Haunting Words from a Child

In my late teens, I worked at a grocery store after school.  I would get off at 10:00 PM.  I’d grab a treat and settle in for some late night TV.  Often, there would be a scary movie.  By the end of the movie, I would be too afraid to move off the couch.  I was sure some creature was hiding in the house.  I especially didn’t want to put my feet on the floor because I KNEW there was something evil that would cut my ankles.  It was a love/hate relationship with haunted stories.  I was drawn to them but the fear would kick in.

What has been your most haunting experience? What has been the most haunting thing you’ve ever heard?

Since you asked I’ll tell you mine…As a law enforcement chaplain, I was called out to a scene where a man tried to kill his wife.  There were two small boys in the home, ages 6 and 10.  I took the boys aside and placed them in my unmarked unit.  There was not a lot I could say to them; just be available to offer comfort and try to answer any questions they might have.  The youngest had his head down most of the time but the 10-year-old kept looking around as if he had his antenna up.

That’s when he spoke those most haunting words…”THIS MUST BE HARD FOR THE OFFICERS.”  You may ask, “Why is that haunting?” If you grew up in an addictive home like I had you probably have an insight on this subject.  Every dysfunctional family (NEWS FLASH…every family has some degree of dysfunction.  I’m talking major dysfunction) has a HERO.  I know because I  am one.  I’m not bragging here, I wish I didn’t have to play that role but someone had to do it. Because there was a gap in the parenting in my family (especially my Dad), I became the responsible on who took care of the family.  I focused away from my pain by focusing on the other family members to take care of them. That job took away my childhood. 🙁

That brings us back to the 10-year-old sitting in my car.  When he said those haunting words: “This must be hard for the officers,” he was trivializing his own pain and was more concerned for those around him.  I knew what that boy was going through and I couldn’t change his situation. I hate that!


  • Perhaps you have been the family “hero” and need to know that there are others out there who understand your situation. You can seek out Al-anon or some other group that helps co-dependents (another name for the rescuer and/or hero).
  • Knowing this can help you better relate to your friends and social contacts.
  • It can help you understand your family dynamics and relationships. In the process, you may find out that you are a family Hero.

(c) Wally Johnston 2017


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