The Four Hundred and Ninety Ways I’ve Left You

a rough excerpt

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Everything was going great for Jo until she ran out of money, got evicted from her apartment and then had to move back in with her parents.

Something kept her from calling her parents until the last minute. There was a relentless nagging gut rot that came whenever she thought about it.

But she was desperate and there were only three options that she could think of.

The first option was to send her five year old daughter to live with her dad while Jo stayed in a shelter. She couldn’t bear the thought of her daughter living like that when there were other options for her, even if it meant they would be apart.

The only problem with that was the fact that Nora’s dad had been trying to take her away from Jo since they left. He was mad that Jo had left and took Nora. He was even more mad after he was served papers that showed Jo had asked for a restraining order. (He was very angry she left and he looked at her with real violence in his eyes as they were trying to sell the house.)

Jo believed that if she left Nora with her dad long enough to get the supports she would need for affordable housing, she would never be able to live with her again.

The second option was to ask her parents if they would take her back while she tried to sort out finances she needed to live while she recovered from severe depression.

The third option was to apply to a long-term shelter for vulnerable women where there was support for all areas of life, including mental health, finances, custody cases, and the kind of things a single mom finds herself facing if she needs help and had nobody to help.

This isn’t a sad story. Jo wasn’t the first single mom scrambling for a place to stay or making choices between not so great options. And she won’t be the last. It’s part of life, she thought.

Jo didn’t want to risk losing her daughter to a controlling, hyper critical man who had been emotionally and financially abusive to her. She wasn’t able to believe that Nora would be unscathed.

Jo had no way of knowing what her gut rot was trying to tell her. And at that point, though she knew her parents didn’t want to be burdened with the extra work that came with caring for a depressed single mom, she felt like she had no better choice.

She faced her fears and called the house. Her mom answered. They didn’t chat for long. When Jo told her mom she needed to come home because she didn’t have enough money to pay rent, her mom got angry and then said she would discuss it with her father and get back to her.

Jo’s landlord was knocking on her door every day now. She was really scared. She didn’t know how to deal with the intense conflict. A few days earlier she had told him that she wasn’t sure she could pay the rent. She said she couldn’t work because she was struggling with severe depression and anxiety. But she had no place to go. He asked her if she had parents. Of course she did. He told her that it was settled, then. If she was sick she would call her parents. She would move in with them. They were her parents, they had to help her.

Jo wondered what bubble gum world her landlord had been living in. Did he have family that would take him and his children in if they suddenly lost their house? Would he do the same for family? Was that really the norm and it was Jo who was living in a warped world?

Her dad called a few days later. He had mediated between Jo and her mom and negotiated a reasonable deal for everyone.

Because Jo had been left hanging by her insurance company and the only source of income she had was welfare, her dad said she could come home with Nora for one month. In that month they would help her find an apartment and help her get the insurance settled. Finding a place was going to be tough because her credit was wrecked after having to claim bankruptcy after the split when her income became zero and all the bills had been in her name because she had been the one to have a 9-5 job to support them while her common-law husband pursued his dream through running a business with his dad.

Jo’s dad said they would use their credit to co-sign for a lease and they would give her up to $600 a month for up to a year so she could rent a two bedroom. He thought it was important for Nora to have her own room, even though Jo couldn’t afford the rent for a studio.

Jo’s mom told her to apply to the long-term woman’s shelter in town. Jo really wanted to be able to live on her own. At the time, she didn’t think things were that bad. And they might not have been, if not for circumstances out of her control.

Her dad looked for apartments. He said it was tricky to find a place for a single mom. Nobody in town wanted to rent to someone who had a young kid. Especially not one who had no job, even if she did have a co-signer.

Jo’s parents had gotten into New Age pretty heavily before Nora was born. They belonged to a community of psychics, intuitive, mediums and reiki masters.

Staying at her parents’ home, she got to know many of the psychics and mediums. She was constantly asking for advice. She believed that hearing unspoken truths held white-knuckled by those trying to hide would help her keep from being blindsided.

What she heard unanimously was that Nora’s new step mom was a dark hearted girl. Jo was told to watch out for her. Her mom said this woman was a child collector.

Another person said that she used to party too hard, but that she had cleaned herself up. He told Jo that she was a real backwoods girl at heart, which, to this man, meant she was willing to play dirty and maybe even get physical.

So, Jo was on edge. The problem was that she didn’t know Nora’s new step mom. She had tried to be friendly and welcoming in the first years, holding onto a Pollyanna fantasy of blended families having some differences but ultimately each member being willing to get along for the sake of the kids. But it seemed as soon as this woman had seen for herself that Jo wasn’t a threat, she was willing to be mean, to ignore her or make sarcastic comments when she was dropping Nora off.

