Getting to sleep that night would prove to be a difficult task. After we got home from Church, I got into my play clothes and ran around like a (fairly) normal kid. I didn't think about the odd experience I had earlier - I had filed it for later perusal. Well, after lights out that night I tried to take my mind off my usual extreme fear of the dark by thinking about things that had puzzled me during the day. For example -we had forced hot water heat in my house. The pipes would make all kinds of clanking noises as the hot water coursed through them and thermal expansion would occur. When I was little, I thought these noises were skeletons clanking bones on the water pipes like the natives beating war drums in movies I had seen. This terrified me. I would lie there with cold chills running up and down my spine, breaking out in a cold sweat. When I tried to close my eyes in fear I would see tigers, skeletons and monsters leaping out of the dark at me. I was literally too terrified to scream or move. I thought any movement would "give me away" to the creatures lurking in the dark and they would get me. (Remember I was about to turn 4).
Before the usual night terrors as outlined above could settle in, I always tried to drive them back, keep them at bay as it were, by thinking about other things. This night, I tried to concentrate on solving the riddle that had perplexed me earlier, namely, Who is God and why can only adults seem to perceive Him? I had been witness to previous examples of seemingly incomprehensible behavior in adults - some on TV and others in real life. I knew that some adults were "bad guys" and others who took on the responsibility to correct the negative situations caused by the "bad guys" were deemed to be the "good guys". I knew with absolute certainty that not only was I one of the "good kids" but that I would grow up to be a "good guy" as an adult as well. It's one of the few certainties I had to cling to. Whenever we played games that had "Good guys" against "Bad guys" - I always had to be on the side of the "good guys" or I simply would not play. Being a "bad guy" - even to this day - is anathema to me. Later, in my teen years, when other kids were experimenting with alcohol, drugs and sex, I would steadfastly remain true to what I judged to be correct behavior as internalized by me. I never responded to peer pressure to do anything I felt was wrong,
never mind illegal (with one exception that will be detailed later). Sex was by far the hardest thing to stay away from, I definitely wanted to try that out. However, a combination of extremely low self-esteem and fear (of possible unwanted pregnancy and psychotic maternal disapproval of my choice of girlfriends - causing worse abuse for me and inviting a new target for my mother's one actual gifted ability in life - imbuing guilt and humiliation where none actually existed) kept me from serious dating until I was 18 and in my first semester of college - away from her prying eyes. This was right before my life went straight to Hell for several decades, through no fault of my own. That is a story for future blog entries. I'm going to try to blog these events chronologically so that they make sense for the reader. If, from time to time, I remember something out of sequence I'll try to insert it back in chronological order and make a note that it is a "late" entry.
I remembered playing under the kitchen table with my coloring books some months earlier while my mother was preparing dinner. I asked her about God and how long God would live. She said, "God lives forever, and he always was there, and always will be there". I could understand being born at some point and living forever after that. That is what I thought would happen to me. However, the harder I tried to think of God "always being there" - forever into the past - the more confused I got. I actually felt dizzy in an odd way when I tried to think as hard as I could about something always existing, extending forever into the past and that same something existing forever into the future. It was the part about always having been there that gave me a feeling I refer to as "reality vertigo". It just didn't compute. I don't know how to put this particular feeling into words.
So, there I lay, terrified in bed, with all the information I had about God at the time:
1) He was always there and would always be there.
2) He could see and hear everything you did every second of your whole life, and judged you for it harshly if you did something "bad".
3) He could do anything He wanted to - he was all-powerful.
4) He watched over little children, and adults, to make sure nothing bad happened to them. He didn't always succeed, though. People still died in car and airplane crashes and earthquakes. Maybe they didn't pray enough, or were the wrong religion. Or had done something "bad".
5) He needed you in Church every Sunday, and you had to pray to him every night, or you could go to Hell.
6) It seemed as though only adults could see Him.
7) He was the ultimate arbiter of what was "good" and what was "bad" in the world.
8) He had created the world (I didn't yet know about the extended Universe) in six days flat.
9) By extension - He had also created me, my parents, and everyone else in the world.
10) My Dad had to give money to Him every week at Church.
So I lay there, thinking to myself, trying to keep the fear that lurked like a hungry, ravenous animal, at bay.
So here are the things that don't make sense to me about God. He's always been there. That's kind of spooky. But He's always watching everything. Like me. Right now. So, why doesn't He come and take the monsters away? Can't He see I'm afraid? Does this mean I've been bad somehow? In some way that I don't even know because I'm little and don't know any better? Does this mean God is sending the monsters? Is this a preview of Hell to scare me into being good? How can I be good if I don't know what it is? I KNOW I'm being good - all I have to do is look at the behavior of other kids - they were selfish, hit each other and would steal things and throw tantrums. I didn't do any of that. I would cry fairly often but this wasn't throwing a tantrum. I always had a reason - like when I was running up the street in my shorts and fell (I fell down a lot) and skinned both my knees. It HURT! Who wouldn't cry? What if I've died in my sleep - and I'm IN Hell NOW?
I desperately tried to get this thought out of my head by changing tack: Who are the guys that drive UFO's? Do they have their own God? Or is He the same one? How long have they been coming here? I wonder what they look like? Big heads and skinny bodies? Skinny heads and big bodies? If they've been coming to Earth for a really long time - did people from long ago mistake them for Gods when they were just advanced aliens? Is there some way to get a UFO to land in the field next door? Maybe I can ask them? What if they said they were God? What if they said, "There is no God that we can find, we've been looking for Him for a million years - do you know where He is?" The thought of advanced aliens asking a question like this really horrified and terrified me. If THEY didn't have the answers - just exactly WHO did!!?? Apparently not my parents, or any other adult. And if they could fly rings around our best jet fighters, what if they were hostile like in the movies and were even now, at this very moment, planning an invasion?
To be continued...