A friend slid to the bottom this week.
My wife met her in college. She was one of those personalities that effortlessly grabbed the room, filled it with contagious laughter. A slightly crooked, uplifting smile, she was a person that went anywhere, talked to anyone. No limits for her. And not one easily forgotten when she left the room.
After a year in college, my wife and her moved to Florida, roomed in a bungalow on Captiva Island, a block from the sand and waves. They worked at the Bubble Room, ate leftovers to save money until the coffers were full. Then traveled to Australia.
Hostels. Tents. Camels. Jeeps, hiking, scuba diving and sailing.
My wife came back after 3 months. Her friend stayed and worked on a sheep farm, continued travelling, continued soul searching. A year later, she returned to the states. She would eventually get married, drive a long haul truck, travel Africa for a year before returning to homestead in Florida in a house with no air-conditioner, raise butterflies, have a pet hog, care for chickens, and float in their pond on summer days.
She committed to everything, 100%. With all her heart.
She searched for meaning in life, filled it with richness when she found it, then went on to the next endeavor with the same zeal. She went to church. Many churches. Different faiths, different practices. She was religious, she was spiritual. Dabbled with fortune tellers, talked to trees, manipulated energy, embodied love. She was a searcher at heart.
Giving, always, 100%.
So it was with the same commitment that, a few years back, she stepped onto a slippery slope. No one knows what quite precipitated her belief that she was possessed by demons, but she clung to that belief until she reached the bottom, tortured by inner voices and strange behavior along the way.
She drove across the country in search of a church that could exorcise her tormentors, but found no relief. Any suggestions by friends, family or otherwise, any attempts to dispel the illusion of her suffering had no effect--anyone that didn't share her demon belief was the devil himself disguised. Her madness was air-tight, impenetrable; walls fortified with the same zeal that drove her to search for truth and meaning until she was homeless.
For a while, she appeared to find some peace. She returned home, found work. Eventually, she began driving long-haul again. The money was good, the structure helpful. Perhaps those long days on the road, all alone with her thoughts, is what took her to the very bottom.
The clerk at the Bass Pro shop said she came in to buy a pistol. She was amiable, as always. He remembered that. The next morning, her truck was still in the parking lot. The demons were finally quiet.
It's hard to watch a loved one fall into quicksand. Her struggles only set her deeper. Everyone had done everything they could--called police, called for psychiatric help, sent money, paid visits. In the end, she was too deep, the slope too steep. Her beliefs so deeply entrenched, carved so indelibly into her psyche that she couldn't escape. Demons or not, her beliefs made sense to her, explained the pain.
Recently, I dedicated a writing "To the lost, To the lonely". I had no one specific in mind, just for people that find themselves in dark corners. That wandering can be very lonely. And the struggle...frightening. That person might be right in front of us, and there's nothing we can do about it.
Rest easy, Julie.