He came to me in a dream again – jealous, cruel.
In the dream I’d been snuggling happily in the arms of his best friend, feeling content and nurtured in the embrace of a simple, comforting uncomplicated love, a warm supportive, not-totally-fucked-up-and-dysfunctional-and-impossible love, when he appeared.
“I thought you were dead”, I told him, startled, not really feeling guilty enough – I’d been, momentarily, so peacefully happy.
He ignored me. Cold shoulder. Off in a huff.
According to many ancient belief systems, and to dream teachers like Robert Moss, when the dead appear in dreams, it’s probably not the thinly veiled symbolism of unfulfilled wishes or the projections of aspects of our own personality, but is in fact an actual visit from the dead.
Seen this way, my friend C’s visit was not surprising, I suppose, as it was the anniversary of his death and I’d meant to do something – go out to the bridge where he leapt, or at least do a smudge in the house, say a prayer – but it was a busy week and I didn’t get it together.
So he found a way to make sure he wasn’t forgotten – he just showed up.
Typical really – he always needed so much attention…
It’s been years now since C jumped to his death, and although the first year was devastating – a swamp of guilt and suffocating grief and the complicated mix of loss and relief – once that first year passed, it wasn’t so bad. It was if I always knew he was gonna leave us early, someway, somehow.
Recently I’d been thinking about C as I was poking around on some of the excellent sites dedicated to blogging about mental illness, and I’m struck by how many of them are deeply engaged with discussing pharmaceuticals. Of course it makes sense, and I have nothing against pharmaceuticals – in fact, in the 90’s when it seemed like half my friends were on Prozac and raving about it, I tried to convince the shrink I was seeing that really I should be on something. She didn’t bite – never gave me any pills. Complex PTSD is not a problem of organic origin, she argued, so there was no need to meet the problem with organic tampering.
But my friend, C, what was it he had? Maybe paranoid schizophrenia? Perhaps pharmaceuticals would have saved him.
I remember a night, a bunch of us drinking beer down in the grimy Bistro 422 where C spent so much of his time “self-medicating” with booze and weed – I can’t remember how it came up, but there was that moment when he suddenly turned to me and Jeff and said, “Don’t ever ever ever let them give me electroshock therapy – Promise? Promise?”, he said, shaking my leg under the table to make sure I heard him over the loud music, the drunken conversations pressing in all around us, the terror and mistrust of psychiatry desperate in his voice.
He’d majored in psychiatry in university, had an inkling of the things they might do to him if ever he were to cross the threshold into a psychiatric institution.
And aside from the paranoia, both justified and psychotically induced, as a Chipewyan, it was as if he had a sense of, had heard of or maybe read of shamanic ways of dealing with the crisis of psychosis, and was perhaps holding out a hope that he would find someone, stumble across the right person before it was too late….
But then it was too late.
The night before he jumped, he sent me an email –
Vicious Cycle (A Prayer)*
I am the circle
and I will embrace everything (within it) as my birthright.
I will be like the circle – an out-turning one, opening
myself to the universe.
I will never fear the circle or anything (within it).
I am the circle.
*(In response to threats)
The obvious descent into unliveable paranoia breaks my heart to this day.
I still see him walking out to the bridge alone with these “threats” in his mind.
So one more time – a few weeks late – I send out a prayer for him.
PS – just happened upon this stunning video –