It sometimes amazes me; our mind’s ability to send us messages in a bottle (or actually just smack us in the face with the blinking obvious) or the way the mind may deliberately present paradoxes or cryptic riddles, sit back and watches, giggles at my confused frown, and waits for the penny to drop…
Last night I had a really horrible dream, but for a change my horrible dream was not a memory. I dreamt that I had been accused of stealing some bananas (yes really). But in dream-land logic, such an accusation landed me in court facing very serious punishment. I cried and pleaded my innocence, whilst my friends sat with their head in their hands. I was found guilty, even though in actual fact the evidence was stacked against the other accused person, who walked free. When I looked to my left, I saw stony-faced demonic looking members of the jury, and when I looked to the right I saw my tearful friends…and right in front of me was the most terrifying looking judge I have ever seen, with big black coal-like eyes, a billowing cloak, a sunken cheek and gold teeth. (Yes, it would appear my judge was some makeshift pirate. But in dream logic it made sense.)
I was sentenced to 35 years in prison for apparently stealing the bunch of bananas (again, dream logic). I howled with despair, crying and yelling and begging, whilst the police came and arrested me (I don’t know how court works but I’m fairly sure this bit was wrong). They dragged me, me kicking and screaming…now close to a flashback because of the handcuffs…and begging my friends to “do something! Help me!” And they had done; they’d all stood up and vouched for my alibi – that I had been with them actually in a flashback at the time of the alleged incident. But their voices were ignored.
The prison wasn’t like any normal prison. As part of the “punishment” for such a serious crime, I was dragged out of my cell at 5am every morning, and subjected to extreme torture for my “guilt” which was actually innocent. At 7pm I’d be dragged back to my cell, almost lifeless and trembling with pain and fear. One of the inmates discovered what I was in for and found it so horrific (a bunch of bananas, can I just remind you) that she subjected me to abuse for the duration of my prison sentence. So during the day I was tortured by the system, and during the night I was abused by a vicious inmate.
I wasn’t guilty. I knew I wasn’t guilty but the belief of powerful people that I was guilty had left me being hideously tortured 24/7. The pressure of knowing I was innocent but being tortured for my “guilt” got to me, and I stopped fighting back. Like a ragdoll I allowed myself to be beaten, raped, burnt, strangled, electrocuted etc etc, and all the while I stared blankly at a wall. After a year or so, my fight had ran out entirely.
I wrote letters to my friends, but never heard from them. At “visitor” days I’d sit at my desk and wait. Surely they’d come. Surely. But nobody ever came. I had been wiped from their existence, I felt. With despair it slowly dawned on me that maybe they too now believed I was guilty and deserved this wretched treatment. Maybe I really was disgusting.
After three years some new evidence came to light, concerning the other accused person who had walked free. Suddenly there was a re-trial, and very quickly I was found innocent and the judge had to accept I had been innocent all along. I felt nothing. I stared at the box, just deadpan, bruised and aching and extremely thin and broken inside.
Someone opened a door and I was allowed to walk free. I numbly did as I was told. But now what? I had no phone, no belongings. It had been three years and my friends had apparently deserted me. I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t ever get a job because even though my innocence had now been found, on my file it will still say I was found guilty for stealing bananas.
I wandered to the quay, feeling weak. People stared at me and whispered as I walked past. I assumed it was because they recognised me and assumed me guilty, but in fact it was because I looked like a wreck and they could see it. But I was paranoid and believed their gasps and expressions were in hatred of me, not concern.
I sat by the quay, flicking pebbles into the water. Suddenly I heard my name being called, softly. I glanced up. There stood three of my friends, who I hadn’t heard from in three years. I said nothing, but stared at them, sadly. “It’s so good to see you…” one said, smiling.
I snapped. “Oh. Is it? If it’s so good then why have you ignored me for three years? I was abused in that place, do you know that? If it’s really so good to see me then why did you ignore my letters? Why did you ignore my pleas for help?” Finally, I broke down, and started sobbing. My friend ran forward and grabbed me as I fell into her arms. They all looked horrified.
“Jade…we weren’t allowed to go near you or contact you…the system wouldn’t let us. We wanted to help and to see you but we couldn’t get close. Didn’t they tell you?”
No. No they had not. But it turns out my friends had been forbidden to contact me, which I hadn’t known…but the effects of simply not knowing had torn my head so much to pieces, and the torture I went through for being imprisoned even when I was innocent. I didn’t think I’d ever recover. The dream ends with me going in the river.
Such a massively weird and really sad dream. Damn those bananas, is all I can say.
But it really is my head sending me several key messages in a bottle.
1) Being imprisoned for being “guilty” when in actual fact I am innocent, does a serious level of damage to my head (translate to real life) Although I haven’t actually been arrested, I have lately been locking myself away, refusing my right to seek help or comfort, because I feel guilty for what others have done. This is doing and will do serious damage to my head, is what I think my brain was trying to tell me last night.
2) Being imprisoned for a crime someone else committed means I receive the punishment which they were supposed to receive. So I was subjected to extreme torture despite being innocent.(translate to real life) Whilst I remain locked in my own current mental prison where I tear myself to pieces for what the abusers have done, I am being subjected to a lot of mental torture which is causing a deep level of damage. Meanwhile, the abusers aren’t going through this.
3) The system may prevent my friends from being able to help, and leave me feeling isolated and alone, and even more lost in the torture…but I was unaware that the system had done this, and instead was sure it was all my fault – that I must have been guilty. (translate to real life) I have been hyper-paranoid about people’s reactions and behaviour over the last few weeks. I have managed to successfully convince myself that I am one of the most hated people in Exeter, at least, and that my friends are desperately trying to find an escape card away from me. I don’t know where this came from but it’s been powerful, isolating, upsetting and painful. Actually it’s the system of instructions, programming, and whatever else making me feel like this and preventing my friends from being able to make me see rational sense or comfort me or anything like that, except up until now I wasn’t aware it was the system….I was convinced it was me to blame because I’m so vile.
God bless those bananas. Good going, brain.