I was in an insane asylum

As a teenager I was locked against my will in a state-run mental institution that was so hellish that (for just one example) the drug-addicted “mental health technicians” left to run the place on weekend nights sold the patients to local deviants and violent perverts who would come in, fork over forty dollars cash, and then be left alone with their rented mental patient victims to do to them whatever they wanted.

I was tortured in that place. On several occasions (and, again, this is just one example) I was pumped full of Haldol, strapped face down by my hands and feet onto a metal bed frame in a freezing cold room, and left there for 24-hours.

Strapped down like that, one of my main concerns was literally choking to death on the great volumes of my own drool caused the Haldol. While lying there, unable to move my hands or feet from the spread-eagle position I was locked in, I listened to the storms of screams and wails of the violated patients coming from the nearby shower room, where they have all those handy pipes and fixtures for chaining people to. Where there was all that running hot and cold water, and all those easily cleaned tiles.

Throughout one such night I listened for hours to a guy strapped down like I was in the room beside mine, as, screaming and crying, he chewed his way all the way through his grungy bed mattress, which, like mine, was encased in thick clear plastic.

On weekend nights I got strapped down so that I wouldn’t interfere with the night crew making their extra money by selling mental patients to sexual sadists.

Ever tried to fight after someone jabs into your thigh a hypodermic filled with Haldol or Thorazine? Don’t. You’ll lose.

When all this happened to me I was nineteen years old. I was in the asylum for six weeks—which was as long as they could legally hold anyone against their will. The particular place I was in was so bad the state shut it down about two months after I got out of there. If you know anything about state-run mental institutions, you know how bad that means it was.

While in that hell hole I telephoned my dad in Los Angeles, and desperately begged him to come get me out. If he had just walked in the door of the place, they’d have instantly released me: they only kept people who no one came to claim. So I begged him to do that extremely simple thing: just walk in the door, demand my release, and wait while they came to get me. Then he could fly right back to L.A., and I’d be free again to resume my happy life. It wouldn’t have taken him a day to do it.

But he refused me. He was only a two-hour airplane flight away—and, as a senior officer in a huge corporation, he was certainly free to come help me. But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t even talk to the “hospital” people on the phone about releasing me—which, as I repeatedly and desperately told him, probably would have done the trick. The people who ran the asylum didn’t want a “patient” there whom anyone real would claim or care about: their bread and butter was the homeless and truly crazy. They were happy to release the patients someone came for; as a replacement they’d just go snag them some homeless person nobody cared about.

At the time of my “arrest” I had a good job. I had an apartment. I had friends. I was taking guitar lessons, actively doing amateur photography. I had a life. I wasn’t crazy. The cops had picked me up in a park I was hanging out in one night after I got off a graveyard shift at work. Whenever the mental “hospital” had an empty bed, they called the cops to pick someone up to fill that bed, because they weren’t about to go without the $800 per day Medical paid them for every occupied bed. They’d get an empty bed; they’d call the cops; the cops would pick up anyone and pull ‘em in; and the hospital would keep the ones no one came to claim, for at least six weeks.

And one unfortunate night, I was one of those they picked up.

Anyway, the administrative mechanics of how the place worked is too … well, actually, that’s about it.

But my dad, who knew perfectly well that I wasn’t crazy—who knew I’d just gotten trapped in this thing—thought I should just wait it out. Basically, he just couldn’t be bothered.

I’m just now getting ready to fly across the country, to help my dad try to at least in some way acknowledge that he simply cannot live alone any more.

Leaving me in that decrepit, evil asylum isn’t the worst thing my dad ever did to me. But it’s a definite contender.

But I’ll go to my father, and care for him, and clean him up, and continue to try to get him to move to California to be near my wife and me. And through it all, I will treat him with unflagging love and respect.

And I will do that—happily, actually—because I’m a Christian.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Jennie

    Ah — praying for you, John, and blessed by your desire to do the right thing when so many would forgive you if you decided to pass on this one. Praying for your dad as well.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, Jeannie G!

  • Elizabeth

    The most amazing description of what it means to be a Christian I’ve ever read.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, Elizabeth. Again, extremely kind of you. I’ve never written a word about this … little chapter in my life, so I appreciate this kind reception of it.

  • peet

    John, THAT is why you are such a goddam good writer. This is the most raw, ugly, transparent thing i’ve read in a long, long time. Pain doesn’t always equal gain. Sometimes it’s just pain. But you have really been an alchemist. This is gold out of the worst kind of trash. MORE than that, more than a good writer, you have your head on straight about what’s important and what’s not. Serving the people who have hurt you the worst: I want to get there. I’m not. So thanks for being an example. That’s what I want to say. thanks for LIVING it, and not just writing about it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Well, thanks, Peet. That’s awfully kind of you. What you’ve said means a lot to me. Thanks.

