Truth Awakens: Journey of the Wounded Healer
I sit down to write this with some trepidation – what I experienced was so personal, I am scared to share it. However, I feel a responsibility to disclose the final chapter of my journey to healing using strong psychedelics to explore the inner recesses of the mind. This has been a long-strange-trip thirty-five years in the making! Definitely not one experience, but the culmination of yogic searching and seeking desperately for answers almost four decades in the making. Now that the answers have been revealed to me, in the most startling climax to this journey, I feel the need to disclose a brief synopsis of what so violently occurred – a shift of tectonic proportions in the foundation that is what is only supposed as my reality.
Let me declare that this had been an extremely dangerous, hazardous road to wellness, that I do not suggest to anyone. Life-threatening, it has been, indeed. However when someone is in a position with nothing to lose – at the end of one’s rope, so to speak – danger and risk are pleasant, familiar, life-long play-friends one greets with only a modicum of fear, if not seductive excitement. Three weeks ago I was hit with a cataclysmic event that taught me to have a reverence, a respectful and rightful fear of what can only be described as “meeting my maker”. For a skeptical, atheist, science-minded, book-worm, introvert, I can only loosely describe the apocalyptic experience as seeing the “face of God”. The word apocalypse literally means “an uncovering”, a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. “Metting God” is as close as I can describe, using human language, to what happened, with such a strong, traumatic force, to me.
I will be the first to say, “Laura this sounds like a complete psychotic break, this is quite alarming”. I am full agreement to this statement. It makes one wonder, throughout the texts and religious myths of the ages, what was truly a “miracle” and what was a documented psychotic break? What I can declare, is that no matter what it was – the result is a deep understanding of the core of my entire existence, and as a result I feel there has been a profound, if not scary, healing.
Three weeks ago, what I can only remotely describe as a “kundalini awakening” experience occurred. It stills seems so immediate, so much a part of my molecular structure, that three weeks ago seems like an eternity. On the other hand, three weeks is a long time to still be feeling the symptoms of what I have discovered is a real condition,HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder), a rare condition where one experiences a consistent, ongoing “flash-back”, including perplexing visual effects only. The euphoric “love bubble” one usually feels during a psychedelic trip is not there, however what is left are perplexing visual effects, including halos around objects, distorting sizes or colours, and bright lights and trails that won’t fade. This is exhausting, as it feels that the brain is permanently “on”, in a perpetual state of processing outside stimuli, making every day “normal” experience of navigating the physical world daunting – sights, sounds, smells all are heightened and on full “alert” mode. I have accepted this condition, and hope it subsides with time and attention it can be managed in not to overstimulate myself, therefore I have learned to “make the most of it” by keeping close awareness of what makes it flare up (it ebbs and flows), and monitoring what allows it some ease. A simple task such as walking down Main Street to go grocery shopping can be a bizarre experience – thankfully I live in the most surreal places I’ve ever been to in the world! Every day there are fireworks going off, impromptu festive parades, on-foot funeral processions, lively music, dazzling array of tropical flowers, and colourful, eccentric local characters living their unusual, beautiful, if sometimes tragic, lives. Life and death are viewed very at the surface here. The place in which I live is as bi-polar as I am, which gives me comfort in a way – I do not feel out of place. This is truly the land of misfit toys, therefore I feel a sense of freedom to explore the depths of insanity/healing here.
How to describe the event? Allow me to give the Cliff’s Notes version to an epic saga. I’ve been exploring with psychedelics since 1984. Since my firstayahuasca ceremony in 2016, I have been pushing and pushing, having an instinctual feeling in my gut/brain/bones that there was something left uncovered, something deep down left unexplored, and therefore not truly healed. Since the five ayahuasca journeys, I had been truly pushing the extents of how much LSD one can consume (thankfully it is not physically addictive), in what can only be described as truly, pleasant, enjoyable, nature-loving, joyous fun, trips. These culminated on my 49th birthday weekend. I rented a private, remote one-bedroom cabin, on the edge of the tropical island jungle, with a private balcony hanging over the edge of the Caribbean Sea. This is a truly idyllic set and setting, a place where I feel at home and comfortable with, a place with wonderful memories of my deceasedrescued dog, and bonding time with my mother, a place that is hidden and little known, so outside travelers, tourists, and even locals are not aware of it – truly a secluded haven, in what is becoming an increasingly populated, polluted and devastated world, relishing my solitude, feeling at one with nature, not speaking to, nor defined by, anyone.
