We lived in the same flat as flat mates – nothing particularly unusual about that. The 60’s had paved the way for mixed living arrangements among students, not that we were remotely aware of that fact at the time. By the 80’s many students, including myself, were in and out of relationships throughout our years at University and there was nothing unusual about that either.
What made this relationship stand out from any other was that it took place when I was revving up for a full blown schizophrenic outburst, and the level of concern and love that this person shared with me, and continues to have for me 26 years after the event.
It was Saturday night 3 weekends ago that I’d met him for the first time in all those years. Part of me wondered how we would fill a whole evening talking about college in our final year when we’d been fairly remote friends. It wasn’t until late in the evening that he dropped the bombshell, knowing only too well from the responses I’d made to him that very night, that I had completely forgotten about our relationship. I would say I’d not only forgotten, but completely encoded the whole experience in a non cognitive way. No matter how hard I tried, I could not consciously remember the events of that relationship. Momentarily, I wondered if there was some reason he had made up the whole story – I even asked him. Of course not. I have been working with energy for years – I could feel the energy that was running around him. I felt suddenly exposed, vulnerable. I knew he had knowledge of me that I hadn’t realised. It made me feel foolish that I had been behaving all night, and indeed, since I first looked him up in January this year, as though we’d been just flat mates. He was kind, I realised, for not reacting in any undue way to my apparent blankness. He knew from his own experience of a family member with schizophrenia, that it often robs people of their memories. He had felt responsible for my schizophrenia, wondering if there had been something he could have done to halt it or something he shouldn’t have done that caused it.
I can’t tell you how blown away I have been by this revelation and how highly I value this wonderful human being. And slowly the memory is returning. But it is coming back in feelings and pictures, like the impressions you are left with from your earliest childhood memories. And it is bringing up for me all manner of insights and confirmation of ideas and theories that I’ve studied these last 2 years since coming out about my schizophrenia. Perhaps now I can sew together a tapestry of experience, theory and spirituality to offer to the world to help others, and not least of all the professionals who treat this so called ‘condition’, to come through this challenge and recover as I did.
My debt of gratitude to this person is deep. I have been so humbled at the sacrifice he made to try and keep me safe when I was on a downward slope and so sad that he might have felt guilty or responsible for the so called schizophrenia I went through. And I feel sad, that despite his deep connection with me over the 4 months we were together, the circumstances of our lives dictated that we should not see or hear from each other for more than 26 years after the event.
Experiences of this magnitude are the stuff of movies. They just don’t happen very often. I’m compelled to meet with him and go over every detail he can possibly remember, to reacquaint myself with him and with the young woman that I was all those years ago. I’m stuck in the movie as it unfolds. I don’t know whether we are at the end of it, in the middle or at the beginning. It’s so tempting to cast a shimmer over the experience and immortalise it as in the romantic legend of yesteryear – the stuff of novels and screen plays that tells a very unusual story that, at this point, I have only my senses to remember by.
However, one thing I do know is that I have reclaimed a part of myself that has been lost to me for 26 years. I feel more complete, more peaceful and more beautiful than ever before. If someone got so close to me when I was at my most vulnerable in life, mask-less and childlike, what else can there be to fear? You see, this is the stuff of transformation. Seeking out my schizophrenic story so that I can share the transformation with the world has been my purpose at this stage in my life. I’m deeply privileged to be the guardian of this story. And so that I can preserve it for others to know I have started writing a book about it. I have already written 11,000 words and it is a compelling exercise. It’s easy to write which means I am highly aligned with it. At last! Cheer me on? I have a lot to explore and a lot more writing to do. Stay tuned for more updates.
If you want me to talk for your organisation, group or enterprise on transforming adversity, championing the uniqueness of each individual or developing a signature work that pulls from your unique life experiences, email me and let’s have a chat.