    • DR

      What a beautiful, insightful comment. I couldn’t agree more.

  • S

    Holy crap. You are incredible to have survived that sane, and more than incredible to be able to even think about going to your father. Both of you will be in my thoughts.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thank you, S. I appreciate that.

  • Susan Golian

    John – there is a pretty common error floating around about Christianity that to be a Christian means you have to forgive everything hurtful and harmful ever done to you. That’s close…but not quite right. And, as usual, the devil is in the details.

    Yes, you do have to forgive… but you only HAVE to forgive those who repent (turn around and renounce the behaviors that caused you harm). Just losing the physical ability to harm you doesn’t qualify as repentance – and you are not required to forgive. True forgiveness restores relationship – not that you necessarily want your relationship with your dad restored.

    So what do you do to make things right for yourself when an important person refuses to repent and (best of all worlds) make amends? You do some sort of letting go so the anger and anguish (look how similar those words are) don’t poison you – but it’s not forgiveness. It’s something else that protects you and lets you behave in a way that makes you comfortable in your own skin.

    I was lucky – my awful, awful mother found the Lord in a big, noisy, fundamentalist sort of way during our 12-year divorce. My husband forced me to get in touch with her (bless his heart) and she had truly repented, apologized abjectly, made amends as far as she could, and did everything she could to make me understand that she loved me and would never, ever harm me again. We became mother and daughter for the last 18 years of her life, and it was my privilege to be with her through hospice and through her end-of-life. But only because she truly repented. If she hadn’t I wouldn’t have lost a moment’s sleep over letting her go. However, it would have hurt me for the rest of my life.

    God bless and keep you, John. You and God will work out how best to handle this.

    • Velvet

      This was very well stated Susan. As you said, there is no blanket forgiveness. I learned this freeing information during a time of emotional turmoil early in my marriage. The turmoil was caused by over bearing, interferring new in-laws. They chose not to speak to us for about 18 years. I sought counseling and learned what real forgiveness is. I appreciate how you articulated the “letting go” aspect. Glad you received peace through your situation.

    • Lynne

      Where is the scripture reference for only having to forgive those who repent, please. Since Jesus forgave even those who tortured and murdered Him, and said we are to forgive 70 times 7, and so on, I’m not remembering anything close to what you’re talking about? Thanks!

      • Susan Golian

        Dear Lynne -

        “Forgive us, as we forgive those who have sinned against us” is the best scriptural reference for forgiveness I know. God doesn’t forgive us ’til we repent.

        Second to that is from Luke 17: “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

        Don’t miss the “and if he repents” part – it’s very important.

        Susan

      • Tim

        A close reading of Luke 23 will reveal that Jesus didn’t actually forgive those who crucified Him. He interceded, asking the Father for their forgiveness. It was still a matter of them coming to the acknowledgement that what they did was against God and that they needed to repent. Also, a close read in Luke 17:3-4 shows us that Christ did not demand forgiveness without repentance.

           “If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

        In my estimation, even if we suspect someone’s repentance is phony or insincere, we are bound by honor and faith to forgive. In that, we have not strained the mercy and grace that God has given to us. If we want someone to be sincerely repentant, I doubt that beating them over the head with scripture or being a whiner will cause that. Instead, do like what John is doing. Bless them. Pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:28). Bring food and drink to your enemy…show them love, that God may heap coals of conviction on their heads (Romans 12:20). If they are moved to repentance…praise God for they are moving toward the Father.

    • Josh

      I agree with Lynne. The new testament seems to speak unequivocally about a forgiveness that is not dependent on the repentance of the forgiven. Did Jesus wait for us to repent before dying for our sins in the ultimate act of Christian forgiveness? In fact the biblical model of forgiveness is so scandalous that it is impossible for us to emulate. Forgiving love for the unlovable- in their unlovableness; this is biblical forgiveness. I can only thank God for forgiving me of my lack of perfect Christian forgiveness.

      Powerful story, John.

      • Susan Golian

        See Luke 17: 3-4. Don’t miss that word that is either “repent” or something like it.

        • Mary G

          Ok, I just got CHILLS. I picked up my bible and opened it to EXACTLY the page for Luke 17:3-4, my eye falling right on that scripture!!! I’m not usually much of one for the woo-woo-new-age stuff, but that’s just freaking.. freaky.

