John was passing through a crisis of faith. His father had died after a prolonged illness and in much pain and this prompted John to agonise and wonder why any kind of God would allow such suffering to take place, He was angry about many things. Unresolved issues with his dad and inherited from childhood that he was never able to ask about, but one day planned to seek some clarity and closure.
After the funeral, John began to drink heavily for the first time in many years. He threw away his Bible and his spiritual books and failed to show for work, losing his job after a month away. He didn't answer phone calls and ignored the doorbell when it rang. He stopped washing and cleaning his house, lost weight and became a hermit. He drew the curtains and settled into a self imposed exile, submerged in his own misery and lost in his own thoughts, thoughts that filled the silence of his exiled state of being.
Like a lost sailor, cast alone on the ocean, he began to talk to himself. He answered his own questions as there was no one else around. He developed little tics of behaviour and character that were barely noticeable to begin with, but over time and without anyone present to point these out and help address, became more pronounced and fixed. He hated himself. He thought of ways of ending his life. He fell to his knees and cried. And that's when he first heard the voice.
It was the voice of a young girl and it spoke to him like a ringing bell. It said " You're happier than you know. Stop crying. You're giving me a headache." I asked John whose voice this was, if he knew ? It was his younger sister who had passed aged six and in a car accident on a school trip to Wales in 1989 and when John was twelve. " I kind of knew I was going a bit mad already but...when I heard her voice I thought, well, that's it. I'm going bonkers for real now. I shouted at her to go away, piss off, then I laughed and then I cried. After an hour of silence and me sitting in the dark I decided to go light a candle.
My mind was a maelstrom of anxiety and self pity but I was excited and scared too, so I sat, breathed and asked " Joanna, are you there?" And after a minute I heard her little laughter. Then she spoke and told me I was making her sad. That she wished me to be happy. That she was happy and that Dad was with her too but was unable to speak to me yet. She told me to stop drinking. That our Uncle and his father both died from drink related illnesses and I would follow. That she had met them after her own passing through and she wanted to warn me. This went on for some minutes.
My brain was tingling and I heard the most beautiful music. A celestial choir of angelic voices seemed to be singing and it got louder and louder inside my head and in my inner ear. Quite beautiful if a little overwhelming. After a while this too ended and all was silent and I fell asleep on the floor. I slept for twelve hours.
On waking, I heard the sound of my letterbox and shuffled to the front door to find a letter from my church. It was signed by many members and sent me good wishes, asked of my wellbeing and saying that I was missed.
Also, the annual memorial service for my sister was to take place the very next Sunday and would I be attending"
I could only laugh out loud but it inspired me to clean myself up, cut down my drinking and I decided to pray and meditate more instead. Little by little I regained better health. It took a while but I can honestly say that hearing her voice was actually the beginning of my recovery journey and not a sign of the end of things."
Activist/ Health worker/ 20 years. Specific interests : wellness/ voice hearing/ coping/ exploring/ sharing/ stigma reduction.