Here is one thing I have learned about life so far: We don't know much of anything.
Since we don't know much about anything we try to come up with ways to understand and explain things. Some of these explanations are helpful and some are less helpful and some depend on the situation.
When I started the most recent portion of the journey I am on I began by learning about shamanism. I didn't go in depth, but I was interested in part because it explained the experiences I had when I was "psychotic" with much more accuracy than any psychologist or psychology text-book I had encountered. I also found the framework of a multi-dimensional existence and ability to transition between realms far more helpful to my health and healing than the notion that my brain was dysfunctional and I should just rely on medication to subdue the symptoms.
I am not expert on shamanism by any means, but I am aware that one of the concepts related to some of the spiritual healing of this modality is called "soul retrieval" and when I met with a shamanic practitioner she told me that my soul had fragmented many times over my lifetime. Though she managed to call back many of those soul pieces I had a feeling that some were still lost. Over the months as I worked on internal healing and meditative journeying I felt some of the pieces come back. There was usually a buzzing sensation I associated with their return where everything around me would look like static and I would feel warmth running through my body. Sometimes there was a sensation of pain or panic as well and a pulsing like the entire world had a heart-beat that shook it. During these sensations I would be flooded with memories from different times in my life. Most of these have been in childhood. The memories were incredibly vivid and then I would see a piece of my soul-- usually a child version either male or female and I would be able to talk to him or her and integrate him or her back into myself.
I'm going to use this frame work of soul fragmentation, retrieval, and integration to explain something that I experienced this afternoon. Other people can call it a symptom of an illness or the residue of a bad dream or something else if they choose, but this framework makes the most sense to me.
I was getting ready to go to the gym this afternoon when a heavy sleepiness came over me. I know that this feeling usually comes before I switch states of consciousness so it is best for me to either go to sleep or meditate when I feel it, if I don't the world simply changes form and it can be really disorientating to try to manage whatever I am doing with the new form. Since the heaviness felt too big to carry with me to the gym I turned around and went home. I decided to try to nap instead.
In my sleep there was a black void with beautiful pink waves of light fluttering over it in time with a high-pitched symphony. The music itself seemed golden in color and warm. It was very beautiful but when I woke the sudden realization that I was back in my body brought on a sensation of panic.
I was suddenly terrified. No, I can't be here some part of me thought, I need to get back.
This sensation of panic was accompanied by the electric buzzing and pulsing of the world and then by screams. The screams weren't in my head like usual, I felt them vibrating up through my chest and throat over and over again. I stayed there for about 20 minutes. It was too terrifying to get up and every time I tried to think about anything the screams broke through my thoughts.
Finally the screams settled enough that I could think around them.
What is happening to me? I wondered. A high-pitched ringing was running through my ears and my body had broken out in hives (to be fair the hives started about 5 days ago as a small patch on my arm and have been increasing and disappearing and increasing and disappearing, but when I woke up they were cropping up everywhere).
"It's okay" I told the screaming voice, "you're okay. It's going to be alright now."
It kept screaming but softer.
Then I saw two large hands holding what looked like a blood-covered baby wrapped in a towel out to me. Some how I felt that this screaming thing was a part of me that had been taken and was being returned.
"It had been so badly abused" the voiceless-voice told me "That we had to take it and keep it safe, but now you are ready to care for it yourself. Use gentleness."
When I took the crying blood-covered bundle memories flooded back to me-- not of childhood but of college. I saw myself walking along the streets in Fresno and sitting and talking to my friends. I also remembered the things I saw back then, the way the sky turned black as ink and the monsters took control of everything.
"It's okay" I told the screaming part of myself again, "I know we hurt you, but it's over now. That time is over. Things are better. I'm sorry that we treated you that way, I'm sorry we hurt you so badly but it's done now. We know better now."
Eventually the screaming stopped. I went for walk to help myself process everything. I saw this fragment as an androgynous form standing before me. It had gone from screaming to completely mute.
"I'm sorry for hurting you" I said to it again, "when you are ready we would like to hear your story."
The piece smiled slightly and shrugged. "I didn't think that would ever end" it said, "That really fucking hurt."
"Yeah." I agreed, "it was horrible."
I had a sensation then of seeing someone I hadn't seen in a very long time.
"I've missed you." I told it. It smiled.