view of the Adirondacks from Dannemora MountainView of the Adirondacks from Dannemora Mountain


This is a true story
All images are the real places the boy experiences

For Part One follow this link

He crawls out of the ditch and into the trees, getting all scratched. The pain is no big deal. Once behind a big pine tree, he starts running, slipping a hand into his right pocket. Yes! The rubber band is still there. But suddenly he stops, and looks down at his black leather shoes. No longer polished, they’ve gotten all scratched up and dirty. His heart pounds in fear, and his stomach gets all knotted. He flashes back to Plattsburgh again, where Dad said he had a secret job at the Air Force Base. The black shoes then had also been way too tight, warping his toes. It had hurt so much. And when he one day came home from school, to hesitantly and with great fear tell Mom about the hole in one of the shoes, she locked him into the room on Sally Avenue. When he heard the tires of Dad’s car make the pebbles groan, he crawled over to the corner, put his head to his knees, wrapped his arms around his legs... and rocked, and rocked, and rocked... praying to some image of God that Dad would know he was a good boy. And when he heard Dad and Mom talk Danish in the kitchen, he knew what was coming. But he kept praying. Maybe St. John the Bosco would chase away the devil that can come from dark clouds. Maybe he could write another note, asking for help, and slip it under the statue in the church, with all the little red candles flickering, and that sweet smell of wood polish and incense. But he wasn’t at church.

Suddenly he hears a horrible loud sound up the mountain. He knows it is the siren from the big prison. The nuns had said that it only went off when a prisoner was escaping. He’s never heard it before. It slowly rises in pitch, and then gets lower in pitch until it throatily groans again, only to then begin again. Many times. Such a horrible sound, and he guesses why. The police and guards are looking for him. Everybody is looking for him.dannemora village sign

Please, Mother Mary, don’t let anyone find me.

He feels free and alive in a way he’s never before felt. He runs and skips as he comes upon a logging trail through the woods, going in the right direction, west. He is free in the woods, and no one is going to find him. EVER. The trees aren’t too close together by this trail, except for some of the bushes that reach out with burrs that stick to his sweater and socks. They hurt his fingers to get off. The crows cawing in the trees above are talking to each other gently and peacefully, not in warning bursts. Wow. This is nature and true life. Freedom. And the chickadees. Chick a dee dee deee. They sing their own name. A woodpecker off in the distance, hammers away on a tree trunk. The sun above. Wow! He feels so free.

Suddenly something about the logging trail begins to look... terrifyingly familiar. He knows that the two dips in the grassy shrubby road is taking him west, since the sun was going down that way. He stops every few hundred feet. Stops totally still and opens his mouth. That’s how he can better hear. No. It’s only animals and nature sounds, like the breeze that has begun to pick up a bit, bringing an unexpected chill to his skin. He keeps walking. So many scents come to his nose. But fear gnaws at his stomach, just beneath racing thoughts of freedom. What if someone came walking towards him from around a bend? How would he jump behind a tree fast enough? He must move forward, and stop every once in a while, to listen for the sound of a car or the footsteps of men. That way no one can sneak up on him. To blindly run forward would be dangerous.

The woods alongside the road have grown really thick and wild; not like back by the big road down to trail in DannemoraSaranac.

Up ahead he sees something that looks like a clearing. He moves away from the path and into the woodland a bit, following parallel with the tire-grooved road, maybe 30 feet in. And comes upon the railroad tracks that end at the old abandoned mine up the mountain. He wants to explore that mine. But then he’d have to go by houses and cross roads. He reasons it is best not to follow these rusty disused tracks with small trees poking up from the crushed stone. He looks up, from where the brown rails curve towards the west. Walking back to the logging road by where it crosses the tracks and getting the strong whiff of creosol, he sees another clearing to the west, and again a huge fear erupts from his gut. Too many painful thoughts crash against each other in his mind.