          My brother (the sibling one, not an analogy) abused me for 8 years of my childhood, beginning around age 8 through age 16. He started showing me evil – EVIL – pornography at age 8, and by age 12 (2 years after our father died) he had “groomed” me to be able to harass and wear me down to letting him begin physically molesting me. By age 14 I was no longer a virgin, and the hell I went through in my teens and early 20′s from having been “trained” to be a sex object is indescribable.

          I attempted suicide twice, once nearly successfully, which landed me in a psych ward for juveniles (not like John’s experience at all, thank God – I mostly remember being grateful for being safe from my family for 3 months)

          I only finally escaped his treatment when my alcoholic mother committed suicide and I was sent to live with my elder sister in another town. She had no idea what my life had been like (we are almost 10 years apart in age, and the family was more stable when she lived at home), and had a totally screwed up 16-year old teen age girl dumped in her lap.

          That was 35 years ago, and I’m contemplating bringing my brother’s actions to the attention of the legal justice system. A recent stint serving on a Grand Jury shed light on my understanding of the degree of illegality of his actions – multiple counts of felonies, which could well have him put in jail for the rest of his life (he’s now 56 to my 49).

          I continue to agonize over this decision. For 35 years I’ve suffered depression, other suicide attempts, severely difficult relationships caused by my emotional issues.. it’s been hell.

          I am now blessed with a husband who loves and supports what ever decision I choose to make, and daughter who is beautiful, pure of heart, soul and body (no handing down evil to the next generation in THIS family!), and a circle of friends who love and will support me.

          I’ve had some Christian friends suggest that I should just forgive him and move on, but I just haven’t been able to do that. He spent years cultivating a family perspective of me as being a liar and a thief. My elder sister doesn’t believe me at all (I “came out” to her about this almost 10 years ago. Her response was to not speak to me for nearly 2 months, after inviting my brother and his wife over for dinner the night after I told her what he’d done to me and our other brother.) This brother has never admitted what he did to me, nor has he even begun to “repent”… what a joke! I know that he also did some things to his own daughter- the extent of which I’m not sure.

          I’d appreciate any constructive comments anyone has to offer!

          So basically, I HAVE no family anymore anyway.

          • Diana A.

            1) Do you have reason to believe that the evil continues today? (It sounds to me like you do.) If you do, then by speaking up you may be able to put a stop to it.

            2) As for the forgiveness thing (and you can forgive him and still hold him accountable), forgiveness is something you do for yourself and your own peace of mind–when and if you’re darn well ready. Continue to pray about this, ask God to heal your heart and guide your actions.

            3) My heart goes out to you in your trouble. Cling to the family you have now–your husband, your daughter, your supportive friends. As for those who don’t believe you or who dismiss your pain, let what they say go in one ear and out the other. Easier said than done I know, but they clearly don’t know what they are talking about.

          • Don Rappe

            Your brother appears to be a criminal psychopath. You may be protecting someone else by going public, even at this late date. If you do you will probably be hated by all the relatives on this side. I have seen this happen in a family that was close to me.

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

            Mary G.,

            I know your closing sentence well. I am glad you are as open in real life as you are here. You are very brave.

          • Mary G

            Thank you all for the support. I don’t know how “brave” I am. Just sitting here THINKING about MAYBE contacting the authorities has my heart pounding!

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

            Outing my two fathers and my brother to the entire extended family was almost as terrifying as the original experiences. I called my brother’s and sister-in-law’s pastor to let him know that I was going to call my sister-in-law with this. Then I called her.

            I’ve written a bit of poetry about all this, because that’s how I roll. I think we should all do whatever it is that we do to arrive at a place where we are no longer terrified.

          • Tim

            Unrepentant sex offenders rarely get better. They usually just become bolder and more perverse in their appetites. At 56, he could still molest his grandchildren and any great nieces and nephews that he has access to. While there may be a statute of limitations on his offenses against you, I think you should make his sickness known to everyone within his reach. Even if legal action cannot be taken, moral action may save scores of lives and stop the cycle of pain and subsequent abuses.

            God bless you Mary, and may His Spirit fill you with the boldness to do the right thing. It won’t be easy, but it will be a balm to your past wounds.

          • Susan Golian

            Amen to Tim and Don, Mary – and you will be hated and villified by the family – but you don’t seem to have much of a relationship with them, anyway – and you can help protect other children. God bless you and keep you.

          • DR

            Yes x1000

          • Anne Kinney

            We will be your family.

  • Shannon Bass

    My head just exploded and my heart just melted. Good heavens man.

