William (not his real name) is in his mid-twenties, and is a volunteer at Resurrection House.
He is possessed with great charm and friendliness, and the guests like him greatly. I often drive him to and from Res. House, and from time to time we have lunch together.
William is a recovering drug addict, and has been clean for two years. He lives in a safe house for recovering addicts.
Few know, or would even guess that he struggles with mental illness.
He grew up with a violent father and an alcoholic mother. He was sexually molested by a neighbour man when he was fourteen years old, and was threatened with death if he ever “told”.
This coincided with the onset of his illness: “schizoid affective disorder”.
William is faithful to his regime of meds., but they are often out of balance.
Yesterday, whilst I was at Bible study with other Clerics at St. Boniface Church, William took a long walk with my dear Joyce on Siesta Beach. I sensed that he needed some healthy “mothering”, and that Joyce was just the person to be with him. They walked for about an hour and a half, and it was a lovely walk for each of them.
After their walk, and my bible study, we took ourselves to “Sweet Tomatoes” for lunch.
William began to recount the horror of his few days in the Navy, days which coincided with a deep slump into mental unbalance. (The Navy treated him with great care and compassion).
The more he told his story, the more manic he became. He began to sweat and to tremble. I suggested that he should stop talking and take some deep breaths. This he did, only to re-enter his long, rambling and very detailed horror story. He was going back into the darkness.
I intervened again, and asked if he would like Joyce to hold him. This he did, and she held him tight for twenty minutes as she gently “talked him down”. At one point he looked across the table to me, which a look of sheer fear.
Of course Joyce was wonderful and entirely skillful, and once she was sure that William was settled we drove him home, and ‘phoned the house manager so that William could not be alone.
Going back into the darkness is fearsome, scary stuff. Re-telling awful history is to re-live it.
I thanked G-d and the Universe that Joyce was there for William, to walk him out of the darkness, back into light and life.