If you told me years ago that one night I’d be deep in the desert sitting on a blanket surrounded by 39 strangers drinking Ayahuasca and barfing my pain into a bucket – I’d say you were crazy – I’d never wear my j crew pajamas in public. Rim Shot Please! And THAT may be the only joke I tell in this story – a story about 52 years in the making. A story that I’ve been looking for the ending to for years – and this morning I got – thanks in part – to my very brave mother.
I started doing Transcendental Meditation about a month ago – and during a couple of my meditations some very scary and creepy thoughts came up from my childhood. I got the distinct feeling that something happened to me – some sexual trauma – but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. This is not the first time I’ve had these thoughts – I’ve had them throughout my life. I could just never really figure out what it was and I chose to ignore it. Screw it. Fuck it. It doesn’t matter. It happened a long time ago so no big deal there’s nothing I can do about it now who cares move on blah blah blah build a wall and hide behind it. Leave the past in the past. It won’t change your future. You’re fine and happy and strong and okay. But on Friday night – the past started to reveal itself – and this morning it came full circle – and now I know what I guess I didn’t really WANT to know.
My medicinal journey with Ayahuasca began Friday night. I drove to a secret location with a friend who was going to produce my story for the local news. Why would I choose such a public forum for such a story? Well – it’s the same reason I write this blog – so that even one person may be able to read it and relate to it and maybe feel better about their own story. My friend was going to just sit by my side and observe my “trip.” If you don’t know what Ayahuasca is – please look it up because it’s too long to explain. All I know is that I was told it’s like 100 years of therapy in one day. I was told it was life changing. I needed that. I was on a strict fast for days and so I arrived with a terrible headache and backache. I was told to wear all white and to bring a pillow and some blankets. We entered the giant rec room and for the first time I realized just how big my group of fellow journeymen would be – about 40 – and I freaked out a little inside. Who are these people? Am I going to trip my brains out in front of strangers? Do I want all these people to know my story? I also realized I did not bring the right bedding or the right snacks. This was going to be a long journey and my chic Pendleton blanket and cute outfit was not going to be the support I needed to be comfortable. People were bringing out serious bedding and blankets. They had bags of snacks and water and little things they needed for comfort. I was clearly in a group of professional trippers and I was a novice. I was terrified but I told myself I was ready to face the demons. I was ready to see what happened to me as a child and release it to the Ayahuasca gods. I was not ready.
My friend who was producing the piece was told that she couldn’t stay in the room with all of us unless she too drank the medicine. She couldn’t be part of the circle. I really needed her there. Ruh Roh. I told her it was a great idea. Do it! We’ll be in this together. And she was just crazy enough to listen to me. We were told not to side talk to each other because it would ruin the experience. We didn’t listen. I drank the first cup of medicine at about 9:40. I immediately felt nauseated but did what they said and sat on my blanket and tried to keep the barf at bay. I remember thinking – please don’t let me be the first person to puke. After about an hour or so – hard to tell in the dark candle lit room – people started wretching… violently … into their barf buckets – which were small plastic mixing containers from a hardware store. I immediately wanted to flee. How am I supposed to listen to people puking and more importantly – there’s no way I can puke in front of someone. So me and my friend ran to the bathroom and started barfing in there. I was high – like a mushroom high – so I was just giggling my ass off. I didn’t feel like I was tripping though. I sat on the floor of the bathroom puking and farting. The farting made us laugh even harder. But I wasn’t tripping. I didn’t see my life’s pain in front of me like a story. And so we went back to our blankets in the circle and waited. And then I started freaking out. What if I’m the one person who doesn’t hallucinate and we came all the way here and we did all the interviews about this and its scheduled to air as a sweeps story and now I won’t be able to complete the story. I got so freaked out in my head and was terrified that I was going to let everyone down. And so when they announced it was time to take the second cup of medicine – something I didn’t think I’d take – I ran to the front of the circle and opened my gullet at the altar. I knew I was going to get violently ill again but I didn’t care. I had to give my friend a good story. People were barfing all around us. There was amazing music being played and guardians walking around saying prayers over us. I waited another twenty to thirty minutes for it to kick in but it didn’t. In fact – it killed the high that I did have. And now I was in a full on panic. I went to one of the guardians who was there to take care of us and said – what do I do? – is it possible I’ll never get the full experience? Am I too in my head to even let this happen? He said I probably was. And i full on freaked out. He said I should drink more. Oh fuck me. Drink more? I’m 103 pounds how can I possibly drink more? But I was truly terrified that I would disappoint my friend and not give her a good story . And so I went to the front of the circle – and knelt at the altar – and drank again. After about thirty minutes I felt really really sick. I ran to the bathroom again and shoved my head in the toilet – but nothing would come up. And suddenly – I remembered the instructions from earlier – don’t run away – don’t leave the circle – sit in your pain and discomfort and listen to the music and let it all take you where you need to go. Let the ayahuasca guide you to what you need to see. And so I did. I have NEVER been so nauseated in my life. I wanted to puke so badly but couldn’t. I kept trying but it wouldn’t come. My body was writhing around trying to get comfortable. I was hallucinating like crazy but I can’t really tell you what I was seeing. It was all very jumbled together and the second something would flash in front of me – I tried to overanalyze it. Was that it? Was that the picture? Was that what I’m trying to remember? I asked the ayahuasca guides to show me my past. Show me my pain. Show me what happened to me as a child. But they didn’t. And then my mind would move on to something else and in my head I would scream – what is that? Is that it? I remember my legs kicking violently. I remember hearing whispered voices around