How had he not seen this earlier? Dad had driven him down here more than once. Sometimes with Agnes and Mom, but often without. The clearing offers him a splendid view of greenish-blue mountains rising high. The big one by where the golden orb almost touched it probably was Lyon Mountain. Couldn’t be sure. He’d gone towards it once before, sitting on the seat and hugging the passenger side as best he could to keep some distance from Dad, but without trying to act like he was pushing against the door. He had noticed that Agnes did that a lot too when in that seat; to avert the blows that always came out of the blue. One time, or was it twice... she had accidentally opened the door and fallen out. Luckily, the car had not been going too fast, and she only bled from skinned knees and hands. Dad had exploded in fury at her for that. Her crying then had escalated, and she kept getting hit and being screamed at. Then he got hit and yelled at for wrapping his arms around her. “Pervert!” he screamed. Had that been in Plattsburgh? Or on the way back from Montreal? Or by ferry to the other side of the lake, and into that invitingly mysterious state called Vermont.

He’d gone to Vermont a few times alone with Dad. Suddenly, he cringed. And it wasn’t just because the air had gotten chillier. It was the memory of that last trip to Vermont, to some Catholic retreat place. It always began like an adventure... off to distant places, like that Christopher Columbus the big nun had described with a devotional sparkle in her eyes, just a couple of weeks ago when they were to have a day off. She said he’d discovered America for the holy Pope in Rome, and had saved so many souls. It was so weird that he knew... just knew this was wrong. But that night in the hotel room. Oh no... too much. Mustn’t think about that. It was horrible, trying not to evoke any anger from Dad, try to appease him... at least until he could close his eyes. And then came that warm ocean of lights and spinning grand isle ferry crossingshapes... and he felt again from memories that repeated themselves in so many places and times that it could be confusing but it wasn’t. It was crystal clear, and again longed for going to that place, to where his body would get all numb... which sometimes felt like maybe he was going to heaven... and... leaving by a thin thread to a corner high up... wanting to stay there forever... but then getting scared because maybe it was purgatory... and trying hard to move a thumb from so far away ... was he even breathing....?

Got to keep walking. Past that clearing. It was this exact clearing at the end of the logging road. That’s where Dad had made him lie down over the hump of the backseat floor, the day after he’d been interrogated about that white powder. Dad had told him not to move or peek, as he threw a stinky thick blanket, a sort of rug, over him. The car went this way, then that way. He could feel the curves, and the rumble of the motor as it went uphill, and the whine of the gears as it coasted downhill, until he could hear the wheels driving on dirt and grass, because the grass and thin branches rubbed against the floor of the car, underneath, and sometimes hissed on the muffler. And then the car stopped, the engine shut off, and he could hear Dad’s breathing grow tense, and could hear the pinging of hot metal cooling. He felt so smart in being able to know all these things. And he again sought that place of warm chaos, of lights and swirling patterns that only existed there, except sometimes when he lay under a tree, and fell into the patterns of branches and leaves swaying in a mild summer breeze with the blue sky and white clouds passing by... but that was in Pointes-aux-Trembles, on the other side of the Bocage...

bocage

He slowly walks through the clearing to where the road went left, down, which is not where he wants to go. Caught on a wire fence with a strand of barbed wire at the top, he sees some brown fur. He looks at it up close. It could be a bear. He slips a hand into a pocket. The rubber band feels good. But he still hadn’t found a good enough forked branch to make the slingshot which would keep bears away and bring down a deer or rabbit to eat.

And that’s when he hears it. The barking of a dog in pursuit. It sounds like a big dog. That meant people are chasing him.

He climbs over the fence by where a small tree seems to grow into it, very careful not to tear his pants. Dad would be very angry. More angry than whenever he accidentally said something in French. But up in Montreal, Dad got angry when he accidentally said Far instead of Papa. So mad that spit blew out of Dad’s mouth.

He runs fast to the west again, and the trees close in to block the view of those huge mountains he Lyon Mountainseeks. Sweating, the chill leaves him, but the pine tree branches at the bottom reach out and scratch. There are no pine needles on them, almost like they are dead, but their tips are sharp. He has to get away from the dog, or maybe there are two. Or lots of them. It’s hard to figure out. He keeps running around all sorts of trees and bushes.

