It was four years after Maria’s suicide and a deep sound sleep still eluded me. I can remember one night in particular, several times that night I had anxious fantasies about her being alive with terrible nightmares of her being dead. They wouldn’t stop. Just when I was able to calm myself down the fantasies would rise again, and I would become lost inside my head. It seemed to be going back and forth. It was like being strapped into an emotional roller-coaster. I HATE ROLLER-COASTERS! It kept going back and fourth between a beautiful fantasy and a scary nightmare. The nightmare was always the same. It was that same fucking noise. The gurgling noise. It had been four years and I still wasn’t able to get the sound of Maria choking on her own blood out of my head. It was like being strapped into an emotional roller-coaster. I HATE ROLLER-COATERS!!
In the mist of my delirium suddenly, I had an idea, maybe even a self revelation. I. Was. Crazy. Even possibly insane! Things were so bad I decided I needed the help of a professional. I attempted to admit myself into the psychiatric ward at Bellevue hospital that night. The only reason I didn’t was because I was in too bad of shape to make it there. No cab would stop to pick me up. Three different cabs and three different times I was asked if I was drunk or high on something. I’m sure it had to do with my appearance. I was a mess. My hair (it was longer then) was disheveled, my clothes were wrinkled from having been slept in. I was perspiring from the nightmares and the heat. It was a hot summer night.
This feeling was disconcerting, and I felt I had little or no control over what was happening to me. I had no idea what I could do about it. I went through several attempts to call for help a few times. My hallucinations and disturbances prevented me from being able to complete the call. I would see her standing there holding her bloody neck. She called out to me. Her voice was raspy. It sounded nothing like when she was alive. When she heard her own voice she apologized for sounding unlike herself. She asked me to put the phone down. I did what she wanted without any hesitation or question.
The intensity of feelings from that night continued to rip open the hole already in my heart. I clanged to my memories. In moments of great pain, it has a way of reflecting back certain truths to you. I was still with sifting through all the “I should have” and “If only I”
I was confused. My emotions were raw. How did I stay sane inside my nervous breakdown? I decided to face my emotions. I cried. I laughed. I got frustrated. I felt anger and fear. And all of those feelings seemed to become amplified and very distorted. And suddenly that’s when it hit me. In my distorted state, the guilty terror of my having had abandoned Maria emotionally the night of her suicide went punishingly unnoticed until that moment. I picked up my phone once again to call someone, anyone I knew for help. But I fell to my knees sick to my stomach. I vomited and curled up on the floor feeling so much shame and guilt.
Suddenly, she was there. I looked up and she was standing just a few feet from me. She was crying as she reached out for me.
“Shawnie put down the phone. Please don’t make that call. I need you to talk to me.” She pleaded with me.
Her voice was raspy. It was very unlike how it sounded when she was alive. She heard her voice and softly apologized. She made a gesture toward me to put down the phone. I did what she wanted without hesitation, without question and without thought.
My mind had to be playing games with me. Right? Was she really there? Was I just hallucinating? It all felt so real. With trembling hands I reached out to touch her. I thought for sure she would move away to prevent me from doing it. If anything she leaned forward, into my hand. Her flesh was so warm. Touching her caused my mind to spiral out of control. My emotions were again on that fucking roller-coaster, taking me for a wild ride! I went to speak but she cut me off, speaking softly.
“You finally managed it. You have been so cut off from yourself. It’s been four years Shawnie. You haven’t been sleeping, your not eating right and your being reckless.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head trying to clear it. But she was still there and she kept talking.
“You are either going to do something to help yourself or not. You know if you keep going like this, Shawnie, I think you will be headed to that psychiatric ward but un-voluntarily. Is that what you want?” She asked.
“It’s bound to happen sooner than later. I’m just guessing.” She said.
She turned and walked away from me, heading to my bedroom. She stopped just in the doorway. “Believe me.” She whispered.
I turned angry on her. “Why should I?” I asked
I could feel our connection. Which should have been impossible because she was dead.
“You need help Shawnie.” She told me.
“You need help.” I repeated her words.
I was furious at her and I didn’t even know why. So I turned away and stared at the wall. My eyes filled with tears. I stayed quiet for a while. A few minutes later I say to her, in an angry voice.
“I miss you. I love you even more. But I hurt and betrayed you. I let you go. It was only for a minute but I did and I am so sorry.” I swear I didn’t mean to.” I started to cry.
Maria stayed quiet for a few minutes. I got scared because she wasn’t talking. She wasn’t looking at me. She just stood there. My crying intensified because she wasn’t responding.
“You didn’t betray me.” She said gently. ” If you really want to know the truth, you saved me. You were there for me from the second I returned home. I know you never stopped loving me. I was cold to you and you never walked out. You stayed with me through all my dark times. You just have to know it too. You didn’t betray me and you didn’t betray our love.” She said.
She walked over and hugged me tightly. Then she kissed my forehead.
“Look at me Shawnie. I want to see you.” She told me.
I opened my eyes as she touched her forehead to mine. We looked into one another’s eyes. We stayed that way for a while. Then she hugged me. She whispered how much she loved me and told me I was going to make it because she was going to see to it. That just made me cry more. I cried even harder.
“I have to go. But I will be with you always. I promise.” She whispered.
I clutched to her for dear life. I couldn’t let her go but she somehow disappeared from my grasp. Next thing I knew I woke up in my bed startled. I was soaked in sweat having trouble breathing. I was suffocating. I looked around. It was pitch black in the room. I struggled to get out of bed. Once I was up, I made my way to the front door. I snatched it open and stood there letting the cool air hit me. Once I was able to calm myself down I walked back in and headed straight for the living room. I plopped down on the couch. My mind was racing. I suddenly could feel her. I could feel Maria’s presence. I couldn’t see her but I for sure felt her. My heart suddenly was slowing down. I stopped trembling. I felt calmer. I laid back on the couch and fell to sleep.
How did I stay sane inside my nervous breakdown? I. Let. Go.