Monthly Archives: June 2011

Sanctuary!

I’m going to veer off course here for a bit from my last post, to share something with you that is intensely personal to me. I’m going to tell you about a place from my childhood that I call my ‘crystal cave’. A place where I escaped to during the years of abuse from my dad throughout my childhood, and into my teenage years. Why I feel the need to share about my crystal cave with you, I do not know. To share with you something I’ve shared with few others before now; my safe harbor, my Lighthouse in the midst of a troubled sea, my sanctuary? A place where there was no turmoil, no distress, no mental anguish, no crying, no fear, no emotional or physical pain, and no horrors. I don’t have the answer to that, but the need to share is intense, and so share I will..

This may all sound a bit crazy to you; an imaginary cave to escape too, but let me tell you, it was and is as real to me as any place I’d ever been to, or ever will go!

I didn’t know about my crystal cave until just after my 19th birthday and living in Roanoke, Virginia with my mom. It was a terribly hot night that night, and all the hotter in a cramped two bedroom mobile home with no air conditioning that we were renting. My mom was going out on a date that night, so I was unusually happy that day, knowing I’d have the trailer all to myself that evening, and I was looking forward to some alone time, since I rarely got any, and I had off from work. I remember I was in my bedroom sitting on the floor, with my back leaning against my bed, listening to Simon and Garfunkle’s, ‘Bridge Over troubled Water’ on the record player. I had a full-length mirror leaning against the wall in front of me, and I was drinking Peach Brandy out of a huge snifter, singing to myself and pretending that I was a performer on the stage; singing to an imaginary audience, which was always a dream of mine, and one that came to pass in the course of a few years. I was having a grand old time, and a bit tipsy, but one of my attributes, or perhaps a detriment, is that I’ve the ability to remember everything that happens even when I’m skunked, soused, schnockered, drunk, tipsy, or whatever term you’d like to use, and I remember that night clearly!

As I was singing to my audience in the mirror, the image changed and it was no longer just an image of me alone in the mirror. Now I saw a scene play out before me that terrified me! It was a scene of my dad forcing himself on me, and the secrets that my mind had been hiding from me my entire lifetime unfolding in front of me, one grisly moment after another. Horror surrounded me, as memory after memory played out their history, and I ran away from the mirror, and into the bathroom where I knew my mom had kept her medications. I grabbed the bottle I knew would cause the most damage, and went back to the mirror, and the bottle of Brandy. I could not believe there was truth to the memories, for I remembered a different reality from my childhood. Now, I know I remembered what my mind allowed me to remember growing up, but as the scenes unfolded, the gaps of memory that were missing from my childhood filled themselves in until the picture was made complete and whole. The remaining details of that night are of no importance here, it’s enough to know that I survived. What is important to share with you, is what came a few weeks after that horrific night.. I saw my crystal cave for the first time in my conscious memory! A place where I now know, I spent time during the trials of my dad’s abuse.

At this point, you need to understand that I have two separate groups of memories from my childhood. The first are the memories I thought were complete as I was growing up, with pieces of time missing, pieces of the puzzle missing, but memories that seemed whole to me. Memories of a normal, untarnished childhood. The second group are the memories of what actually happened to me, what I survived, and how I survived! I’ve spent many years in therapy bringing the two separate groups of memories into one cohesive picture of my past, and as strange as it might seem to you, I survived my childhood because God created a miracle within my mind that I could escape to whenever I was being attacked, and that was to my crystal cave!

As I look back over the years long past, I know that in the first group of memories, I have no recollection of the crystal cave. I had no conscious knowledge that my sanctuary existed until after that hot night in Roanoke, Virginia, when I was past my 19th birthday, and where my past caught up to me and my mind spilled out its torrent of secrets. As I share with you the story of my sanctuary, you must keep in mind that when I say, “I remember,” I’m remembering from the age of 19 looking backwards, for as I’ve said, up until that time, I had no memory of what took place, and, after I was 19, I have two separate groups of memories, from two different realities. And so now, I’ll share my crystal cave with you.

As I shared with you in my last posting, since I wasn’t consciously aware of what was happening to me at the hand’s of my dad, I couldn’t go to anyone, and even if I would’ve known, or could have understood what abuse was, because of the way the family inadvertently felt towards children, I wouldn’t have had anyone to go to anyway, so, to the crystal cave that my mind created I went!

