Jennifer E. Thomas (j3nny3lf) wrote,
Jennifer E. Thomas

A testimony

I posted the story of the implosion of my second marriage over on E2 about a year after it happened. I'm reposting it here, but adding to it the story of just how I met Sam, and how that changed my life. Don't want to lose this, you know? And my friend Nancy Smith is interested in hearing more, and thinks this testimony is important, and since I consider her a very wise woman, I'll do it.

Last year, I tried to die.

My husband, whom I had met on IRC eight years before, and waited five years for him to emigrate from Australia to be with me, the man for whom I gave up any semblance of a normal life so that I could be online when he was awake, the man I ran up $450 a month phone bills for for five years, left me.

Not only did he leave me, he left me for one of my best friends, the mother of six of my nine Godchildren.

I was in the middle of a major nervous breakdown. We had been to what was supposed to be the stamp of approval appointment at the INS and been told flat out by the examiner that he believed we were lying, that our marriage was simply for a green card, and he was threatening me with jail time. I was losing it.

I had been spending a lot of time at my "friend" Anna's home while dealing with the INS because I would sink into a fearsome depression when Isaac left for work each day. Anna was sort of babysitting me. After a while, Isaac and I practically moved in with Anna and Frank, because of the two hour commute from his work (close to their home) and our home on the other side of San Francisco Bay.

Any idiot with eyes could see what was happening, but I was so closed to the idea that Isaac or Anna would ever hurt me, that they loved me, that I didn't see until it was too late. I remember the night I saw what was going on. It was a couple of days after Christmas, I was standing in the living room doorway and looking at the three of them on the couch and saying "I am losing my husband." As I crumpled into a heap on the floor, they surrounded me with arms and said "No, no, never." Anna said "He came halfway around the world to be with you. He will never leave you."

A few days after this, feeling suicidal, I checked into the local psychiatric bin, where they dosed me with so much Klonopin so often that my regular doctor was surprised that I hadn't become dangerously ill. After three days, they released me with no take home meds.

When I came out we went to our home where I immediately went into severe withdrawal. Screaming, ranting, doing self injury with steak knives and razors, raging at my husband, who by now was wearing a ring that Anna had given him - between the two wedding bands I had given him. Nice symbology there, eh?

On the second night of me falling apart, Isaac ordered me to return to the hospital. He drove me to the ER, where I told them that he wanted me in there, I didn't think I needed to be. They didn't check me in. On the way home, Isaac drove 75 mph down El Camino Real, not a freeway, just a very long city street, ranting about what a selfish cunt I was all the way down the road. I was shrieking in terror the entire trip home.

We got home and he announced he was going to the bar. Went. An hour later, I called and asked him to please come and walk the dog. Five minutes later he came, got the dog, said "I love you, back soon". Two hours later, I figured out that he wasn't coming back, called an ambulance because I felt suicidal again, and went to the hospital.

While I was in there, I got this sweet message of love: "Tell her that I love her, I will never divorce her, but I can never see her nor speak to her again." Thanks, Isaac. Thank you very much.

I spent nearly a month in there. When I got out, my dearest friend, Renee, drove me home. She wanted me to come to her house, but I wanted to be at home. She made me promise that if I felt like hurting myself, I would call. I promised.

An hour after I got home, I took the scissors to my waist length hair and cut it all to a shabby two or so inches long. I put it into a Tupperware container, stuck it in a box, addressed it to Isaac care of Anna, stamped it, and went to bed.

I woke up in the middle of the night, around four AM, reaching out to spoon with my husband and discovered again that he was not there. At that point, I began howling like some sort of lost and wounded animal, and just knowing that my life was over forever.

Staggering to the living room, I picked up the phone and called somebody who I need to keep anonymous. That person basically told me that they'd spoken to Isaac, that it was all my fault anyways, that I was crazy, had always been crazy, and it was my fault my father had died more than twenty years previously (from cancer, might I add), and that the world would have been better off had I never been born.

I hung up sobbing and promptly swallowed 80+ Wellbutrin. Then, realizing that I had promised Renee, and that if I did die, she would never forgive herself, (much as I have never forgiven myself for my friend Stu's suicide on the day I married Isaac - his suicide note talked about there being no hope, because I was marrying Isaac) I called her. The ambulance came and got me and took me to the county hospital - for which I was glad, the place had the reputation of a butcher shop, and I figured, "Okay, I'll die there".

Now, turns out, Wellbutrin overdoses, in and of themselves, won't kill you. But the effects of them can. Any overdose of Wellbutrin, even a small one, can cause convulsions and hallucinations. Ever taken LSD without knowing you'd been dosed? Almost invariably you end up with a bad trip. I got a three day long bad trip, and three days of convulsions. My heart stopped a couple of times, very briefly.

