Addendum to Close Call #1, Suicide
I had this dream a few days after my ineffectual suicide attempt. The dream was so strange
and so impactful that I wrote about it in my journal at the time, 1969, and I found it again
recently. Here it is, from my long-ago journal:
This woman showed up in my dream last night. I couldn’t see her clearly, but I heard her whispered something like, “I love you.” I didn’t recognize her voice. What was she doing in my dream anyway? Maybe I should have been scared. It was so weird. But I wasn’t scared, more like annoyed. She didn’t belong in my dream.
“I need you to pay attention,” she said more loudly. She sounded like a bossy friend or a well-meaning auntie, although I still couldn’t see her very well.
“Are you listening?” I didn’t answer her. She then said, “I came to tell you that I love you and you shouldn’t die.”
I couldn’t think what to say to that, so I just said, “Oh,” stupidly, thinking this woman had no right to tell me what to do. I wished she’d go away.
“It’s okay for you to talk to me,” she said as she sat down on one of the end tables in my living room. “In fact, it’s important.”
“This is only a dream,” I thought. But sometimes my dreams are so real I can’t tell if they’re dreams or not—not until days later or sometimes not ever. “Maybe,” I thought to myself in this dream, “I’m having a crazy-person dream. I’m crazy. Because only crazy people try to kill themselves.”
“That’s not true,” the strange woman said, startling me. I didn’t think I’d said out loud that I was crazy. Was she inside my head? Where was she? It creeped me out.
“It doesn’t matter where I am,” the woman said. “All that matters is that I’m here talking to you. We haven’t got a lot of time so let’s get right down to the important part.”
“What important part?” I wondered.
“Here’s what’s important,” she said, having once again been inside my head. “The word crazy
doesn’t mean what you think. Despair is not the same as crazy. Pain is not the same as crazy
either. You’re not crazy. Has someone told you you’re crazy?”
“Well…kind of…yes. My shrink sort of did. I am crazy; I feel crazy.” I almost shouted this last part at her with all the fear, confusion, and doubt I was still feeling in the aftermath of having tried to die. This woman couldn’t possibly know if I was crazy or not. And she couldn’t possibly know about the mess I’d been in all of last year.
“Go away,” I told her. “I don’t need you.”
“You do. You don’t know it, but you do. I’m here forever and I love you, and I’m going to tell you again; don’t ever try to end your life again. Your end time isn’t here yet. It’s a long way off. This is not your time.”
“It felt like the right time, sort of.”
“And see how wrong you were about that, my dear. Here you are, at a bright beginning, not an end at all.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“But I do. Things are going to get better from now on.”
“I’m sorry I told you to go away,” I said because suddenly I wasn’t annoyed anymore. I started to kind of like this shadow of a woman.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ll always be near.” I hadn’t actually looked directly at her yet and when I tried to focus on her, she began to fade. She was a blurred female shape of soft blue and pink, but I sensed her smile. I felt a wave of warmth coming from her that I don’t think I can describe accurately. Was it visual or tangible? Was it maybe love? Did I imagine it?
(End of journal entry)
I remembered, after I recently reread this journal entry, that I when woke up the next morning I still felt a trace of annoyance at that bossy person who’d crashed my dream. But more than that, I felt something entirely unfamiliar and unforgettable: I felt held. I felt cared for and guided. I didn’t know what to do with those feelings. I wondered if I should trust them. I wanted to. There wasn’t much else to trust in my lost life so why not bank on a woman from a dream?
Now, in hindsight (this dream occurred over fifty years ago), I still don’t quite know what to make of the dream. Did my brain conjure up this image, some kind of imaginary guide, to keep me alive? Or was that dream woman actually some kind of spiritual presence? I hesitate to say this, because I don’t believe in guardian angels, but maybe was this woman in my dream was one.
Whatever the pink and blue dream woman was, she gave me hope. I remember feeling a little stronger and less alone the morning after she came. Things did get better, over time. I still had some big mountains that needed climbing, like getting myself back to school and figuring out a better way to earn my living. But even when I lost sight of the dream lady (I forgot about her for years) I think she remained with me, like a layer of dust after a windstorm, softening all my edges. I don’t think I was ever again as lost as I was before she visited me.