  • Bill

    Love, Kindness & hot coals down the back;-) best “revenge” ever. Best for everyone, especially you. praise God!

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com/ Erika

    Jesus john, this makes me hate your dad and feel terribly sorry for the bastard all at the same time.

    his poor poor soul.

    damn you are really really earning the jewels for your crown…

    ((hugs))

  • Bec

    I don’t understand how people can treat other people like that. I mean, know that they do, I just don’t understand how it’s possible…

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    Bravo! As I sit at a conference on Freedom, I cannot help to apply your writing to the random teaching that we have had on bitterness. My hell is real too. Anyone in this world who was lucky enough to cross my mom’s path has been wounded, many deeply. I remain her only “friend.” I am not patting myself on the back, because I really do vacilate between the crazy idea that I have forgiven her, and realizing that I have not because I live in fear while in her presence. I lick my wounds when I leave. You see, hurt people hurt people, and she has been hurt with a capital H.

    Your piece brought me peace. I carry guilt that I cannot forget the details. I remember each one. I don’t dwell on them, really I don’t. But they surface. Over and Over and Over, they surface, especially after I see her. I wish that forgetting was a biproduct of forgiveness. You have shown me that you go on, you just do, Part of grace is realizing that no one deserves it. It is a gift. It is a gift given to me that I can pass to my mom. That is freedom, true freedom, not for her sake, for mine.

    Your piece helped me to realize that I am not alone, that it isn’t easy, but it is right. It encouraged me to keep on keeping on. Thank you from writing straight from the core of your being.

  • http://oakabbey.wordpress.com Cheryl Anne

    I’m holding you in prayer John. You are buoyed by a tremendous grace.

    Deep Peace and Every Blessing…

  • Suz

    When I read you, the term “old soul” comes to mind often. That spark of divinity in all of us is far more than a spark in some people. You have a gift. You are a gift. Thank you.

    • Mindy

      Exactly what I was thinking, Suz! John, you are an inspiration. I try to live in a place of a forgiveness, but I don’t know if I could forgive as you have. Bless you for sharing your heart and soul in such a way as to inspire all of us to live with grace.

  • Daniel R. Harrell

    John,

    It isn’t difficult to see me being as uninvolved as your father. It is much more difficult to see the capacity in me to forgive him. Everyone seems to have the ability to be selfish in great or small amounts. Sometimes I’m the prospector, sometimes I’m the Jackass.

    The strength you have to write as you do, and the wellspring of love and compassion that flows through you always warms me.

    You are the best friend I wish I had known when I was a young man. It would have made a difference.

  • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

    Alright, is this a bit of fiction writing? It sounds like you’re pulling our legs. Then, I remember that one condemned hospital my guy and I drive past whenever we drive into Philly. Forget its name at the moment, shut down in the 1980s, absolutely notorious for crap like that described above.

    I’ve spent some time at a mental health clinic as an inpaitient. It was actually a plesant stay, though – there of my own volition to get help. Medication was tested and monitored. All of the other suicidal women and I hung out communally and we talked with professionals through our problems. I was only there for the few days my state-insurance was willing to pay, but it was all I needed. Then, this is *modern* mental health care, the “aslyum” of the 2000′s. Quite different from the old days.

    I’d say your capacity to forgive is amazing – but, I think, if I were the only one around to care for my older brother, I’d do it, even though he’s done some weird, nasty stuff to me. Then, maybe some of us are just saps.

  • denver

    Damn, John. You are a much braver soul than I, for being able to write about stuff like this so freely – and non-anonymously. And a much bigger soul for not only forgiving but also being willing to go help your father like that – I can make nice with my parents, but that’s about as far as it goes. I still don’t trust them any further than I can throw them. You’re pretty amazing, you know?

  • Ashley Prince (McElyea)

    Wow, John. This post was truly terrifying and heartbreaking at the same time. It is such an eye opener. I know things like that went on in mental asylums, I bet in some cases they still do. It’s a sad thing.

    And for being able to forgive your father like that…that takes some serious forgiveness. Good job, John.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ Sylvie Galloway

    Wow John. I am simply blown away, by not only what you went through, and the why you found yourself thus, but that you have managed to walk away with such dignity and grace. The “end” of story is an inspiration, and I thank you for that.

  • Leslie

    This is so horrfying, I would almost be inclined to think you were making this up if not for the fact that it seems to fit into so much of your hellish childhood, and that as far as I can tell, you don’t seem to lie about this stuff. I thought to say a prayer for you, but you seem to have healed so well and to have used the experience to become kinder and get in contact with God that I wasn’t quite sure to ask for for you, so instead I said a general prayer for your health and well-being, and a more specific one that institutions like that be dissolved worldwide, and all the victims find healing.