me saying – you’re doing great – keep going – this is what you need. I was afraid to open my eyes and so I kept them shut. The music was amazing and totally taking me to crazy places. The lyrics were telling the exact story of what I was thinking about as it was happening. But I can’t exactly pin point what I saw. Towards the end I had to pee a lot and every time I came back to the giant circle it looked like all the people in the middle were having sex. Which they weren’t. It was like I was watching a scene from that movie Eyes Wide Shut. After what felt like quite a few hours – I lied down finally because I didn’t feel nauseated anymore. But I was curled up in the fetal position – like a teeny tiny ball. It was now about 3:30 and the Shaman said – he was bringing us back to a state of consciousness. And all of a sudden I burst into tears. Deep deep tears and shuddering. I couldn’t stop crying. My body was convulsing as if I was cold but I wasn’t. There were massive convulsions like I was shedding trauma. It went on for two hours. I had the distinct vision that I was holding on to my trauma like a security blanket. Like it was my story. A story I didn’t want to let go of. But I still didn’t know or see what that trauma was. I remember very distinctly realizing – oh my god I don’t trust men. I don’t feel safe with them. I don’t trust them with my heart and I never have. I saw one friends face that I have had a long and wonderful if not at times confusing friendship with. I realized exactly what this friendship meant and why one thing we went through many years ago hurt me so badly. And that I had never allowed myself to truly feel the hurt from this friendship. I saw every sexual relationship I had ever had and realized that I chose all the wrong people – that they could never take care of me – that no one has ever taken care of me. I also saw another friendship I was in the middle of dealing with some hurt from but it didn’t give me any answers to that. I finally came down from my Ayahuasca journey and thought – wow what a basic bitch – I don’t trust men? Duh. I’ve been single for 17 years. Anyone could have told you that. We closed the circle that morning – listening to stories from the other people there of what they went through and we quietly drove home. I met some really cool warm loving people and I think I will try to stay in touch with a few of them. I could not wait to get home. I could not wait to get on my couch. I thought to myself – I will never do that again. How could anyone do that more than once? This morning I thought – that was not life changing. That was just a painful barf in the desert. What a waste.
This morning I woke up and meditated – which by the way is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I highly recommend TM. During my meditation – I once again saw what I think happened to me as a child. But this time it wasn’t a pleasant memory. (By the way I think I enjoyed what happened to me. I think it felt good. And I think that’s part of the guilt i carry. ) This time I saw a face. And I saw myself trying to get away from this face and from his hands pulling me back to where we were. I sobbed throughout my meditation. Moments later – after it was over – my mom called and I told her about the Ayahuasca. I didn’t want to tell her before because she worries about me and all the crazy shit I’ve been doing over the years. She asked me why I do all these things and I said – I just felt I had to do it because I really think there is some childhood trauma I’m holding on to. And just like it was nothing she said – “well don’t you remember you told me Uncle Marty molested you when you were a little girl? Do you think that’s true?” Immediately the floodgates opened. I wailed into the phone. Wailed. I have never cried like that in my life. Every part of my flesh and bones were sobbing and shuddering. As terrible as it was – it was the greatest release I have ever felt. I finally had an answer. She said that I told her about Uncle Marty (not his real name) many years ago – in my twenties maybe – and she said – I just said it so very matter-of-factly and moved on. She said I seemed to be fine and resigned that it happened and I didn’t want to talk about it and so she never mentioned it again. I have zero memory of ever telling her this. Suddenly my memory gates opened and it all came back to me. Suddenly I realized my history with men is all rooted in this one or two or ten moments from my childhood- when I was so very young – maybe 4. Now I know why I stopped dating when I got sober. Now I realized why having sex drunk was the only way I could have any sex. Now I know why I chose all the wrong men – the ones who would leave me – or the ones I could leave – because it was easier – it was what I was taught – that I wasn’t good enough to be loved for longer. That I was there to be used and left. That I didn’t deserve anything more. And I realized how deeply I look for acceptance in the eyes of men. And why I have chosen to ignore them rather than feel this lack of acceptance and this extreme judgement. And it wasn’t just men I dated that I set up for this failure – it happened with male friendships too. Most recently – one of my best friends – who I have been through quite a bit with – and who I felt had abandoned our friendship like it didn’t matter, like it didn’t happen, and like it meant nothing. (He didn’t by the way) And I realized that I picked him to be my best friend because at the time he filled a perfect void, a non sexual friendship marriage of sorts that I poured my heart and soul into. And when he had to go on with his life – I felt abandoned. And I blamed him. And I held onto it like it was a death in my life. This morning I apologized to him for that and I know in my heart that this friendship will be fine… and is right where it should be.
I now have the knowledge I need to move on with my life. I realize that every person I have ever dated, my alcoholism, my addiction to everything, why I don’t remember a thing about my childhood – all comes down to this moment of my young life – ruined by someone who felt it was okay to touch a little girl – under the age of 4 or perhaps – even younger. I realize that this is the voice I’ve been trying to drown out in my head for years. And now that I’ve said it – I actually feel guilty for saying it out loud. What if I’m wrong? What if I made the whole thing up. But the truth is – there are now too many pieces fitting together in the puzzle that is me.
People often don’t understand why I write the things I write about my life. Why I so openly share what I share with total strangers. In part – I do it so that someone who may be going through what I am going through won’t feel so alone about it. But I mostly do it as a release. To set the pain or embarrassment or whatever it is – free into the wind. So today I set my childhood free. I set free the little me I left behind. I think she’s going to be okay. Thank you Mom. I love you.