The Past Year

So this year has been crazy.

That’s probably an understanding considering which year it is, but without even focusing on the pandemic, politics, or numerous other society/environment/ world-wide things going on right now, this year has been something else. At least for me it has.

Mainly it has been close to normal—which for me is extremely bizarre. It wasn’t completely normal because it’s 2020 and I’m talking about my experience and there is no way to make either of those things completely normal. However, this year has been much closer to the general idea of what a normal life would look like than I have experienced in a really long time. It has been a beautiful experience; something I have wished for since I was in high school—not the pandemic, etc—but the ability to have a mostly normal existence. I was able to go to work, spend time with family, make friends and go days—sometimes even weeks—without major hallucinations breaking in and destroying the fabric of reality. At times I was able to go to the store without being absolutely terrified and I didn’t have to chant prayers of protection every night to get my heart to stop racing. I still had hallucinations, panic attacks, and more than a couple breakdowns—but not nearly to the extent I am used to.

For the majority of the year I only heard a few things from the other realm which seemed both good and bad. On the one hand it was great because I could focus on being here in the physical world and appreciate why people enjoy life so much. On the other hand I felt like I was running blindly, hoping not to crash into something because I just couldn’t see and feeling absolutely helpless when someone asked me for advice and I had no answer or only answers that felt trite and ineffective. It felt like something was blocked. I was aware that there was more going on under the surface, but I couldn’t access any of it and that was frustrating.

I wanted to write earlier but could think of nothing to say—everything that was here was here and everything that was elsewhere I couldn’t see— so what could be said about it?

That and being unusually busy is the reason why I haven’t been writing at all…

But then in September something happened. I saw something—not something physical—something that was more like an energy. It was incredibly strong and sad and I was yanked into the other realm. There was pain and darkness all around me—and also a story (which I hope one day I will be able to sit and write) and as I became engulfed in the story a web of golden threads started to illuminate the darkness and a light ran from piece to piece.

I told myself: This isn’t real. It’s dangerous to be here, you should go back to the real world now.

But I was entranced by the web and pieces of things started to fall into place and it made so much sense and felt so solid to me that I couldn’t believe it wasn’t real. It seemed much more real than the real world and then this real world, this “normal” world that I’ve been in for the last year started to grow foggy and I started to feel myself losing space and time in it.

I need to go back now, I told myself and threw myself back towards physical reality, but I heard a non-voice as I left.

It said, “You can stay in the physical world now if you want to. This can be your life. You never have to come back here-- you are free now. But do you remember what it was like when you were stuck?”

And I remembered being cold and scared, curled up in the middle of that dark place, longing desperately to get out.

“Please don’t leave me here” I had screamed silently to anyone who passed, only to realize that no one knew where I was or how to get me out. I remembered the hopelessness of it, the desperation of knowing that I was completely alone and even if someone wanted to help me, they didn’t know how. In the midst of that memory I heard a promise I had made when I was in 10th grade. I had actually read it in a book and written it down because as soon as I read it, I knew it was a key—the only one that would get me out.

I was in a dark place back then, I remembered being in class but also being in that other world and looking around knowing there was an impossible way out and that if I really wanted to-- if I kept plunging ahead in that darkness I would find that way and make it out—but I was scared because I knew that once I left it would be easy to forget.

“I can’t leave” my 10th grade self had said when the non-voice had asked me to do the impossible thing it wanted me to do, “There are others here and I can’t just leave them alone.” I didn’t have to tell the non-voice because it already knew that it was bad enough to be in that world, it was so much worse to be forgotten there.

But then I read that quote and I knew that I had to leave. I had to find a way out because if I didn’t move forward, I would be stuck there forever and could never help anyone else get out either.

So, this September when my 32-year-old self heard that quote and felt the sadness and saw the shadow world and golden web, she cringed.

“No” I said to the non-voice, “I don’t want to go back.”

“You don’t have to” the non-voice said again, “You can stay here. You can keep going this way.”

But I felt the sadness and the despair so sharply and I heard my fifteen year old self lock that quote away in her heart, “I will keep this promise” she had said in the depth of her soul “I will use it to find my way out and I will not forget. Don’t let me forget” she had prayed to the version of god she believed in at the time, “No matter how nice it is on the other side, don’t let me be one of those people that promises and then forgets.”

“You won’t” the non-voice had responded.

“I can’t stay here” 32-year-old me said without a word, “I promised.”

And then everything around me started to collapse—not physically— my physical life is still the same for now, but on the other level I felt everything change. The floor fell away and the walls. The things I have always referred to as demons (though I don’t consider them that in the traditional sense anymore) came back and the hallucinations got severe. There was blood everywhere—I hadn’t seen blood like that since high school. I felt all the places I had cut myself in the past raise like unhealed scabs and my shirt was drenched heavy and red with the metallic, rotten smell wafting around me.

The way this is written makes it sound like all of this happened simultaneously, but it actually was a long conversation and series of hallucinations that culminated over a period of a couple weeks (from another perspective maybe it started months before only I ignored it until I ran into that energy-creature—but that’s a different topic) and then was followed by terror. Once I realized the decision I had made I was seized by terror. I will lose everything. I thought and felt like it was already taken from me. Suicidal ideation crept in next because realty was so distorted that I wanted to make it all stop and turn black. Also, the personifications of two forms of suicide kept visiting me during that time and talking to me.

It felt like a nightmare and I thought that I was sick again and someone was going to put me in the hospital and I would go back to being dependent and distraught, but over time, with many tears and comfort from others, things started to click and I started to see connections in things that I hadn’t noticed before. I began to remember things that I had forgotten in the rush to keep up with this excessively busy, mostly-normalish life. In many ways things were changing, but in the real world nothing changed. I found myself thinking I really am crazy and really lost.

On Tuesday I talked to my sister. She didn’t think I was crazy. She told me about the things she had been learning about the non-physical world and reminded me of all the things I had believed before this year of relative normalcy and as I digested our conversation the two worlds came together and so many things started to explain themselves…

and now I have so much to write…

Which is why this is the introduction or prologue to all those ideas that have started to coalesce into semi-tangible forms.

To be honest I don’t know how often I will write these—my physical reality life is still standing and still incredibly busy—but these explanations of things from the other world are feeling increasingly urgent, so I am going to do my best to keep up with them and write down what I can.

There is a lot of territory to cover and it is all falling together at once so as I sort through it, I will do my best to convey it clearly. It may not seem all that important, but I was reminded first by that energy creature and then by my sister why it is.

For those who are trapped or lost in that dark place this is important and to me it is important.

I still have a promise that I need to keep:

“They will not know. I have gone away to come back, for the ones I left behind, for the ones who cannot out.” Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street

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