When my mother discovered my son’s father was a “born again” Christian, (in whichever way suited him best on the day) she determined to make him feel at home. She “discovered” a Pentecostal Pastor “Dave”. An unusual man, a former “bouncer” with the broken nose to prove it, who had another distinction in the form of a white “Hot Gospel” group considered to be of professional standard (my mother had problems distinguishing between “Soul” and music like “Pink Floyd” and mistakenly thought this alone would impress us.)
Dave simply never impressed me.
I had long since abandoned all pretences at humoring my son’s father over religion. I was agnostic (I am now firmly atheist) and that is all I would ever consent to be. I make no comment on any individual faith except to say that no person of sincere religious faith would recognize my son’s father’s rather individual version.
Nor, I think, Dave’s.
Dave entered our lives pleasantly enough, as I recall he was in our house almost daily. Dave was a very funny guy, also very charming. Easy enough to tolerate, except for his intrusive demands that I “be born again in the spirit of the Lord”. It is simply not what I believe in, and I have the right to follow my own conscience without let or hindrance. Dave, apparently, did not believe in personal autonomy in matters of the spirit.
The father of my son recognized his addictions, and with our wonderful supportive Doctor, Chris, was seeking treatment for them, but there was a waiting list. Dave had a better alternative. The father of my son was not an addict he was Demon Possessed. Only Dave, prayer and faith (I suspect in that order) could save him.
It seemed harmless enough at first. Until I began to hear hints from my son’s father that Dave had denounced me as “possessed of the Devil” too. Presumably a far greater Demon, because he convinced the father of my son that unless I was forcibly exorcised, or he left me, he would never be cured. My mother, a lifelong Episcopalian, was more aware of all of this than I was.
My son’s father was quite an ingenious soul, his fevered brain cooked up a scheme to convince me he had been buying street barbiturates, so that I, 16, pregnant, and still covered in malnutrition sores that refused to heal, would persuade our doctor to provide him with a maintenance dose until he could get treatment. This our Doctor did, for the sake of my well-being and sanity. So the father of my son succeeded in getting prescribed seconal to become addicted to, in addition to the Glutethamide. He was subject to frequent, apparent bouts of psychosis, as well as very convincing “petit mal” fits.
The psychosis made him very suggestible, with my mother’s covert encouragement he finally soaked up every insane word Dave told him.
When our son was only 5 weeks old, the most bizarre week of my life began.
The father of my son entered a full blown psychosis (or gave an Oscar Winning performance, I don’t think even he is sure which) becoming, for hours at a time the demon Rantallien (apparently “Lord of the Trolls” in the Cornish Tin mines).
This was not a good time for controlled paranormal investigation. “Rantallien” and his threats to harm me, my baby and himself were terrifying. One night (of which I now have absolutely no memory) he tried to strangle me, there was other violence too. When my mother called I got her alone and asked her to help me, she told me I was being silly and had an overactive imagination and left me, and my tiny baby alone with him.
I called Dave, who started it all. I called him in desperation. I had no sleep but cat naps for days, I did not dare. I wanted him to come and sit with him for a few hours so it was safe for me to sleep, so I could have a straight head to think with. He refused, with relish, on the grounds that I “would not approve of anything he would feel obliged to do”. I replied that all I needed him to do was sit on him so I could sleep, to no avail. I never find it hard to imagine Dave instead of Jim Jones, grinning in Guyana while 900 followers drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide.
You cannot just call the Doctor, the Neighbors, or the Police and tell them your partner is giving every appearance of being possessed of the Devil and can they please help.
Especially not when you are sixteen, Post Natal, and have hardly slept for a week.
Finally I phoned a dear friend, who said the right words, she told me I was too soft hearted to ever leave him.
I returned to the house (we had no phone, I had to get out to a callbox, somehow, with my son, to call anyone) got the pram, and left, in the pouring rain.
I called my mother to fetch me. Half an hour later she had not even left the house. A policeman saw me in the rain with the baby and insisted I come and wait in the warmth of the station house until she came for me. I remember she was a long time, how long, with so little sleep? I have no idea.
The father of my son was fond of dramatics and lost without an audience. He had himself brought to a local hospital by ambulance. When he was discharged next day Dave accommodated him until a bed was available in a psychiatric hospital. That was the end of our relationship.
My mother visited him in hospital, I did not. Even years later he still insisted that even while he was heavily drugged she tried to persuade him I was insane and needed to be committed. But the only way to know who is telling the truth between those two is to bug the venue in advance.
Later I was told Dave tried to convince my father I was so possessed of the Devil that the only way my soul could be saved was if I should die. Dave had spent a lot of time talking with my mother. Apparently this was going too far for my Father, he lost his temper with him and barred him from the house.