The pregnant and bedridden mental battle continued, and I was losing.
A friend from church loaded me up with soothing, instrumental tapes, which actually worked wonders during some of the more protracted, boring afternoons and dark, ominous nights.
But the breath-arresting panic attacks worsened, and I eventually worked myself into an abject terror of the choking darkness and alarm of confusion carried with it.
In the darkness, the spiritual warfare intensified dramatically, assaulting my body with horrid physical symptoms I couldn’t control. The attacks seemed relentless, and deliberately destructive. As whacky as it may sound to many, I couldn’t dismiss the feeling that something was out to destroy me.
I feared falling asleep, tearfully anticipating a rough awakening in the middle of each night, drenched in cold sweat, hyperventilating, my muscles contracted to the extreme. Every night it happened without reprieve.
As nightfall arrived, I could almost detect a hideous laughter of preparation for the ensuing attack. And always I sensed I wasn’t alone in my room; that someone, or something, watched and orchestrated every move and every response. It seems impossible for me to adequately convey how intensely frightened I became of the consuming nightmare, how the anguish and anxiety completely overtook my physical body and senses. It was more than “simply” panic attacks, and they were so severe, I knew it could affect the outcome of the pregnancy. That only accentuated the fear.
I considered calling Dr. Landry for advice or help. Maybe he could prescribe a sedative, if he didn’t first write me off as a nut. I wanted to tell Chris about them. Maybe he could protect me from them by spending the night in my room. I didn’t do either, because I was too humiliated and scared to disclose the horror to either one of them.
I know many highly respected people say that the things like I experienced happen only by suggestion, but nothing had been suggested to me; I wasn’t watching any horror movies, and I’m not a superstitious person. Neither had I been reading anything that would have influenced me in the direction of being tempted or harmed by anything demonic.
I tried to scare away the dark by illuminating the room and leaving a soundless television switched on, its black and gray lines wiggling frantically on the screen. (This was prior to round-the-clock television programming.) But the television seemed to be as confused as I was. And there always remained that irrational desire to bolt from bed and walk with steely, rebellious determination around the house, to prove to myself that I was still capable of independence and freedom. Like a voluntary prisoner who could—just because she willed it—walk defiantly away from captivity, shaking her fists at anyone listening.
“See, I wanted to yell, “I’m free now, and there is nothing you can do to stop me from leaving this bed. You have no power over me; it is only by my own will that I remained in your imprisonment. I can return to that bed any time I want to, when I am ready. You hear that!? When I am ready! I know being here is better for me. But right now,…I need a break. I do so need a break from this feeling of hellish limbo.”
I pleaded with the Lord for a release from these torturous events, to allow comfort and peace to pervade me. I didn’t know the power I had in Christ, so I remained impotent against the attacks. I prayed for a miracle to repair my inadequate cervix. Day after day, hour after hour, I’d beg, “PLEASE, heal me, Lord!” I even regressed to imagery techniques, thinking and visualizing my body into healing itself. There I was, falling back into the familiar pattern of attempting to wish or talk myself into good health. You know: “I am, because I believe it and said it!”
Yet, peace did swiftly follow my almost hysteric, beseeching prayers. Because of the once-nightly psychological and physical warfare, most of my nights were spent in conversation with God. And I had plenty of time to listen to His answers, or to His silence. He had a totally captive audience. And I was quickly learning to rely solely on Him, to surrender to His will and His way of working things out. I didn’t necessarily delight in His techniques, but an intense, twenty-four-hour-a-day course on maturation—of fully trusting His methods, and bending to them—began.
My self was quickly running out. And that was the objective: Total relinquishment of self, through a cascade of perfectly orchestrated events. I was learning that His comfort is immeasurable and His security sure. If I were to succeed at this, and experience the fullness of joy He intended for me, it would have to be in His power, not my own. I would have to surrender all of that. Something I wasn’t likely to do when I was well, healthy and “managing” my life without someone’s help and guidance, thank you very much!
It was absolutely necessary to dwell in the secret place of the Most High and abide under His shadow so I could confidently proclaim, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God in whom I trust.” He was teaching me, with a firm, yet velvet-cloaked hand, that in the fierce clash of spiritual warfare, the battle belongs to Him. And He has already won.
I was coming face-to-face with God's sovereignty and my puny humanness...
I was coming face-to-face with God's sovereignty and my puny humanness...
I did enjoy one daily highlight, however: my friend’s arrival home with Parker and the mail at lunchtime. Eventually, though, it was just the lunchtime visits and the mail that brought relief. Parker needed more activity and attention than I was capable of giving, so he began staying at pre-school all day rather than come home to a mom needing relative quiet and rest.
Parker appeared to confront the circumstances with maturity well beyond his four-year old years. He knew Mommy would have to stay in bed if he were to have a little brother or sister. He also knew that even if I stayed in bed, there was a possibility that he would again have neither. He was concerned, patient and a tremendous comfort and source of joy for me; he always wanted to make sure that he did everything possible to “take care of Mommy.” We attempted to alleviate the pressure on him, but we wanted to be honest in all aspects of the pregnancy and my chances.
But he spent so much of his time playing alone, anxiously awaiting the moment Chris arrived home so he could latch onto him at the door. Sometimes they’d pile like playful kittens into my bedroom and watch one of the videos friends had delivered for amusement—the only time I could view them because I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed to navigate my way to the tape player (VHS days) to put one in to watch.
Parker appeared to be handling the stress so well, and we were proud of him. But now I know he felt his solitary existence as acutely as I did my solitary confinement.
What we would discover much later, was that he protectively blanketed his emotions for my protection, and his fragile, sparsely woven little protection blanket would eventually unravel and disintegrate in one significant moment.
My precious four-year-old son would have a nervous breakdown…
NEXT WEEK: Finally learning the meaning of unfathomable, sacrificial, saving love and just how far someone will go to give it…
Until next week,
Thanks for joining me!