The hallucinations were hellacious. I don't remember most of them, but some of them just will not leave my memory. I remember the first one vividly. A few moments before I started to fly, I told the nurse that I hadn't actually taken anything at all, that I was a perfectly happy and well adjusted suburban housewife, and I got off of the ER gurney and headed for the door. Last thing I remember hearing, as I lost control of my body and started shaking like crazy was "We've got a live one!"

Then the trip started. All of these nurses and doctors surrounding me, saying that they hated a faker worse than anything, and torturing me physically by bashing my skull into a huge spiked metal cylinder repeatedly. I have no idea how long that one lasted.

There was the "County Hospital cremates the dead ones immediately, but saves their sliced off tongues heaped in a room in the basement" hallucination. That was fun. In that one, I was being processed by being sent down a long conveyor belt and having plastic stretched over my face to cut off my breathing so that they could get my tongue out easier.

The juke box world was a fun one. Everybody lived in an old Wurlitzer juke, one person per record. All communication was through the records on either side of you, pass it down style. And both records on either side of me were broken somehow.

There was the one where I walked up a double helix stairway to Heaven, and met the Creator himself. He gave me a choice, one that He said every person who died got. We all got a chance to be God, He said, and decide the ultimate fate of the universe. Choose love and the universe continues. Choose hate, and the entire universe is destroyed, except the person choosing hate. That person gets to be alone forever, wrapped in their hate, alone.

I contemplated for a few minutes and then screamed "HATE! I CHOOSE FUCKING HATE!" and blam, there went the universe.

But the one that stands out strongest to me was sad, poignant, but not horrifying. I was in some existence where everybody got to find their soul mate and live a cocooned existence forever with that person. I looked around, trying to find Isaac, but I saw him going off with Anna. Then I was sucked into a room, no furniture, but so comfortable. Sensing a presence, I looked up, expecting Isaac to be there. He wasn't. All that was there was a rose, hovering in the air, surrounded by this golden glow. I knew that it was a man, my man, the man for my life, but I also knew that it was not Isaac.

When I came out of the hallucinations and convulsions, I was tied to a hospital bed. They moved me to the psych unit the next morning, where I spent the next two and a bit months.

The aftermath of the episode is that I have sustained permanent brain damage. My IQ, once measured at 200+, now tests around 135. I have massive short term memory problems. I occasionally stutter when I become stressed or frightened. I cry a lot, sometimes for no apparent reason. I am often afraid of things that I can't identify, and I am haunted by those hallucinations and others I did not detail here.

By what I consider to be a true miracle from God, I met Sam, my new husband, a few weeks after I left the hospital. When he came to visit me a month after that, I was waiting for him at the airport and he came down the corridor, literally surrounded by golden light.

Healing began.


That's the basics of the suicide attempt and a quick gloss of meeting Sam. I'll never forget seeing him surrounded by that halo of golden light, and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was The Man promised me in that vision, which I now consider a vision from God, and not a hallucination. How I met Sam is another story.

The above story doesn't really mention it, because it is the story of my suicide attempt and beginning healing, but a priest came to visit me while I was in the hospital, to bring me Holy Communion (I was Catholic at the time) and hear my confession. During that visit, I started to realize that there had to be a reason I was still alive, that it couldn't just be random happenstance. The priest told me that God had big things in store for me, I just had to ask Him what His plan for me was and ask Him to guide me through it, and I would find my way. So I began a very rich prayer life, talking to God in a running "conversation" all day that had my psychiatrist thinking I was turning into a religious fanatic, and that actually kept me in the hospital for two weeks longer than if I weren't so prayerful. That was fine, I needed the time, anyways.

A few days after I got out of the hospital, my very good friend, Jonathan Disher, was chatting to me on AOL Instant Messenger, and told me that our mutual friend Shadow had been asking after me and wouldn't I come back to the IRC chatroom we used to hang out in and say hello to Shad? I was afraid to go there, because of the associations with Isaac, but I sucked it up and went, because I'd always had something of a crush on Shadow, and who knew what might happen?

So off I went to the chat room, caught up with Shadow and knew he wasn't the guy for me, but enjoyed our conversations. Then after a week or so, I went to another chat room I had frequented before I married Isaac, #Callahans.

I only recognized a few of the names, the patrons had shifted to a pretty new group, but the same sort of giving, caring, accepting folks that had been there back in my day.