He stops to look up, to find the sun and go west towards Lyon Mountain. He can’t see it anymore. He has to get free and away from the dogs. He has to find that mountainside stream that sits so strong in his thinking, to then build a cabin with a roaring fire blazing from the stone fireplace to keep out the cold winter, find the girl who would love him, and whom he would love, and all else would fall into place, just like in that Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, which Mormor, had sent him from Denmark for a Christmas gift. He barely remembers grandma, but remembers the big Great Dane, Dan, whom he loved so much as he stood tall to hug, and it kissed him with its wet tongue. Dan was such a big towering black dog, but oh so gentle.

The sunlight grows ever weaker as it streams through a lot of trees, making shadows that merge into each other. It is surely setting, down towards the mountain that he no longer can see to the west. So he keeps running. The dogs -- there are at least three of them -- seem to still be far away but closing in. Hunger and thirst suddenly hit him

No, they are not going to find him. Ever.

Time passes in that alone way he is all too used to. Except that the long shadows of trees are now melting into a deep darkness all too quickly. What if a puma or bear lurks behind the next tree? And the baying of the dogs are approaching much too fast. He has to keep running, but the branches reach out from the growing darkness, and strike him unexpectedly. Every sound suddenly begins to feel threatening. He keeps chasing away images of demons from the comic books Dad has given him. Prayers fly from his heart with every beat, but offer no comfort.

It seems the dogs are just behind him, so loud their baying has grown in such a short time. But time is weird now, for it has grown very dark much too fast, it seems. As he stumbles over some boulders with gnarly roots of trees growing up from them, he comes to the shadowy presence of a very large, broad pine tree. This is the answer.

Ignoring the clawing branches, he quickly ascends one branch after the other, in a way he’s never done before. Up and up he climbs, the redolence of pine caressing his nose, until he arrives to where the trunk divides into two very thick branches. Ignoring the sticky gum on his hands and clothes, he looks below into a profound darkness, and sees the waving of flashlights in the distance. Some are yelling out his name. One of these lights comes right towards the tree trunk below. And he sees a dark dog in that beam of light. It is now silent, but the man with the flashlight makes a lot of noise through the thicket. He can even hear his heavy breathing, and it sounds threatening.

When the man shouts out his name, he feels his heart instantly thump hard, and is so worried that the dog below will hear that.

He curls himself into a familiar ball within the cradle of the two branches, wrapping his arms around his chest and head, and closes his eyes, doing all he can to hold his heart quiet and breathe very slowly through his mouth. The pounding of his heart is like the drumming of some music Dad had forbidden him to listen to. He liked that rhythm, and it wasn’t his fault that a car had driven by with its windows open as the radio played.

He hears the dog and man walking around the base of the tree, and hears also the sharp crackling of his walkie talkie, but didn’t understand what was being said. Opening an eye slightly, he sees the beam of the man’s flashlight reach up towards him, exposing the wide evergreen branches. He is sure he’ll be found.

The shouting of the men in the distance ebbs away, and the man with the dog below then begins to crash through the underbrush, away from his tree and towards them, into the darkness. And off in that dark distance, he sees a single stationary spot of light, and guesses it to be either a streetlight or a house.

He is alone again, as high as he’d ever been in a tree. Never before has he felt so proud of himself. He’d evaded all those men and their dogs. He begins rocking himself as best he can within the uncomfortable cradle of branches and bark, hears himself humming, and feels an overwhelming and peaceful tiredness spread through his body. It has grown cold, he notices, and above he sees no stars or the moon. He then presses his thumbs lightly into his closed eyes, and gets the hoped for result. Flashes of colored light and swirling geometric shapes dance, and slowly merge with that deeper place, where all aches in his body depart. It is again like sinking into an embracing warm fluid, and then rising up through a very thin thread that still connects him to his body, for he can make a thumb move by thinking about it. And then warm darkness soothes each racing thought of hunger, thirst, cold, demons, bears, pumas, Dad, Mom, God, angels, nuns, priests, bullies, sin, heaven, hell, a cabin in the woods, making electricity, making friends, learning about how everything works...

