I sometimes wish that I could remember all of the abuse from my childhood, just so that there would be no more surprise landmines to step on every time a new memory surfaces. I know that memories come back when a person is ready to deal with them, but some days it’s just really hard not knowing everything. I still can’t seem to remember anything around third grade when I must have been seven or eight years old, I don’t even remember the name of my third grade teacher or what my classroom looked like. I know my brain must’ve shut off in some capacity in order to protect me, but protect me from what I don’t exactly know.
I’ve discovered that my feelings, the same feelings I was blaming myself for or numbing myself from for so many years, are of paramount importance. I’ve only just begun to respect and trust these feelings, and I’ve also learned that feelings are the essence of a memory, far more so than any narrative of a recollection. I’ve come to trust and respect my feelings through ceremonial shamanic use of ayahuasca in Peru, and also through dreams, particularly because the inspiration I’ve had from dreams have been instrumental in helping me to heal from a more recent rape that occurred in 2007. I’ve been allowing myself to feel more lately. I try to remember how it felt to be seven years old again ask the feeling to show me where it goes next. I’m having more information come to me in dreams when I do this. Specifically, I had a dream of my father voyeuristically staring at my naked body, where I am blind and struggling to open my eyes as l try to cover myself and get away from him.
I’ve also been appreciating triggers in a whole new way because they always point the way to something important. I now know the reason they “trigger” any response at all is because of prior experiences. I’ve been observing myself and I find I am often on guard with older men. It’s something about the way some of them covertly sexualize me that makes me suspicious of their motives. If they do or say anything to me that is flirtatious or suggestive, if they try to touch me or my clothing, I immediately dissociate. I get extremely angry, but feel paralyzed to respond in the moment. I then avoid them and carry myself with an attitude of anger in the hopes of repelling them. Unfortunately, this sometimes brings me the attention of men who have a sadistic glint in their eye, and that makes me even angrier. I’ve had other women ask me what the big deal is. “That’s just how men are,” they tell me. All I know is that for me, it is very, very triggering.
If a much older man makes overtly sexualizing comments about my body I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. I am repulsed and disgusted by it. They don’t even have to say anything but if they are obviously leering at me, it stokes the fires of rage in my heart, and they’re probably left wondering why I’m acting so cold and bitchy towards them. That’s one conflict I keep running into. Older men sexualize me, either with stares or comments, and I feel powerless to respond. I react by dissociating, ignoring, hoping they will just go away. And I end up feeling vulnerable and angry. Even at 30 years old I have a terrifying and irrational fear of saying something to these men.
In the past I’ve had well meaning people try to warn me about my angry attitude, women who say that it might not look that bad at 29, but at 35 or 40 it’s going to look grotesque. I only thought to myself, “good, it’s working.” The whole point is to drive away men who might hurt me. I now fully trust that there’s a reason why I feel compelled to act this way, why I feel safer when I do it. I trust that my triggers reflect to me a deeply ingrained emotional reaction to some original situation where I was hurt or threatened, a situation I cannot recall to memory yet. On the flip side, I trust that reacting to present circumstances through the lens of the past can lead to revictimization. It’s those men with the sadistic glint in their eye, that see me more easily since my anger freely promotes the fact that I feel threatened, which could lead to me being a target. Even knowing this, it’s hard to change, it’s hard to feel vulnerable, but I’m going to overcome this, and in the meantime, I am going to trust that my feelings, dreams, and triggers have meaning.
~“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I often use the metaphor that my life used to be like a building that was beautiful on the outside, but dark and decrepit and languishing on the inside. Nothing gets spared when you experience sexual abuse as a child or experience being raped. It makes a complete mess of everything and you don’t even know it until you know it.
I was afraid to live because I thought I was a bad person. I was a bad person because of all the things I’d do to cope with feeling bad. I was even bad for wanting love, because bad girls don’t deserve love. People only want them for sex. And women who are good for sex are whores. And whores are bad too. But I was only good at being bad.
I wasn’t brave. I was busy running away from the problems and pain but one day all my demons caught up to me, and it was going to be them or me. I was so sick and tired of being unhappy in this beautiful but languishing building that I finally wanted to see what was hidden inside, so I lit a match to see the horrors for myself. And there they were hiding in the shadows, all of my demons. Everything in my life finally began to make sense, and I could see I wasn’t bad after all, it was the demons, and the demons had to go.
But how does one kill a demon? I tried to chase them out many times before but it was ayahuasca that taught me the only way to kill a demon is with fire. They must be charred into ash and returned to source, and this is how I accidently burned the whole building to the ground.
