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Call off the Search: How I stopped seeking and found peace
Chapter 9 Discernment
Two episodes of House of Cards and then he puts my hand on his trousers and we have sex on the couch and I swear it was exactly like being on MDMA but with no side effects, no horrible head fucking thoughts. It felt like being in a film, so turned on it was surreal, happy MDMA-type tears, eyes watering by themselves. I said afterwards, ‘I went somewhere else’. The light, the room, juddering and flicking from side to side like it does when you’ve taken a ton of MDMA and him going up the stairs to bed saying what we were both thinking, ‘Who needs drugs’. We haven’t spoken about it since but oh my God, proof of everything, if we needed it.
We’d spent most of 2015 completely straight: no drugs, no alcohol, I had also given up caffeine, John had also given up sugar. And then the Buddhism wore off…
But at its height it (Buddhism) felt ironically like being on drugs (high after class, the air cool and warm at the same time). We both realised it was over at the same time. We were standing in the kitchen by the backdoor and both realised we didn’t want to do the next class after all (we had planned to do the year long foundation course). John said, we burn through things quickly now don’t we? I had just bought him all this Buddhist stuff (we still have a Buddha in almost every room of the house) but neither of us were offended about the other suddenly going off it.
Shortly afterwards I went out to dinner with a friend and tried to explain, referencing Krishnamurti (don’t follow anyone) and John and Yoko (I don’t believe in magic, mantra, etc.)
‘It sounds like you’ve gone through some kind of enlightenment,’ she said and then asked, ‘are you still vegetarian?’
I was puzzled, thinking, it’s not that I’ve given up on awareness, and once you have it you have it.
Suddenly it just seemed pointless, the rigid no drinking at all, no caffeine, even the Buddhist teacher had said it doesn’t necessarily mean no wine can pass your lips, it’s just about not being intoxicated. It’s a barrier between me and friends who drink, so I decided that the day we went to another friend’s I would have a coffee and some wine. We made dinner while we got a bit drunk and we couldn’t mash the potatoes because they were still raw and it was all a bit chaotic for a bit. Maybe just one glass of wine is good for me now. And then when I went out the other night with friends I had a glass of wine, felt better re barriers, they were drunk, and we all got on really well, and I felt really relaxed.
So how does that lead onto MDMA? The MDMA is me, wanting that again, we both were, but now he is talking about never doing it again, maybe we just needed to remind ourselves we can if we like, maybe. Or just remind ourselves what it is like, the good and the bad- 3 or 4 days recovery. No music, singing along to YouTube, lying paralysed, naked and sweating. Marrying you was the best thing I ever did with my life. Or for my life: it gives me all this freedom, and it gives me excitement and bad boy tendencies without the angst and drama that wrecks and destabilises lives.
MDMA is like a searchlight, but this time at last there was nothing to find, we lay in each other’s arms on the couch, for an extended period with no tv, film or music, just us, talking, and aside from a bit of smutty sharing of sexual fantasies, there were no surprises, no dark secrets or hidden longings to discuss, no marriage, no children, no family secrets, no adolescent incidents of previously paralysing shame to heal…. It wasn’t boring by any means: it was wonderful, that we could be so free, relaxed and spacious, but at the same time, have we reached a clearing, a clear place? So maybe we can give it up now? Certainly, we have had sex sober that was every bit as amazing as sex on MDMA, and with us both entirely present in every way, from the cerebral to the mundane to the spiritual to the tantric ecstatic.
We said at the time, we should make time for this: lying together, smelling each other, just love, no conversations re kids etc., and if you can have a spiritual drug free rave and get high with strangers and no drugs, surely we should be able to do it alone in our house?
Well I guess we already did, last night. Sometimes you have an idea and realise you’ve already executed it, like life or the forces of life were faster than your ideas and imagination, which I guess is often or maybe always the case but doesn’t always get realised….
Christmas 2015: slacking off re caffeine, chocolate, sugar, alcohol and drugs and then realising I actually prefer life as it was: getting stoned really stoned once or twice after not doing it is great, and sex was amazing, but doing it every nights for four nights, it wears thin, and leads to eating chocolate, and being sluggish next day, sleeping in and being too lazy to do exercise. I prefer walking and doing yoga every day with the occasional blow out. It’s the same re the internet and facebook, food, shopping and time- discernment and awareness is the key.
Thinking about what it would take for me to enjoy it- what do I enjoy that could be done at Christmas?
Things I enjoy or that make me feel good that with some effort, dedication and single mindedness I can do in spite of Christmas: a Yoga class on YouTube, an hour long walk, eating healthy-ish, even doing a bit of writing- just a snatched half an hour while everyone goes out (this is probably not even so much about the writing but about having a little oasis of alone time during the festivities)
Things I like about Christmas that go on anyway and I can just join in with: not going to work Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, drinking Baileys at any time of day, staying up late watching films with my step son, sleeping in, eating whenever and whatever I like (contradicts previous bit I know!)
