A Path to Love.
I've been considering for a long time to write you my story, but I just kept hesitating. I've never told it to anyone before. Please forgive me for my bad English, I'm not a native speaker.
I did not have a real NDE, but I had a spiritual experience which still has a profound impact on me, even though 13 years have gone by since it happened. Maybe I should start with telling something about myself and my life at that time. I hope it's not too boring for you, but I feel it's important to tell the complete story.
I was a teenage boy, just about finishing highschool. I always felt I would not get very old, I guessed 21 or 22. I had no real reason to think I would die at an early age, I was young and in very good health. But it was just as if I could "see" something happening to me at about that age in the future. I didn't know what this "something" was, but I supposed it would be death. I did not really worry about it, nor did I fear death, I just felt sad about the goodbye it seemed to be, and for the people that would be left behind. This feeling of having to say goodbye in the near future made me distinguish the things that matter in life from the things that don't. It made my life very intense. In the evenings and when I was playing music I often felt an intense peace, penetrating my whole being. I felt as if the air was filled with something very much alive (hard to explain) and I could see things in the air like small sparkles of light or life, which seemed to be blinking at me with a sense of humor and tender kindness. At that time I didn't realize that it was just me experiencing this, I simply thought this was what everybody could see, and that just not everyone was paying attention to it. It made me feel very good and happy, and often I even thought that I had found what everybody is looking for.
I was very insecure about myself. I had especially very much difficulty with identity, the relationship between men and women, and with sexuality. Because of the attitude of my mother towards men I have always been feeling very guilty about being male and about male sexuality. She was always judging men as being no good, irresponsible, immature, dominating, aggressive etc. All this made me feeling insecure, guilty and very much ashamed of myself.
At school there was a girl who fell in love with me, and I also fell in love with her, but because of all this guilt and shame I was feeling I was not able to really return her love. I felt as if I was locked up in myself, I just couldn't cope with these feelings and the whole situation. I tended to turn her down every time she came too close to the real me, spoiling the relationship. I have often been very unkind to her in this way, which I still regret very much.
In this way we were more or less together for two years in some sort of love-hatred relationship, until our final exams. After that we didn't see each other anymore. After finishing highschool I went to university, feeling very sad about everything that had happened between us. For months I kept struggling with myself, asking myself questions like "why am I like this, why did I react like that," etc. I started reading books and articles on psychology in order to understand myself and my family situation.
Some months before finishing highschool I had a very clear dream. In my dream I first saw myself as a puma. Then I saw myself squatting naked on the bathroom floor, very tense, trembling and struggling hard to stand up, but I couldn’t. I understood this was me, in my present situation, struggling with myself and daily life. Then suddenly, without an effort, out of me rose a very tall figure, a woman, impressively shining with light, peace, strength and balance, and I heard a friendly urging voice say: "Try to be ... !" (a name followed which I can't exactly remember). This dream puzzled me very much. Why did I change into a woman? Did this mean something?
So after finishing high school, I thought about my broken relationship, my problems with identity, sexuality and this strange dream. After about eight months of struggling and reading and wondering, I came to the conclusion that I must be gay, which also seemed to fit in this dream.
This conclusion came as an enormous blow to me, because I felt that everything I thought I was, appeared to be not true. I felt as if my whole identity had collapsed. By the time the summer holidays came, I was completely lost, and almost desperate. I was feeling as if I was literally balancing on the edge of an enormous deep black pit, fighting not to fall in, but I didn't have much strength left. I could constantly feel this black emptiness inside me and I was afraid of it. I even thought other people could see it in me. My parents' cat was scared of me and ran away from me every time he saw me, which he normally never did.
Then in July my parents and my little sister went on a holiday for a week, and I was glad to have some time to be alone and to think. I started praying and reading the Bible and found that it gave me some relief. Although I was brought up a Christian and I was familiar with the Bible, I never before noticed all this wisdom and richness in the Bible and I was amazed. I discovered that everything people (including the Hitlers and Saddams amongst us) do, or try to do, or try to be, is because we want to be loved and appreciated. That's all, nothing more, nothing less. This whole immensely complicated world is driven by these simple wishes.