    A book I read last year, Help At Any Cost by Maia Szalavitz, detailed the teen addiction industry, and how horrfying many of those facilities are. You might find it interesting, or it might push too many buttons for you.

  • Crystal

    Earlier this week I read your post about holding the hand of a woman as she died screaming in the rest home when you were 10 to my daughter (she’s 18 ). Then today I read her this post and her first response was, “Holy Crap! Where did this guy live? Oklahoma?!” ( I have no idea why she chose Oklahoma.)

    • Benjamin

      probably because Oklahoma sux. XD

  • Velvet

    Look how strong you are John! Oh the untapped potential we all have, to undure and to overcome. You can do all things…our earthly lives are but a vapor…this is not our home. Extra blessings hoped for you!

  • Velvet

    Look how strong you are John! Oh the untapped potential we all have to undure and to overcome. You can do all things…our earthly lives are but a vapor…this is not our home. May extra blessings be upon you!

  • Patty

    John, Once again I give thanks for your sanity and the strength you’ve displayed. Many people who’ve had similar experiences have fragmented personalities. From what I see yours is still in tact and teaching us how to live a noble life. You will do what is the right thing for your father, to honor his position and to honor your Christianity.

  • Christina

    My 2 trips to the loony bin were thankfully no where near as horrid as yours since I self-admitted. My parents reactions (and subsequent amnesia of those events) has been much more difficult to overcome and forgive. Your current day actions towards your father speaks volumes about your maturity as a Christian and the light of God shining within you.

  • Lynne

    FYI for those interested – One of many groups formed to help people caught in the bad parts of psychiatry is “Mind Freedom”. They are an international advocacy group run by psych survivors for psych survivors and their allies. For those suffering from schizophrenia and other “extreme emotional states” there’s also self-help and group-help groups like “Hearing Voices”. There is help out there that doesn’t have to involve even more hurt.

  • Natalie

    John, I’m so very sorry you had to go through this. Your experience is truly one of my biggest fears – if there is a God, I know you have a spot in heaven reserved by not treating others the way you were treated, and by not abandoning someone who maybe “deserves” (for lack of a better word) to be abandoned because of what he allowed you to experience.

  • Lee Walker

    speechless… but thank God you are letting Christ redeem this and turn it around into living out what it means to forgive your enemies.

  • Tim

    I knew your story was real. In 1977, a friend of mine spent a few months in what he called, “The Hotel California”. San Diego County Mental Health. No relation to Eagle’s member Don Henley’s correlation to the California Highlife of hedonism, but instead, the ridiculous excesses and access to drugs and sex in my friend’s facility on weekends and evenings that the trustees were running the lock-up.

    You do a good job at letting out the poison. It helps us to have a greater window into your soul, and can only serve to bond us as better friends…even if we’ve never made physical acquaintance. You and Cat have my prayers, and so does your dad. If he hasn’t shown any repentance for his paternal shortcomings, don’t be deterred. We are all weak, but in the end…somehow…I think God becomes strong in all of us.

    • DR

      This was beautiful. Wow such awesomeness on this post. Goodness.

  • Misty

    Oh jeez, when I read your article title I thought you were talking about having to field Q&A at a local fundie church or something. Didn’t know you meant for real.

    What your dad did (or didn’t do) was unthinkable. I do not think I could have forgiven my father something like that. Forgiveness has always been my weakest area as a Christian, and I obviously have a lot to learn from you. God bless you, John.

  • Don Rappe

    Thanks to you and Mary G, and others for sharing these personal stories. It appears that you have learned from your father’s behavior. You are keeping the commandment which has a blessing attached to it. You have accepted a covenant with God. Praise and thanks to the One who is Holy.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    Thankful to call you brother.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    Its hard to read your account without closing my eyes and wanting it NOT to be true, wanting it NOT to have happened to you, and feeling horrible because I can’t imagine how it must have been for you.

    You are the example of grace I am holding up in front of myself as I try to amicably parent my children with their father. He has in no way, shape or form caused me the sort of irreparable damage your parents caused to you. If you can, with the help of Christ and a commitment to loving God and others, do what you are now doing for your father, there’s no reason I – or anyone – can’t do the same. I might not like my ex very much, but that doesn’t mean he’s not also a human being loved by the same God Who loves me. Thanks for this lesson today, John.

    You are a true survivor.

  • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

    John, This happened to a friend’s roommate in college in about 1980. She was usually stoned and in the process of becoming a raging cocaine addict so, we really had a difficult time believing her story when she showed-up after missing for 2 days and claimed she’d been kidnapped. locked-up and drugged. None of us took her claims seriously at the time, but in retrospect she probably got the same Looney Spa treatment you did. Absolutely incredible. The worst of it all is your dad’s antipathy. I’m a father and, well, I just can’t imagine leaving my son (or anyone I care about) in that situation. Your dad is one screwed-up mother. Good job on making it past all of that.

  • http://gloriarose.wordpress.com Gloria

    Connect the dots for me, John. You will treat your father with love and respect because you’re a Christian and……what?

    You’ve learned how to be a good person?

    You want to set a good example?

    You want to one up the Buddhists?

    You studied scripture and have concluded these are your marching orders?

    What?

    Is it somehow, in in all the pain and mistreatment you’ve experienced, you’ve discovered that Grace–God’s Grace–is the door all of us must enter to belong to Jesus–? That none of us has earned it? That it’s free? And the best-kept secret in the world? But it’s Grace that holds this planet together? So, you are free to assist your Dad?

  • http://www.lovecominghome.com christina britt lewis

    now i understand how you are so completely free. we could substitute “john” for “christ” in your story. you forgive like He forgives and now you are completely free. free to love. free to respect. free to laugh. free to fuck up. free. as you were made to be. as we are all made to be. xo

  • StraightGrandmother

    This is an UN F*cking Believable story. I have not checked in here lately, and now to read this story. I am going to have to back up and see what I have missed. No John, you don’t owe that man a thing. Let him lay.

  • http://scarred-seeker.blogspot.com Shanyn

    John, I admire your courage and I am proud of your heart to reach out to your Dad in his need. I did the same for all three of my abusive, controlling and super passive aggressive grandparents when they needed someone I was there, without asking for something back but because as a child of God I was walking in love and living in Grace. Peace be with you brother and I’ll be praying that his heart is open to you and to God in this.

  • Matt

    I just wanted to write in a quick note here, John. I was in and out of a mental hospital on six separate occasions in my teens. They couldn’t keep you as long (2 weeks at most).

    But, I’m sorry to say, it hasn’t gotten too much better. We were never sold for money. But maybe at least then the place could have gotten shut down, like your did. It was just drugs, drugs, drugs until I wanted to tear my own skin off.

    My parents love me, my parents care about me. They are still horrified at what was done to me there. They still have guilt over letting their child experience that over and over.

    You are the most wonderful son ever for forgiving your dad after that.

  • charles

    wow.

    that was really something. thank you for being who you are John, Really.

  • Andrew Raymond via Facebook

    John, I am simply stunned. I’ve had a lot of MH struggles of my own, but never had to go inpatient. But it looks like you literally went through the ‘cuckoo’s nest’ experience. That you are able to forgive your father that, I have to say that you are a richer in grace than I. You give me something to aspire to.

  • Scott Frazier via Facebook

    Such nastiness in that first comment

  • kat

    In the midst of our suffering, our trials, and our tribulations it is often hard to convince ourselves that something good could ever come from them. But God thinks differently.

    The six weeks of hell you survived all those years ago gives you credibility to participate in the conversation our Nation desperately needs to have about mental health and about the reform that is needed in the way our government funds “social programs”. I’ve been following the issues associated to our prison populations and was flabbergasted to find out the prisons are paid by the beds they fill and police departments are paid by the number of arrests and not the reduction of crime.

    During those six weeks of hell, there is no way you could know that “this” many years later, your experience could be relevant and crucially important for us to hear. But God knew.

    Abandoned and terrified, your resentment and hatred for your father grew. But God knew your true strength and grew your capacity for love and forgiveness.

    All truth, meaning, and purpose exist through God, but you know that. And God knows you do.

  • Rachel Koopmans via Facebook

    Wow Cath, chill out. Everyone’s experience is different – and I suspect it is up to God, not you, to decide what John’s so-called “reward” will be. Probably the same as yours – eternal life xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    I deleted Catherine’s comment.

  • Allie

    Wow… sometimes there’s really nothing to say. I’m sorry that happened to you. Sorry it happened to anyone.

    So, on a subject you’ve posted about more recently, if we make people’s right to bear arms dependent on their mental health, what’s to stop the police picking up and tagging as unfit anyone they don’t like? Would you be able to pass the proposed checks, or would this experience tag you as forever a second-class citizen?

  • Rachel Koopmans via Facebook

    Poor Cath, I hope I didn’t come across as mean :( xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.parrish.77 Laura Parrish via Facebook

    When I read about your stay, I thought of that blogpost-gone-viral by Liz Long, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”, and how she threatens her 14yo son with (another) stay in a mental hospital if he doesn’t behave.

