A Haunting Dream (Warning: May Be Disturbing for Some)

Tim stepped in the house, looking quite shaken. I had watched from a window, as a strange man, apparently a neighbour we didn’t know personally, had paid him a visit. Tim told me the man had come with a warning that they were watching us.

The man, slightly built, yet muscular, and scruffy–as though not having shaved for some time–had that ‘worn’ look that comes from smoking, drugs, alcohol and hard living. He looked physically strong, in spite of his size, and tattoos decorated his arms and neck. His eyes. Evil. Daunting.

We were packing both of our vehicles, as we always do, to go on family vacation. A much-needed, rare treat, escaping from the busyness of life and the demands of work and ministry. We had looked forward to this, but now a dark cloud loomed. I could feel it.

Tim looked pale as he spoke. “He said they are going have a cabin near us. They’re going to be there all week, keeping an eye on us.”

We didn’t know what it meant, but the heaviness left me with a sense of dread. Our time of rest, now becoming a time of survival.

We arrived at the cottage and settled in. It was simple, but nice. Tim and I chose an upstairs bedroom, where the morning light greeted us, with its warmth each morning. How I have always loved to lie in the sun and feel those rays, since early childhood.

True to his word, the neighbour who had confronted Tim–and it really had felt like a confrontation, though we had no idea why–showed up directly across from us.

There were only two cottages in this lovely wooded parcel of land, and somehow they had known we would be here. The thought was not a comfortable one.

On about the second day, we took our family to McDonald’s in the evening, and were about to leave, and return to the cottage, when the neighbour–who obviously had followed us there–walked over. He pulled out what looked like an over-sized razor blade, but with only one sharp edge, and one heavier side, for better grip. I saw it, but had no time to react.

With the same threatening intimidation I had observed through the wind in that initial encounter, he swung the blade, cutting Tim. I wanted to scream, to fight back, to stop him. But I could do nothing. I stood, frozen in place.

I couldn’t make out the words he said, still clearly intimidating, before he walked away. Tim remained calm. But whether it was shock or resilience, I couldn’t tell.

The next few days passed, without incident. It was as if the intruders were not there.

That last morning at the cottage, I awakened to the sun spilling her light through the window, onto our bed. Tim was awake, sitting up and leaning over me. He kissed me. I closed my eyes and smiled. Stretched. And opened my eyes again. A perfect morning.

My eyes fell on the neighbour’s cottage. And that’s when I saw her, at the window, watching us. Her face, though emotionless, communicated so much. She was a beautiful young woman, with long auburn hair falling around her face and shoulders. The expression was a blend of jealousy, hate, longing, grief, and rage.

Was she the neighbour’s wife? His hostage? A girlfriend? What did it all mean? Her expression confused me.

Our eyes met in that split second.

She turned, a look of resolve overtaking all other emotion. Instinct warned me. I said something to Tim. Told him that she had been watching us, that something wasn’t right. I feared she had watched us all week, and we didn’t even know she was there.

And then we waited. My heart was sick with dread. The sun had promised a lovely day, but the heaviness warned me that it was a day of survival.

I heard the footsteps, moving up the stairs, followed by a knock. Tim immediately opened the door. I crawled out of bed and moved toward the door. Something wasn’t right.

And then, as a glint of light caught it, I saw that sharp blade, just like the one the neighbour had used to cut Tim. She said something, but I couldn’t make out the words. I wasn’t listening. I saw what Tim couldn’t see.

I dove forward, took her off guard as I grabbed her arm, and snatched the blade from her. I gave it to Tim, then wrestled her onto the bed. Then I calmly I broke her arms. This was survival. I had no choice. Everything in me resisted harming her, but I feared if I did not, she would stand up and fight. I used the blade. Not to inflict extreme damage, just enough to ensure our safety.

And then I left here there, on the bed, in agony, and walked out the door, and Tim with me. She didn’t move. Didn’t attempt anything at all. She simply lay there, defeated.

