All Bets Are Off

My 6-year-old grandson fell asleep tonight while watching a movie with me. He was curled up against my stomach, snoring, leaving me to finish watching the true story of the rescue of gray whales trapped in arctic ice. Right on cue, just as the producers had planned, tears fell down my cheeks as the emotions rose and fell throughout the story.

Tears have fallen down these cheeks many times before, but not as freely as they do these days. As I find myself in a completely new emotional landscape, my reactions sometimes surprise me. Almost everything that I thought I understood about the world and how it worked has been washed away, and it hits me that all bets are off now. I never know how I am going to react, but I do know that it is different, even unpredictable.

I cannot say that starting this blog is unpredictable. I have been thinking about it for some time, but could never see the “bones” of it. Until tonight, with tears on my face and a snoring grandson at my belly, the title of this blog arrived and I knew it was time. Spirit at work.

The entries of this blog will rise and fall with my emotions as I recount the tracks of my life. I believe that we all have a story, and this will be the telling of mine. I cannot state too strongly that it astounds me that this story is mine, and that I have had a life that might be of any interest at all to others. Writing here is a process of sorts for me, to try and make some sense of my existence. Sharing it is a surprise, as I could never be confused with someone suffering from hubris. And yet, I continue.

My life, until recently, had been dominated by a sense of confusion. I have known the life of a man with a burden, with an unseen but ever-present weight. My legs felt as if filled with concrete, my smiles often forced and my shoulders rounded with resignation. This burden finally became visible not long before my 60th birthday when I took part in an ayahuasca ceremony (much more on this later). My intent in taking part was to experience the view from 40,000 feet for one evening instead of my normal altitude of 2 feet, hoping to glimpse the philosophical vistas described by many who ventured into the world of psychedelics. Evening one did just that, and I thought I had some new insight into the genesis of some of the more outlandish movies I had seen, such as Inception. It was an absolutely beautiful experience, and my mind was satiated like never before. I wanted more.

Night two was not to be a repeat of the first. It was a torturous event, walls and floors and ceilings swimming with red and black demons intent on destroying me. I cowered, and made up my mind that I was never going to do this again. All that remained was to curl up into a fetal position and survive the night. In this act of surrender, the walls and ceilings became still, and out of the inky blackness emerged a scene of rape. Of me. As a young boy. In the neighbor’s barn.

This blog has the potential to be about ayahuasca, as it will become apparent that this plant-based medicine from the Amazon played a critically important role in my life. It was the agent that brought light into the shadowy world of my repressed horrors. Or it could have as a main theme the topic of sexual abuse of young boys, as it will later become clear that there were other occasions and perpetrators in my life. Many possibilities emerge: repressed memories, PTSD, family dysfunction, the damaging legacy of secrets, and more.

It has instead become apparent to me that this blog is to be about healing, as this is the lasting outcome. My story includes all of the above, but I choose to speak not as a victim but as someone that is healing. I say healing because even now I am still trying to find a way to quiet the anxiety that has taken up residence in every cell of my body for well over five decades.

As I write this, I have just turned 62 years old. Remarkably, my health has not failed me, and I have avoided alcoholism and drug abuse. I am the veteran of two failed relationships. I am deeply fortunate to have very supportive children and grandchildren, and I am sustained by the  love and support of some most amazing friends.

As I think about and experience the world and my challenges, I will write here. Stories of the past will be scattered throughout. I see no need to adhere to a chronological timeline. Maybe sharing here will be helpful.

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4 responses to “All Bets Are Off

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