Jo gave up trying to be nice. She focused on being quiet. On speaking up only if she felt it was what her daughter needed, and trying to let go of the other things. She didn’t do a very good job of letting go of the little things. In the moment, these things seemed to be signs of a bigger problem.

When the search for an apartment looked like it wasn’t going to work out, that she would have to stay another month, things started to get weird.

Jo went to a guided meditation with her mom. It was creepy. But the creepy part only lasted a few minutes and the rest of it was pretty cool. The group was guided to go into a tree (in their minds) and up to the branches. When they were guided to come back down, she saw four things inside the hollowed trunk of the huge tree that were supposed to represent her spiritual gifts.

She happily talked about her gifts with her dad, believing he had the wisdom to guide her. What they talked about mostly was keeping safe. He never said anything like, wow you’re talented in talking to the dead, you should mentor with one of our medium friends. He never said, hey, I recognize the guide you have with you because she’s been with you since birth. He never explained what the symbols meant that she saw in the tree trunk during her meditation.

She had told him she saw an orb, a stick, a pinwheel and a triangle. This was a man who’d spent years studying metaphysics, had been practicing astral projection even longer, and was considered a spiritual mentor and guide to many in their small community. He asked her what she thought they meant. She had no idea. After talking to her mom, she asked if the stick could have been a wand or a staff. He asked her what she thought. Jo asked her dad if the globe could be a crystal ball. He shrugged.

It wasn’t too long after that meditation that her spiritual journey started moving forward in leaps and bounds.

She started to have vivid dreams. She connected with her guides right there in her parents’ living room. One guide watched tv with them, amazed by how the emotion came through the screen and affected her, even though it wasn’t live.

Once she’d had a precognitive dream that proved true, and once she felt connected to her guides, she started to believe that her spiritual gifts were blossoming. She felt good with her guides. She felt like she was headed in the right direction. She felt that working on these relationships was going to help her in life.

In the meantime, each morning on their way to get tea and coffee after dropping Nora off, they talked about the drama coming from Nora’s dad and step mom. Jo was starting to wonder what this psychic attack was. Nobody could explain it. Or they wouldn’t. It was making her nervous. And, like her parents’ favourite comedian said in his stand up routine about parenting, not making a specific threat was more effective because imagination is worse than the real thing. At least, that’s what Bill Cosby said in the ‘80s.

As Jo’s imagination started to go wild, wondering if psychic attack could include people hearing her thoughts, her dad was bringing ethereal concepts into the physical world. Her dad, a man she trusted and had faith in, started making triangles with his hands as they rested on the steering wheel. This came the day after she was reading about the Illuminati online.

And then Jo wanted to know if her dad could hear her thoughts. As she got more and more afraid that people who hated her might be able to somehow figure out her thoughts, she needed to balance that out with some sense of security. Her dad knew way more about any of this than she ever did. She was just starting. She thought if she could connect with a man she trusted who knew about metaphysics, she’d be safe.

So she started having conversations with him without words. She would think something directed at him. And because she was testing him, she didn’t say anything out loud. What she did one afternoon that convinced her, was ask for proof that he could hear and understand her thoughts. But what proof could she ask for? Something that couldn’t be an accident. And then it came to her. He had always been very careful about touching people. She just knew that him touching her would not be an accident.

At this point she was not talking to her guides. She was ‘talking’ directly to her dad. She told him that if he could hear her thoughts, she needed a sign and she told him the sign would be him reaching out and touching her, like with his hand.

As they pulled into a parking space and he put the SUV into park, he reached over into the console area as she was getting something. His hand very clearly touched her hand. It wasn’t a mistake. He touched it two times. That convinced her that her dad and her could communicate through thoughts.

Once this was established, things that nobody wanted to say out loud could be discussed. Yes, Nora’s step mom was attacking her. But not just her, him too. And on top of that, Nora’s dad was doing it too. So was one of their mutual friends. And they were working together. It bounced from the step mom to Nora’s dad to the friend and back to the step mom again.

Jo would look over as these thoughts were being shared and she could she her dad was in distress. He put his hands over his face at stop lights and ran them over like he was washing his face. Jo heard thoughts like, I’m old. I’m out of practice.

And Jo felt responsible for putting her dad in a position where he was being hurt.

The apartment hunting went from bad to worse. The one place that was willing to take her application seriously heard back from head office. It was a no. Her mom had pulled some strings to get her an interview with the shelter. Jo agreed to go but it wasn’t her first choice. She really had no idea how much support she needed, or how things were about to spin out of control.