The two days I spent in that utopic cabin were of a full meditative state. I filmed what I knew would be my FINAL video for this website (still to be edited and released in 2018). In this video, which I haven’t even been able to watch (it’s in the trusted hands of my soul-sister video editor) I am slightly tripping and completely FREE in that I am extremely aware that this is the last video, the swan song of the videos of the online persona that is Laura Kay. I wanted to, and accomplished, putting to bed the persona – killing it, actually, so all that is left is Laura, the little girl who was born in Panama, the little girl who was never sexually abused or exploited by a childhood friend of the family who served in the U.S. military – much of the progressive abuse and exploitation at the brutal self-sabotaging deliverance of my own hands, repeating that initial abusive dynamic which I mistakenly felt I deserved as punishment.
After the euphoric, even manic, birthday video was shot, three weeks ago, by a platonic girlfriend of mine, I spent the next two days/nights in exquisite solitude, in nature and comfort – safe, warm and dry. I spent the time in a hammock on the balcony, staring at the abyss of the ocean, and mainland Panama in the distance – contemplating the place of my birth and my place in this Universe. All the while, listening to the unexpected MASTERPIECE that is the new Dhani Harrison album. I had no clue as so the significance of this piece of artwork put to music. I had, on a whim, bought it and played it on a loop of perpetual sonic brilliance, debuting it over loud speakers I brought with me to my solitary birthday celebration. I was shocked to later hear an interview onNPR with him describing the album as “the apocalypse”, as that’s truly what it is, shattering the notion of all illusion in this existence, truly a sound-track to spiritual cataclysm.
After I got back into Bocas Town, to my home and yoga studio, I went back to teaching that Monday and Tuesday. I had been feeling “weird” but I have a work-ethic instilled in me by my father. The show must go on – I always feel a severe sense of guilt and shame if I ever have to cancel a class due to rare illness. Even after my near-death-experience of drowning four years ago, I was back at work the Monday following. For such a seemingly “lazy”, depressed person, I can be very stubborn and disciplined. It wasn’t until that Tuesday night, when I was teaching that I had a panic attack while teaching! I pride myself on a level of professionalism, and have invariably been able to, up until this moment, always hold myself together, whether teaching now, or dancing on stage in the past, no matter what was thrown my way. The difference is now, no doubt, I was undergoing radical withdrawal symptoms from prescription xanax, a new very prescription that I had underestimated the power of, when only recently going on it. What sparked the sudden and massive withdrawal is my new, local, island doctor went to the mainland without notice. I had come back from my birthday trip, in which I relied on the medication heavily to take the edge off the massive doses of liquid LSD trip(s), and when I got home and found out she left town, until next year, it’s like all the anxiety – real and perceived – came crashing down. An existential crisis of monumental proportions occurred, with a feeling of being amped-up, very shaky and jittery…electric. Needless to say, I knew “something” was coming and proceeded to cancel the remaining yoga classes for the rest of the week, which is unheard of for me, as somehow I knew I would need a substantial amount of time self-nurturing, to heal myself before I can expect to provide healing space for others. That’s what yoga does – it heals. Depending on one’s intent and one’s discipline to continued practice, it really does have the power to heal – basically you get out of it when you choose to put into it, it’s something I can not teach, but only facilitate. As a facilitator, I knew I was not up to my potential, so I temporarily closed it down (I am back to teaching now, and am currently doing a fine job of it, gratefully).
As a result of closing down the studio, and trying to figure out what was going on with me, the feeling of being “amped-up” exponentially increased by the hour. I started purging profusely in the form of vomiting up nothing but bile. Severe dehydration occurred, to the point I was scared for my life, despite refusing to EVER go back to the Bocas hospital, where I really should have been hooked up to an IV and monitored, as rudimentary as the treatment provided there is. Thankfully, a student/friend/daughter-I-never-had sent me a text message, concerned that class was canceled, asking if I was okay. It was only because I received that concerned text that I made the effort to reach out and return it, asking for humiliating help. Having lived alone, being self-reliant since 2001, I can be very stubborn and stalworth in my independence. I am grateful that I sought out my friend’s help though, as ultimately it did save my life. The feeling of impending dread was so strong, with no escape from it, that I had no doubt as to my own imminent demise.
So imminent seemed my rapidly approaching demise, that I started making preparations for the looming encroachment of death. How I know I am not over-dramatizing this account, is there is physical, testable evidence that I GAVE A VALUABLE DIAMOND RING AWAY to my friend who was tending to me, bringing me Pedialyte to keep me alive and hydrated. This ring I had as a remnant of my time in Tucson, when I had the, now vastly waned, money and silly inclination to do such things as hoard diamonds. Diamonds should be inherited, the others of which I had have SINCE been allocated and willed safely/securely to my nephews, in the United States. If you want to come for them (as a con-man from Panama City, came for, and swindled me out of my sizable life-savings five years ago), it’s too late – the diamonds are gone.