One evening, just a few days after my return to Callahans, Isaac called me and spent about twenty minutes telling me what a piece of work I was, and how his affair and abandonment of me was completely my fault, and none of his. When we hung up, I was feeling suicidal again. I prayed, and felt no better, so I went to Callahans seeking emotional support. I told the group how I was feeling, but they were already kind of overdosed on my drama, having been hearing it for a week steady now. All but one person, this very quiet guy going by the nickname of Nilptr.

As an aside, I thought that Nilptr was a woman. Because I thought his nickname meant Nil Peter, No Peter, No Penis. I still get a giggle when I think about that. But back to the story.

Nilptr private messaged me and convinced me to go check myself in to the hospital for a night or two. He was truly concerned, truly caring. I took his advice, spent one night in the hospital, and went home feeling better. I started looking for Nilptr's comments on channel, because I knew he was just a Nice Man whose opinions might be worth hearing, but we had no other real interaction other than Hi, how are you, glad you're okay. I knew nothing about him, except that I'd been wrong, he was a man.

Meanwhile, the whole Christian world was in the middle of the Lent season. Easter evening came, and I went to the Easter Vigil Mass to celebrate the resurrection of my Jesus. After Holy Communion, I got down on my knees, and had a frank talk with God. I told him I was no good on my own, that I am a woman who needs a man in her life to love and be loved by. And I gave God a shopping list of the things I wanted in my next husband.

I told God he needed to be honest, loving, gentle, funny, intelligent. I asked that he have kids, preferably three or four of them, but that their mother not be a royal pain in our lives. I asked that he would be understanding of the fact that I was a very broken woman, and would probably always have cracks and striations caused by a hard life and my mental illness, and that he be able to accept that there would be times that I would not always be rational or even sane. I asked for a lot of things, and I let God know in no uncertain terms that every item on my list was non-negotiable.

I got up from that prayer a very nervous woman. I had just asked (really, I'd DEMANDED) a LOT from my God, and told Him flat out that if He wasn't going to answer my prayer in FULL, I didn't want a consolation prize of something less than I wanted.

I was kind of nuts back at that time (no, REALLY?!?), and was sending any guy who wanted them pics of me barechested. Nilptr had asked, so I sent him the pics, and a few days later, under the influence of rum, Nilptr made a comment about being upset with me because I was, and I quote: "2000 miles away, attractive, and in rut". This few days later was Easter evening, not twenty minutes after I got home from church and the prayer that changed my life.

I am a long time chat room veteran who has dealt with her share of horny net geeks. My standard reaction to such a comment would have been to verbally rip him a new rectum, but for some reason, I didn't. Instead, I private messaged him and asked him if he was in Chicago. His response was no, Texas. South, not East.

And then, for some reason, our conversation turned very deep and very personal. He told me that he was a widower of two years, with four sons aged 5 to 14, that he suffered chronic depression, that he was seeking his master's degree in mathematics in San Antonio, TX. He told me that he had a pair of his dead wife's underpants, and that he'd recently sniffed them and that they smelled of her and he wept for an entire night for her loss. I told him of the pain I'd gone through over my marriage exploding, of how I still wanted to die, of how I would never be whole again. We private messaged for several hours, culminating in my calling him on the telephone, where we talked until he had to wake his kids up so that they could get to school.

That evening, I was looking for him on #Callahans, and when he showed up, I was as nervous as a teenage girl on her first date. We quickly went to the telephone and talked for another long, but so FLEETING, night. And this became a pattern. Up all night on the phone, anticipating our next call all day long. Thank Heaven I had unlimited long distance, or I'd have lost my phone!

I came to realize, over the course of about a week, that this man had EVERY quality I had demanded of God. There was not one thing that I asked for that this man didn't fulfill. And I fell in love with him, but I sure wasn't going to open myself up to more hurt by telling HIM that, no way.

Until the night of April 18, when we were talking and suddenly both of us went silent, and he gently sighed, "I love you". And I said "I love you, too."

We made plans to meet. But before we ever met face to face, we were already engaged. His psychiatrist told him he was a fool, my friends told me I was insane. But we were in love, and we were engaged, and that was that. He asked his boys how they felt about it. By then, I was talking to the boys on the phone every night, too, and they gave him a unanimous yes vote, he COULD marry me, they thought it was a great idea.

Nilptr, who was now and always just plain Sam to me now, got off the plane in San Jose, California on May 16, 2004, and a beam of light was surrounding him with a halo of gold. The man from my vision. And I knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God had sent me this man, and had prepared me to recognize him by showing me that rose in that golden light during my suicide attempt.

