The first dream is common to any recovering addict. It's the relapse dream, or nightmare, as I see it. It took place in the house in South Sacramento that my family lived in after we moved from Tacoma, Washington in 1973, and I spent my teens and early twenties there. I did some pretty hardcore eating in that house, so it's only natural that I would travel back there during a relapse nightmare. I went into the kitchen, where each counter top was covered in heaping platters and bowls of my favorite binge foods: French Bread, all types of cheeses, breakfast pastries, cornbread slathered in butter, fried chicken, pizza, chili cheeseburgers, lasagne, my mom's homemade specialities: meatloaf, BABs (big-ass biscuits, the absolute biggest, softest and best buttermilk biscuits in the world), collard greens and my all time favorite, her macaroni and cheese that she made with half and half, butter, and loads of cheese. I especially liked to eat the corners where the cheese would pile up and melt. I walked through the kitchen and went into the den, where there was all types of goodies, a wide screen television, huge stereo and best of all, a long table topped with all types of desserts: cheesecakes of all types, cakes of every imaginable size and flavor (except coconut; I hate coconut), pies, and homemade ice cream still in the metal container where it was churned. Then to top off the scenario, in every corner of the kitchen and the den were buckets of large, brightly colored foil wrapped bars of expensive chocolate bars. LOTS of expensive chocolate bars. I started going nuts, not knowing where to begin. A binge eater's paradise. Or hell.
There was a tall, slender guy dressed in an Air Force formal uniform at the house who seemed to be a friend of my parents. He was an invited guest, and a very good looking Black man. He struck me as someone my parents would like me to marry, which automatically turned me off. Ladies, you know how that works. If your parents like him, he must be a dork. In this case, the guy was an Air Force colonel or something, and I know a little too much about military men and how they treat their spouses. Uh, uh. No way. I don't care if the guy has financial security, which is something that has always been extremely important to my mother and father. Does he have job with a steady paycheck and benefits? He's a good man, Angela. Go talk to him. There are things in life that are more important than a paycheck to me, although I do agree that a man with a career is emotionally better off than one who flounders about aimlessly unemployed. I've had more than a few floundering men come my way over the years.
Ok, I'm getting off track here. Sorry. Anyway, this guy grabs a bunch of chocolate bars and holds them out to me. He says, "Come on, girl, you know you want this!" (Good Lord, I didn't see the subtext of that during my dream!) He unwraps one of the chocolate bars and starts eating while making a lot of those "oooo, this is SO good!" noises. I watch him, and think, how will I ever explain breaking my abstinence to my sponsor? I turn away and try to walk out past the kitchen, but I get caught up in looking at all the food. Then I grab a plate, and say to myself, I can't do this. I can't be around all this food and NOT eat it. It's impossible. But at least I'm not eating the chocolate, I tell myself. Of course, I fully aware of the lie that I'm telling myself. Then, just before I take the first bite, the scene changes.
I'm standing on the banks of the River Styx*, and the boatman Charon is preparing to take "Neil" (a young man that I've encountered in my waking life) down into Hades via the river Acheron. Neil's journey starts out on the River Styx because of my emotional state. He is seated in the boat with his back facing me. Of course, I can't see Charon's face. No one sees his face, and perhaps no one should.
I become enraged at the sight of Neil because he is riding in the boat in order to chase after the phantom of his fantasies, his Lady Di. The boat was stuck on the bank, but I kicked it free. It capsized, and I watched Neil bob up and down in the brackish, foul water, desperately swimming after his vision. Then I hear someone laughing, an unearthly, evil sound. I assumed it was Charon, who was standing on the river bank a few feet to the right of me. But it wasn't. It was me. The sight of Neil drowning in the River Styx while chasing the vision of his lady love was hysterically funny to me.
Then I heard another voice, stern but loving. Although I couldn't really SEE her with my mortal eyes, I knew who that Presence was: the Maid of Heaven**. She had come to usher me away from my own obsessional imprisonment. "Come child, this is none of your concern," She told me. "Let go of your love and your hate." Gently, she kissed me on the forehead, then turned me around to face the most vast, desolate land that could possibly rival T.S. Eliot's "Wasteland":
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish?Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
In the far distance, past the miles of desolation, was a range of mountains which were lush and green with forests. The meaning of this was perfectly clear to me. I have to cross the wasteland, where I lose everything that I had before and take nothing material with me during the journey, then pass through those tall, lush green mountains to get to whatever awaits me on the other side. And I have to this spiritual journey alone. Not the physical and emotional journey. My Baha'i and recovery friends help me with that. But the spiritual journey is one that I have to do alone, with nothing but God as my guide and solace.
One way or another, I'm going to learn to "let go and let God".
by Michael Dawson
The river of which many know its name, without knowing its origin or what it really stood for. A river that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. Styx it is said winds around Hades (hell or the underworld are other names) nine times. Its name comes from the Greek word stugein which means hate, Styx, the river of hate. This river was so respected by the gods of Greek mythology that they would take life binding oaths just by mentioning its name, as referenced in the story of Bacchus-Ariadne, where Jove "confirms it with the irrevocable oath, attesting the river Styx."
There are five rivers that separate Hades from the world of the living, they are:
Acheron - the river of woe;
Cocytus - the river of lamentation;
Phlegethon - the river of fire;
Lethe - the river of forgetfulness;
Styx - the river of hate.
It is thought that Charon, the old ferry man who ferries the dead onto the underworld, crosses the river Styx where the dragon tailed dog Cerberus guards, allowing all souls to enter but none to leave. This is a misconception, Charon crosses the river Acheron where also Cerebus stands his eternal guard. Also while on this subject, Charon only takes the souls across that are buried properly with a coin (called an obol) that was placed in their mouths upon burial.
If a god gave his oath upon the river Styx and failed to keep his word, Zeus forced that god to drink from the river itself. The water is said to be so foul that the god would lose his/her voice for nine years. The river is not the subject of any story itself but is mentioned in several. These little pieces give a wonderful view of not only the river but the ancient Greeks view of the underworld. From its Adamantine gates to its separate levels of Tartarus and Erebus onto the Elysian fields. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
**Maid of Heaven (from God Passes By by Shoghi Effendi, pages 101-102)
While engulfed in tribulations, I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden--the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of my Lord--suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the all-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outward being tidings which rejoiced my soul, and the souls of God's honored servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: "By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His treasure, the Cause of God and His Glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive."