Jennifer O'Brien Comedy
Posted on April 7th, 2021

Kidnapped by my Dad

I was born in 1974 at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. My mom was 20 years old when she gave birth to me. My sister was just under 2 years old and my father was 24. We were a young family. My mother and father fell in love while they were in highschool. And when my mom got pregnant at 17, they decided to get married when she turned 18. My parents both came from Irish Catholic families and family was important. Unfortunately because they were so young and my father had addiction issues and was unfaithful to my mom, they ended up divorcing when I was 4. It was a very sad time for our family. During the time of the divorce, my father would take us from our mom without her permission. This would drive my mom crazy with worry. My dad did this more or less to get back at my mom for divorcing him. My sister and I were like real life pawns in a dysfunctional game of chess. “Check mate, looks like it's daddys weekend again.” It was always fun with my dad. He hung the moon in my opinion. I loved being with my dad. He made everything better. He was one of those Putt Putt Golf, Video games, Showbiz, Chuckie Cheese, Movies, Disney, Swimming, anything fun dad! My sister and I didn’t mind being “Taken” by our father. He was like a reverse Liam Neeson. He was the one doing the taking. His particular set of skills included taking us from our mom without permission and having a blast while doing it!

Easy like Sunday Morning

My sister and I didn’t mind the nappings, because we loved our dad and honestly half the time we didn’t even know what was going on. If Amber alerts were around back in the late 70’s my sister and I would have been on there quite a bit. People would have been like, “Don’t worry about this alert, it’s just the O’Brien girls again.”  I remember one time my dad's parents even got involved in a napping.  We were going for a Sunday drive with Grandma and Grandpa and my Grandpa turned around and told my sister and I to get down on the floorboard. We didn’t know why? But we did it. I believe we were hiding from someone on my moms side of the family. As a kid I knew something seemed strange as my sister and I were having to play hide and go seek in the car while driving.  “Hey Grandpa, can we come up off the floorboard now, so I can get back into my seat and buckle up for safety?’

No child left behind, except for me

My least favorite of the nappings was the one when I got left behind. My dad as usual was meeting his napping quota for the month. This time he was going to pick us up from school. My sister and I were at two different schools at this point. He went to my sisters school first and picked her up. By the time he made it to my school, the phone calls had been made. My sister's school had alerted my mom and told her that my sister had been checked out early. My mom notified my school, instructing them to not release me to my dad. So by the time my dad came to pick me up, it was a no go.

During about a weeks time, I had to go stay with a family I had not met before. My mom was afraid my father was going to take me. So there I was staying with a family I had never met before. No mom, no sister, no dad. Just me and this normal family, that I had never met before. It was a long week. I stayed in their guest room with a bunk bed. I wet the bed every night. They gave me a safe place to stay and I wet their mattress, it was the least I could do for their hospitality. I was a huge bed wetter back in the day. The minute I would lose consciousness I would lose continence.

Nap time at daycare was a nightmare. During every nap time I would wet my mat. Then when nap time was over me and 3 other kids who shared my thorn in the flesh of sleep peeing, would be cast to the side. We usually sat at a separate table from the non bedwetters. They would all be enjoying their snack of celery and peanut butter, while we were being cleaned up by the daycare workers. We would sit there with our soiled clothes in sunbeam bread bags as we longed to be at the cool kids table. To this day I can't even look at the sunbeam bread bag without feeling shame. That little blonde headed girl eating toast mocks me. Probably why I am gluten free?

Anyways back to the trauma of being left behind. So I stayed with this family for a whole week. They were a normal family and it felt strange. I remember feeling like, “ Hey does someone want to kidnap me?” They were like, “No, just play with the toys” While I was being indoctrinated into a common life, my sister was livin la vida loca with our dad. Apparently they were on the lamb at our cousins house out in the country. Our cousins had a turtle and two hamsters so my sister was fully entertained. While my sister was busy being surrounded by family and pets, I was busy working on anxiety disorder. Eventually the police came and picked my sister up and brought her back to our mom. Then I was released from my prison of normalcy. It felt so nice to go back home and be able to pee in my own bed again.

After this napping they ceased for a period. My mom had moved us out to Texas and then eventually Oklahoma. A little too far for napping. Although there were 2 more kidnappings that would finally seal the deal on my childhood. My mom had moved my sister and I out to Oklahoma and we hated it. We were now 11 and 13 and went to spend the summer with our dad as usual.

It takes a Village

The Summer we had spent in Florida was a blast. In our minds we were staying and that was that. Our dad had a way of making things seem official. I wanted to believe that all the things that he was saying were true. My sister  and I would go to St. Paul's Catholic school together and that we would be on the basketball team and would be able to see our grandparents more often since they literally lived right down the street from the school. We would have the life that we longed for. To be back in Florida with our dad and all our family. The only person missing was mom.

 Apparently word got out that our dad was planning on keeping us and not sending us home at the end of the summer. I remember one afternoon my moms parents came and picked us up for an afternoon. We were supposed to spend some time with them and then go back to our dads. When we got to our grandparents house, we were made aware that they were not going to send us back.  

Well my sister and I lost our minds. We were so sad and crying and completely devastated. This was not the happy ending we were expecting. My sister and I were on the phone calling our dad and upset by the whole ordeal. Our grandparents felt like our enemies. It was a very strange time. I remember my sister and I trying to devise a getaway plan. One option that I remember was that Robin, my sister would jump out the two story window of our grandparents condo and would break a leg and then they would have to take us to the hospital and then dad could come pick us up there. We got most of our ideas from watching 80’s television. I was down for it. As long as I wasn't the one with the broken leg. We were too scared to really follow through. But it did sound good at the time.

We calmed down by the next day, but to say we were sad and disappointed would have been an understatement. Looking back now I guess in a way you could say that we were kidnapped by both sets of Grandparents. It takes a village.

One last napping for the books

Eventually our mom hopped a plane and came to take us home. I remember we were going to fly out of the Orlando airport instead of the Jacksonville airport. I believe this was to protect us from our dad trying anything.  We stayed in a hotel the night before and we had to get up super early for the flight the next morning. My Uncle Pat drove us all to the airport. When we got to the airport we checked our bags and went to the gate to board the plane.

When we got to the gate, my dad and his dad were there. Let the drama begin! So my father told our mom that he would be taking us. My mom argued that she had full custody and that we would not be going with him. So my sister and I stood there for what seemed like eternity having our parents yell at each other and say all kinds of nasty things. It was awful. All the while my sister and I were in the middle with our parents playing a game of tug a war and we were the rope. Eventually a police came to sort the domestic situation out. Our mom had custody but unfortunately she had the custody papers in her luggage that was checked at the counter. So she did not have any documents proving her custody. The officer was not able to enforce any laws. My sister and I were left to decide who we wanted to go with. It was like Deal or no Deal. Do we choose dad with all the fun and excitement yet often disappointment or do we choose mom safety and security but often isolated from the rest of our family out in Tulsa.

Of course being the younger sister I went with whatever my sister chose. So we left the airport that day with our dad and granddad. I remember feeling really sad for my mom. It was such an awful experience. I remember the name calling and the vile things that my mom said to my father. He was dishing it out too.  It haunted me for years. Both my sister and I have no memory of what happened after we left the airport that day with our dad. I think we were both under so much trauma that we blocked it out. It has taken me quite a while to sit in that memory and try and remember how it played out. I think legal action was threatened on my dad, so he ended up putting us back on a plane to Tulsa. I don’t remember how long the time was in between us leaving the Orlando airport and getting on a plane to go back to Tulsa. I really don’t think it was that long of a time period. Maybe a day? Eventually we ended up back in Tulsa, heartbroken and depressed. I don’t recall the flight home. I am sure I was scared that my mom was going to be mad at us. What a miserable time for our family.

Healing from the pain

As I began unpacking all my years of brokenness I began to connect dots in my life. For example as I started to get healed and feel better. I would go through times where I was so strong and whole again. Then something would happen and an old memory or wound would resurface and then I would feel like I was back at ground zero again. One example is flying. I remember going through a period of time where I felt really scared to fly. Then as I healed, I became excited again about all the adventures I could go on and places I could see. While flying home during the global pandemic, I had a terrible flight and it stirred up so much.

At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband's company had a project they were working on in Las Vegas. They were helping with the railing system in the new stadium. So my husband was out there working. He was only expected to be out there for 3 weeks. When all was said and done, 3 weeks turned into 6 months. We were grateful for the money because while he was out there he was making almost double what he made back at home. So we weren't complaining about the money. However not being together was the hardest part. Then you throw a global pandemic in on top of that and all the restricted travel. The stadium had a rule that if you left the state for any reason you would have to quarantine for two weeks. So it didn’t make sense for him to come home for a weekend. If he did he would have to miss two weeks of work after he flew back out there. So eventually as things opened back up, my daughters and I flew out there to see him. We were able to spend 4 full days together. It was a fun trip. The whole city was still shut down but at least we were all together.

When it came time to go to the airport and leave, I was really really really sad. It had been so hard not having him home while it seemed like the world was falling apart. Luckily as a comedian I had created a web series that I produced out of our home called the Real Housewives of the Quarantine. In the series I ended up playing 6 different characters and how they navigated through the pandemic. Although it was such an isolating time, this series kept me connected to others.

Anyways as he dropped us off at the airport, I think it stirred some serious unhealed trauma up in me. I was so sad and depressed to go back home without him. That whole flight felt like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. I endured it miserably. I was not able to fully comprehend why I was so anxious and unsettled. But as time has gone on I now see that I was operating from that unhealed wound of that 11 year old girl who’s life was turned upside down. That little girl who associated airports and travel with pain and heartache. Who watched her divorced parents yell obscenities at each other in the airport. Who’s daunting flight back to Tulsa was so sad and grueling that I have literally blocked it from my memory.

The beauty of self discovery is the healing that awaits in this new awareness. Now that I am aware of this brokenness, I can ask Jesus to come into this place and heal the pain and broken heart of that little girl. She has been waiting patiently all these years. She has sat quietly waiting until an event like boarding an airplane in Vegas and leaving my husband behind, caused the pain to resurface. She now can get the help that she needs. I can now release the pain and allow the healing touch of Jesus into this memory. When I do this. I go back in my mind with Jesus. I go back as the adult I am today and we offer love to that broken child within. We hold her and love her. I like to always give her a big red heart, that symbolizes love. That heart is a big squishy heart that the little girl inside of me can hold. Now that little girl can hold onto the healing love and not the pain.

I have given this heart to adult me as well. It just depends on the memory that Jesus and I go back to. I can go as far back as childhood and as recent as yesterday. Wherever I feel that I have been hurt, I don’t have to leave that wound open and festering. I have the power, through Christ and his healing touch to heal from the pain. So you see how we are always on the journey. Until my time is up on this planet I will continue to need the healing hand of Christ. He is the great physician. He is always on call 24/7, always ready to help us in our time of need!

Mark 2:17 NLT

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

When Jesus heals, he heals. I have learned something over the years about carrying a lot of brokenness in my spirit. I have learned how to manage the pain. I have learned how to cope with the pain. I have even learned how to live with the pain. But what Jesus does is completely different than what I am capable of. I believe in taking responsibility for myself by getting myself help where I need it. But I’ve spent a lifetime trying to manage pain. It's like when someone has acid reflux and they get on a prescription drug to help manage the symptoms. They can be on that drug all their life, but never really healing their gut. That is what managing symptoms of brokenness is like. I have become an expert at managing my wounds. Keeping them clean and cared for but never really healing the wound itself. That is survival and I have spent a lifetime surviving. What Jesus does is he completely comes in and heals the gut, so to speak. He’s the antidote. He completely heals the acid reflux so that you are not taking pills all your life. This is just an example I am using to show that Jesus heals completely.

I have carried years of brokenness from unhealed trauma. I have became an expert on managing my symptoms associated with my pain. What happened to me in these last several years is different. I have learned how to surrender all the pain and brokenness to Jesus. Even though I have walked with Jesus most of my lifetime. I didn't know that he could heal me from my past. I was resolved to manage my pain until I died. Jesus has given me a cure for my pain. Having Jesus come into these wounds and heal me, I had no idea that I could be so FREE!

I know we all have different stories and not everybody experiences complete healing on this side of things. But I do know that Jesus is real and he longs to have a personal relationship with you. All you have to do is stay open to receive the blessings that flow through Christ. He freely offers his salvation and love to those who are willing to accept it.

That little broken girl inside of me was so desperate for redemption and I am so grateful that I could give her love again. The loved that she longed for in a family that was broken early on. I now have the power to heal from all the things that kept me broken all these years! To God be the Glory through his Son Jesus Christ who heals by his stripes!

by Jennifer O'Brien Comedy on March 5th, 2021

After reading a magazine about living off the grid, I decided to make 2021 the year that I finally do it! Now that I have a magazine as a guide, Living off the Grid, should be a breeze! Watch my adventure on YouTube! #Comedy #OfftheGrid #JenniferOBrienComedy