Downstairs the neighbour greeted us. Asked if we had seen his wife. I said we had not. Tim didn’t say anything. The man walked past us, upstairs to our room, where she lay. Tim followed him.

I looked for our children. I had to take one of our vehicles and get the children to safety. How I wished Tim had not followed the man. I was no match for his strength, and to pursue them would only increase the risk. I was the one who had harmed her. I had no choice but to leave.

I found three of our children and rushed them out to my car. It was already partially packed with items to take home again and left only enough room for the three. The other two would have to stay and come with their daddy. I could only pray for safety.

I sped down the road, watching in my rear-view mirror, to make sure no one followed, yet praying that Tim would follow. I didn’t see him.

Afraid of returning home, I stopped at a friend’s house, where family and acquaintances had gathered for an event. Maybe Tim would escape and remember the gathering, and find me. I prayed he would. My heart felt sick at the possibilities.  And the guilt. How I hated the guilt that consumed me for having left two children and Tim.

What if…

I pushed the dark thoughts and images from my mind. Willed myself to reach for hope. This was no time to give up.

I waited for hours, pacing. Everything was so very wrong. This kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to us. We’re a peaceful family. I tried to engage in conversation, but the thoughts distracted me.

My brother came over to me, then, and started to talk. I told him everything. I tried to be positive, but the dark possibilities spilled out. My deepest fears–that Tim, and our two children with him, were murdered. I shifted to survival. How would I get on with life, if I never saw them alive again?

My brother tried to be positive, to not think the worst. Well, I had tried all day, but now, as evening approached, hope faded fast. It had been too long. If he was alive, he should have been here by now, or contacted me in some way.

The sky grew darker. The day was coming to a close. What started off so filled with hope, love and life, grew increasingly ominous with every passing second.

There was a knock on the door. I ran, opened it.

Tim stood there, pale, worn and exhausted. He had talked the neighbour down. It had taken time and patience.

I looked around. The children. Where were they?

Tim looked the more exhausted.

Had he found them? Or had the neighbour gotten to them first. The pain in Tim’s eyes stopped my heart. Fear.

Images and scenes, unpleasant, unbidden, flashed through my mind. Not my children! I would have sacrificed my life for them….

Tim shook his head. Whatever had happened, he could hardly speak. “They’re tired. They didn’t want to come in.”

They were alive! Relief. Pure, sweet, welcome relief. Whatever had happened, they had survived. I could see in Tim’s eyes that it had not been good, but he offered no explanation. He didn’t have it in him to relive it verbally. What mattered, for the time being, was that we had all survived. No one had lost a life, but all of us had been touched by trauma and evil.

It would take time to recover.

For just a moment I felt as if it was all a dream. That maybe Tim wasn’t really back and I was hallucinating.

I looked at him, reached out to touch him…..

And then I woke up.

It was 6:50am, Tuesday, October 24, 2012. My heart raced. My body trembled. It all felt so real. Too vivid. Too orderly. Too possible, and yet not possible at all. What did it all mean?

As the fog lifted from my mind, I prayed. Whatever had triggered the nightmare, I wasn’t about to dwell on it, or let fear move in.

****

And that is the graphic ‘survival’ dreams/nightmares I encounter, from time to time, when ministry is at its busiest. Yesterday many people wrote, offering prayer and support. One woman even committed herself to fasting, as Esther requested of the Jews, and praying safety for our family.

I recognize that this is war. And if that dream told me anything at all, it is that we are in a battle against evil. It is not a battle I fight. It is a battle we fight, as a family, even extended family and friends.

Thank you to all who pray for us. It means more than we can express.

© Trudy Metzger

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When Demons & Darkness Haunt: Forgiving, Releasing and Blessing My Father (Part 6)

Return to my journey with Dad…

When I started working through the abuse, I immediately grieved what I had lost. I grieved the years of confusion that I had never understood. I grieved the memories that would never return, and the memories that were never made because of the dysfunction.

