Our visit to Canada to see our new granddaughter came to an end, and my wife and I returned to our home in Europe. Not long after, I became depressed once again. Thankfully, the episode did not last long (a matter of a few days), but it was very intense. I had little appetite, and had difficulty sleeping. I decided to spend nights in a separate upper floor bedroom so that I would not disturb my wife. As has been typical, my thoughts about myself were extremely critical. Finally, the pain became so difficult to bear that I wondered how much more I could endure. However, I desperately did not want to cause my wife any further hurt. I lay in bed and prayed fervently to Jesus to quell my angst, not for my sake, but for my wife's. Toward morning, I fell asleep, and dreamed that a cat told me that she was secretly pregnant, and that she was going to give me one of her kittens. When I awoke, I was relieved to find that I had slept a bit (without medication), and I was reassured by the dream (a kitten represents the playful innocence and goodness of the divine feminine). Later that morning, as I thought about the previous night, I felt very deeply the pain my wife would experience should I ever die prematurely - it was as if I were inside her mind. I realized that my desire not to hurt my wife was far stronger than my ego's residual self-loathing. This was a very important insight. It proved to me that I was capable of true, unselfish love. It meant that I was "good". Acknowledging my innate goodness was an emotional release, and I felt so much better about myself. That evening, I found myself thinking about my little sister, who had committed suicide in 1986. I thought I had long ago plumbed the depths of my grief, but I was wrong. I grieved deeply for my loss, and I also grieved deeply for how she must have suffered prior to taking her own life. Allowing oneself to grieve the loss of a loved one, especially when the circumstances are tragic, feels painful, but it is actually a healing act of self-love. That night I dreamed that I rescued a cat from falling off of a very high ledge. Afterward, the cat lay contentedly on its back in my hands, purring away - another reassuring dream.
Last night I dreamed that I was swimming at our summer cottage and some guy on the shore started shooting arrows at me, for no reason that I was aware of. They all missed, and I proceeded to gather them from the water around me, intending to keep them. The shooter demanded that I return them to him, but I refused. He then said that the law was on his side, and that a policeman standing nearby could confirm that. I asked the policeman if I really did have to return the arrows, and he said yes. I argued that, under the circumstances, I should be able to keep them. The policeman started spewing what sounded to me like nonsense, making no effort to understand (or even hear) my side of the argument. In an effort to be heard, I shouted (out loud - I often talk in my sleep): "Your logic is so flawed - you're like a blind cat meowing at the moon". I awoke to my wife's laughter, and we laughed together for some time. This morning, my wife remarked on the symbolism - water, cats, and the moon are all feminine.
Robert Keith's work focuses on the healing of mental illness, particularly where such illness has been fostered by fundamentalist religion. He and his wife have raised four children. As a family, they were always open about Robert’s own struggles and their individual spiritual journeys. Robert is now semi-retired but continues to offer spiritual counseling.