The Shadow Side

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How many times have I started with, “Oh boy”? It seems like a lot. Or at least once before. So, Oh, boy.

Many of you know I went to Sedona a few weeks ago. Jeff and I went to participate in an earth medicine ceremony (by this I mean ayahuasca and kambo).  They are called earth medicines or plant medicine or the grandmother specifically for ayahuasca. This is out of reverance and respect for what they are. I was shocked, initially, at my willingness to partake in this. Up until very recently I was very judgmental (big surprise) of people participating in such events or ceremonies. It was just people trying to find a way to get high, not do their ‘work’, or find a short-cut that would never actually materialize. Well, as many of you know, I will absolutely not do something  and that it is unacceptable until I have decided that it is not. So when it was proposed to me by my friend Jess (I’ve decide that for this story I will observe anonymity for those people I’ve included and change their names). First thought was, ‘no way’. But I took pretty seriously the things that J suggested to me. So I researched. What I found was that I had maybe become one of those people that would want to partake in a ceremony like this. But I thought of my spiritual teachers, Yogananda in particular. I had read his autobiography and I was pretty sure he hadn’t taken substances like this but I wasn’t absolutely sure. He got into some pretty out there stuff, but it seemed to come from just his meditation. But I didn’t want to get lost in my worship to someone and lose my own curiosity, my own need for experiences.

So I talked to Jeff about it. His response was similar to mine, “No way. That stuff shouldn’t be needed”. But it wasn’t very long until we seemed to be changing our mind in spite of ourselves. The clincher was when Jeff muscle-tested it. He called on our teachers (Yogananda and his teachers) and asked, “Should we go do this? Is this in our best interest?” His arm was rock-solid. Muscle testing is simple way to test if something weakens you or strengthens you. Jeff and I use it all the time for basic things and complex things. Although, Jeff will tell you he doesn’t always trust it, especially for complex things.  But this support (whether you believe it or not) from our teachers was very unexpected. And it became something we were seriously considering, then turned into action.

That takes us to a few weeks ago. We had been on a mostly raw-food, vegan diet for the previous 7 days, in preparation. This would make our purge before the grandmother easier, we were told. We were flying into Phoenix and Jess would be picking us up. We would be staying at her house and her friend and working partner, Paul, would be taking us through the ceremony. Halfway through the flight I got a text from Jess saying she lost track of time and was so sorry but she would be late. I laughed to myself and showed Jeff. This was not a surprise. We were used to Jess being on another planet. Now it would just be a matter of how late would she be. Jeff and I were ready for an adventure and we weren’t too much bothered by this.

After we landed I texted to ask how late she would be. 25 mins away. Not too bad. We could waste that time easily. We went out to the passenger pick up zone outside. And we waited awhile. Then came the text that changed everything and let us know this was not going to be what we thought: “I’m almost there I had to stop and pee. I picked up an Indian boy”. And my stomach and my heart dropped through my ass. Oh my god. It wasn’t til later that Jeff and I were reviewing that we realized this was the turning point for us both. I went into almost complete shock right there in the moment. Jeff went into, ‘oh my god, she’s kidnapped some boy and we’re going to be implicated’. My thoughts were somewhere hovering around, ‘oh my god, I’m going to die’. And those weren’t even clear thoughts at the time. I was just sick with fear and it got worse when I saw her. She finally arrived after going to the wrong terminal or wrong side or something. Now, I was used to Jess being in touch with different dimensions but she had usually made some sort of sense to me. This was different. When she pulled up to get us I realized, ‘she is unhinged. She is in a delusional state’. But I couldn’t even fully recognize this to myself because a) I was in shock and b) it can’t be because I am at this woman’s mercy. So Jeff and I get in the back seat after we offer Jeff to drive. She declines, she’s okay to drive. And I was in the back seat  just sick with dread. Also, seriously thinking I might die in this car, in Phoenix.