    • Allie

      “Behave” in this case meaning not threatening her with knives while the siblings hide in a locked car… or trying to kill himself by throwing himself out of a moving vehicle.

      I have a lot of sympathy for her because we were told the same thing about my sister: unless she is convicted of a crime, the system will not help her. She’s not making that part up. We were told the exact same thing after my sister set her neighbor’s house on fire, that our only option was to try to get her convicted so she can be forced into treatment.

      • Chryslin

        I work in a “mental hospital”. I can assure you that most of the few existing ones today don’t look anything like the one John describes. I’m upset by the backlash against Liz Long because she’s being honest about the life of parenting a child with mental illness. We see a lot of those kids here. Sometimes we can blame the parenting. Sometimes we can’t. Ms. Long sounds to me like she’s doing the best she can and is getting vilified for it through cherry-picked quotes and people that rush to judgment without knowing the whole story.

        • http://unchainedfaith.com Amy

          My issue with Ms. Long was that she appropriated a dead woman’s story in order to tell her own. She also spoke on behalf of her child, whose medical and mental issues should have remained confidential. Yeah, she changed his name, but not her own. And sorry, but other than the threats (if they really happened) with a knife, none of his behavior is anything worse than a typical kid with ADHD, Aspergers, or ODD would display. I had a family member who behaved similarly, but he was definite not a candidate for an institution. The way people with challenges are treated is usually out of fear, not compassion.

          • Allie

            Kinda tough on her that you judge her based entirely on what she said and no other information, and yet don’t believe what she said. Yes, if she’s making all the bad parts up, she is a horrible person. But all you have to go on is her information, which is that this has happened enough that the other children have a pre-existing drill to avoid being murdered by their brother.

  • Becky Dill via Facebook

    Wow, the “like” button is so inadequate for the breadth of what you have shared here. Blessings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ginny.browne Ginny Browne via Facebook

    You are an amazing person to be able to forgive and move to a place of actually helping your father after all that.

  • Jill H

    The memories we hold, or that often hold us. Reading this made me sad for the young man you were in that hell. You truly are a transcendent soul.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lori.knightwhitehouse Lori Knight-Whitehouse via Facebook

    Can’t possibly ”
    like’ this. You are in my prayers.

  • Theresa DePaepe via Facebook

    Have a similar story. Did the right thing by my father, too. I am proud that I did the right thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Smith/775354261 Karen Smith via Facebook

    I read this story and I could not fathom what I was reading. The injustice, inhumanity and crimilality of it took my breath away. So very sorry that you or anyone had to experience this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.amundsen.7 Scott Amundsen via Facebook

    I was married to one of those “mental health workers” for fifteen years, and while to his credit I can honestly say he never did drugs or drank, and I don’t think he exactly abused his patients, but he did have a way of talking about his job and laughing at things that I usually did not think were the least bit funny. I should have taken the hint and divorced him right then and there.

  • Michelle Henley Matthews via Facebook

    I am heartbroken you went through that and also in awe of your strength. I am sorry.

  • Andrew Raymond via Facebook

    John, know also that at least a couple of friends of mine to whom I shared this story were deeply moved and had resonating experiences with this story. I wanted to say that because I doubt that they will tell you themselves.

  • Jill

    If you would be willing to share how you recovered your belief in humanity, or if you even lost that faith, after the things people put you through. You’ve been through the masters program at Hard Knocks U.

    There seems to be an element, I don’t know if I can call it survival, self- worth, or ?, that survivors of miserable treatment either have or do not have by which they process that misery and bounce back (sorry that I can’t find better words to describe). They find their way through the dark forest and come back into the light. Elie Wiesel, Corrie ten Boom, Bonhoeffer are easily awesome examples that come to mind quickly.

    Some of us need epic amounts of therapy just to see a pinpoint of light at the long end of a tunnel. Some are able to right their ship without blaming the whole of humanity for its cruelties. I’m wondering what lies in the difference of the two? Thoughts?

  • Anne Kinney

    It wasn’t until I began reading the comments that I realized the story is about YOU, John. My heart felt like it exploded into a million pieces. To be the man of God that you are today speaks volumes about the hard work you’ve done to keep this horrible event from destroying your life. And your father?…… there are no words strong enough.

    I pray for you, John. Both you and Cat. And I’ll continue to do so. You are one of the people who is changing the world. God be with you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Anne: I got your email! Thank you so much for it. Great letter!

