A tall man dressed in dark clothes, what looked like black combat gear – a soldier perhaps – covered with what resembled a cloak or oversized jacket and black combat or work boots. The face was never clearly visible as the man had endured a severe beating and was unable to move – he lay in a prone position at a gate – my gate – wedged there unable to move or be moved. I stood over him as he lay in visible agony, moaning and cringing in pain at every attempt to be lifted. The night seemed so dark and so long but I could not leave him and I could not move him so I stood there watching over him – waiting. I didn’t know what I was waiting for or how long I needed to wait – all I knew was that I couldn’t leave – and so I stayed standing guard over this broken soldier reassuring him. “I’ve got you…”
I observed that there didn’t seem to be any broken limbs or visible open wounds so his injuries must have been internal – I needed to get him indoors but how – I could not move him; each time I tried his agonising cries stopped me and then he seemed to flow through my hands like sand and so I waited. Somehow I just knew if I don’t get him indoors soon and get him hydrated he would surely die – and so I urged him to allow me to move him, just hold on I coaxed – endure the pain for a little while longer I whispered… I just need to get you indoors. Could he hang on a little while longer, I wondered to myself… I knew he could but I was not at all sure if he knew he could; I didn’t even know if he wanted to; he had clearly been through more than his mind or body was able to endure. I would help him but he needed shelter and warmth and food. If you want me to help you I need to move you – I spoke these words over and over to him. Can you hear me? Take my hand if you want my help, I said. Every breath was excruciating for him – this was painfully obvious - he needed to rest for a while and gather his strength and when he was ready he would let me know that he was ready to be moved … and so I waited for him to reach out and take my hand when he was ready.
This was the reoccurring dream that had plagued my sleeping hours for almost a year and had now entered into my waking hours too. The first iterations were vague and indistinct but the theme and emotions were very much the same. A single message repeated itself in my head – this is not about you, this is for you. The images in the dream started getting clearer but what I found more interesting was the whimpering – it soon became apparent that it was in fact a very clear and distinct cry “…help me…”, not very loud but very distinct.
The dream was to mark the beginning of a journey so profound it would remain etched in memory in perpetuity. The months rolled on and I was actively seeking gainful employment after being retrenched. The opportunity finally arrived in May of that year and I took up my position in a manufacturing plant and commenced my duties. Around August of that year this dream that had repeated itself over and over in my sleeping hours was becoming more and more vivid and included more and more detail with each repetition.
The year was drawing to a close and the usual end of year and summer vacation festivities followed and so did the dream. The images were clearer now than ever, the call for help ever more desperate and painful. Who was this person and why was I being called to help him? The more I searched for answers the less it seemed were available to me. The New Year rolled in and I was rapidly reaching a tipping point of desperation in trying to find answers.
The answer finally came almost one year after this dream first occurred. I was due to attend a meeting with the production team. Minutes before the beginning of the meeting, I entered the boardroom and in close succession a man follows in behind me. Thinking him a new member of staff, I introduce myself and we exchange cordialities. The meeting proceeds with no further engagement.
During the following weeks however we periodically “bump into” each other in various sections of the plant and we chat briefly. He seems to be everywhere. My intuitive antenna goes up as the alert alarm bells sound and find myself slowing my thinking down and increasing my observation awareness. Why is it that he and I seem to be funneled together so often? What is it that I need to see or know about this man, why do our paths seem to intersect?
Over the following few weeks it becomes clear that we do not seem able to get through a single day without crossing paths at least a few times each day. I decide that since the temperature is dropping rapidly if we are going to see each other so often during each day we might as well do it over coffee in the warmth of my office. I make the offer one icy morning and reluctantly he finally accepts and joins me for coffee a few days later.
As the icy days turn into weeks, the morning coffee together becomes a ritual for us and there is a strange and rapid familiarity and comfort about our shared time as these interactions progress. One day he braves the very clichéd question “Where have we met before” and I dismiss it as a casual flirt and pay no further attention to it. I reflect on the question he has asked because something about it feels genuine and authentic and not laced with innuendo. I realize that it was the tone he used – he was really trying to remember where he knew me from.