My Crystal Cave was a bit scary to get to, and yet I remember how I couldn’t wait to get there! The memories are as sharp and vivid as if I visited there today. My cave didn’t come into existence; that is to say, I didn’t create it in my subconscious memory, until I was about 10 years old, and living then in a 2-story, double Colonial in Harrisburg, Pa. with my mom, dad, and brother. It was a nice enough house, but when we moved into it, everyone in my family, with the exception of my dad, knew that we weren’t the only occupants! There was definitely something otherworldly that lived in that space with us. Some of you may believe in such things, others, most of you, probably not, but I lived through it, and I know it’s real, but that’s a story for another time, in another place. Now that I think of it, every house we ever lived in had spiritual occupants in it, but I’m digressing.

Our house sat overlooking a small shopping center. The development in which we lived sat atop a steep hill. In order to get to the shopping center, we would have to walk down a set of 30 steps to reach the bottom, or we could traverse a steep, narrow roadway, that wound down the hill behind our backyard. In order to go shopping to buy my candy, or to peruse the Public Library, I’d take the steps, which led directly to the stores. To get to my cave, I took the narrow roadway, since its ending came out on the other side of the shopping center and then would pick up again, winding its way through a forested parkway. It was about 3 miles from start to finish, with the parkway ending at the local community swimming pool that I visited almost every day during the short, hot Summer break from school.

About halfway along the Parkway is where I’d veer off into the forest and make the long trudge up an overgrown dirt pathway, winding its way through the overgrown brush and tall trees. The canopy was so thick that rarely did the sunlight penetrate to the forest’s floor, so I was cast in shadows along my trek, only rarely catching a sun ray breaking through the treetops. It felt eerie in this place, with creatures and insects scurrying about, making their homes and nests in the heavy boughs and thickets, and twigs snapping under my footfalls. And although birds were chirping, and the animals were running to and fro, it seemed eerily quiet, and I felt utterly alone! It felt as though there were no other person alive on the planet, and in this realm that my mind created, that is probably true, for this was my journey, and mine alone.

After walking uphill for what felt like hours, I’d come to a dark hole on the floor of the forest, filled deeply with brackish, murky water. Because there was no sunlight in this place, it was always chilly. The hole was about 12 feet wide from side to side, and 7 feet to the back mud wall covered with thick brush, and dead vines, and it was almost impossible to see because it was just over the crest of the hill I’d been climbing, and I would come upon it so suddenly, that if I didn’t know it was there, I would’ve fallen right into it! When I’d come upon the water-filled hole in the earth, I’d shiver with fear and uncertainty, because I knew I’d have to jump into that dark mouth in order to reach my crystal cave. I’d stand on the edge of that mouth for a long while steeling my nerve to jump into it, and after some time would pass, and I weighed the outcome, (I either stand there and freeze, or I go to my safety), I took as deep a breath as I could and plunged head first in an ungraceful dive. As soon as I hit the dark liquid, my body would revolt with shivers because the water was freezing! I always had the fear in the back of my mind that I’d get tangled in one of the gnarly tree roots sticking out from the sides of that dark pool, or that I wouldn’t be able to find my way to the bottom in the somber water. I wasn’t a very good swimmer then, having taught myself the basics at the community swimming pool after seeing how the other kids did it, but I managed. I’d plow through the water as hard as I could, always heading down towards the bottom, and it felt like I swam 20 feet deep! Just as my lungs pushed out the last of their air, I’d see a faint glint of light bouncing off the back wall of mud, making a swirl pattern that danced about on the roots and rocks that dwelt down there. It was mesmerizing, and I knew I was almost there! I’d give it my last ounce of strength, and would will myself to go on, determined to hold my breath for one more minute. And there, at the very bottom of the pool was a small opening on the mud wall where brilliant light was escaping, and I’d squeeze into it, fearing I wouldn’t fit through, that I’d get stuck and run out of air, and just at that moment, when I was certain I would drown, I slid through the opening and came up in a very shallow pool, gasping for a breath.