Jeff was staying pretty level. I could barely look at him. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. Jess took us to her friends house near Phoenix. I was able to step aside with Jess and try and talk to her. Me: “This feels really bad. You don’t sound right to me. This sounds crazy. I feel crazy”. I was desperately trying to find a link. I was PLUMMETING. And she had no anchor or any type of soothing to offer. I was reeling. She was calm, unperturbed by me. And I couldn’t grab at her. There was no link. We all (Jess, Jeff, me, Jess’s friend and the Indian boy. Yes, he was real. And 19 (?) and from a nearby reservation. Not kidnapped.) went to PF Chang’s. I was too sick to eat. I left the table many times trying to find myself. Anything that would bring me back to something I understood or believed in. I went outside. The sun was nice and hot. I just sat there on the curb. I texted Jeff, told him I was outside and could he come be with me. “I can’t be in there, please come outside”, I wrote. He was paying the check and then came out.  He was still solid and nothing at all in the state I was in. We both were instinctually feeling that we needed to follow this through, that we weren’t intended to stop here. Which shocked me. I was thinking about Heather and how Jamison would have chartered a helicopter for her out of the PF Chang’s parking lot. But in a vast blackness where I felt abandoned by everything I knew and believed in, I had just the smallest little inkling of continuing forward. I don’t know if it was right then or later that I had the realization that turning back would be very damaging for me. It would have left me wounded. The fact that Jeff thought the same was confirmation. I didn’t trust myself.

Jeff told me later he realized that he was dealing with someone not in there right mind. “I had put her above me somehow and now I realized, ‘she doesn’t know what she’s doing, I should be in charge'”. And we did start to take charge. And Jess seemed happy to relinquish control. She admitted that she was at the mercy of divine forces and didn’t feel her body was her own. So Jeff and I sat in the front seat, with Jeff driving. This felt SO much better to. But the two hours from their to Sedona felt like fucking eternity. I just put on my classic rock on Pandora, helped to drown out the things that Jess was talking about. AND. I sent my first text to Heather. I realize now that this was me being ready to acknowledge out loud what was happening. Which meant that I was going to have to face myself. And I was terrified of that, I was bracing for the devastating humiliation that was to come.  Not from Heather, of course. And all that bitch gave me was compassion and curiosity. What?! That through me off.  It opened the door back up, I’m talking smidge small amount,  for this to be a meaningful experience. That this could mean something to me. I didn’t have that inside myself yet, by any means. I just wanted to get out of that car.

We get to her house, Jess’s house, and go inside. It felt bad. It felt like the drug houses I used to go to when I was a teenager. The places you could drink. You know, the weird old guy that would buy beer for everyone? Somehow connected to the wrestling team? Or the girl’s dad who lives out in the country and secretly cooks meth? No? Not at your school? There weren’t any drugs or anything. It was more that feeling I associated with heavy and dark. Lost. I knew I couldn’t sleep there. Jeff wasn’t adamant about staying in a hotel at that time. I went outside to call Heather as the others got settled in the house (showers and such).  Here’s my basics thoughts and words to Heather: “WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY? WHY??!! Why am I here? Why was I brought here? Am I to be humiliated? Is this the plan for me??” I was utterly devastated. I don’t remember a time being that lost…maybe right before starting on this path to recovery, like, 9 years ago. Time takes away some of the pain. Just left to squirm and die.  From Heather: “There is a reason for this. This will all come full circle. This will make sense to you. I can feel it. Its not over.” Me: “Without you and Jeff, right now, I would be dead”.  I couldn’t believe how she was responding. It was what I wanted to hear but didn’t expect it. I kept expecting humiliation. She also said something like, “please, god, get yourself a hotel room”.