After a week my parents came back, but I still felt the need to be alone, to think, to meditate and to pray, I hadn't finished yet. I wanted to get to the very core of myself, my problems and everything. Luckily after about two weeks my parents left again for a holiday in France, and I urged them to take my little sister, who was then 13 years old, with them (I never told them about my problems). When they had left I started to think, meditate, pray and read with greater discipline. I did hardly leave the house, ate little, watched no TV, played no music and read the Bible till two or three o'clock in the morning. And during this period of two weeks things slowly started to change. It became more and more easier to find answers to my questions, I simply had to pray and concentrate, and the answer would come. I started to feel the presence of God, and he was listening to all my questions. It seemed as if I could just grab all kind of knowledge out of the air that surrounded me. The heaviness of the guilt I had always felt was lifted from my shoulders. When I read the Bible I stopped at every single question I had. There's endless knowledge and meaning even in the ways things are put in the Bible, knowledge you wouldn't expect there to be when you simply read the words.
One day I was in the garden, and I saw that all the plants and flowers seemed to be shining with a beautiful light and joy, eager to grow up to the light, but this light was not the sun. When I looked up to see what they were so joyful about I saw the sky was filled with strange colours, shining and waving. I realized I was happy.
I learned I had to let go of everything, including myself, or rather the image of myself. I even learned I had to let go of my image of God, and I knew I was going to be free and I was looking forward to it. The world around me seemed to grow lighter, the walls of the house seemed thin and almost transparent. My actual problem, the fear of being gay and having to tell my parents, seemed to have lost its significance completely, and so did all my other problems.
Then one day I started tidying the house and putting everything in place. Suddenly I stopped and wondered why I was doing this. Then I knew it: my parents were coming home. I could actually "see" them driving in their white car through the countryside of northern France, heading north. At that moment it all just seemed very logical. That evening they came home, though actually they weren't supposed to come home until the end of the week. I could see in their eyes they saw I had changed, and they didn't like it.
The next day it happened. I was sitting at the dinner table studying. My mother was in the kitchen, no one else was there. Suddenly there were words in my mouth. They felt like small living objects. I did not think these words, nor had I been thinking how to say something, I was not at all intending to say anything, they were simply there. I would just have to open my mouth and the words would speak themselves. These were the words: "Mum, I'm so afraid I am gay". And I immediately knew that if I would speak these words everything would come out, I would be bursting out in tears, revealing myself in all my nakedness and smallness, which was something I never ever dared to do before. I would completely surrender.
However, I did not speak the words, I didn’t have the courage. And then I felt everything I had gained in the weeks before leaving me, the presence of "something", the knowledge, the clarity of my mind, the peace, everything. I ran upstairs and started praying, but it didn't help. The next day it was even worse. I had completely lost "myself", my being. This is very hard to explain or to imagine. It was as if my soul had fled away, into the ground. This all happened about a month before my 21st birthday.
Now we come to the bad part of the story. This situation of emptiness has lasted for at least ten years. The first period was the worst. I felt as if I consisted of no more than two eyes in an empty body and the thought that this was definitely not ok. Almost all the time my heart was hammering like crazy in my chest. I thought I would die of a heart attack. The stress was unbearable. I hardy slept, my memories had gone, my emotions had gone, there was nothing left in me. When I tried to defend myself in an argument my thoughts seemed to fall apart, and I couldn't remember what I had been trying to say. I had difficulty orientating even in places where I had been dozens of times before. I wasn't able to play the flute anymore, I had no feeling for music whatsoever. I was sure I was being punished.
I hardly slept. Normally when you fall asleep it feels like softly sinking deep into yourself. As I had lost my "self," there was no "place" to sleep in anymore. And when I slept, it was making me even more tired than being awake. I had terrifying dreams in which I was crouching through tunnels or bunkers somewhere deep under the ground, searching for a way out, and at the same time being afraid to find the way out. I also dreamt I was sitting in a very deep dark place, the only light there was some dull greenish glowing. There also was some demonic being there, and a dog with long razor sharp teeth. They did not harm me, but they were obviously amused with my presence and my fear. Again, I was just as afraid to be there as to get out. I believe I could have got out if I chose to, but something inside me refused to move.
In other dreams I sometimes met my girlfriend from high school, and she helped me. I believe with her love she has helped me very much during these years, though we never met again in real life.