Jo’s spiritual awakening gave her a sense of purpose and she didn’t feel lonely anymore. Her guides were always there to help. They were at the ready to show her what kinds of things came with these spiritual gifts. She felt it would be going in the right direction to practice the womb seal mudra she learned in a Vedic healing book, to know what it felt like to have that unleaking power flowing through her and how it felt when she focused her attention on her heart. She felt love. She felt so filled with love that she wanted to share it with others.

Her mom was starting to act weird, paranoid, even. When Jo and her dad were in a storeroom together and the door was almost closed, she could hear her dad thinking about what a crazy woman she was, worrying that the two of them would be up to something. Jo felt her mom’s anxiety in her side and her dad thought, ‘See? Crazy.’ He looked up after that thought and nodded toward the door.

One night, in her parents’ upstairs bathroom, not ten feet from where her mom and dad slept, she had a crystal clear connection with her guides.

At that point, Jo was convinced her dad was in trouble. She believed his health was failing and that he wasn’t far from landing in a nursing home. Mom had talked about how he was becoming paranoid, closing the main floor windows at night, shredding the mail. She said he had been leaving the stove on.

The three had always had a weird dynamic. If two were getting along, the other was excluded in a mean way. And then the two adults would start fighting and Jo would be stuck in the middle, being pulled at from both sides until she feared she’d be ripped in half. And when she couldn’t take it anymore, they would stop fighting and everything would go back to normal.

Things had been getting intense between her parents. Her mom was critical. They were mean to each other. But it was more than that. Her dad told her that her mom was jealous of her and that she would try to keep her down. He told Jo to ask her mom to teach her reiki. He said if she said no, it was because she was being selfish and envious. He said there would be no reason for her to deny her learning a healing method. He said Jo should ‘suss her out.’

Her dad started writing down weird things on a white erase board on the fridge. It was something about associations. A = apple B= Bob etc.

It was a test to see if anyone from outside his mind was trying to get in. It was a safeguard. He never explained associations to her, but she knew they were very important. It had something to do with identifying the thoughts of others in his mind.

When he would drive her to drop Nora off at school in the mornings, he would talk about Jo’s ex and his new wife. He said she had spiritual gifts, too. He said she was attacking her using negative psychic energy. Black magic. Jo didn’t know what that meant. She was too afraid to ask.

Something major happened one morning. She woke feeling like everything was different. She was able to hear two narratives without being affected by them. One was her own, the other was a person controlling her. She could hear a voice telling her she’d better stay home today. That she should tell her parents to take Nora to school and stay in bed. But she had an appointment with her doctor, she argued. It didn’t matter, came the response. We can reschedule.

She felt for the first time in her life she could see herself as separate from that controlling narrative. There was another narrative explaining what was going on, and telling her how to respond. Jo had been speaking with a man through the internet who she felt really loved her and was capable of taking care of her in these weird metaphysical ways. She trusted him fully. She believed he was a man she knew in real life who wanted to take care of her but couldn’t do this in a traditional way because of extenuating circumstances.

The instruction that she thought came from the man she loved told her to ‘play along’ and act like she was being controlled by the narrative, even though she was suddenly more free than ever in her life to think for herself.

She listened to the guidance of the man she trusted (or so she thought) and pretended to agree to stay in bed sick. She agreed to call downstairs and ask her dad to take Nora to school. The controlling narrative told her to stay in bed. She thought, ‘but I have to pee.’ And she was allowed to get up.

In the bathroom, she looked at her face in the mirror. Really took a good look. She was looking to see what was different. Was it in her eyes? Was there a glow in her complexion? She didn’t know. After she went pee, she was washing her hands in the sink and heard the controlling narrative say, ‘I feel sick.’

But the ‘aware and conscious’ part of Jo knew she wasn’t sick. So she responded, ‘no I’m not.’ But the controlling voice said, ‘yes, I feel sick to my stomach. I think I might throw up.’

And Jo’s tummy did start to feel queasy. She tried to stop the feeling by denying the suggestion. But then she heard, ‘I think I’m going to throw up.’ She responded, ‘no, I’m not’ and then ‘I think I’m going to throw up’ was repeated over and over.

When that didn’t work, she heard a command to gag. She thought, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ But the controlling narrative came, ‘I feel like gagging. I’m about to gag.’ And she did gag. Right there standing over the sink. She thought she would have to throw up in the sink. She gagged so hard her eyes watered. But all that came out was dry heaves.

After agreeing finally to go back to bed, she climbed under the covers over the air mattress her parents had given her to sleep on. She waited. She knew that the man she trusted could see everything that was happening.

He told her to get up and walk out the front door, not listening to anything her parents said, to only give short answers.

