I wake early in the morning and find myself alone in the cave. I decide to shower in the waterfall, cleansing myself of my fears and any agenda I may hold. The water washes over me and takes with it my limitations. Becoming one with the flow, I feel beautiful and peaceful. I ask for help in preserving this space as I walk my path, meet with others and feel my humanness. As I turn to face the cave once more, I still know the place I am to be one day, the place the waterfall has revealed. I feel refreshed and ready to continue.
Feeling complete again, I walk back into the cave. It is light enough now my eyes do not need to adjust. So, I quickly resume my place in the center of the floor and wait for Amber’s return to the cave. I am relaxed and patient. I feel more hopeful than afraid today. The possibilities feel like the nervous excitement I imagine a teen might experience preparing for her first prom, hoping he likes her, but not entirely sure, raw and vulnerable in her willingness to be honest with herself and with the world around her.
When Amber returns, she moves slowly to where I sit. She is still anxious and uncomfortable, and I notice she is not wearing shoes. The night did not serve her as well as it served me. She looks tattered and tired, but I can still see a little hope in her eyes, even if it expresses itself in a familiarly pessimistic way. She’s in the place where she does wish the best can happen, but she has been so far from a world where it does, the hope seems to be no more than an illusion. It’s the place where the best happening is more of a myth than truth in her mind. She hopes she’s wrong. She hopes today is the day where the best really can happen, and maybe the rest of it is the lie, but she doesn’t believe, not yet.
She paces in front of me and begins to cry. As she begins, I can tell she is speaking to herself more than me, “I don’t know what to do.” She is finally opening. “How am I supposed to help you if I can’t help myself? What do you want from me? I feel lost. I had it all figured out. He was supposed to follow me. Then, I realized I could never come back. Don’t get me wrong. I would have done it anyway. I would do anything for them, but I would have done it differently. I would have said, ‘Goodbye.’ I would have told them why but then they wouldn’t have let me do it, would they? That’s why I couldn’t tell them. That’s why I couldn’t tell me, because it was my game. This time I was the strong one. I was the one helping everybody. I was the one keeping it all together.”
I lift my hand to stop her. I can see she is agitated. She is losing the war in her mind, and it’s set her to rambling. I focus on being calm as I ask her, “Amber, will you please sit with me?”
She immediately closes again, and the tears stop. I hope I haven’t made a mistake in stopping her, but she was beginning to lose her bearings, and I know she will be too unpredictable if I allow her to go adrift.
Looking at me, she tries to hide her embarrassment behind threatening eyes. She does not like opening like this, but she doesn’t like me seeing it even more. It’s a weakness she can’t risk.
I try to ease her discomfort as I speak, “You are so wise, Amber. I feel like you have so much to teach me. I need your help. Will you please try?” My words are not condescending or manipulative. I mean them.
Through all of our communication, I have always been careful to be looking toward the ground. I only look up for a moment now to make the smallest amount of eye contact. I do not want to challenge her. She is rabid right now, and I must be cautious. I must project the message of being completely submissive to her, so she will not feel the need to defend her territory. Also, she must not recognize me, not yet. I continue to look at my hands where they rest between my crossed legs and wait for her reply.
Thoughts race through her mind; distrust, fear, hope, anger, sadness. So many confused ideas flash in and out like strobes in a dark room. She is not able to pull them together. This is the illness. This is the cross she bears. Her mind is sick, and it is out of her control. It scatters her thoughts in too many directions, and she is unable to stop it or find clear thinking within it. She is like a teacher trying to gather a particularly unruly group of children. In turn, or sometimes not, each child runs by carrying just the inkling of an idea, taunting her with it and darting away just as she tries to grab hold. It is chaos and only lends itself to more confusion.
I can only watch her struggle as she tries to create order. Though, I know she cannot. I breathe softly, not allowing the sickness to penetrate the centered space I have created for myself. If I am to help her, I must remain focused.
“May I say something?” I ask.
The sudden statement pulls her thoughts back into the room. She was gradually drifting away.
I move forward quickly before she can gain ground, “I come to you because I hear you know how to free people of unwanted influences.” I am careful in the words I choose as I speak to her. “I feel haunted, Amber, and I need your help to free myself from these chains. The spirits have sent me to you. You are my only hope.”
She pauses and looks at me, still distrusting, but the thoughts are now finally beginning to form a line in her mind. I can see them falling into place around her.
Motivated by the progress, I continue, “You are so much stronger than me. I am afraid if I try this without you, I will fail.”
I pause, careful not to let her recognize me, not quite yet, or she will think this is a trick. It’s not. I realize I need her to help me before I can help her. I know there are many things I say to others that are for me. I need to believe “any healing is possible,” and I need to have the kind of faith after the healing to avoid bringing back what I have released. I must hold to the new truth. Thirty days, every day for thirty days, this is what we must do, she and I and we must do it together.
When she still doesn’t respond, I continue, “I need your wisdom, Amber. If I am to help myself and your family, I need your wisdom.”
She stops now and looks at me as I look up and finally allow direct eye contact between us. A sudden dawning of light appears on her face, and I see rage flash across her eyes. All of her feelings well at once, not in the frantic, scattered way they were before, but in one raw, enflamed emotion. It is at this moment that I finally see him.