Sometime in the month of August 2009, as I turned 45, I had a desperate moment that caused me to look full at myself and cry out to God. I was on my knees, face on the dirty carpet, alone in my tiny bathroom, with my tormentor screaming horrible things at me thru the locked door. He had become warden of my prison. My personal hell. He blamed me for everything imaginable. Our finances, our shamble of a home, the situation of our family members (even extended), his business, our relationship, our children’s fate and future, and most painful of all, my daughter’s death.
The daily, sometimes hourly tirades, had taken a toll on me, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I had always been a Christian. My faith was rock solid, though I questioned God’s provision and grace for me, I never accepted His grace for me…
On my knees that day, I screamed to God in my head, and sobbing I kept asking Him to “take me out of this life!!!” I was NOT suicidal. I didn’t want to take my life. But I couldn’t continue living the life I was living. My little 9 year old son Robbie, my only living child, was foremost in my mind every moment of the day. I felt like I had failed him, making him live this way. With his parents screaming, in a ramshackle house, with his mother crying uncontrollably or trying to recover from the last crying jag, with his dad venting his anger on him or watching him explode and hoping it wasn’t directed at him.
Not long after that day when I reached out for God in desperation, I began secretly packing things to take with me. My tormentor had recently acquired a storeroom where he was taking things to keep from me. I wasn’t allowed to go there or see what he had taken, but he tormented me threatening to take things that were sentimental or mine, to the storeroom. I would become hysterical, once bad enough to end up at the ER where they kept me tranquilized for hours until he finally came to get me, hours after they wanted to discharge me. He went to McDonald’s on the way, and took his time eating. Anything to control me and keep me upset and feeling unloved and abandoned.
Labor Day weekend, I watched out the window as he took my little boy, with his hand on the back of his little neck, and forced his head down to the ground bending over, to make him pick up trash in the yard. I took pictures with my phone and tried to remain calm, but it was almost impossible. When Robbie came inside, I asked him privately, if we left, was he on board? Would he not want to go back home? Would he back me up? I couldn’t do it if Robbie wanted to stay. I couldn’t leave him behind. But we couldn’t live that way anymore either.
The day after Labor Day, Robbie had a field trip to a place called Safety City. It’s a park with small buildings and streets, stop lights, stop signs, etc, where kids learn safety rules walking, riding bikes, and riding little go-carts made from lawn mowers. It was a highlight each year for the kids to go there. I volunteered to work that day. My tormentor showed up late, and standing outside the park fence, he looked like a stalker or pedophile with his video camera. It disturbed me deeply. When he came inside the park, and came up to me, he whisper-screamed ugly things to me, close to my face, making me cry. I was shaking all over. After awhile, doing some things that are disturbing looking back, he left. But he called me and screamed at me on the phone. I struggled to keep my composure and collapsed in tears once I made it to the car.
When I got home, I had to work at my desk, for his business. He called me on the way home, and upset me again, screaming me about what I wanted from the store, telling me how terrible I was. When I hung up, I stood up, and putting my hands on my desk, I asked myself “Just how much more will it take?!”
Knowing where he was, and that I didn’t have long to act, I started frantically throwing things in the car. Robbie’s little Doggie he slept with, our pillows, underwear, pictures of my daughter Jordan and her momentos, Robbie’s favorite toys, our Bibles, our cats in a crate, and my dog on a leash. I was hysterical. More than that I was about to have a stroke. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding outside my chest. My mouth was so dry I couldn’t swallow. I was shaking so hard I kept dropping things and knocking stuff over. Finally everything in the car, running to open the gate between my car and the road to freedom, I almost fell. Fumbling with my keys. I left the driveway and called my mom, incoherent, wanting her to go get Robbie from school before my tormentor realized I had left forever. Not knowing whether to go to the police station for help, or the school to get Robbie, or to my Mom’s to hide, I was beside myself. Then I passed my tormentor on the road. I almost lost it.
The school, aware of our history, kept Robbie isolated between a teacher and principal until my mother could pick him up. She took the pets from my hot un-airconditioned car, while I went to the police station to tell them what I was doing, and to make sure they wouldn’t try to pick me up later for kidnapping my son. I went to my mother’s house where we hid my car in her garage, and Robbie and I went into hiding while I filed for divorce and a protective order.
My mother worried that I would return to him. I told Mom I would never go back. I couldn’t. And if I did, I didn’t think I’d live thru it. So I didn’t reply when he blew my phone up with voicemails screaming at me, accusing me of hurting Robbie, kidnapping him, filing charges on me for this, that & the other. On and on. Voicemails, text messages & phone calls. My phone, my mom’s phone, Robbie’s little prepaid cellphone. When that didn’t work, his family started calling. First offering Robbie and I a place to stay, then accusing me of hurting the Tormentor, inundating me with guilt trips and more shame.