But in the weight of that grief I thanked God for standing in for my Dad, and asked Him to fill me where Dad had left me empty, to make me whole where I had been stripped and robbed.

Until that time, following my encounter with the real Jesus at age 18, I saw God as a Saviour, the knight in shining armour who rides in on a white stallion, whisking us away from danger’s grip. I saw Him as a Father. The one who instructs and disciplines when we need it.

In my earlier years I vacillated between seeing God as holy, just and loving–because He died for us–and the contrast of being a harsh, distant judge. Mostly I thought He was a cosmic, raging, warrior, disinterested in our well-being, but One who was out for blood, for revenge, for ‘pay back’ for sinning against Him after what He had done for us. Sort of a schizophrenic force to be reckoned with.

But when I started working through the abuse saw Him as a kind, loving Daddy. My Abba Father. Intimate. One who holds us, protects us and shelters us. The one who, like Jesus when Lazarus died and the crowd didn’t have faith, weeps with us and for us. I would not trade those days of feeling Him near me, of knowing His incredible grace, for anything in the world.

Whatever suffering I had to experience to know God this way, I thank Him for it. Where I struggled to bond with human beings, with family, I bonded with God. And that bond carries me still.

Seeing Him differently in that place of pain created that bond, and feeling Him so powerfully made Him real to me, to my experience. And that helped me see Dad as the broken shell of humanity he was. I felt compelled to forgive Dad and break the dark soul ties between us.

The forgiveness was a choice, not a feeling. And it didn’t erase what had happened. It only broke the power it held in my life.

That all sounds noble and good. And it is. Any time one human forgives another, regardless of the sin or crime committed, it is noble and good. But the journey of ongoing forgiveness, into releasing and ultimately blessing the person who wronged us is a long process. There are many ups and downs on that path, and the more complex the dynamics of the relationship, the more hurdles to overcome.

While it broke the power, forgiving my dad did not put an immediate end to my struggles. Nor did trusting God as my ‘Daddy’ Father.

Following my brave trip to the hospital, I thought everything was good. Nightmares had ended. Memories were dealt with. I was at peace.

And then I married Tim…

Getting married was a good thing. And the honeymoon pregnancy was pretty cool too. But the hormone change… well, that wasn’t so fun. The hardest part was the silent fears it triggered. I started to have nightmares like I had in childhood, and worse.

Night after night, I would relive childhood trauma in the form of nightmares. They were not terribly realistic, as most nightmares are not, but they were so real to me, that I would wake up crying out or soaking my pillow with tears. I would lie awake, trembling and unable to settle. With the worst ones I would wake Tim, curl up on his shoulder and he would hold me until I fell asleep again.

After our first daughter Alicia was born, these nightmares turned into ‘daymares’. Okay, I know that’s not a word… But it felt like nightmares in broad daylight, as I spent my days fearing that Dad would show up and kill us both.

In hindsight I realize how vulnerable the hormone changes left me. But at the time, it was all very rational. I took every necessary precaution, often checking and double-checking my front door throughout the day to make sure it was locked so, if he came, Dad would not get in.

Because of my fragile mind, I had to constantly release the past, forgive again and again, and reach out to God for stability. If I had not, I think I would have lost my head completely.

It was in those years that I knew one day I would tell my story, that I would fight, and win. The past would not get the better of me.

On the good days I actually believed myself. On the bad days…. well, I thought I was blowing a lot of smoke and had nothing to offer the world.

Why would the world believe the daughter of a child molester? The daughter of a man who was in every way a failure, by the world’s standards and the church’s. Who was I that I would have anything at all to give?

And so I fought the demons, the darkness and the nightmares through every season and every phase of my life. Hoping against hope that God had a good plan in it all.

To Be Continued…

© Trudy Metzger

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