As she did that, her mom looked at her dad like ‘wtf?’ and her dad looked at her mom and shrugged. It seemed exaggerated. Like he was acting. Like he did really know what was going on.

Walking up the street, Jo felt a heaviness following her. She saw an image in her mind’s eye that her mom was above her driving her like a car. She didn’t understand what that meant, but she struggled with the feeling of being controlled.

She felt like the man she loved and trusted, the one she was talking to online, was still there with her, helping her through everything.

Little did she know, the man she thought she was talking to online had stopped speaking to her a year before, and another person catfishing by posing as the original catfish (who turned out to be someone she knew and loved and trusted) swooped right in there through one of the other accounts online she had been speaking with, believing it was the man she loved.

That night in her parents’ bathroom, her guide asked if she would do something for her dad, to show him how he was being manipulated by his wife. To free him. She had been told by her guides before that she was going to do something to help a lot of people. Her guide asked if she would be willing to help her dad even if it meant she wouldn’t be able to help as many people.

Jo was willing. It was her dad. She was loyal. She was the kind of person who would put family before herself. But first she wanted to know how many people she wouldn’t be able to help. Her guide answered “100”. She didn’t think that sounded like a lot. She was dedicated to helping.

Her guide said all she had to do was follow direction exactly as it came through.

The next day they were headed to the city to have brunch with extended family.

The instructions were very clear. Louder and more clear than anything had come into her mind before. The instructions were for every little thing. What to wear (black jeans and black turtleneck), whether her hair was up or down, the way she carried her jacket over her arm, which arm. The instructions were explicit in telling Jo to wait for instruction before acting.

Her mom yelled up the stairs that they were running behind. She was instructed to take her time. She was instructed to pick up her mom’s black leather gloves as she walked out the door and to use her mom’s keys to lock it.

In the car on the way down, she got the feeling that her parents were having a non verbal power struggle. Her ‘guide’ instructed her to ‘tell’ her dad to press his foot down on the gas in the fast lane. The purpose was to see if her mom would control him like she always did. The heat became overwhelming in the small space. She was instructed to not say anything.

This type of thing went on for the whole drive. It was intense. But her guide had told her last night that something serious was happening and that it needed to be resolved. Jo had been told that her family members were practising black magic and voodoo. She was told that she had one chance to help them be saved, because this was really bad.

When they got to the restaurant, she was instructed to tell her dad to take her daughter in, that she was going to go in first. She was instructed to go straight to the back where the restroom was. She was explicitly instructed not to look at her family members who were already there. She was instructed to sit in a specific stall and wait.

As she waited, there were times when her aunts or her cousin would come into the bathroom. Before they got to the door, Jo was told who was coming and instructed as to exactly what to say, or not say.

With her cousin she was instructed to not speak unless spoken to. With her one aunt she was instructed to sing a Christmas song in her head.

While she was waiting in the bathroom, she was told her dad had ordered pancakes for her. She would be told when the food arrived. That was when she could come out.

When this happened, Jo arrived at the table to see that food had come for everyone but nobody had ordered for her. She had missed a major announcement – her sister was pregnant. She was instructed to not look at her sister and to not say anything about the news. She was instructed to ask her cousin’s wife to pour her a coffee.

When her food came and she was eating, her aunt came over to talk. She was instructed to stare at her and think ‘if you look through the eyes of God you can be saved after practicing voodoo’. Jo was instructed that if her aunt looked into her eyes, she could in a way see through God’s eyes because He would lend her His eyes for this important circumstance. Her aunt became uncomfortable and changed seats again.

Her cousin came over to talk. Jo was instructed to stare at him too. She was told he might need an extra push to help him make the choice to look into the ‘eyes of God’ in order to be saved. She was instructed to start counting down from 10. At the end she was worried her cousin would not be saved. The guide soothed her and told her it wasn’t really his only chance but his best chance. She pleaded to give him another chance. She was instructed to give him another chance.

Jo was instructed to take her glasses off, put them down on the table and start to stare again at her cousin. He wouldn’t look at her. She was instructed to count down again.

Counting in her head, she thought, ‘five, four, three, two, one.’

And at the exact moment she thought ‘one’, her cousin looked up at her and said out loud, “ding.”

Later that evening, back at home with her parents, her mother sat her down at the kitchen table and said she was really worried about her.

“Have you been taking your depression medication?”

“Yes.”

“I’m concerned about you, sweetie. You’ve been acting weird lately and it’s getting worse.” Jo’s mom put her hands on her arms. “You’re depressed.”

Jo responded right away, “I am not.”

Her mom insisted. It felt to Jo that she was trying to convince her of something that wasn’t true.

