I remember the ride home from Mexico, back to San Diego. It was a long drive, and I was trying to piece together what I had just gone through. But I just wanted to get home, back to the familiar, back to my family. I still wasn’t even close to feeling myself. It felt like there was a different controller operating a very different body. And perhaps there’s a bit of truth to that. Either way, it was very uncomfortable, and foreign to me.
So much love…
When we pull up to my house, my garage was open. I get out of my friend’s truck and I see my daughters waiting for me outside, and my other friend who was watching them for me while I was gone.
When I saw Haley and Chloe, this incredibly overwhelming flood of emotions come over me, and I could do nothing but break down and sob. So they come running up to me and I’m crying and hugging them and I’m overjoyed and tired and ashamed all at the same time. I feel their unconditional love for me, and I’ve got such tears of joy pouring down my face still. I couldn’t stop it if I tried.
By this point, I still wasn’t feeling normal.. The ibogaine was still working in my body and mind, and this was the first time I didn’t have opiates in my system for 25 years. I didn’t really know which way was up at this point. I have to lay down, I’m exhausted.
And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful house”
I’m not sure what happened after laying down, but I started crawling out of my skin. I was not used to this body or mind anymore. And even though I just experienced so much love and happiness when I was with my daughters, I was now filled with fear. Fear of what this meant to be off of everything. It didn’t seem to add up in my head, the logistics of surviving day after day without the help of drugs or alcohol or whatever my addiction was at that moment (if it made you feel good, I have probably been addicted to it for a decent amount of time). And I was starting to feel physically ill and eventually it felt like withdrawal.
We call the assistant in Mexico, and he tells me to take one of the booster pills he gave me, and that it will make me feel right as rain again.
And you may tell yourself, “This is not my beautiful wife”
By this point, I was squirming in my bed violently, and my two friends were sitting next to my bed, watching me, making sure I was alright. I take the capsule, and I think I remember feeling better, though nauseous. It was another long night, scared. I’m not too sure, but I think they thought I might die or something. I wasn’t too sure myself.
The morning eventually comes around, and the birds start chirping, and everything seemed a bit more manageable. But unmanageability runs in my blood I think, because things started to unravel, with the quickness.
Breakfast should be easy….
My friend comes back to check on me in the morning, and take me out for breakfast. But there’s not much open around my house for breakfast, so we end up at an asian restaurant (he likes sushi, etc). I don’t remember what I’ve eaten up to this point, if anything at all.. In days…. So I ordered the safest thing I could find on the menu, fried rice…
Now this next part, is very difficult for me to explain in words. And I’m still cloudy with my memory (though its improving leaps and bounds), but I’ll do the best I can.
Only one bite.
That’s all it took. From an outside perspective, the whole scene probably looked very odd. I took a bite of the rice. And after finally swallowing it, I jump out of my seat, and throw my credit card down and tell my friend I’ll meet him in the car. That I had to leave right then. And I dart out of the tiny, three table restaurant, stumbling, barely getting the door open before bursting outside into such a bright, overwhelming flood of light, color, and air.
I couldn’t see details very well yet, my eyes still adjusting to this new perception of what I thought to be reality. I proceed to lean on the locked truck (to balance) and wait for my friend to pay and leave the restaurant.
That’s what it would’ve looked like to someone outside of my body and mind. But to me, what was happening was so very, very different. And beautiful, and scary, and profound, and moving… All from one bite.
I’m not sure rice is supposed to do this…
When I put the rice in my mouth, something crazy happened. What I can only describe as like an orgasm of taste, flavor, texture, history (living, breathing history), and all the lives it touched and vice versa.
Another way I can describe it, is taking a bite out of a strawberry, and the taste is so overwhelming, you feel a twinge in your ears coming from your spine, and you go deaf from the experience of just tasting this amazing fruit. In fact, you can’t eat many at once, because it would be exhausting, experiencing this over and over again, with every bite.
Back to the rice…
The salt, and other seasonings were so strong tasting, it made me twinge. The experience is hard to define because throughout most of this journey, my senses were getting intertwined with each other. Like they weren’t separate anymore, just on diff frequencies that sometimes crossed paths and when they did, it was possible to smell colors, see pain, to touch the music, and so on… Like with the strawberry… The taste of the strawberry, the reaction of my mouth, and my taste buds and the fireworks going off in my brain at the same time…. That experience deafened me. It wasn’t auditory whatsoever, but that is what happened.
No easy task…
While all these fireworks are going on in my mouth and my head and my ears and my spine, I still manage to have the idea of actually swallowing this rice. And when I accomplish this feat, and it was a feat… Something incredible happened (again).
I started feeling the food go down my throat and I instantly felt my body start absorbing the energy from it. I felt it coursing through my veins, through my tissue and muscle, through my skin absorbing as much as it could to help with its defenses… and on to all my extremities, and finally to my head and my back. Invigorating me… But the interesting part has yet to manifest.
