I heard about this on the way to work yesterday– using MDMA with talking therapy to process and heal from trauma and thought I’d share my own experience of healing using a do-it-yourself accidentally-created MDMA therapy. The passage below is taken from my spiritual memoir How to find Heaven on Earth: Love, spirituality and everyday life, available on Amazon for £3.72 paperback or £0.99 ebook.
Blessings from the West, the deep commitments of the lake
I love that line; it conjures up the near fathomless depths of real proper grown up love, reassuring me and at the same time reminding me, that’s Love: the deep commitment. Search the waters of your soul. Dive down into the murky depths, even though you are afraid of the dark, the weeds, scary fish, broken glass or rusty spikes or whatever you could find down there. It’s hard to believe you can be afraid of yourself, but it’s true. That’s why Love is scary. It shines a light, not just a warm golden glow of happiness type of light; it also shines a searchlight deep into your soul, uncovering everything that ever happened to you, everything you were ever afraid of. Although as the saying goes, there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Who is scared of fish, after all, or rusty things or broken glass? It’s beautiful down there, below the surface, in the dark, still waters of the lake. It’s beautiful down there, you just never realised it. Don’t be afraid, go, down to the bottom of the lake. That’s Love, showing you it’s okay. You being brave enough to go there, that’s Commitment.
I took Ecstasy for the first time, at the age of forty, with John. We didn’t go clubbing. We sat on the sofa and talked. The drug was like a Search and Destroy missile, cleansing me, going down into the depths, leaving nothing left unburned. I sat and told him about a really horrible time I had had at school, that I had felt so much shame about that I had barely ever spoken about it. I didn’t hide my face. I sat with my head up, making eye contact the whole way through. It really wasn’t so bad after all. It was in the past. I felt the shame and the pain being washed away by Love.
Later, I meditated, like in The Journey. I travelled back in time and I looked at that time at school from the point of where I am now, a place of healing and peace and for the first time I saw it in a different way:
I am a unique individual. I have strong drives: sex is important. I don’t like to be bound by rules, either the rules of 1980s sexist society and the double standards about sexual freedom that still exist today, or the radical feminist doctrine that I was exposed to at the time. I woke up: I met someone and we woke up together. A friend was also doing the same, but I went a bit further. Boys talk, and the playground, like the office today, thrives on gossip. It seemed cruel but it was just light entertainment for them really, just like the sexual misconduct and affairs of people I don’t really know are in the office today.
I was only eleven years old though, and had no one to walk alongside me, everyone who knew, even my friend, was unanimous in their condemnation. You would have to be an exceptional human being to have withstood all that and walked with her head held high. I walked with my head bowed, through walls of boys chanting taunts, explicitly announcing to all what I had done, or had done to me. What would anyone have done? I denied it, I walked in shame for as long as it lasted; weeks, months, years? I took short cuts and laid low. I avoided certain places. I checked everywhere. I declined invitations on certain routes. The boys would always be waiting. A wall of shame and humiliation, so unbearable I thought I would surely faint or disappear but I never did; there was no escape from the torture. It was unbelievable but I had to believe it. I don’t think many people would have been able to do anything else but just imagine if I had. If I had somehow believed in myself, in spite of the censorship of everyone around me. If I was as I am now: free and accepting of what and who I am.
I would say, yeah, so what? You boys, you’re just jealous and curious. You girls, well, you’ll come to it soon enough anyway, so what’s all the fuss about. It felt good. Yeah, and I am proud that I didn’t care, that I went further than you, that I followed chance and opportunity and circumstance and the desires of my body and IT FELT GOOD. Some women go through their whole lives and don’t experience the pleasures I had standing up in that brick cupboard or sitting on that orange box in the maintenance shed or wherever it was. It’s my body, it was my body then and it’s my body now and I respect and honour the pleasures that my body requests of me and supplies me with.
Because if I can’t accept myself, how can I expect anyone else to? If I’m saying, deep inside there’s something disgusting about me. I’m dirty, I’m spoiled. I’m different. I’m not like other girls.
Although sometimes, once you’ve decided that you’re ready to go down there, sometimes the Universe tosses you yet another bone, and lets you off the hook. Whatever it was you’d just rolled up your trouser legs and taken a deep breath to face… has miraculously disappeared, healed of its own accord. Intention is often all, no action required. I don’t need to go down there. I don’t even have to take a last look at it. I can cut the line from up here and I never have to think about it again.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to wonder and wonder: Would that, coupled with a naturally sensitive nature, be enough to cause me all the problems I’ve had? Would that explain why I felt normal when I was about five, that I looked normal, felt right in my clothes, went to parties and had friends and then later, from seven or eight or nine, felt dirty, like a leper. Like I’ve always felt since. Like I want to cut myself but never do. Like I deserve to die when I make a mistake. Like it’s okay for me to suffer. Like all the good and happiness wasn’t meant for me. Those feelings run through me like the words in a stick of rock.
I wanted an explanation but at the same time I wondered if my explanation would be enough. How bad did things need to be? Would I be disappointed if I went all the way down there and found there was nothing after all? Would I really get any satisfaction from uncovering past horrors? But if I don’t find anything then I don’t have any excuse for how I am. I tick all the boxes: punky/alternative troubled teen, unconfident, promiscuous, can dissociate sexual feelings easily, poor self esteem, permanently guilty and anxious. It offers a neat explanation for my personality, which I quite like. Or am I just a fantasist, looking for that neat explanation that lets me off the hook. So that I can say, oh, so that’s why… and haven’t I done well, considering, instead of: I am largely a failure, hanging onto life by her fingernails.
In the end, though, I decided to let go of all the imaginings and explanations and just live with myself as I am now.
Psychologists call it an extinction burst: when you start trying to eradicate an unwanted behaviour, sometimes at first it kicks back harder. So after you renounce whatever it is you want to be rid of, you need to stand firm, because this backlash against happiness will surely come. Like when I was first living with John and I was so happy and yet my OCD was the worst it had ever been. Or like now, the most spiritual I have ever been, the most relaxed, and yet, these dark thoughts return even on the brightest day: You are useless, you can’t do anything. I feel awful, I am such a failure, I am all alone, etc.
I’ve thought a lot about causes and cures. I’ve talked to psychologists and therapists and people with different religious beliefs and I’ve read books about personal growth and healing and spirituality. I have wondered whether my suicidality and these horrible self sabotaging thoughts really were little demons that had taken up residence in the chambers of my heart. Or were they the result of old ingrained negative beliefs or unresolved trauma.
Whether or not these problems need to be banished with cognitive behaviour therapy, whether I needed to be prayed over, have my chakras unblocked, sit on a beach and do a ritual, meditate, do candle magic or just write it out… As always, I tend to get distracted and overcomplicate things. The answer is usually the simplest possible. So if I’m tying myself up in knots or thinking too much, I’m probably on the wrong track.
In the end though, as always, it all comes back to the beginning. It’s not me going down into the scary depths, it’s Love, searing through, and all I have to do is sit with it and forgive myself. All I have to do is sit still and say to myself, over and over again, you are loved.
Thank you very much for reading
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