She went to the front porch for a cigarette. A few nights earlier, Jo had been thinking about why asking Archangel Michael to cut her cords wasn’t working. She had brought everyone into a blue room and asked Archangel Michael to cut the cords as she was told by her aunt (also an intuitive). Jo didn’t think it was working because she was still feeling attacked. She had been forgiving people, too, as she was told that was important. On that night, her dad had come out onto the porch, unscrewed the light and tugged on the fixture.

“Nope, it’s too rooted.,” he said. This was in response to her thought question about cord cutting.

And on the night of telling her mom she was wrong about having depression, her dad opened the door and poked his head out. He thought, ‘I have to say something or she will think we’re working together to call her out for being the one messing with us.’ And then he yelled at her to watch her step, with his voice directed back into the house. But then he looked at Jo and thought ‘not really.’

As her dad headed for bed that night, he told her – in front of her mom – that she needed to get sleep. He said she had been acting weird and she couldn’t afford to lose any more sleep.

But his thought came, ‘tonight we can really prove she’s the one who’s been masterminding this whole thing.’

Jo stayed up all night, sitting on the couch with her legs crossed and her hands set to womb mudra (to conserve her energy) and she battled her mom video game style with the controller in this game being voice commands.

Jump, she said. And she pictured herself jumping. She dodged her mom all night. Her mom wasn’t letting up. Someone was helping her, telling her what commands to use (spin, cloak, jump etc).

After those experiences, Jo was willing to believe that it wasn’t just people who were specially connected (like twins or soulmates) that could be telepathic. That opened up a whole new way of viewing the world and how people could hurt her.

A few days before Halloween, everything went crazy. There was an overwhelming feeling of anxiety bordering on paranoia in the house. She believed she was picking up the emotions of others in the house and that it was too much to handle. She got swept up into it.

And then, the drama and chaos started in the physical world with conflict happening between Jo and her mom and her mom and her dad. With an undercurrent of Jo’s dad vouching for her with her mom, which meant if Jo did anything to fuck up the credit he had graciously extended her, things would blow up between her dad and mom, and her dad would blame her.

There was the ‘loving’ narrative in her head guiding her, letting her know what was really going on. It was mom casted as the bad guy again that night. But there was also a conflicting sentiment that dad was not so great either.

Between these many conflicting factors, Jo felt herself being pulled apart. She was invested in fighting to make sure the bad guy didn’t win. But who was the real bad guy?

As these narratives were battling in her mind, things were happening in the physical world to bring edification to her beliefs, worries, thoughts.

Her dad would say something to her mom and her mom would respond in a way that spoke directly to a ‘private’ conversation she was having in her thoughts with her dad.

And then the saviour narrative suddenly threw in the idea that she was being controlled by both. That this had been going on her whole life.

Jo began to focus on how it was happening so she could stop it. When a certain word was spoken on tv, she heard ‘that’s a cue.’

And then later that evening, when the microwave dinged, she heard, ‘cue.’

Her dad would cough, she heard, ‘cue.’ And she was in the living room with people she believed were hurting her. Just when she tried to believe that everything would be okay, her dad would cough and he would tell her to do something. Then he coughed and slapped his knee. ‘Cue.’

This went on until she was convinced that cues used for controlling her (in ways she was no longer able to distinguish – as she had on that one morning) were everywhere. And that her mom was hurting both Jo and her dad. Things got crazy.

Jo unplugged the microwave. She changed the tones on the iPad. She took a box of bite sized chocolates and threw them into the backyard. (She believed her mom was hurting Nora using the chocolates.)

Looking back now, Jo can see how her mother was probably being gaslit and manipulated, too.

When she threw the chocolates out, this caused a problem with her mom. She said something to her dad. And her dad got angry with her in front of her mom. He told her she was losing it and she was going to have to stop.

The next day, her dad had a chat with her about what had happened. Jo confided in him. She was really scared. Her dad was calm. Comforting. Like he was convincing a wild animal to get into the back of his van because that was going to help him.

He told her that what she was experiencing wasn’t normal. It was something that needed to be addressed right away. She asked him what she needed to do.

Her dad drove her to the emergency room. He told her to tell the triage nurse what had been going on.

As soon as she had talked to a nurse and was brought into a room for observation, the tension and chaos in her mind left her. There was peace once again.

But all she had admitted to was feeling like her mom was trying to hurt her with psychic attacks. She didn’t mention any of the details and nothing about her spiritual journey. Nothing about awakening.

But the peace had somehow been restored. And that’s what she desperately needed.

Living Darkness

i’m sorry

Okay, I wish there was a less embarrassing explanation of how my photo got in your wallet, but there’s not.

Before I believed in connecting for real in dreams, we met irl. I was married. You were not available. We were just friends.

