I don’t know what comes next, I only know what comes now

It is January 4, 2019. I’m sitting at home on the couch. I’ve been reading, journaling, petting the house cats, thinking, feeling. So many feelings the past few days. So much processing.

I broke a 55-hour dry fast with water this morning. I’m holding a water fast for now, maybe through the weekend, maybe longer. It’s helping me sort through what’s going on.

Today has been better – less crying, more normalcy in my emotional space. In down moments I feel lonely and unsure of what comes next. Waves of deep sadness and loss roll through me, though it’s nothing compared to the pain of two days ago. Everything is up for new questioning. What am I doing in my life? What am I doing that actually matters? This life, where I find myself now, feels surreal. I rang in the new year with a total 180. Literally overnight the whole foundation of my world was shaken up, turned upside down. I woke up into a new lifetime this year, one I wasn’t ready for.

I’ve spent the last four years of my life engaged in a deep romance and friendship with an incredibly beautiful human. I fell in love with him my senior year of college. From early on, we shared dreams of a long future together, dreams I’ve believed in and longed for.

Everything is in question now. Maybe gone for good. I don’t know.

I feel so much sadness. I am grieving the life I thought I was living, the love I thought I would have my whole life. There are no words to describe it.

And I don’t know how to tell this story yet. I don’t know what happens next. I don’t know if my heart’s longings will come to fruition, if we will grow on our own for a while and come back together, or if this will just be a lesson, and we’ll move on only with the memory of each other, maybe with gratitude, maybe with some pain.

Why can’t I just be happy with the good things, without nitpicking the bad? I keep asking myself. Why did I let myself become judgmental? Do my human flaws make me unfit for partnership? Did something sour inside me stale the beautiful love that blossomed before me? Did I fail to water this flower? Or did I perhaps over-water it, stuck in some sort of tunnel vision, and lose touch with myself?

It’s surely not so simple as a little metaphor, nor something I am meant to understand all the way. All I know is what is now, that this was given to me, and that within it is a beautiful gift. And it came from something magical, something I trusted in the moment, even though a big part of me was afraid.

I don’t think I would have been brave enough without the mushrooms. I’ve been reading Terence McKenna’s Food of The Gods and feeling drawn towards the magic mushrooms. I’m not a stranger to them, though it’s been some time. Life gave me the opportunity to partake of a small dose on New Years Eve, and I did.

We were at a party with my brother, a ritual three years running. Two years ago it was in Chico, CA. I have such beautiful memories of that night, of dancing with my brother and my lover, of looking at him, knowing with all my happy heart that no matter what the year brought, he’d be there.

Last year we were in Portland. My brother had moved, and we went to his new house and had a party there. It was another beautiful, lighthearted, amazing night, full of laughter and dancing and love, though the feeling I held towards my partner was more confusing, less free, less certain. We had had a rough year together and were in the middle of trying to work through things. He had been depressed in 2017, struggling through the transition out of school. I hadn’t known how to help him, or how to set boundaries for myself. He went home in October to sort things out for himself with his family, and I found a new home in a house full of women as well as a new lover, a move within the legal bounds of our relationship, which ended up feeling positive for me but putting strain on us. We were working through it. Parts of me were more concerned with my own freedom than with a relationship that had surprised and challenged me so unexpectedly. I didn’t really know what was going to happen in the new year.

2018 was a year of growth, seemingly of great progress between us. I found more of my voice and my feelings about what had happened the year before, and was able to communicate some of it to him. We learned to talk through hard things. I learned to say things I thought would hurt, and we learned to work with the raw input, to talk about what was really going on.

We went through ups and downs. At times the long distance seemed to be breaking us. Our physical relationship seemed to struggle all year. There were undercurrents of dissatisfaction, and a seemingly endless thread of things-we-need-to-be-working-on. It was exhausting, to be honest. But we both believed so much in our love, and our dreams for the future… and there were times where it felt I was falling in love with him all over again.

Was I kidding myself? Was I just afraid to let go, clinging on too tightly?

