I had not joined a church. Since my negative experience as an Independent Fundamental Baptist, I was leery of any formal religion. My husband and I used AA and Al-Anon extensively for support. I knew there was more to God than what could be gleaned from those two programs, so I studied my Bible to fill in the gaps. “Dr. Professor” believed that I should try to go back to the IFB Island (church). After all these years, many of the people who had been at the church were gone.
“Dr. Professor” taught a small Sunday School class there, so we started to attend. We went to some services as well. I reconnected with a few old friends who had remained in the brood all those years. A new leader had taken over for the old “Cock Rooster” as Pastor of the church. I had actually gone to Maranatha with the new pastor. He seemed meek and loving. I respected his dramatic and musical abilities. “Dr. Professor” assured me that I would never find a better pastor or church; and since he had literally saved my life once, I felt that he would not lead me into harm’s way. I was still angry that the abuse had happened to Scott and, that no one had stood up to help my husband to save his job back then; but, sitting in the their pews again, was easier because I had no financial ties to the IFB and, I knew I could leave at the first sign of abuse or manipulation.
I was extremely cautious but was pleasantly surprised that the same brood mentality did not seem to be present in this congregation. When my anger over past wrongs surfaced, “Dr. Professor” encouraged me to let it go and to forgive. I was willing to try. I only wanted to move forward. As my husband and I sat in the back pews singing the hymns, I ignored the soundtrack from Jaws playing ever so softly in the back of my mind. Even though the warning built to a crescendo in my head —“dunt…Dunt…Dunt…DUNT…DUNT…DUNT”—I continued to wade back into the IFB waters.
My other son, Doug, had a drinking problem that was a constant drain on all of our energy. He ended up in detox several times. His blood alcohol levels were lethal for alcohol poisoning and death. Despite our attempts to get him into AA and counseling, I needed to be prepared to lose him. Years earlier, Doug had briefly been in a treatment center followed by a few months of sobriety while he stayed with his Dad. As we had learned to do in Al-Anon, I put Doug into God’s hands. The plan was to help Doug live one day at a time and to enjoy his daughter. “Take the good times while you have them” was our motto.
I enjoyed writing and illustrating childrens books about my life on the farm. My artwork was displayed in local shops. Despite my fear of losing Doug, life was fine. About three years ago though, the sharks returned to the IFB waters with a vengeance. I remember it well. I was sitting in my chair by the kitchen pillars painting a landscape when Doug entered the room. I thought he had gone out for the evening, so I was not expecting him to be home.
“Mom.” he said. I looked up. He sounded different—like a little boy and I could see he was crying. “What’s wrong, Doug?” He whimpered, “I was talking to my friend Leon and he said I needed to tell you something.” Determined to help him, I asked, “What happened?” Doug said, “Leon said it is a big thing and I should tell you.” Not knowing what to expect, I said “So, tell me.” With downcast eyes he whispered, “I am afraid!” I felt like his mom from years ago—sitting in the same chair painting and trying to get Doug to tell me what was wrong. Grimacing, he sobbed out these words in breathless sprints: “Do you remember when I got spanked really bad that time?” He didn’t look at me. “Yes,” I said, “Your Dad said you couldn’t sit down all the way home from school. Scott was very upset and he wanted to hit that man.” Defensively, I added, “And I told your Dad to never let them do that again.”
Doug was still looking away from me when he asked again, “No, Mom, do you remember the spanking?” Confused, I stated firmly, “Yes, I looked at your butt because you said you were bleeding. There were several striped marks and little beads of blood.” Now Doug was weeping loudly. “Mom!” he cried, “He had me bend over and hold a chair so that he could hit me really hard. He hit me so many times that my butt was almost numb. He was trying to make me cry, but I wouldn’t, so he kept hitting me. Then I felt a different pressure over and over again. It hurt really bad. I felt the pressure and I saw …….
I went into a flashback, as though Doug were in the IFB school again, and I was hearing these horrible words for the first time: “My butt is bleeding!” he had said. Those words echoed in my head! What kind of a mother had I been? I felt so ashamed. “What are you saying, Doug?” I looked at him in shock, “Are you saying that the blood I saw that day was not the blood you meant for me to see?” Doug moaned, “Yeah, but he put his …….. I bled.” I had been blindsided, so I asked again, “Doug are you saying Mr. $&%@#$ violated you?” Doug got really upset when I said the name of his alleged rapist. Doug yelled, “Yes, but don’t say his name. He will hurt us if you tell. Don’t say his name, please Mom!”