30 Years of Ache and a Lifetime of Meaning Distilled into One Question.
Part 14 in my series, "My Mushroom Journey to Healed Trauma, Less Shame, and More Love"
(This is probably my most personal post so far. In it, I’ll share some of the context of the trauma from my childhood that eventually the mushrooms would provide healing for. As I said in an earlier post in this series, when I first touched on how the mushrooms would soon address my traumatic childhood, I always try my best to hold stories of my growing up years with compassion. Compassion for my parents, trusting that they were doing the best they could with the tools and resources they had (or lack thereof) as a result of their own unprocessed, unhealed trauma. Like most of this series, the entirely of this post is for Paid Subscribers only. If you’re ready to support me/my writings in this way, now is a great time to Subscribe!)
Five Words That Framed My Journey
Drifting, dancing, dissolving from This Dimension to That One.
I’m straddling the line between surface level awareness and a deeper sinking into the very heart of consciousness.
As the mushrooms slowly worked their magic throughout my body, I likewise moved further away from “living room, couch, Encinitas, Ryan, Michelle, train,” and toward, “darkness, lights, swirling colors, enveloping sound, heightened sensation.”
With the last vestiges of my This Dimension awareness, I suddenly noticed that Ryan was sitting next to me, up by my head as I lay on the couch, but then became overcome by a panic that Michelle was no longer nearby.
Immediately, without any thought, I uttered a question that not only were my final words before sinking completely into the psilocybin experience, but they also proved to be words that I would utter several more times throughout the four hour Journey. In fact, I can’t really explain it other than to tell you that as I said these five words it was as though I knew, somewhere deep in the core of my Being, that I would return to this question again and again.
As the words left my lips the air around them felt heavy with meaning.
You know those mattress commercials where an actor places their hand down on the mattress and as they pull away you see the imprint of their fingers slowly rise back up to the level of the surface? The weight of my question to Ryan created an impression in my heart space that would take four hours to release.
But before I tell you what that question was I need to give you some background on my life.
More specifically, on my childhood.
While this series isn’t technically about divorce (or the trauma I experienced as a child because of my parent’s divorce), in order to communicate how the mushrooms provided me healing I suppose I need to provide some picture of what it was I got healing from. Specifically, what it was like for me to grow up in a family whose parents hadn’t yet faced their own childhood trauma, which led to a tumultuous, chaotic, and painful separation, which caused the tearing apart not just of our family but utterly ruptured my adolescent sense of security and well being.
Memories of an Unstable Childhood
I couldn’t tell you what the first sign was, nor when it occurred, but when I try and reconstruct my childhood the mental scrapbook is littered with vague memories that mostly signaled to my young brain: all is not well in the Martin home.
I’m going to share just a few of those memories, presented here knowing that, as with all memories, they are a patchwork of images that mix together elements of what actually (probably?) occurred, swirled up with impressions of how those events made me feel, and caramelized by the various ways in which memories get built over decades of trying to both repress and access the past. As such, no memory of past events can ever be fully reliable in the sense of perfectly capturing what really, truly happened (aka, the fly-on-the-wall account), and this is doubly true for events that register as a kind of trauma.
A quick word on trauma. By “trauma” I mean something that happens to/in/around us that is beyond our capacity to handle or deal with. As a result, the event (or the memory, or the impression of the event) gets captured in our nervous system and stored as energy trapped in our body. This storing in our body renders us susceptible, later on in life, to having those traumatic experiences triggered or activated by, well, all manner of stimuli: people, places, sights, smells, sounds and so on.
When I talk about the trauma I experienced growing up, in part I am naming experiences and situations that happened where not only could I not process it as a kid, but I didn’t have the support I needed to help me navigate it. The following sketches of events that I “remember” happened probably sometime between the ages of seven and ten, but made a lasting impression on me. Since I couldn’t process them at the time they got stored in my body, in my nervous system, and I’ve been carrying them (and others like them) around for 30+ years.