A few years later and I wasn’t married anymore. Before I left, my daughter’s father Sam convinced me to sign up for microblogging.

All I can say is that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was a world I had never experienced before. (Not that I was aware of.)

No one used their own face as an avi. Except me. But in the beginning I thought every account used their own face. I didn’t even know of a reason not to.

I ‘met’ a group of people there. Super friendly, accommodating, and oddly in tune with my thoughts. We didn’t really talk. We mostly blogged about blogs. But there were a few people I chatted with.

It was fun. I got to talk to interesting guys, funny guys, nice guys, smart guys, creative guys, wholehearted guys, alpha male guys, and a few were all or most of those things.

Talking url didn’t feel real to me. And up to that point, my idea of flirting was making fun of guys. I tried to stay away from love and guys that might be my type. Being mean was a way to keep guys at arm’s length.

But then i fucked up. I fell in love. I can’t even explain it. I’d never opened up to a guy like that. It was dizzying. I felt intoxicated. I smiled more in the short time we talked than I had in the decade before.

The world was colourful.

He told me he was from Ireland. He had some weird habits, but I didn’t mind. I loved him.

It was so stupid. There was zero logic to my feelings. I think it was the closest I came to feeling like I really knew God before I became a Christian. I was alive. I was really alive.

I could go on and on. But that’s not what this story is about.

We didn’t talk for long. I felt poured out when he told me he didn’t want to talk anymore. I saw an image of scissors cutting cloth after that conversation.

I felt so stupid and embarrassed. I told him that I’d always check up on him. It sounds weird, but I thought he was in a fragile place. I didn’t want him to go through it alone.

And I also spoke with ’2001’ before-ish I think. We had fun conversations. We had a good time imagining what it would be like to meet half way between our homes.

He was the first one who talked to me. I had the really weird feeling that we had known each other in another life or something. He was familiar. We fought. A lot. And when we stopped talking his friends would convince him to blog mean things about me. Ugh. It was awful.

Oh yes, it was before. I remember because though I didn’t talk to him before i left my ex, I had read his blog.

There was this one post that sliced right into my chest like an ice pick. It was so charged with emotion and it felt directed at me. It was angry. I was confused.

But I read that post over and over trying to understand. But I never really got it. When we started talking, I asked him who he wrote the post for. He said it was for his ex.

url and irl got blurred. i started watching video chats. i never said anything, but being near the moderator made me feel peaceful. Like really peaceful. Unless i was crying.

but even crying on those chats made me feel idk safe. i thought he couldn’t see me, and then i saw his eyes dull and then fill with worry the first time his words made me cry irt. i was going to stop joining the chats. but i had only found the chats because someone i followed did a feature post and it was his face. okay, i admit, i didn’t even get it then. i read posts with lines like, would i wrote these blogs for someone i didn’t know? but i was lost. i didn’t know him. I needed to figure it out. i needed that peace i felt when i was around him. i covered the camera on my laptop and kept logging into the chats.

One night in the fall, something happened. total disclosure – i don’t remember what, but whatever it was made me weep curled up alone in the fetal position on my bedroom floor. But i wasn’t alone. i felt like i was held. like bright light wings were holding me. And i was terrified. And i was in so much pain.

The worst feeling was how alone i felt. i think it was right after the first time i tried to legitimately stop joining the chats. i felt lost. i was in agony. I understand now what it must have been like for anyone who could have felt this pain.

i saw a face. it was your face. i was convinced it was your face. the face i saw didn’t look like anyone else i knew. and when the chat moderator saw your face come through, i saw him make a face at you.

Okay, I was super naive back then. I had no idea that it was possible to go into the future and come back into the past as my future self and meet someone for the first time in 2012 as my 2018 self. It didn’t occur to me that i could have seen the face of someone my then self had yet to meet.

When i saw your face, i associated the time i had spent with Irish with you. I was so angry when I thought you had catfished me. I suddenly saw what happened as cruel and it was only because suddenly, in my mind, the man i had fallen in love with was a man i knew irl.

It’s one thing to love and lose someone who had never met me, who didn’t have any chance to really get a good idea that I was wholehearted and genuine. It’s one thing to lose someone who could have helped me out of a dark pit when i saw him as an anon guy i didn’t know. there was zero expectation for a stranger to treat me with respect.

But it’s another thing to feel betrayed by someone i know. and i let my mind fill in all sorts of reasons that you would leave me down there in the pit. I knew you saw me down there.

