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D
reams harbinger dark and light. Darkness
has far more to teach us: accepting that
deepest truth is the culmination of the
hero's journey, as famous mythologist Joseph
Campbell explains in his wonderful book: "The Hero
with a Thousand Faces"
I am a recovering alcoholic although I
prefer "discovering soul"! One of the hallmarks of
deep addiction is the myriad forms of denial we
use to hide the truth from ourselves. Drinking was
my way of escaping the world, but particularly my
psyche. I've found many addicts to be gracious,
spiritual people beneath their substance and
dramas.
Just before I returned to Addis Ababa in
March 2004, to research my first, friends-reunited
book "An Ethiopian Odyssey" a vivid dream warned
of darkness. In it, several of my classmates and
I were with a captain on a small boat. I couldn't
understand why the women were allowed to
disembark at a port, while I had to stay. We sailed
on, encountering a tremendous storm. Thunder
and lightning roared and crackled around us,
and huge waves threatened to capsize the boat.
Terrified, I asked the captain if we'd survive.
"Hold on," he said. "Together, we will and
you'll meet the rest of your classmates."
In time, the storm subsided, and we sailed to a
beautiful Mediterranean port, houses dotting the
hillside like lego bricks. As he turned to help me off,
I looked at his face. It was the face of Christ.
That dream foretold the family trauma of
addiction, one which almost destroyed us. We had
nine years of suffering, thankfully behind us now.
Another dream forewarned me of my
younger brother's death. Eric was a registered
heroin addict. (Addiction is our family darkness.)
His health was very poor in the final years of his life,
but he met a wonderful man, Stan, who was the
father he'd never had (our father had bullied him
endlessly.) In the dream, I had found Eric's lifeless
body in his flat I woke up crying. Two years later,
the dream was fulfilled. Eric committed suicide on
Good Friday, 2009. RIP, my lovely gentle brother.
I honour the wisdom of my dreams and
premonitions. Today, I'm writing a second book
about dreams, addictions and the search for
self: the quantum gifts of suffering and choice.
Neuroscience is now revealing how we are shaped
by family trauma up to four generations earlier. I
hope that it will bring greater understanding and
healing for addicted families and the mental health
and addiction professions.
p