When I was four-years-old, my dad left my Mom for another women and broke her heart and soul so badly that it triggered a dormant mental illness that would plague the rest of her life…and mine.
I heard my aunt and uncle talking when I was 4 1/2 that if I did not stay with my Mama, the doctors thought that she would “not make it”. She became my responsibility for a lifetime. Throughout my childhood I was shuffled around to different people’s homes when Mom was hospitalized. In between I often hid under clothes in hampers, closets, and just plain faced her when “the voices” where telling her to “send Joy to Jesus”. She had a paring knife that she carried around for protection, and it occasionally was pointed towards me. I have a small scar on my upper left arm where it pierced me once when I didn’t get away. The shock of what she had done was so much that she immediately broke down crying and apologized profusely telling me that she was confused. I pet her head and told her it was okay…I was okay.
Around that same time period, when I was 4-5 years old, I awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat with that feeling that I was being watched. There were Bibles opened and spread across my body, Mom had the knife pointed at my heart, and she was crying while discussing with the voices whether or not she should save me from this evil world and send me to Jesus. I laid still…the sweat dripping down my face and neck…my neck burning from the fear. I prayed harder than any small child should know how. I prayed that God would give me the words to say to prevent her from killing me because others would not understand that something was not right with her brain and they would be mad at her and put her in jail. I didn’t want her to feel guilty for killing me either or miss me.
After an “eternity” of lying painfully still, I finally called her name and broke her from her concentrated mumbling and tears. I told her that God wanted me on Earth to look after her and to help other people be happy. He had a purpose for me and she didn’t have a right to stop Him. I also told her that Jesus loved her and it would be okay. She cried and hugged me, thanking me for my words.
My life is hard still, 36 years later, and always will be. I thank the Lord for Mom’s Christian upbringing and her ability to so beautifully pass it on to me despite her own turmoil. I am also thankful for friends in NAMI and the Family-to-Family class where we came together and helped one another through education and common ground. I’m still here and I still love my precious Mama!