I watched piece by piece as my life burned up, every piece of what I thought of as “me,” drenched in flame and reduced to ash, crumbled and disappeared, and I saw that the demons I tried to set fire to were just shadows cast by my own structure. I saw that the only thing to fear was myself, and the fire’s transformative alchemy spared me no dust-covered illusions from my attic. It left me naked and nameless and powerful.
Every relationship I had changed, because I had changed, and there was nothing I could do as I watched the old relationships burn, for they were just reflections of me. I was laid off from a job where I was unhappy, I left my showroom perfect apartment, and I began to operate on an unapologetic level where I could just exist and not have to answer to anyone but myself. When I was all that was left, there was no more fear; there was nothing to lose anymore, and that is what set me free. That is what showed me who I am really am and what I’m really made of.
~ “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” – Jim Morrison
There have been several stories posted online about people who healed their cancer with shamanic ceremonial use of ayahuasca, and I have a theory on why this might be the case. Personally, I did not go to Peru to take ayahuasca for cancer-related reasons, but what I accomplished with its use and with the support of the Ashi Meraya shamans was a deep and profound conflict resolution, what some might even call a spiritual awakening. What does conflict resolution have to do with healing cancer? Everything if you understand German New Medicine.
The reason I am a proponent of GNM is not only because it is an empirically proven approach to cancer treatment with an over 90% success rate (unlike chemo which has a “success” rate of 4%), but also because of it’s basis in the mind-body connection. GNM is an approach which views cancer as a supportive biological program running in the body to help the person withstand a particular conflict shock (like the testicular cancer that GNM founder, Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer developed after his son was shot to death, whose tumour had the biological purpose of making him more fertile so that he might be able to replace his lost son.)
So if conflict shocks can lead to cancers, and a resolution of the shock leads to healing, then I’ll go out on a limb here and make the educated guess that ayahuasca’s ability to hasten conflict resolution is the reason some people see tumours disappear after spending a few weeks in the Amazon jungle drinking visionary tea with a shaman. Doctor’s have explained away these healings as “lucky” anomalies, but there is something very important going on here. It’s times like this I’m so glad the Internet exists so folks can share their stories of successful healing with others.
~ “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” – Hippocrates
* Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.
I’ve been wanting to start this blog for months, ever since returning from a two-week Ayahuasca retreat in Peru in March of this year, but it’s fair to say I’ve spent the last six months recovering from the inner demons I faced there and the aftermath involved. The healing I experienced was so fast and beyond the scope of my expectations that my whole world burned to the ground upon my return home. My life was the same and yet I was a different person. Upon returning home, in the same week I both confronted my father about sexually abusing me as a child, and then was laid off from a job I was struggling to find peace with. Then one by one, I told the three other members of my immediate family about the sexual abuse memories I recovered in Peru. Some believed me, some didn’t. They were still living in a world that no longer existed for me, and the siren song of denial has been trying to call me back to it, back to the cozy lie where I belong to a family that unconditionally loves me. That is a hard thing to let go of, and is the reason I have kept these abuse memories shelved in the darkest recesses of my mind – until now.
What also caused me to hold back from writing about my experience was the worry of what others would think of my unconventional approach to healing symptoms of so-called post-traumatic stress disorder (brought on by a more recent rape experience) by visiting a shaman in the Amazon to drink a potent visionary substance seven times. I’ve had different responses to this, some telling me it’s irresponsible to not see a therapist, some expressing envy of my deep healing experience, some even expressing concern that I was taking “drugs” to overcome a problem, the irony of which I hope is not lost on you. All I can say is that NOTHING I have ever done in my life to try to overcome a problem (and I’ve had several, from addictions, to eating disorders, to depression, anxiety, and more) had the strong impact and gentle support that ayahuasca gave me. I’ve tried individual therapy, group therapy, self-help books and seminars, SSRIs, self-medicating with pot, cleanses, supplements, juice fasting, and a raw vegan diet. All of these things helped me in some way (except the SSRIs which just made me want to hurt myself, and which I stopped taking immediately after finding out that this is a common experience in young people who take SSRIs) but NONE can even compare to ayahuasca.
This blog is named in honour of my deepest lesson learned while confronting my demons with ayahuasca: The body’s intelligence is perfect and divine. I learned how it has been speaking to me in code in order to help me confront my past, my fears, myself, and overcome that which ails me. It’s always been speaking to me but I have not known how to listen. I cried when I learned that my sudden “allergy” to whiskey was my body trying to tell me I had been drugged and raped the last time I drank it. The reaction of red, bleeding knuckles (literally from not being able to fight back) ceased to happen after I finally listened to what my body was trying to say. Strange? I would have thought so before.
~ “Nature does nothing without purpose.” – Aristotle