Funny things such as realising for what seems like the first time, why people/a person/me might enjoy Christmas: the change of routine, the party atmosphere, the laying around, drinking, not having to go to work, holidays. Ignore the shopping and the stress and the religiosity/consumerism debates, the hand wringing, the sad stories and the stress. Just look at the lights and think of chocolate.
(I haven’t written any Christmas cards, nor did I last year, and possibly the year before. I used to make them all by hand and deliver them on foot!)
‘The family that I have chosen’, I said on Boxing Day when I crashed through the door, falling on the couch with a bottle of Baileys and all family visits done.
Looking through my old, much scribbled in address book at all the names that are no longer a part of my life; old landlords, hairdressers, work contacts, book clubs I am no longer in, people who have died, people I have lost touch with, people I never really was in touch with… Hopeful contacts, someone I met at work that I thought might have become a friend. People I’d met through work who once the work finished I never saw. People who I had been to their house once: a mum at the school, who invited me to her house for lunch, she cooked lasagne, we saw each other now and again but didn’t really become close. The doctor from work who invited me and my boyfriend for dinner with her lawyer husband in their huge barn conversion. We were too in awe to return the invitation. Some relationships hopeful, some forced, some I wonder about calling, I think they would be happy to see me, but wonder if we really have anything still, or maybe just feeling awkward that it’s been so long. Others I know I will not call- it never was anything, and I am happy to let them go. And some of course long standing friends that I am still in touch with even after all these years.
The point of all this rambling and reflection is that I have always had some difficulties/concerns around friendships- namely, that I haven’t got enough, that I don’t call people enough (although actually with the exception of one or two people I don’t think any of them ever call me), and I often don’t feel myself with them. Or that I don’t know what sort of friends are me, or that I want. Because I haven’t known who I am, how can I expect to know what friends I should have? And how can I expect other people to know me when I don’t know myself?
Looking back I have felt so awkward with a lot of these people, it’s surprising we are still friends. When I lived in a council flat I felt awkward just going to anyone’s who had a reasonable house. I overcompensated: when I was in a middle class book club in Norwich I remember one night it was my turn to host it at my flat. Only one person came, and there was all this cheese, I must have spent twenty pounds on cheese alone. I understand now that my attitude must have created something of a barrier. But I also think that maybe I have struggled to meet people who I really click with because I haven’t really clicked with myself.
One of the side effects of a spiritual awakening is loneliness within your friendships. I don’t need to talk about it anymore, but I needed to when it was first happening to me. I told one friend that it felt like a miracle, meeting John, and she said yes, I think it is a miracle, which was nice. Several friends read my book, and put up with me. But still, it’s not the same when your friends are not going through the same thing and I often felt worse for trying to explain what was happening as I just sounded crazy. Nowadays I have a few people I can talk to, as they have discovered it since and some have come to me or come into my life and talked about it, but back then it was only me, and John. Not that I want to be with the really ‘out there’ people either- I want the down to earth. Which is why it was so nice at Yoga, the healing, with Kim and Melinda, feeling instantly comfortable, they are both down to earth and into healing. They don’t wear robes or anything, are not false or pretentious or over the top. I don’t need to find people that believe in exactly the same things, I just need people who have an awareness of something else, but in a genuine, quiet way, not in a provocative or statement way.
It’s well reported on that during or in a spiritual journey it can be lonely; you can feel disconnected from your friends, you can even feel critical of them, of their negativity, of their asleep ness, of the fact that they don’t have a spiritual practice and of the fact that they don’t ‘get you’. But aside from the advice of the Dali Lama which is that it is more useful to identify a single shortcoming in yourself than a hundred in others, which I will endeavour to remember, your friends have every right to feel at least as disappointed in you as you do in them, after all, they haven’t done anything wrong, they haven’t changed. You, on the other hand, could be seen to have to a certain extent abandoned them.
Sometimes I visit a good friend and feel distant, unable to connect. I feel more connected with a person I just met on my yoga class and the thought flits through my mind of abandoning all my friends and making new ones.
Sometimes I just have my usual old problem of not really planning or living my days according to my needs: I make a list of friends like a to do list, contact everyone, do loads of visiting, regret the time alone I lost. (I have read since that as your vibration level rises, or your frequency rises, friends do sometimes fall away. Also, that you don’t desire to see people as much, and need more time alone.)
Other times I visit an old friend, feel relaxed and connected, talk about all sorts of things including politics (her topic) and healing (mine). I maybe meet her halfway by raising politics (a subject I normally avoid like the plague) re getting active with food cycle, and she maybe meets me halfway by having healing, getting into it and talking about feeling a spiritual shift.
This ‘process’ I am going through is having a cleansing and purifying effect; spring cleaning me, applying search and destroy, finding residual issues to work on. ‘It’ works in a different way to worry, where the mind skates around, looking for things, real and imaginary, to worry about. This works on an unconscious level so that, for example, when I need to work on my thoughts, I pick up a book and open it at the ‘thought lab’ page containing everyday thought exercises. I keep it open there for weeks, and when I do pick it up to look at other exercises, all the other things I find are so totally not me that I scurry back to the thought lab page and leave it open there in the bathroom for another few weeks.