My handwriting changed, I wasn't really aware of my body except for my hammering heart, I did no longer recognize myself. The strange thing was, hardly anyone seemed to notice. The only ones who did were my music teachers, and my little sister. I could see in her face she saw I had changed. But at that time she was too young to deal with it. My mother told me my little sister had had a dream, in which she was searching for me. When she entered my bedroom there was nothing but a dense mist. That was in fact all I was at that time: an emptiness filled with mist.
I visited a priest, doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists but I never told them the whole story, because I knew they wouldn’t believe or understand the spiritual part of it, so I left that out which I still think was the right thing to do, it would only have made things worse for me. In the first place I needed to be released from this terrible stress I was constantly under. I even had to start an argument with a psychiatrist (which is normally not my style) to get the medication I needed. The medication didn't bring the old me back, but it finally brought some relief from my stress. From that moment on it started to go better, and very, very slowly I started to find myself again. This has been a process of years, and it is still going on.
Well that was my story. I'm sorry it's a bit long but I feel it's important to be complete, which is not easy. I could tell you a lot more, but it has been difficult enough so far.
Now 13 years later, I feel much better, although I still have difficulty to find my way in this world (but who hasn't). I am almost completely recovered, and I consider myself a truly blessed person. I have a sweet girlfriend (yes, girlfriend), and can find peace again. Yet something has changed in me. There's now my life "before" and my life "after," and this will always stay like that, there's no way back. I know that in those weeks of prayer and meditation (or maybe even before that) I started out in a new direction. I often very much feel the need to be alone, and to live in peace and contemplation. I long for a simple and uncomplicated life somewhat away from all the turmoil. But I'm still wondering about what happened to me. What would have happened if I had spoken the words? Would I have changed in some way? Was I tested?
Finally, I would like to state some important things. First, this world is not a mess, though it may seem so. There's lots of friendly loving people, there is a lot of good done every day. The media just tend to highlight the bad things. We are not paying attention to the thousands of things that go right. There is miracles to be found in everything. Nature is a miracle, the sun, the moon, the morning, the evening, the trees, the waters and everything, and I consider myself truly blessed to witness it all. Music is a miracle, we are miracles. Heaven is near at hand. We are surrounded by the love of the creator. We are all responsible to look for this love and to look for peace in our own hearts. If we do so the world will change rapidly. It's a simple thing to do. A French philosopher (can't remember which) said: if everybody would take some time for him or herself everyday, there would be a better world. I very much believe this is true.
Second, judgement splits the universe in two. In yes and no, in you and me, in right and wrong, male and female, good and evil, in black and white, life and death, etc. The story of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of good and evil is a symbol for the birth of judgement and duality. Judgement is separation, exclusion, the start of more judgement, more separation, the defining of our systems of beliefs, the programming of yourself. By judging we become entangled in our own webs. A mere thought can have a severe impact on your life. I made the mistake defining myself as "male" and at the same time hating myself as a male, and denying the female part of me. As I learned to accept the female part of me, I learned to love the male part of me. Therefore, do not judge yourself or anybody else, nor try to adapt yourself to any image imposed upon you by the outside world. Love, and be complete, be whole.
On my holiday this summer I had the following experience, which to me is somehow connected to everything that happened before. One night while we were camping I was brushing my teeth at the sink. A large beetle came flying by, attracted by the lamp, bumped against it and fell on its back. I stuck out my finger so the beetle could grab it. I felt the strength of its little black legs and was a little bit afraid of it. But as soon as I felt this strength it felt like love. And I felt love for this little creature, and put it in the grass. The next evening the same thing happened. I brushed my teeth, a large beetle came flying, bumped against the lamp and fell on its back. I let it grab my finger, felt its love and put it in the grass. Then it opened its shield and flew away, and as it did so, it was as if I could see inside of this little creature a beautiful light of love, small but infinite at the same time. And I don't know if I saw it in the beetle or in me, or in both.
Well, I'll stop here. Thank you for reading,
Love and peace, J.
p.s. please be good for yourself, each other and for our planet
(I can only imagine the courage it took to write and post such a personal experience. Thanks for sharing. Many have seen the sparkles and the inner light, you are not alone.)