A Meg Ryan clone pops her head in the doorway, "Office hours over?"
I look up from the file I'm reading and smile.
Liz Hargraves is my psychiatric colleague and occasional confidante—in other words, when I need her, she's my shrink.
"I've seen my last patient, Liz, if that's what you mean. Come on in and pull up a couch."
"Don't mind if I do," she says, plopping down in my Lazy Boy chair and tilting it full back.
"You look wasted—rough day?"
"Yes," she frowns, and hesitates before adding, "but it's not that Martin—I hardly know how to tell you. Is this a bad time?"
I put away the file and take off my glasses. "This is a good time. What's up?"
"I'm not sleeping—my heart's racing—I can't stand how I feel."
I can see the dark circles under her eyes and the gray pallor of her skin.
"Going through a rough patch?"
"It's more than that—for want of a better word, it's bizarre."
"Really? What's going on?"
"It's someone I've known for some time—Brad May—we went through grad school and interned in the same hospital. We're colleagues—run into each other at conferences—you know the drill."
"It's silly—I feel foolish now I'm telling you."
"Look, you look like hell and something about this guy's bugging you, so why not just come clean?"
"You want me to start at the beginning?"
I pull a bottle of Dewar from my desk drawer along with two glasses and pour us both a double shot.
"I don't care how long this takes—and I should warn you—I have another quart bottle in the cabinet behind you. So, lead on, I'm all yours."
"You're a dear, Martin—I can't tell you how much I appreciate this."
"You've done the same for me many times, so now, make a good act of confession."
I give her a mock blessing, making the sign of the cross over her, and steeple my hands on the desk before me.
She laughs, sips her whiskey and I see the tension in her face begin to dissolve.
"As I said, it's silly really. Brad's hardly said anything to me other than shoptalk and the occasional coffee chat at conferences—but, I guess it started with the feeling of being watched."
"When did you first experience that?"
"It started several months ago, usually at night. I like to read in bed before turning out the light—just the odd romance novel—that type of thing. I had this overwhelming feeling I was being observed."
"You live in a downtown condo don't you?"
"Yes," she laughs. "Toronto's becoming condo city and mine's right on the Lakeshore. I have a splendid view of the lake."
"I take it, you draw your curtains at night?"
"Of course, but as I said—there's nothing but lake and I'm in the penthouse—so no peeping Tom's likely."
"Occasionally, during the day though, I'd feel I was being watched—sometimes in the mall—but even when I was alone in the elevator. Gradually, I had the sense it was Brad—don't ask me why, I just did."
"You never actually ran into him—you know by serendipity?"
"Never. Not once. I can't say he was stalking me, because honestly, I've no evidence of that—and yet, I'm convinced he is."
"So, you feel you're going mad—and you're entertaining an irrational delusion?"
"Well, yes—thank you for putting it bluntly—but, that's exactly how I feel."
"And you feel threatened?"
"I feel I'm being stalked and dominated—and yes, it has a sexual component as well—I know you haven't asked, but I can sense that too."
"I hate to ask, Liz, but have you ever felt attracted to Brad?"
She pauses, staring at the ceiling for several seconds, before softly answering. "Yes, at the beginning, when we were in graduate studies— I did feel an attraction toward him, but he was engaged at the time."
"So, the right guy at the wrong time?"
"Something like that."
She's still single and not seeing anyone as far as I know. I cringe inside, not wanting to probe, but I still have to broach the question regardless. "Are you sure it's not projection?"
"Definitely. I am so over him. The more I've seen of Brad over the years, the less I've liked him. I find him vain and childish in ways—occasionally, socially inappropriate."
"So, in other words, he'll make the odd sexual remark?"
She nods. "My defenses immediately go up—it nauseates me, to tell the truth."
I sip my Dewar's and stare through the window at the night outside—the jumbled mosaic of colored windows shimmering in the darkness.
"Do you think I'm mad?" she whispers.
I turn back to face her. "Not at all."
She's twisting a strand of her hair and her forehead's furrowed. I sense there's more.
"So, is that it—the feeling he's psychically stalking you?"
"No, that's not all—now he's in my dreams. That's why I look like shit. I can't sleep—I don't want to sleep."
"Would you call these night terrors?"
"No, nothing like that. Just dreams—running into him and having conversations with him. It all seems so mundane, but when I wake up, there's this aura that persists—as if I really did see him."
I look at her thoughtfully.
"What do you think's going on. Martin?"
"Do you want the DSM or do you want what I think?"
"Obviously, what you think."
"I think you're picking up on Brad's feelings towards you. Love can quickly degenerate to obsession, then stalking as a form of dominance."
"But he doesn't actually do anything—physically, at least."
"I think rare people have the ability to contact others mentally and those who are sensitive can feel it and respond to it."
"It sounds mystical."
"It is in a way. I think we all have the potential to do this—to think of another person and be in touch with them—to be present with them."
"But this is spooky, Martin. It's not normal. It's scary."
She shivers thinking about it.
"The way I see it, we're hybrids—we have a soul and a body. Each of our aspects has authority over its own realm."
"Okay," she frowns.
"Because we have a body, we can touch, affect and respond to physical things. Because we have a mind, we can touch, affect and respond to mental things."
"But what I'm experiencing is unusual, Martin."
"It's a perfect storm because you're both sensitive."
"But what about him appearing in my dreams?"
"You know dreams are altered mental states. When you dream about people, you talk with them and they respond the same way as in waking life—they're not puppets you control—they have a life of their own."
"But why is Brad intruding into my dreams?"
"He's the shadow aspect of you—the parts you reject or repress. He represents something ugly or unappealing, so he becomes the stalker or pursuer."
"So, how do I deal with it?"
"Confront it. He's a frightening figure to you, because he's forcing you to see things about yourself you don't want to face."
"Like the fact I was once attracted to this creep?"
"Yeah. I think so. Your feelings of repulsion are as strong as his feelings of attraction—you're feeding off each other."
"So, I break the cycle by accepting the shadow aspects of myself?"
I nod, "and by coming to terms with them."
She smiles in amazement. "Well, I'll be damned—talk about a fire below."
"It happens," I smile back.
Liz made a start on her epic voyage to a new beginning.
These feelings and dreams were archetypal moments at a transitional time in her life—opportunities for her to learn significant things about herself.
It may seem impossible such occurrences happen, but they do. It happens in classical Physics, where nonlocality is the direct influence of one object upon another distant object.
In terms of our mental life, time and space are not at all binding as they are in material reality.
Liz was able to integrate her waking and sleeping self and use an unwanted attraction as a means for personal growth.
Nothing is unthinkable; nothing impossible to the balanced person, provided it comes out of the needs of life and is dedicated to life's further development. —Lewis Mumford