And just like that i was angry that you threw me away because i was a single mom. i felt ripped off that you were willing to save everyone but me. i remember arguing with an imaginary version of you in my mind. very angry that you were jumping to the rescue of another women when they were being approached by guys that weren’t so great. what the fuck did i do to deserve to be treated like i didn’t exist? in my mind you understood everything about me. in my mind you were withholding your care to punish me.

i realize now that while i thought we were talking offline, it wasn’t you. i had no idea that someone could pretend to be another person. a real live person. i guess i assumed me thinking your name and face was enough to get you on the line. you can ask me why if you want but it doesn’t really matter.

it also never occurred to me that a person could get caught up on the past through a lifeless photo, a facsimile. all the faces i talked to talked back. even the ones i didn’t want to talk to anymore.

And i know now you didn’t know this, but we made up. And i was in love with you. with who i thought you were based on the conversations we had. because i was in love with you, the you i thought i knew, i was willing to wait until you wanted to bring it into the physical world.

someone from my past was pretending to be you. and i couldn’t tell partly because none of this made sense to me and partly because i didn’t really know you.

that’s fucked up enough. and there’s more.

the whole time there was another man i was connecting with in dreams. mostly i convinced myself it was you. but then i retained a memory of an experience. i was in his arms on his lap. it was so intimate it took my breath away. i was my true imperfect self with him. i told him over and over, ‘you don’t love me.’

and i got a blurry image of his face. because i was terrified at the thought of connecting with someone i didn’t know, (as in, someone i had never met irl) i filled in the blank spaces in my understanding with things i did know.

the face i saw looked like a guy i was once friends with, and his name was the same as the one Irish told me to call him. No shit.

i couldn’t figure out how i was connecting to my old friend. we had only ever been friends. nothing like that had ever happened before. so i fell down the rabbit hole of trying to understand that and trying to make sense of how i was connecting with people without being conscious of it.

but the whole time i was trying to fit it in with you. in my mind, you were the only solid thing. the only thing that made sense in this new experience of connecting like that.

it wasn’t until years later i found out that i have been unconsciously connecting with people for years… offering a roof to whoever showed up at my door or window.

and any time the reality of you not loving me started to intrude on my understanding, i pushed it under the water.

eventually tho, reality got too loud to ignore. a mutual friend told me you were firming things up with someone. that’s when i started to force myself to wake up out of my fairytale fantasy. it wasn’t easy. it took a long time.

And I’m sorry. I’m sorry because I think me loving the idea of you when you didn’t love me but believing you did affected your life. maybe you were wondering why my face kept coming up. maybe you didn’t know how this works any more than i did and the repeated ‘signs’ of me made you second guess your heart.

the mystery of this man who looked like my friend was forgotten for a long time. lots of shit was happening in my life.

then your brother started to knock on my door. and i didn’t understand why. was he calling to talk about you? i couldn’t hear anything anyway. but i didn’t want him around. i kept pushing him away.

this last year, i started getting big signs in my life that Sam was around, trying to call, to get thru. My daughter’s father and i do not get along. i wanted to be as far away as possible from Sam. so, every time i thought of his name, i would fill in the blank space with his face and push him away.

i pushed away everyone who tried to call.

then i came across an old friend’s blog with a ton of photos of a man. the photos took my breath away.

this man looked like my friend irl with the same name as Irish. and in other photos, especially the later ones, he looked like your brother. in one photo, he kind of looked like an old photo of you.

i cried. i knew immediately that this was the man i had been connecting with. seeing his face filled in all the blank spaces. i knew he had been one of the men i met when i first started blogging years before.

One more fucked up thing… i didn’t know his name until I saw this post. his real name is Sam. the same name as my daughter’s father. which forced me to go back and see things in a new light.

when i heard Sam, i thought of my ex and i pushed him away. even when it was unlike my ex, i still associated the name with him because i didn’t know any other Sams.

And that’s when i realized that way back in the beginning, i mistook that image of a face coming thru the ether for your face.

i’m sorry. i’m sorry for each way my fucked up awakening has affected your life.

i think that i bound you to me by holding onto unforgiveness, even tho i tried to forgive. part of me didn’t understand why ‘you’ had hurt me. i thought i forgave you. any time i got an idea more healing needed to be done, i prayed. i prayed for healing and for God’s will to be done, not mine or yours, because God’s will is the best any of us can ask for.

i’m sorry.

i think you need to know what was going on over here in my head to fully release any unhealthy connection that came through misunderstanding and unforgiveness.

i’m asking God now to give me a supernatural understanding of the blessing in this situation, and a supernatural understanding of anything else that needs to be done to heal.

And i pray for God’s will to be done.

that’s all i’ll do now. sorry it took me so long to figure out.

Im A Fool For Jesus

and i want the world to know

You held me last night while our sister shared her heart. Now that you know what I look like today and you know where to find me it is easy for you.