So, this was it! I was giving away my valuables, and making death-bed confessions. I did not sleep a wink all night, and when daylight came, I made the call – I called my father to say goodbye, with tears streaming down my face, enough tears that have been damned up and stored for decades, came crashing down the flood-gates. I said all the things I always wanted to get off of my chest – a whole lifetime’s worth of confessions, pleas, and declarations of love, forgiveness, and acceptance. In turn my mother called me, and again, I said goodbye to those who brought me into this earthly existence. It was “go time”, a true culmination of life, I was prepared to meet the end of.
In all, I was awake, with not a glimpse of sleep for 90-hours, that is FOUR SOLID DAYS without sleep. I had always heard that sleep-deprivation was an effective torture device, although I had no clue as to how this could be. Yes, it is, as the four days of sleep-deprivation, combined with prescription medication withdrawal, and dehydration (and starvation as I vomited up anything I ate), not to mention my painful period that came out of nowhere, a month late, led to the “perfect storm” of symptoms that culminated in a fully-blown psychotic break and/or spiritual enlightenment, complete with intense hallucinations of that which I had never seen before, or since, my ayahuasca experiences. Laying there, in my blacked-out bedroom for four days, in a cold-sweat (the time of which seemed to pass quickly, although it was terrifying) climaxed in (hold on to your hats) a crystal clear, highly defined, sharp, powerful current of electricity, like a lightning-bolt, hitting the base of my tailbone, and traveling up my spine, and out the crown of my head, convulsing my whole body effortlessly, which reduced any past trauma I had experienced in my life, seem like a trivial cake-walk. It happened within an instant, and with it came the visualization of of a sparkling light traveling up my spine and a true “kundalini awakening”. The visions I had were reminiscent of the artwork of Alex Grey, an artist who’s work I have been familiar with since my decade-long career working in the bookstore industry, starting in the late-1980’s.
The scientific observer in me realized that all the visual and auditory hallucinations I had were based in learned experience and behavior stored in the deep recesses of my memory. Recesses that are usually tapped only during REM sleep and dreams. It turns out if the brain is not allowed sleep, then dreams while awake occur, which is terrifying. Once I was able to ascertain this, my anxiety decreased, and I was able to actually control the hallucinations, including playing around with guiding the colors and what I saw, much like a lucid waking dream, fully aware and fascinated by my own nervous system that was artfully playing, after going haywire. The moment of revelation came when I got the electrical shock to my spine – with it came a complete, intuitive understanding, or “grokking”, that the Universal Life Force (or God, if that term helps one to be able to grasp the limited human-form conceptualization of LIFE) absolutely did not want me to die. Allow me to paraphrase the wordless message it sent to me, accompanied with the lightning-bolt to the spine: “I, as LIFE, did not travel via asteroid, through the harshness interstellar space, impacting violently with the Earth, evolve from primordial pond-scum, out of the oceans, to bi-pedal tool-wielding life-forms for you to want to have a death-wish, you spoiled brat”.
This recounting of cataclysmic events sounds utterly preposterous, of this I am aware. However, in the end, my suicide ideation is GONE, for the first time since I was a child. A sigh of immense relief fills my once-water-filled lungs. In that regard this enlightenment, disguised as a nervous breakdown (or is it the other way around?) served it’s purpose – to keep me not just alive, but relishing and cherishing life, and able to help me create healing space of nurturing for others in terms of my in-person (not online) yoga teachings. In that regard this glimpse of insanity/awakening is invaluable, far much superior than whatever monetary account I can charge for teaching, in order to keep the roof above my head from leaking during torrential tropical downpours, literally and metaphorically.
As for unhealthily gaining monetarily from my own objectification and harmful self-exploitation, this website will be defunct and put to bed before my 50thbirthday, in 2018. The video I shot at the beginning of my November birthday weekend will be the LAST nude video of me. This is the last article. I am putting to death the online persona of “Laura Kay” so that I can truly live authentically. It only took me 49-years to learn this lesson – 49-years that were clearly mapped out and put together as a jig-saw puzzle suddenly solved in an instant – and in the end, so worth it. If you deem me to be mentally ill, you are right, and I do hope you do not judge or stigmatize this condition, and rather, dig deep and find compassion (perhaps even empathy) within your own heart for someone going to the depth of “heaven” and “hell” to attain this level of painful knowledge and healing of self. The end (a.k.a A New Beginning).