Two things from that suicide attempt night have stayed with me solid since then. The first is that rose and that light. The second was my choice of hate, where God let me experience just what that would really be like, to be completely alone, with nobody, not even God, to give me comfort, love, companionship. God showed me that I need love, that I need HIM, in a way that has stuck with me rock solid ever since.

I won't whitewash this. The first thing Sam and I did when we got back to my home was to have sex. And I don't remember any of that, except Sam looking at me in wonder, and saying "You are now my wife." We were married to each other's souls on that day, and three months later, married on paper.

Sam was an agnostic, and the boys (except the eldest, Andy, who was living with his mother's parents in New Orleans) were totally ignorant of God. I was still a very devout Catholic, attending Mass every Sunday, and Sam and the boys started going with me.

I taught the boys that although their Mama was dead, she was still watching over them from Heaven, protecting them and praying for them. I taught them that as long as they lived, she would be there, watching them. And I taught them that she could hear them, so if they wanted to talk to her in Heaven, all they had to do was open their hearts and minds and let her in.

Around Christmas, the boys living with us expressed a desire to become baptized Christians and members of God's family. They began religious formation classes, and that Easter, one year after I told God what He was expected to do for me, I watched as each of them was baptized and recieved their first Holy Communion.

Sam was still agnostic, but was seeing evidence of God all around us. We had no furniture, I prayed, told God we were pretty broke but needed a couch, a dining table, that sort of thing. And every time I asked for a specific item, we would end up at Goodwill and find beautiful things at amazing prices.. a solid oak dining table with six chairs, for $100. A brand new sofa for $20. A La-Z Boy recliner and pink wing chair for $7 each. God furnished our house as an answer to prayers, and Sam was noticing.

I wanted our vows sanctified in church, we'd been married in a minister's living room, but I wanted the Church Seal of Approval on our marriage. It meant a lot to me, and Sam agreed. So we began researching what we needed to do to marry in the Catholic church.

The Catholic church has some pretty strict rules, I needed an anullment from my marriage to Isaac, and so forth. We began looking for another church to marry in. And around this time, Sam expressed to me that he felt a very deep sense of loneliness when the boys and I would go up for Communion on Sundays. He was starting to pray, even though he didn't really BELIEVE, but he was willing to entertain the possibility, as he had seen with his own eyes that God loved me and heard my prayers. In Sam's words "Your Deity sure does love you".

We have a very close friend, Mary Ann, who is a Methodist pastor. She suggested we visit a Methodist church and see if they would marry us. There was one two blocks from my house, but when I called about renewing our vows there, the pastor told us that they only did that sort of thing for people who were actively involved in that church. I told him we'd visit on Sunday and see how it went.

We went, and it was a good match. There was enough of the Catholic rites in the Methodist worship that it didn't feel alien to me, and Sam and the boys were immediately comfortable. We began participating, and three months later, Sam made his profession of faith and was baptized into God's family. We joined the Methodist church that day. I cried through the whole thing.

About two years later, we renewed our vows, with our friend Mary Ann coming from Colorado to concelebrate the marriage with our pastor, Rocky. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Sam and I are currently seeking a new church. We no longer feel comfortable at the Methodist church, and it is time to move on. But our commitment to Jesus and to each other is stronger than ever, and grows stronger every day.

I'd like to share what Sam posted to his LiveJournal on the day of his baptism. It's the most heartfelt profession of faith that I've ever seen.


I've been baptized and confirmed today. Today I am a Methodist. I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And friend.

Jenn baptized me before, when she thought I was likely to die. I was in the hospital just after a failed suicide attempt. I was truly baptized at that time, and this was just a backup in case that didn't work.

But what a moving and beautiful backup!

I was accepted into the church today as well. They made me feel welcome ... a difficult feat, as some here are able to attest.

No, I don't have any final answers. I don't know why God permits suffering or injustice in the world. I expect to be slammed by militant agnostics and atheists for the entire history of Christianity and to be held responsible by them for every evil done in the name of Christ, ever. To which I say: bring it on. And God bless you. :)

It's been eight years since Sam and I were first married. Eight and a half since God showed me what a world without him, what a world of hate, would really be like. My faith flows like moving water, never stagnant, always growing. And I think that now I know what my purpose in life is, why God didn't let me die when I so desperately wanted to.

God knew that Sam and the boys needed me. Me, not some other random person. That I could be the person who could help them to healing from their own tragic loss of Kara, that I could be the person whose example of living as a Christian could lead them to God's love and care for all of his children. And that they, in turn, would help me to heal, and help me to strengthen my own relationship with God.

God is good. And He DOES answer prayers. Never doubt it.
Tags: god, jesus, sam, testimony

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