Over the next few days he is adamant to establish where we have met and he feels an insatiable need to wrack his brain and scour my memory in an effort to recall where we might have met – and so we run through every potential event and location which could provide clues as to our previous meeting.
Why this was important to him at the time was a mystery to me. He eventually accepted that perhaps he was mistaken and we had in fact never met. Still, the nagging feeling that he felt like he knew me would not dissipate. This new relationship grows tentatively and cautiously.
Over the following few weeks our morning coffee ritual extends to include afternoon coffee, as we progressively reflect and share experiences from previous jobs, interests, and bits of our personal lives. Our friendship grows and, as a fixer-personality, I find myself providing an ear to the myriad of frustrations and feelings of hopelessness, sadness and loneliness he is experiencing.
He begins to reveal his constant feelings of being lost and confined to a lonely existence; how he has always felt different from everyone else and not knowing why. He agonizes over never being able to fit in and the associated sense of isolation that always seemed to accompany it. He seems convinced that I could provide answers as to why it was that he experienced emotions so intensely to the point that he often felt overwhelmed and heavy; and it always felt as though the world around him was judging him.
He talks about his two boys and the struggle he went through to get visitation rights from his ex-wife and more devastating was the decision he made to agree to have her relocate to another country taking them with her. The agony and anguish he was experiencing was beginning to feel very familiar, in a second-hand experience sort of way. Could it be, I wondered!
The more time I spent with him, the more I could feel something unsettling was about to happen. I was beginning to wonder if this could be the broken soldier who laid at my gate in my dream. Was this even possible? I had received the warning for over a year that he would arrive and I would need to save him – was this even real? Did this stuff seriously happen?
Was this not just some really warped joke? Maye I was losing my grip on reality, surely this kind of stuff happens in sci-fi movies only...right? My intellect was desperately trying to rationalize what was happening and the conclusion was always the same–yes he was very real; no you are not going mad, yes he definitely needs help dealing with what is going on in his life.
Roughly two weeks later he came to me again for mid-morning coffee, as was now the custom, and this time I felt the energy avalanche and within minutes of him walking in and greeting me, he fell to floor in agony and tears – the only words escaping his mouth “ …help me…”.
At this point the confirmation of the recognition hit me, I knew who he was. He was the very same person whose image had plagued me in dreams for over a year – the broken soldier. Recalling the description – the height and build matched, the dark clothes and combat boots were in fact dark work clothes and safety boots – a slight variation in appearance. The battered appearance, although not physical, matched. The cry for help was probably the most eerily familiar. Yes I knew exactly who he was, but more importantly, I knew what I needed to do.
I comforted him that day with the clear knowledge, understanding and acceptance that this was the beginning. After a few minutes, when he had calmed down, I offered him my help- but, just like in my dream, he was unable to accept it right then and there. I found myself recalling and repeating the conversation I had with him in my dream in reality. This too was a strange experience because the conversation did not feel like I was remembering it but rather like I was repeating it much like an echo. The sounds of the words I spoke bounced off the surroundings as I told him “I’ve got you…when you are ready, take my [helping] hand if you want me to help you”. In a strange almost surreal way none of this felt unusual at all.
A week later after the surprise of the recognition had dissipated and he had calmed down, I told him of the dream – describing details from the dream which coincided almost identically to what he had been dealing with. He did not seem overly surprised or even uncomfortable at this revelation. In a strange way he seemed to accept this – like he knew he had to surrender to this. This is when he said “that’s where I know you from…”, and in that moment we both knew…
It soon became very evident to both of us that we had embarked on a journey together which would lead us down a path of self-discovery of epic proportions. We would come to learn about ourselves through each other. We would learn to heal our own many wounds through helping each other to heal. We would learn to trust ourselves again by learning to trust each other. We would connect with our own soul by being inexorably connected to each other’s soul. We have accepted that we are a mirror to the other, a reflection of our need to heal etched in the eyes of the other. Our journey together lasted eighteen months and we have both learnt so much about who and what we are.
Our path has temporarily diverted for we each have separate lessons that need fulfilling for now. The emptiness I sometimes feel is matched only by the emptiness I feel in him. I have no doubt however that at some point our paths will again converge and we will once again continue our journey in love and light.