I went back inside after a bit. Jess was wanting some shamanic snuff. Its referred to as rape’ or hape’. Its another plant-type medicine. Totally legal. But Jess is convinced that it is what is keeping her sane and she is out. WE’LL GO GET MORE. GET ME OUT OF THE HOUSE. We got to her friend Eric’s house. He’s a healer, medicine man, mad-scientist. We had heard about him and were eager for some help and some sanity and some answers. And we got some. There were normal faces there that made sense. I could look into their eyes. There were nice dogs there. And Eric could see what we’d been through by the look on our faces. AND he was real. After the shock at seeing Jess at the airport it felt like everything I believed or knew disintegrated. ‘Oh my god. Is it all a ruse? Am I a complete moron? Is anything real I believed in regards to J? Can I ever trust myself again?’ So he, Eric, was there and was real. And we saw that he appeared to be the things Jess told us. Yes, he has a house, he has medicine, he’s sought out for his knowledge and experience. Yes, Jess has had interaction with him. So we get the rape’. Eric calls Paul while we’re sitting there together. He has Paul on speakerphone. He’s basically mobilizing help for us. Paul says to come on over, he’ll help however he can. Another huge sigh of relief. People. Support. Answers. Real. Lifeline.

We dropped off the rape’ to Jess. She was very amenable to our plans. ‘Yes, take the car, I don’t need it. I’m good right here. I’ve got my boy’. So we booked it over to Paul’s house. He greeted us out front and gave us a big hug.

Intermission

Hi. This is a long one.

And I’m thinking, ‘Oh, he’s real too. He has a house and a car. He has some ability to support himself’. Then we walk inside and its a very healing place. You can see its dedicated to that effort. Crystals and rocks and altars and everything you can imagine that weirdo people like us like. This is a retreat-type place. ‘Okay, another thing that’s real’. Paul brings us out to his back patio, its all zero-scaped and beautiful. Beautiful sculptures and installations. A mer-ka-ba (look it up, or don’t, doesn’t matter. It’s cool. Trust me.) On the way over Jeff and I had established that we felt waaaaay to fragile to do any ceremony. That we would have to have a complete change of heart for anything like that to happen. We talk with Paul and he is speaking out loud and validating ALL my internal fears and beliefs because he is going through the same thing. For example: “oh my god, what have I done? How did I tie myself to this person professionally? I will be completely humiliated. No one will trust me. No one should trust me. I don’t deserve to be trusted. I am a fool. What will people think? Will they see my shame?” He was having a very similar professional experience. And he validated that she was a gifted medium and channel. That many people there in Sedona were seeking out her services. Revered and respected people in the community (another huge sigh of relief, its wasn’t just me!) Paul was absolutely our fucking life raft that day/night. We were scooped up by the universe then. We broke through the surface of the water and took a big gasp, gulp of air. Paul was very steady, that night. He was gently suggesting that some of the ceremony could be very effective at clearing out the toxicity of the trauma we just experienced. I was just scared. Even of the rape’. I was a paranoid mess just on pot.  I was afraid of losing control. But I was interested. I wanted to see. So I just relied on Jeff. “I think I should, what do you think?” He said yeah, I think that’s okay. Its blown into your nose, I had Jeff come and hold my hand. And then everything that Paul said would happen, happened. I felt the big sting, eyes watered, woozy, a little dizzy. And then a deep, deep settling. Deep subtle tremor/trembling of ‘you’re gonna be okay’. I told Jeff, “you gotta do it. Its good. Its the right thing for us right now”.  We sat there and let the effects of that go through us.And we discussed doing the kambo ceremony (the frog venom, its a purging ceremony). While we were discussing this, Jeff pointed across the patio, “Is that a frog? Do you have frogs this time of year?” Paul said, “That’s very unusual. That’s unusual for frogs to be out now. Its not common”. We later read that this is common for people doing the kambo ceremony in the days or week leading up to it to see a frog. Paul said then, or maybe a little later, “So does it have to crawl up your ass for you guys to do this?” After Jeff and I both had the rape’, we looked at each other and said, yeah, let’s do this.

