This is part 2 of my series "Why I Left Child-Like Faith Behind". Read Part 1 HERE first if you haven't already.
When we returned home, there was emptiness. The room felt empty, even though little Nikki was still there. Grandma B wasn't and I missed her terribly. I cried myself to sleep most nights. I developed an aversion to beds. The spot where my grandma had fallen in front of the door became my sleeping area. I took a giant beach towel and laid it over the spot. Then I'd grab the quilt off of my grandma's bed and one of the white ruffled pillows that decorated it and I'd curl up and cry. Sometimes Nikki would climb out of her bed and lie by me. She was 3 then, but didn't talk very well or very much. She liked to be close to me for some reason but didn't like the hardness of the floor. So she'd get her Pocahontas pillow and lie on that.
I guess Mom got sick of us sleeping on the floor every night, so she moved me into her room and reinstalled the high bars on Nikki's crib-bed thing to make it harder for her to get out at night. Mom would make me drink NyQuil (“sleepy juice”) or take Tylenol PM (“relaxing candies”). Then she'd tuck me into the giant king size bed that she shared with my Dad on the rare occasions that he was home. Somehow, I'd always wake up on the floor next to the bed.
So she brought our German Shepherd, General, into the room to sleep with us. General was my homeboy, lol. We had grown up together. My older sisters would put General the Puppy in a diaper and plop him in my crib when they were left to baby-sit. When I was a bit older, we would play together in the backyard. If anyone came too close to me, he would growl. Sometimes I'd tie my red wagon to his collar and he'd pull me and my Cabbage Patch Kids around the yard. If I shouted “Dig!”, he would furiously dig deep holes so that I could bury “treasure” (pretty rocks, mostly).
He had a bad reputation because he bit a neighborhood kid who taunted him once. Stupid bitch slipped her hand through the fence and got what she deserved, I guess. He wasn't a mean dog though. Far from it. I would let him in the house when I got home from school. Mom worked evenings at a catering place and Nikki stayed with neighbors, so I was all alone now that my grandma was gone. General and I would watch FOX Kids (Power Rangers, Beetleborgs, VR Troopers, Goosebumps, Garfield, The Tick and other awesome stuff) and I'd share the leftovers that Mom left for my dinner.
Mom would come home and get us all ready for bed. She'd yell at me about homework and practicing my clarinet. I'd take a long bath and she'd yell at me for that too. If I went in the living room and got on the computer, she'd yell some more. I don't remember what games I played back then, but I do remember spending a lot of time playing on the computer instead of doing homework or helping get Nikki ready for bed...
Then it would be time for me to go to bed and we'd fight about that. I hated going to sleep. Even with General dutifully lying at the foot of the bed, sleep was impossible. So I'd move to the floor and General would hop down and lie next to me. He'd rest his snout on my shoulder, nuzzling my neck and would lie his heavy front paw over my chest, giving me the dog version of a reach-around. Other times, he'd rest his head on my chest and watch me like a hawk until I stopped crying and drifted off to sleep.
I don't know how long things went on like that. Probably for some time. Mom gave up on getting me to sleep like a normal person after awhile. I started sleeping in my old room again, on the floor. General slept with me most nights. He was getting old and some nights he decided he'd rather sleep curled up at the foot of Mom's bed instead. I understood and didn't prod him to come with me if I could tell he didn't want to. I would take our little shih tzu with me instead. Thor Thunderhammer (I was a creative kid who had a thing for history, ok? ) was a funny little flatfaced guy with blue eyes. Shih tzus don't normally have blue eyes. But Thor was special, I guess.
That's not Thor, but the dog does look like him.
Thor would sleep with me, a little ball of fur that knotted himself up in the quilt next to my abdomen every night. He'd kiss my hands until I fell asleep. On the nights that General slept with me, they'd each take a side and I would feel safe for the first time since my grandmother had died. I would pray every night to the distant nebulous Lord that I had learned about in Vacation Bible School. I wanted my grandmother, I was tired of being by myself. I wanted the bullying I suffered at school to stop, I was tired of dealing with small-minded hicks who spit on me every fucking day. I wanted the guys who had sexually abused me to move away or something so I wouldn't have to see them every day at school or riding their dirtbikes on the trails around our neighborhood...
So I prayed to a God that I knew nothing about and thumbed through the worn NIV that my grandma kept in her nightstand drawer. I didn't know about the Bible and didn't try to read it much. It was more of a comfort thing, a piece of my grandma and of God and I thought if I kept it close, maybe its magic would work on me. This went on for awhile. I became depressed and started wearing black most of the time. I became obsessed with death, funerals, and horror films. I read a lot of Stephen King books and whatever else the cool librarian at the county library recommended.
And that was how I started on my path to gothdom, lol. However, the depression continued to get worse and I started hiding my feelings deeper down. I no longer cried, deciding that tears were a waste of time and energy. I quit sleeping, although I would pretend to sleep when my Mom would check on me at night. I would lie in my bed with Thor and General and fake sleep with the covers pulled up so she couldn't see my face. After I was sure that she was soaking in the tub or watching tv with her nightly vodka + 7up combo in hand, I'd pull out one of my books and turn the lamp on to read. My eyes would get heavy and I'd go to the kitchen, get some cookies or make myself a PBJ, and would go in the living room to watch TV with the volume turned way down.
We had an old school satellite that pulled stations from all over the world. I'd watch undubbed/unsubbed sentai and anime from Japan mostly. And Tales From The Crypt and terrible B movies on the movie stations. Without TV Guide or anything to tell me what was on and when it aired, it was all trial and error. I figured out rough schedules and wrote things down in an old composition notebook with markers. That was how I spent my nights, always careful to leave no trace and tuck myself in by 4am when Mom got up to make her coffee and let the dogs out.
The depression got worse and eventually became debilitating. Summer rolled around again and I was relieved of the responsibility of having to go to school aka Hell for the time being. I began to think that maybe my prayers were paying off. Still, I was lonely and spent most of the my time reading and filling notebooks with morose poetry and quotes that I mined from the books that I read. The only things I really cared about were my dogs and the bi-weekly trips we made to the county library. Everything else blended together in mass of nothingness.
For some reason, I am really struggling with my decision to leave the faith. I find myself wanting to return to it after over a year away. Probably because of all the crap I am currently going through IRL. I've had to deal with a lot of crap lately and I feel really alone. I know that most people go through similar situations in life, but it doesn't make it any easier to go through.