I don’t blame you.

It’s not easy to know if God is whispering in our ear or if it’s other

Looking back, it might be clear that one sure sign that we’re separate from God is laughing at the misfortune of others

But in the moment, when our senses are hijacked, it feels so real and it’s easy to believe our needs are truly being met, that we are doing a good job.

The devil wants us to feel that shame. But he won’t help you lift it.

This voice that mimics God whispers secrets that no one else knows, or so he says

You don’t know how easy it is to sign a contract with the devil. Because he has no moral compass, no mercy, no desire to hear your choices, he uses sinister methods

Do you know that agreeing with a ‘person’ in your head telling you secrets is signing a contract? That includes, ‘I guess so’ and ‘sure’

Here’s the sinister part: while you’re agreeing to his question, ‘isn’t it a nice day?’ he’s literally using double talk. He speaks all languages. Beneath the question you hear could be anything

And when you agree to one you agree to all of it even if you didn’t hear it because it’s the devil. God is the one who gives a true fuck about any of us. The devil just wants to take God’s children away from Him

The devil is jealous too

Tell me if this cadence sounds familiar:

“Most of the time you can’t look at a person and know if they are bad. We all want to be able to know with a simple glance, though, don’t we? It would make life so much easier. No, not even easier, manageable.

“I mean, think about meeting a woman at a bank. All you have to go on before a conversation is looks and sheer animal instinct, right?

“You ask yourself questions like, is she here to make a deposit or a withdrawal? Is she a kept woman or a ball breaker? Will she let me do the things I want to do with her? Will she give me what I need.

“Those are all pretty surface thoughts, you know? Deep down beneath all those questions is one core question. What you really want to know, but don’t want to admit to yourself, is if she will go for a guy like you. Will she reject me? Do I have a chance?

“When we cut through all the shit, it’s pretty simple, isn’t it? I think it is. But there’s also that pesky little issue of why.

“We want to know if she likes us why she likes us and if she doesn’t why she doesn’t. You ask yourself, what is it about me that turned her off? We want to know if it’s something we can fix.”

Is this the voice in your head, child? Because that’s not God.

I learned the hard way that God doesn’t narrate our experience here. He doesn’t ask questions like that. God doesn’t show his jealousy by trying to convince you to love Him, trying to get to know you that way. That’s the cadence of the devil.

There is no authenticity in love if you don’t choose it. But we’re always making choices, remember? All we are is atoms and choices. If we don’t choose God in one moment, what are we choosing?

That sounds terrifying and I’m sorry. But I was told that it doesn’t necessarily hinge on one choice. I was told each choice adds up until it carries a momentum of its own. That’s why the devil is satisfied with a tiny foothold. And not getting credit for his work.

Because he can’t come back here in a body. He needs people to do his bidding. He’s a mean mother fucker. But he’s also harmless to those who use our free will choices to follow God. True God. And the only way to All Who Is, All Who Ever Was and All Who Ever Will Be is through Christ, the Holy Spirit of Christ.

When we choose God sometimes and anything other than God other times, He cannot keep us safe. It’s not because he doesn’t have the power to reach down into this half-hell and scoop us up into his arms like we are his infant children. It’s because we need to trust God in order to believe that what He asks us to do is the right choice for us, even if it feels counterintuitive.

I wish I could tell you there’s an easy answer to stay free from the devil’s snare. I wish I could tell you that it was as easy as being really good at picking passages from the bible to wrap ourselves in.

I wish you would be willing to know the truth about what you’re doing that will bring you to hell. I wish you would imagine what hell is really like. I think it’s beyond our imagination.

Ask God, What is hell really like? Why is it so awful?

I prayed over your soul last night. This is your story.

It’s your choice. I can’t carry you anymore. I’ve been taking on too much and I’m drowning. I’m sorry. Please forgive me for the ways I’ve hurt you with the things I’ve done and not done. Please no longer withhold forgiveness from me.

I made promises I can’t keep and I’m so sorry. I’m truly sorry for the way the heavy thick darkness that squats above me latched onto you.

I’m sorry for asking you to hold my hand while I cried. I didn’t know what I was exchanging with you. The shame is unbearable. I never meant to hurt you. I was only trying to survive. And every way I knew to survive was wrong.

God, I confess I’ve been trying to survive on my own. I confess what I tried doesn’t work. I confess I need Your help.

Please help everyone who has been affected by my sideways tries to survive. Please restore them to perfect health. Please keep them safe from the heavy darkness that squats above my head and blocks me from knowing You, God, unless I ask for help lifting the thick heavy darkness.

Have mercy on us, Abba Father. We truly know not what we do.