As soon as I broke the surface, the warm air met my chilled skin. It was as if someone had wrapped me in a fluffy towel warmed by the midday Sun! The light in this place was so brilliant, I had to squint to keep my eyes from hurting. After my vision adjusted to the light, I realized the waist-high water I was standing in was the color of a Turquoise stone, light patterns dancing about on the bottom of this clear pool, and casting its fairy glow on the walls covered with glittering gems of Cerulean blue, glinting and twinkling from an unseen light source. The air in this enormous, yet comforting cavern, was warm and fragrant with the faint, sweet scent of a perfume that cannot be described, the Turquoise water fragrant and alive with the same delicious aroma. The ceiling of this enchanting crystal cave was as pale as an Aquamarine that glittered with a million crystal stars, and it was breathtaking!

In the center of this shallow pool, protruding from the fragrant water, was what looked to me like giant, icy glaciers of many different sizes and levels, with the lowest slanting into the water in front of me like a platform, and they exuded a serene, calming light that glowed from within them. I walked onto the glacier-like projection in front of me, fearing that it would be hard and cold, but it was warm and soothing to the touch, yet cool, as a stone lying in a meadow cooling in the evening shadows. I climbed up yet another level, thinking how stony hard these glaciers should be, but it felt like I was walking on a sea sponge, solid, yet yielding, and then I’d lay down, worn out from the effort of the trek, and the swimming, yielding myself into the cocoon of safety I had found there. I looked around my sanctuary as I lay there, taking in the breathtaking visions before my eyes, and the experience of being there, surrounded by such inexplicable beauty, is indescribable.

It looked to me as though my crystal cave was empty at first, but there were soothing vibrations and sounds echoing off the sparkling walls and ceiling, like the distant sound of a lazy tide rolling onto a far-off shore, and then rolling softly back out to the sea. There were warm, gentle, soft breezes sighing through the cavern, and the cave felt alive with life, although there was nothing to be seen.

As I was laying there, resting, getting lost in the lull of the far-off sounds, no longer afraid or weak, I could faintly see undefinable Beings come to sit beside me. First one, then two, until I could clearly see hundreds scattered about me throughout my place of safety! I thought I should be scared, but I wasn’t. The Beings were as translucent as a cold glass of spring water, shimmering and watery, the way a mirage looks upon a sand dune in the noon heat of a desert Sun. They had no features that can be described. In my understanding as a child, I thought they had the features of a face; two eyes, a nose and a mouth, but it was just my child’s imagination that gave them the definition I assumed every being possessed, but in truth, they had none. Yet they emoted expression!

At first, these gentle Beings simply sat beside me, emanating a pleasant warmth with the scent of a fragrance so sweet that I cannot describe it as anything other than the sweet aroma of heated, spun sugar. It was a delicious and intoxicating odor that makes me crave a food that I know does not exist, for even spun sugar does not capture; cannot come close, to describing the aroma that tickled my nose, and I pray that Heaven will be scented with the same delectable fragrance! The Beings sat beside me for a long while, just sitting, not moving, and I could sense they were looking at me in whatever way they could see and I felt their sadness for me coming off of them in waves. They emitted a vibration that I perceived as comforting words. I could actually feel what they were saying, instead of hearing it with my ears, and I knew they were words of love and comfort.

I would struggle to stay awake, but as the Beings gentle vibrations and emotions washed over me, and through me, I’d gently drift off to sleep breathing in the scent of that sweet perfume, no longer in fear and pain, no longer stuck in a nightmare I could not escape. It felt as though I slept for a week! I don’t ever remember waking up from that slumber, or making the long journey back to my house. I simply remember being in my bedroom alone, listening to music, or playing with my toys. What I recall most about my awakening, is that I had an intense feeling of loss and sadness, and an unknown longing in my soul. Now, I realize that it was a desire to be back in my crystal cave, my sanctuary, where the light was so brilliant and the Beings there, were so tender, and gentle, loving, and understanding, and where there was healing and comfort. I remember not wanting to leave my bedroom to go downstairs to have to endure whatever else was to come that day with dread in my spirit, for I craved to be back with my Guardian Angels, where I rested with God my Father, the source of the unknown light, and hear His Voice again!

There are no words that could ever capture the surreal scenery that I beheld, and no emotion could ever describe the serenity I felt in that place called my sanctuary. It is simply unimaginable!