It took some preparation on Paul’s part and Jeff and I got changed and put on our game face. Oh, shit! Here we go! We sat around his dining room table, Jeff went first. We had the bucket right there in front. This is a purging ceremony. That means puking and shitting. Yes! Paul first makes 5 small burns (just to the top layer) to the skin so the frog can get in the blood stream, get under the skin. Then, with his half-glasses on, he applies the frog with a small knife. One circle. Then two. He sprays it with water (helps it keep circulating). Jeff turns WHITE. He’s starting to go. He says, “I think I’m gonna faint”. Paul is right there, we circle in closer. Jeff starts to pitch forward then gets on his knees. Paul helps him to the floor and he is OUT. Jello. Paul holds him up by the shoulders and I’ve got the bucket right in front of his face. He opens his eyes coming back from who knows where, he was GONE. “What happened?” he says. Me: “You fainted. Its all right. We’re here”. So Jeff starts his process and it gets moving pretty quick. He goes to the toilet first, going out that end. Then the other end gets going. Toilet and bucket. This is pretty common we’re told. We wait until Jeff has gotten over his first big wave. Paul: “we want to watch him close. Don’t want him fainting in the bathroom. Then we’ll start on you”. I feel very comfortable in his hands. Everything is happening just like he’s said it would.

So Jeff shuffles in after awhile and we start in on me. I sit in the chair and I get scared. And exhilarated. ‘Oh shit! Its go time!’ He burns the 5 little holes. And then applies the frog. I’m just doing deep loud breathing. And I start shaking like I’ve got my own inner earthquake going. Like, violent shaking. He puts on 5 circles of the frog. I eventually get a purge going. And Paul is back and forth between: forcing water and applying the rape’. Everything is to force the purge. But your body says, ‘don’t drink the fucking water or you’re going to throw up!!’. But I start getting into the flow of it. Realizing that I need to do some things I don’t want to do to allow this process to happen. Like chugging the water. And Jeff and I are in and out of each other’s bubble, offering support and encouragement. I was feeling very close to him. United. We were really a team.

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My frog dots.

My experience started to take a deeper turn. It became apparent to Paul that I should have more dots/circles applied of the frog. It seems there was a barrier to break through for me and we hadn’t reached it yet. I agreed, I could feel it. As I sat down in the chair again I asked, “Does this make me a bad ass that I’ll have 7 seven dots?” Paul: “More like a hard ass?” Yep! That landed! It’s true, he’d never put this many dots on anyone. Jeff went down after 2 and he bike to the top of Mt Evan’s from out house! So, yes, I could look at it that way. I am a tough mother fucking warrior. And. That is not all that is needed today, right now. Something else is needed. I started some puking purging after getting the rest of the dots. It felt good. It was coming more easily now. And then we transitioned inside. I laid on a heated crystal bed. Further pushing it all out of my system. Whatever it was that needed to come out. And here it comes.  I was down on the floor now, all fours, with the bucket under my head. Jeff and Paul were both there supporting.

And it turned into an emotional purge. My inner child entered the picture. I didn’t think there were more pieces for me to do around the atrocities done to women by men. How many of these pieces do I need to do before I’m done with it?? How much more grief can there be?! Well. More. ‘So are you going to do it, or what,  Emily?’ Grumbling to myself: ‘Yes! Yes, goddamnit,I’ll do it’. So I see that my little girl is there. She’s pretty young, about 4 or 5 and she’s about beat to shit by the oppression of women. She’s terrified of the world, well, of men. She’s never recovered. The healing has never reached her. What comes next is hard to describe. I basically went through some kind birth. And I labored on it for an hour or two. And I had recently read Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. I had a really good picture of what childbirth looked like (feel free to judge me, that I have no idea what goes on in childbirth. I’m fine with that. The comparison continues). Here’s what: I had to surrender. I didn’t know how to do this and I was completely at the mercy of Jeff and Paul. I was saying things like this outloud. “I’m at your mercy. Tell me what to do. Is this okay? Does this make sense?”And I literally felt my cervix, vagina, genitals, root chakra opening. And I had to let it open. That’s what was required. I had to birth out this energy and let it flow through. And I had to let the little girl know that this was true and right and we could trust these two men. And I, with the help of God and many, many different spirit guides, ferried that little girl and myself over to the other side. She had a new found confidence which she shows by having razor sharp teeth like a piranha. She flashes these where she used to cower. She showed her teeth and chomped them at Jeff and Paul’s genitals. Oops! She only mostly kidding. She was, she just liked the new power. And she had arrived and this vast peaceful place. Rolling hills and tall grass and she was free to play with other little girls and boys. To show them the way and that they don’t have to be scared.

