Alive; My Story Part 1

My testimony is a long one... it is brutal and dark at times. But to those who suffer as I do throughout life... my testimony brings strength and encouragement. Through the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord; I wish I could overcome and shake the fortifications of Hell to the very foundation; to free the oppressed and break the chains of those held in the bondage of depression and despair. I am suffering too though... we need to support each other. We are family.

 


"Dead Alive; my story"

 

 

I was raised in a large English tutor in the rolling hills of Kentucky. My family 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 still carry that shame with me to this day.


 Though I was not wanted as a child did 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 protected 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 barely 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 embarassed. 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 in school. 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. These documents 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 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 my parents with a icy vengence.

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 I hurt deep inside; I could not express it into words. Like I had an apple in my throat... I could not speak because I was in so much pain.


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 "**** 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 my name in the neighborhood papers the next few days. 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 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 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 my 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. 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 junior 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. But 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.

 
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 and 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 the dude 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".


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.


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 white gazebo surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers.


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 three in the afternoon. He wasn't just drunk; he was point 52 (.52%). That's over five times the legal limit folks. Two 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. 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 and blood clots 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. 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. Witnesses said 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 remained 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 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 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 uparound 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 wouldspeak 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 flied 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.

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.  

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.  

onefinefeller onefinefeller
46-50, M
1 Response Jul 21, 2010

I am honest man, i am principled, loving caring and I know how to treat a lady for whom they are. I love transparency. I am here because I am looking for a serious relationship that can lead to marriage. I need a woman who is understanding, caring, romantic and loving. She may not be charmingly beautiful, but attitudes and character and being industrious describes a good example of a perfect lady.