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"Something Tough That Made Me Stronger" by John Gower

Gary Miller

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"Something tough that made me stronger" is how I described my electro-shock treatments to my doctor last summer. The first and second treatment barely made a dent on my depression. The third, however, is a different story. I later found out it was a new wave-length they were trying out. Though I was only under its spell for a minute or so I will never forget my dream.

I stood in the middle of a green meadow about the size of two football fields. There were magnificent oak trees on three side of the meadow. They had large limbs swooning down to the ground. Behind the trees was a dark forest. On the forth side of the meadow was a stretch of blue water that went on forever. I stood in the meadow and watched as the clouds slowly billowed into human forms. They represented reenactments of my past incriminations. Almost over-head was my mother and beyond her toward the trees was my ex-wife, past that my father, brother, and a whole family that I had known from my home town. All of them making me feel small and inept. The wind shifted and they were moving toward me. I moved toward the forest to get away but I could see something moving behind the trees, in the dark, something black; something heavy. It seemed to be waiting for me. I ran towards the water. As I walked through the muddy shore toward the water my foot prints quickly filled with something red-black, thick, and gooey. I bent down and looked at it more closely. I touched it. It felt and smelled like blood. Off in the distance I saw a man standing on the water. I was called to him. I was scared to be out in the open water because of what the clouds might do but there was something calming about the way he stood that gave me courage. I walked further out into the water knowing with each foot step I was stirring up blood. I began to swim. The water was warm and salty. I did the breast-stroke and kept my eyes on the man. At times he seemed close and then seemed further away. I tried to keep him still by locking onto him with my eyes. I didn’t want to think of the clouds. And then I was with him. He had sunk down into the water so we were just two heads about two yards apart bobbing in the water, slowing moving our feet and arms to keep afloat. His eyes were soft and loving. He looked like my father might have looked when he was young. He said, without speaking out loud; that I shouldn’t be afraid, that he and I were one of the many sons of God. We fell into one another’s eyes. He began to look like me. There was trust between us. He was not a man, he was something else, he was sometimes me, and sometimes not. I looked up at the clouds and they too felt kind and caring. I stopped moving my feet and arms and I did not sink. I began to move further away from shore, out into the horizon. I looked back and the shore was gone. He was gone. There was only horizon and clouds. The clouds and water and blood held me afloat. I was standing on water and I was not afraid. I heard a voice coming from within. I am one of the many sons of God, it clearly said. Just then I opened my eyes and my doctor was looking down on me.

            The next week in his office my doctor and I discussed my progress. I told him I wouldn’t recommend electro-shock to anyone, but that I’d always be grateful for the experience I had. My depression had not lifted, but it had changed.

If I listen and pay attention the clouds will whisper back what I whisper to them. I am not afraid of the blood that came before me. It will hold me up if I let it. I am adrift in the sea of God, and there is nothing I can do about it. What is tough will make me stronger.