I was so sick those first days of freedom. Nauseous, shaking, scared, fighting a cold. Second guessing my decision, worried for Robbie’s emotional state and safety, and concerned that the Tormentor would go off the deep end and kill or injure me to get even. I didn’t leave the house without watching my rear view mirror, and looking around to see if I was being followed. Robbie was bored playing inside hidden, even with the “magnetics” toys mom bought him. No cable TV, no news from outside other than from my cell phone, it was disconcerting, and lonely. We were homesick. It makes no sense really, to be homesick for a violent, ramshackle structure. But we were. Robbie and I were both physically ill, run down, and emotionally spent. We were exhausted living like we had been.
The first Sunday, my mother told me I should go to a friend’s church. That morning, she woke us up, and pushed us out the door. When I pulled into the church parking lot, everything in me wanted to just keep going and not stop. But we did. And Robbie and I, hand in hand, walked into Life Church, and found new life. We were welcomed, loved, and comforted. We started worshiping and praising God. I cried from beginning to end of each service for weeks. Carrying Jordan’s Bible, I began reading the Word again, and immersing myself in God. Little by little, God triumphed and His grace covered us and made us whole again.
My journey began with a spiritual battle. Every night, I would lay down exhausted, only to toss and turn, and sing worship songs in my head over and over. If I dozed off at all, I would wake up singing another song. I dreamed of spiritual battles between angels and demons for my soul. It was as real as if it happened when I was awake. I wondered at times if I was going crazy. I felt so comforted every time I woke up, then within moments I would start feeling anxious again. It was a struggle I’ll never forget. In retrospect, I feel honored and blessed to have had that experience. Nothing, ever, could rock my faith from its foundation.
Robbie slept snuggled tightly against me, crying himself to sleep sometimes. He wasn’t crying because he was homesick or because he missed his Dad, he cried because he was afraid for what would happen to us because we left, and he missed his toys and things. Like a child who knows he’ll get a spanking when Dad gets home, Robbie feared what would happen when he was finally alone with the Tormentor again. And I feared it too. No one believed me when I told them what our lives were like. I appeared to be the crazy, lying person the Tormentor told everyone I was. It would take me years to reclaim my integrity.
About ten days after I left, I was down to the last few one dollar bills I had in my possession. I had two overdrawn bank accounts, no gas in my car, no job, plus my mother had put down over $2,000 so I could file for divorce. Mom was sick with a cold and stomach virus, that I fear we gave her when we moved in. She was extremely ill, and couldn’t get off the sofa. She asked me to drive to Gladewater, about 20 minutes from her house, to deliver a package to her bookkeeper. I agreed immediately, wanting desperately to do anything in return for all she had done for us.
I put water in the radiator, and cranked my car. It was absolutely on empty, and I didn’t have the strength to ask Mom for money, or to use her truck yet again. I drove to Walmart and pulled up to the pump. I was more broken than I had ever been in my life. Part of me wanted to give up and just go home and face the music. Another part of me wanted to do anything I could to show my Mom I could be counted on and I would do the right thing for all of us and stick it out.
I counted my money about five times before I got out of the car. I had exactly ten one dollar bills. I went inside the kiosk, recounting the money several times, not wanting to make a mistake, shaking like a leaf. I gave her the $10. As I was walking out the kiosk door, a dark haired man, probably in his thirties, came up to me and said “fill up your car”. I must have looked at him like he was crazy. I had just paid all the money I had in the world for gas. I looked down, wanting to disappear, and walked to my car. When I turned on the pump, it said $10, so I started pumping. When it slowed down, the man walked out of the kiosk and came toward me. I was fumbling with the pump handle and my gas cap trying to get back in the car and get away.
He came quickly to my side and took his credit card and swiped the pump. He said “I meant what I said. I want you to fill up your car. Please. Jesus loves you.” I imagine my face showed my utter shock, my eyes started flowing as I tried to explain I just put $10 in my car. He said “I don’t care how much it is. Please. Jesus loves you. Remember that.” Then he got in his little, beautiful black sports car and drove away. And I pumped a full tank of gas into my car.
As I drove away from the pump, I cried and cried. Jesus did love me. He knew what I was going thru. He and Heaven’s Angels were battling Satan for me. I can’t explain the emotions and thoughts that were swirling around in my mind for the twenty or so minutes it took to drive to the bookkeeper’s house. I was overwhelmed, and in awe. WOW!
I told every person I came into contact with about my Jesus Gas. And I shared my new testimony at church that night. Several weeks later, when my mother helped me buy a small car that would be dependable, my old Cougar still had Jesus Gas in it. I never pumped another drop of gasoline in that car. That Jesus Gas changed my life.