Now… all this is happening in about a couple seconds.. And within that same timeframe, I start gaining some knowledge, some color, some history of what I was eating. I could see the rice patties it originated from. The farmers that worked the flooded fields, they had darker, rougher skin from the hot sun. I could smell the bag that the rice was stored in, before taken to market. And its entire lifespan until it landed on my plate, in this fine establishment. It was like I was shot through space and time and was just a witness to everything this rice has been through. And once I complete that journey, the rice was now apart of me, and I was now apart of its history, imprinted forever…. We were one before meeting (we just didn’t know it), and we were one after (very clear to me we were the same)…
Yes, I am talking about the rice…
Trying to keep a straight face…
When I look up, I regretted it instantly. My entire world was replaced with something so dizzying and bewildering and colorful, and moving. Everything was moving.. Nothing was stable, or still. It was almost like a playful dance everything was experiencing with each other. Like you just entered a dance club and everyone’s jumping in unison.. The colors started bleeding together, like the universe was painted for a minute and I forgot to wait for the paint to dry.
Now I couldn’t quite see where I was but I somehow remembered that I still needed to pay. I’m unsure how I had enough sense to understand that, because at this point I thought I was going to throw up right in the middle of the table. So I jumped up, and threw my card down and got the hell out of there, as quick as I could.
Just keep looking up Tim…
On the drive home, I had to stare at the top of the truck, because looking outside would make me dizzy. Too much information …
I proceeded to experience (what felt like) a flood dose again. For several more days (my memory is fuzzy about this length of time, I’m unsure how long I was tripping).
All I remember is that I am in bed, it’s a few days later, and I hear someone knocking on my front door. It’s around noon. So I get out of bed, thinking it was a delivery. I’m not wearing a shirt. I have a big square of chest hair missing from my chest. My hair is sticking straight up, and it looks like I’ve been high at a rave for two weeks straight without sleep. And honestly, at this point, that’s what it felt like.
So yeah, apparently I hadn’t been answering any phone calls from my dad, or anyone really… for months. I’d just been tripping in Mexico, on some dmz looking beach location, in a situation where… honestly, I could’ve had organs removed from me, and I probably wouldn’t have realized it for days.. Needless to say, I was at one of my many bottoms during this time period – so yeah,… Fuck answering phone calls from concerned family members or bill collectors, or friends wondering if i’m still alive… Who needs that at a time like this..
I don’t know if you can picture this, but I open my front door. No shoes, socks. no shirt… I think I had shorts or pants on luckily.. My eyes bloodshot, my hair disheveled, and a big square patch shaved off my chest… (for no reason apparently). Keep in mind, my dad is conservative, a republican. A good man.. But I don’t think he knew what cannabis smelled like until he smelled it on my in my teenage years. Let alone, know what ibogaine is, or have any idea what I had just been through.
To make matters worse, all he was trying to tell me… was that he was getting (re)married. And that they were going to have a wedding party, etc but Covid had just hit recently, and that made them cancel the reception. But they still got married..
Can you imagine that. What did he think? I must’ve looked like a crazy, drug addicted buffoon that was not really present. But I promise, dad, as crazy that moment must have seemed, as disappointed or worried as you must have been… I was trying to fix things.
I didn’t start trying to truly mend my relationship with my father till a few years later. I was tired of saying, hey – look, I promise this time is different. I wanted to skip all the bullshit and just prove that I was worthy of being loved. But I had done so much damage to myself and all my relationships, that it took some time for me to get to this point where any of that was even possible.
Fairly quickly, I got back on drugs. Back on suboxone. Back to drinking. Still smoking cigarettes at this point. But, that didn’t stop me from trying to change. I finally knew what was possible.
Why, you ask?
Probably many, many reasons. And I can guess a few of them. Basically, it felt so foreign, so awful, living in my skin, in my head, without anything to numb the pain. And the pain wasn’t easily identifiable either. It was more like white noise in the background. It could almost put me to sleep… So it wasn’t like… “Paging Dr. Tim… “(many years ago I had given myself an honorary doctorate degree or whatever…. totally kidding). “We’re experiencing some pain in the relationship area of life, can you please help”. “Sure Tim, here’s 100mg of heroin, you should forget about your problems in no time”.
There was no clear prescription for what I was experiencing. So I went back to my old toolbox. Something bothering you? Drink until it doesn’t bother you. You’re angry? Do this shot of speed. Frustrated, or can’t sleep? Smoke this ounce of cannabis… you’ll forget what you were frustrated about… Take this xanax, and your hangover problems are over..
Except I didn’t know what I was feeling… so I chose all the solutions, hoping one would work.
So when I briefly experienced this other life, it opened my eyes and they couldn’t ever be shut again.
That’s all I need usually. I need to see me almost do a trick.. or better yet, I need to see someone else do the skateboard trick. Because if they can do it, I know I can too, with enough determination, (most of the time, it takes less energy than anticipated).
And that’s how I treated this experience. It gave me hope.. and the strength.. and I knew I could do it now.. I saw the other side.. and it was frightening, and beautiful, and painful, and full of love.. It was everything I knew I needed. And god damn it, I’m getting back there.