This ends Part 2 of 3

Below are scientific and therapeutic help links for further reading

Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Abstract: In recent years, there has been a surge of research into early brain development. Neuroimaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), provide increased insight about how the brain develops and how early experiences affect that development. One area that has been receiving increasing research attention involves the effects of abuse and neglect on the developing brain, especially during infancy and early childhood. Much of this research is providing biological explanations for what practitioners have long been describing in psychological, emotional, and behavioral terms. There is now scientific evidence of altered brain functioning as a result of early abuse and neglect. This emerging body of knowledge has many implications for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect

Dissociation FAQ’s - International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation
Dissociation is a word that is used to describe the disconnection or lack of connection between things usually associated with each other. Dissociated experiences are not integrated into the usual sense of self, resulting in discontinuities in conscious awareness (Anderson & Alexander, 1996; Frey, 2001; International Society for the Study of Dissociation, 2002; Maldonado, Butler, & Spiegel, 2002; Pascuzzi & Weber, 1997; Rauschenberger & Lynn, 1995; Simeon et al., 2001; Spiegel & Cardeña, 1991; Steinberg et al., 1990, 1993). In severe forms of dissociation, disconnection occurs in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception. For example, someone may think about an event that was tremendously upsetting yet have no feelings about it. Clinically, this is termed emotional numbing, one of the hallmarks of post-traumatic stress disorder. Dissociation is a psychological process commonly found in persons seeking mental health treatment (Maldonado et al., 2002).

OUT OF THE FOG - Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD)
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape, such as in cases of domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse; childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse; entrapment or kidnapping; slavery or enforced labor; long term imprisonment and torture; repeated violations of personal boundaries; long-term objectification; exposure to gaslighting & false accusations; long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull,splitting or alternating raging & hooveringbehaviors; long-term taking care of mentally ill or chronically sick family members; long term exposure to crisis conditions...

Religion Exploits Normal Human Mental Processes
Because the child’s mind is uniquely susceptible to religious ideas, religious indoctrination particularly targets vulnerable young children. Cognitive development before age seven lacks abstract reasoning. Thinking is magical and primitive, black and white. Also, young humans are wired to obey authority because they are dependent on their caregivers just for survival. Much of their brain growth and development has to happen after birth, which means that children are extremely vulnerable to environmental influences in the first few years when neuronal pathways are formed...

Religious Abuse
Religiously-based psychological abuse of children can involve using teachings to subjugate children through fear, or indoctrinating the child in the beliefs of their particular religion whilst suppressing other perspectives. Psychologist Jill Mytton describes this as crushing the child's chance to form a personal morality and belief system; it makes them utterly reliant on their religion and/or parents, and they never learn to reflect critically on information they receive. Similarly, the use of fear and a judgmental environment (such as the concept of Hell) to control the child can be traumatic.

National Center for PTSD - Treating C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Many traumatic events (e.g., car accidents, natural disasters, etc.) are of time-limited duration. However, in some cases people experience chronic trauma that continues or repeats for months or years at a time. The current PTSD diagnosis often does not fully capture the severe psychological harm that occurs with prolonged, repeated trauma. People who experience chronic trauma often report additional symptoms alongside formal PTSD symptoms, such as changes in their self-concept and the way they adapt to stressful events.

How to Choose a Therapist for Post-Traumatic Stress and Dissociative Conditions - Sidran Institute
One of the primary roles of Sidran Institute’s Help Desk is to assist people who have been traumatized in finding various kinds of help. “Treatment” is usually sought when the behavioral adaptations (usually called “symptoms”) typical of trauma survivors become disabling, interfering with work, home life, recreation, sleep, parenting, and other aspects of daily function. Our aim is not only to help people feel better and function better, but also to help them learn to be informed and empowered consumers in general and consumers of mental health services, in particular. We hope trauma survivors find that taking appropriate and well-considered action to improve one’s life is made a little easier by the information on this page.

If you are currently in crisis: The process of choosing a helpful therapist takes some time, thought, and focus. If you are currently in a crisis, or are worried that you might hurt or kill yourself or someone else, please contact your community’s mental health center, hospital emergency room, or a hotline. Here are some hotline numbers that might be useful:National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
National Domestic Violence/Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse: 1-800-799-SAFE
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 800-442-HOPE

When the crisis has passed, this brochure will help you organize the task of finding a therapist for ongoing treatment...

Bent Lorentzen

Bent Lorentzen

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