My decision to take part in ayahuasca ceremony.
For years and years I read the research on developmental trauma. Reading about the different therapeutic modalities. Trying to figure out what could help me with my treatment resistant complex ptsd. More than a decade of therapy under my belt and still, I carried such a heavy burden around with me.
For years and years the research lead me to psychedelics as a promising new frontier in the treatment of developmental trauma. And my mind snapped shut. I’m an alcoholic in AA and I could not risk even letting myself think about it.
But I’ve grown in my recovery. Over the past five years especially I have questioned more and more things that I told myself I was not allowed to question. Eventually I got well enough to question this. Why could I not even let myself consider psychedelics as a treatment option for me? Did I think it would lead me back to drinking? Honestly, no. Did I think I would become a compulsive user of psychedelics? Again, honestly, no. So what was it? And there it was.
What I was afraid of was judgement. What I was afraid of was being misunderstood, of being pushed out of my community, of people taking my sober time away from me, treating me like I’d relapsed. I was so fucking caught up with what people thought of me. The idea of being misunderstood in this way felt like the end of the world.
AA saved my life and gave me my life and I am forever grateful for it. The 12 Steps and the communities that surround them are lifesaving and beautiful. They taught me so much. They showed me how to face myself. They convinced me that I’m deserving of love and of life no matter what. So much of who I am today is because of what I learned in the rooms. They also taught me what other people think of me is none of my business. They taught me to define my principles and live by them, not to live in fear of what other people think.
In the back of the Big Book there’s an appendix called Varieties of Spiritual Experience that every sponsor I’ve ever had has flipped to and read with me, that every person I’ve ever sponsored I have directed their attention towards. In it there’s a quote:
There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation. – Herbert Spencer
I realized, and I had to admit to myself, that I was approaching psychedelics with contempt prior to investigation. The door of my mind was slamming shut before I would even let myself consider it. And so I let myself consider it.
I realized that it was absolutely absurd to deny myself access to potentially life changing medicine due to the opinions and judgements of other people. I realized that my relationship to my sobriety – my desire not to jump into oblivion anymore, was mine to define and mine alone.
And so I did more research and more research, and I ended up landing on the website for an ayahuasca retreat centre in Costa Rica. After some deep reading reflection and consideration, I decided to book my trip.
There were many months between booking the trip and getting on the plane to Costa Rica. And in that time I got used to having the conversation with the sober people in my life, letting them get used to the idea, letting myself get used to the idea.
By the time I landed in Costa Rica I was totally clear in my intent and had no reservations.
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