As an adult, looking back over the years, I can see where God had His finger on me, guiding me through the rough seas of my childhood and teenage years, and I have come to understand many things over the course of the recent months past while writing this blog. I mentioned a bit earlier that my crystal cave did not come into my subconscious memory until I was around 10 years of age, but that is looking backwards from the age of 19. Up until the age of 10, I don’t have a recollection of going there, but it must have been there all along, for I don’t remember all the details of the abuse my dad dealt me in my earliest years, but I know much, and it’s enough to know that it was so. But, I must have gone somewhere since I don’t recall everything, so I believe with all my heart that I escaped to my crystal cave whenever my dad was hurting me, even in my earliest years, only I wasn’t capable in my younger mind to give my sanctuary a landscape, or a description, I only know that I was spared from knowing everything that happened to me, and for that, I am blessed!

I’ve often asked myself these questions over the course of my adulthood… If my crystal cave was my place of safety, then why was it so frightening for me to get there? Why was I scared and lonely making that journey? I’ve given much thought to those questions, and this is what I’ve come to know. I realize that the journey to my crystal cave, and the fear and loneliness I felt, was in reality, my conscious mind crossing over to my subconscious mind. So in essence, I, or rather, my mind was in a void making that transition, and since I was neither in a conscious or in a subconscious mind, it was a frightening place to be, for I was no where! So, rather than see nothing, my mind created a journey in getting to my sanctuary, and since I was frightened, I created a journey that was filled with fears. It makes sense to me, at least.

I told you before that I came to know God’s Voice in my place of safety, for through those Beings, those Angels that surrounded me, I learned to hear His Voice. I know without doubt in my deepest soul, that God my Father was there ministering to me, and I am more blessed than others to know His Voice!

It’s been difficult for me in writing this 3rd posting, and if you are reading my blog, then you know that it’s taken a bit of time for me to do it too, for I haven’t visited my crystal cave in a very long time. I’ve had no need to tarry there since I was 16 years of age! But I carry those memories with me of my time spent there, every day of my life, and it will be with me until I breathe my last breath. I’m thankful to my Father, God for creating that miracle within me, for without it, I would not be whole, I would not be sane! I’m sure some of you reading my words would not think that is so; that I’m sane, or normal, but for what I’ve endured and survived, I am a whole human being, capable of love and nurturing. And I am blessed to say, “the abuse stopped with me.” I’ve never given it a thought to carry that forward and walk another innocent through the fires of hell that I walked through! And to make that clearer, I’ve never been able to discipline my children with physical force such as a spanking, or hitting, and I also dislike yelling, for the abuse I survived was every type of abuse known to a human being, and in truth, I’ve been overly protective to a fault in keeping my children from harm! I’m simply not capable. I try to be as good a person as I can be, and I strive to live my life as a decent person, always wanting to do right by others. I know I don’t always succeed, but I give it a good effort. I’m not saying, by any stretch of the imagination that I’m perfect, for I know I’m not. Do I always feel happy? I don’t. Do I get upset and stressed? Yes. Definitely. The simplest response is, I’m human. I have bad days just like everyone else! But, in admitting that I’m not perfect, I can say with assurance, that my Father is always with me, helping me every step of the way on this journey we all call life, and if I were asked by someone, “If I could change my past, and the abuse I survived, but it would mean I wouldn’t know God my Father’s Voice, would I do it?” I can answer in one word. No! I would not change what I survived if it meant I wouldn’t know God, wouldn’t know His Voice in my spirit! No absolute.

Many of you might answer differently. Maybe you would give up knowing God if it meant you could’ve had a different experience growing up, but I wouldn’t. That might seem strange to you, but I think to myself, maybe something worse would’ve happened to me. Maybe I was meant to experience all that I have for a reason? Maybe there’s someone out there who needs to hear my words, that needs to know they are not alone? That they are not the only one going through hell. Perhaps there is someone out there suffering right now who needs to borrow my crystal cave so that it could become a sanctuary for them too? If you have the need of it, it was a gift from God, and it’s yours to use, and I will pray for you, whoever you are. Maybe that’s why I felt the intense need to share about my sanctuary with you? Whatever the reason is, I’m still not sure, but what I am certain of is that I wouldn’t trade knowing God for any reason in the World! Maybe you can’t grasp that in your understanding, but I can! What can I tell you? You’re you, but, I’m just me!