  • W. Lotus

    You are a better, more forgiving than I am. Really: that was not the WORST thing he did? He is blessed to have you as his son. May you be blessed for loving him in ways he does not deserve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dwayne.g.mason Dwayne G Mason via Facebook

    My heart breaks for John, the teenager. I have no idea how one recovers from that. God bless you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lois.arata Lois Arata via Facebook

    Unbelievable, incredible, horrible, mind-bending. I have had a hard life. Sometimes i feel like i’m the only one. Thank you for blowing that illusion to pieces for me. It is a recurring one for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lois.arata Lois Arata via Facebook

    I am glad i missed the first comment.

  • Kayla

    This is truly heart breaking and I can’t even imagine going through this :(

    But you shouldn’t help your dad “because you’re a Christian”. You should help him because you care. Being Christian doesn’t make you a good person(sorry to break it to you). You should do good things out of the love in your heart, not because the bible says so. The deed and self gratification means nothing if you’re not doing it out of love, but more like a soldier.

    You’re your own person, don’t let a religion define you.

    • Luke

      Hey, bitch? You should have ended that post after the first sentence. It should have been you in that asylum.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        (I’m not even going to try to pretend I don’t like this response, Luke. Thank you.)

        • Pat

          Kayla, I agree with you. You don’t need religion to be a good person, you need empathy. Clearly the two assholes above me lack the more important of the two. John, I almost felt bad for you while reading this. After seeing this comment of yours however, I believe that the time you spent in there wasn’t nearly enough.

          • jade napier

            this is ridiculous. Who CARES WHY someone does something for someone else. you seriously cannot please everyone can you?The whole point of this story was not even about his religion. If he wants to do good things because he is a Christian, there is nothing wrong with that and who do you think you are to say he cant do things because he is a Christian? Being a Christian is not so black and white as you think it is. You are clearly not a Christian (which is totally fine, everyone has their own beliefs) so do not knock down something you do not understand. comprehend that being Christian isn’t ONLY about doing things for god. you do things for other people. you LOVE other people just as god does, and just as he loves you. Not once did he say well im doing this because it makes me a good Christian. Shame on you both for telling this man he’s wrong for believing in something that helped in move on in a healthy way. shame on you.

          • Wil

            Shame on you, Jade (And Luke and John), for scolding people for something they haven’t done. If you actually read and understood what each of these people have posted, you wouldn’t have reacted so strongly as if they were criticizing your faith because no one has. That closing sentence makes as much sense in saying, “And I will do that-happily, actually-because I’m an atheist.”

          • a Christian Cat

            Jade, I couldn’t agree more, besides how you said its fine he not Christian. Everyone should be! god made all of us and i wish everyone believed that. :( but besides that i agree with you.

        • dickilydoodles

          Story seems pretty fake. There aren’t people from insane asylums that go picking people up off the streets. And I don’t think I’ve heard of cops selling convicts to insane asylums either.

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            Oh, no. You don’t believe me. (Not that I actually said one thing you said I did.) How shall I sleep at night?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            my guess is peacefully with the occasional snore.

      • NateDaddii323

        Maybe it should of been U in the asylum.Besides, U said, ” hey, bitch” in the form if a question.how insane is that…lol

  • Christina Anderson

    altho you wrote this in 2011,a forgiving heart you have,I have read so may stories about ppl being in the asylum,for I do have a mentally challenged adult son and am so glad there are diff places now to get proper help,for we have been going thru this struggle for the last 3 years, myself always goes to his meetings or hospitals when he has to go,I always ask him how he was treated knowing of past abuse that so many have endured,I am also a Christain,
    being a Christain you learned to forgive your father,as to one of our commandments is to honor thy father and mother,you are doing the right thing,May God Bless You!!

  • Snooterpoot

    Tears. Just tears.

  • disqus_FB69sHsRMc

    TO THOUGHS WHO TREAT OTHERS WITH NO RESPECT & PREY ON THEM WILL BURN IN HELL & YOU KNOW WHAT!!.. I AM A CHRISTIAN & THIS COUNTRY IS NO DIFFERENT THAN ANY OTHER THIRD WORLD COUNTRY THAT PRACTICES BARBARIC ACTS OF TORTURE ON HUMAN BEINGS!!…THIS COUNTRY GOD WILL NEVER BLESS ONLY THOUGHS WHO SERVE HIM WILL BE BLESSED THE REST WILL BURN IN HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      “Those.” I think the word you’re looking for there is “those.”

      And as a general rule of punctuation 10 exclamation points is fine.

    • BarbaraR

      How did you manage to create a Disqus account?


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