Now the next piece. We went out to the fire pit for this. It was time to look at Jess and her influence in my life and why she came here. Paul kicked this off for me. Seeing that there was this last piece, hanging on, that wanted/needed to let go. It was time to answer my own questions of Why? and How? First layer: I’m afraid that people will think I’m crazy like Jess. Dig, dig, dig. Second layer: I’m afraid of going crazy. This was a shock to me. I’ve heard friends talk about this and I didn’t relate: the whole fear of losing my mind or going crazy. But during this ceremony I saw it very differently. I saw my shadow. And it was undeniable. It was the reason that Jess, that I presented Jess in my life. I had called her forth. And this was why her crazy was so disturbing to me. It was a deeply rejected part of myself. Because she, Jess, wasn’t violent, wasn’t threatening me or herself. So, why, would someone who is essentially just in some other consciousness, some other awareness, seeing things that I don’t, hold the power to make me so scared I am sick to my stomach? Because I am afraid of being anything like that.

But also, Jess allowed me to say and do things I’ve always wanted to say and do. I decided that there were things that I couldn’t say or do or think for fear of a) looking crazy b) looking arrogant, foolish, stupid, wrong. I realized that she walked this edge and I like that. I can appreciate reckless, brave, brazen, unpopular. Even if it ultimately proves “wrong” I’d like to just make some mistakes! Erring on the side of living and trying goddamnit instead of cowering! Anything but that. I thought, that because of Jess, this old, deep parts of me were allowed to surface. These dreams and visions and beliefs I had as a child. It was now, in this process of work staring into the fire (literally, not figuretively), that I realized I had brought my Jess forward to give me permission to say things that I would have never said outloud. And isn’t that interesting, folks.

This is the shadow side. The parts of ourselves that are disowned. Now, we can disown power too. The shadow side is not just about what we deem objectionable. But that which we admire or covet. People that embrace their own power. We will bring these people into our lives and idolize them and reject our own ability to do the same. I had both show up.  For me, in this instance it was fears of rejection by society by looking “crazy” and deemed repulsive and without value. Therefore I made sure to divorce myself from all aspects that could get me in touch with “crazy”. I kept an extremely tight grip on control. Strongly and obsessively filtering to ensure that I stayed on top, one step ahead, anticipating anyone’s thoughts about my thoughts or actions. A funny thing happened as I stared into that fire: I found my crazy part. And I brought her in. And in that moment the fear disappeared and was replaced with this: ‘Maybe I am a little crazy (smiling to myself). Maybe people will think that. Maybe they’re right? It doesn’t seem to matter. And I did give my power away, again. I might even do it again in the future. I hope I won’t but if I do, no big deal. We keep doing so much better with it, don’t we? And look at everything we gained from this, wasn’t it remarkable and beautiful? It was truly in divine order. Wow. I see that I couldn’t have done it any different. I was on this trajectory to this moment, right here. I couldn’t or didn’t want to be stopped.’

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I was given this book many years ago. I knew it had something good but I just couldn’t get myself to give a shit about it. Its all about the shadow.

There was so much freedom and peace in this truth for myself.

And this new truth settled all the way inside me. I realized that it would only be ego that could make this experience painful. I realized that a nice-sized piece of ego had just been dismantled and I felt a sort of terror at the thought of ever picking that piece up again. ‘God, please let me stay humble. Please let me keep this small piece of humility in my big sea of ego’.

I saw Jess the next day. Neutral. No fear. Just calm. Understanding. Clarity. Curiosity.

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