This year we came together in Portland again for another New Years celebration. And we found ourselves working through some of the same challenges again. And New Years Eve, sometime after midnight, I found myself on the dance floor once again, but this time the two of us were in different places. I found myself looking towards him, and then looking away, pained. A furious, tense knot in my chest was forming and twisting, I was suddenly self-conscious and awkward, and I couldn’t make eye contact with him. So I darted out of the room and ran away, ran outside into the street.

Ah, there was some kind of freedom and empowerment in that move. It really is possible to just walk away, from anything, if for a moment. All the energy in the party, all the things and people I thought I was attached to just now… I could just walk away. Suddenly I was out on the street in the cold, away from the noise and activity, alone with my footsteps and my feelings and the nighttime air… and the mushrooms. And that’s when they spoke to me. As I walked and held myself, and let my feelings settle in, I was asking, why? I was flooded with a mix of images and memories, thoughts of Mathew, of our experiences and memories, his family… and somehow in all of that, the overall, over-simplified theme of what he represents to me became more clear. I realized, this man represents comfort.

And my heart broke in that moment. I asked, really? Is that where I am? The simplicity and truth of it stung me. I knew then; I was shown. I have to walk away from this. I have to. It is the path that is given to me. Comfort isn’t enough. No matter how much I want it to be enough, it isn’t. And the problems that come out of that dynamic don’t go away. The things we’ve been ‘working through’… all the effort we’ve been spending… whatever illusion we’ve been living in stops here. I was hit with so much sadness then, I stopped dead in my tracks on the sidewalk and started crying. I realized, with great heaviness and loss, that I’ll never get our beautiful moments back. Our falling-in-love-together. The path we’ve walked together to here, the depths we’ve reached with each other. All this time lately I’ve spent fighting, I wish I would have just been loving him, enjoying his presence while I had it. I wish I would have known where this path could lead, and been more conscious, less afraid. I took for granted that our dreams would come true, that we’d be together forever. But I was wrong. It could end at any moment. Never forget that, that things can end any moment. We can’t control the passage of time and what it brings us. Be present. Be grateful. It’s so important. My heart ached so deeply, and I broke open, weeping tears of sorrow to the empty street.

Walking slowly back to the house, I asked, when do I tell him? And it seemed right to wait until tomorrow, New Years Day. To enjoy the night.

More thoughts and feelings came. Even with what I’d just been shown, even if this person in some simplified way can be seen as my source of “comfort”, I knew I genuinely fell in love with this person, this beautiful, unique person, for much more than a place of comfort. I fell in love with him. And there’s no one else out there who can replace him. It was so terrible yet beautiful, this moment with myself. Regret, sadness, loneliness, strength, all wrapped into one. And I started grieving the loss. Things will never be the same. I don’t know what it looks like, but something is over now, and there is nothing at all I can do to stop it. So I walked back to the party, aching, but much more clear and clean in my spirit. A rock had been removed from my heart.

The rest of our moments together that night, I let myself just love him and appreciate him. It was a great party, once again. There’s a real magic to New Years Eve. It usually surprises me. Though this was the most intense surprise yet.

I told him the next morning what I’d been shown, what path had been revealed for me. And I have to say, the way we dialogued together stands as a testament to the true depth and quality of our relationship, of our ability to communicate and be honest with each other. Once again I was blown away by this human, by his ability to receive what I tell him, to process it and express himself in return. If this is really the end of us, I will sorely miss that about him. We cried together, which felt very healing. We came to a place of agreement about it, granted with some confusion and uncertainty… it didn’t feel real, for either of us. But the decision was made, hesitantly… I guess we’re breaking up.

After spending the day processing separately and together, and saying a strange and sad goodbye, I flew out that night on a redeye to come back “home” to North Carolina. I didn’t know how to feel. Like I said, it felt like everything had been turned upside down. Nothing felt real. Getting back to Durham, my first thoughts were that this place feels empty now. My job seems pointless now. I went straight to work from the airport. It was a surreal day, punctuated with bouts of leaving my desk to go cry, and actually silently crying at my desk and not caring if anyone saw me. When I got home it all came out, maybe the longest crying session I’ve ever had. Maybe the hardest day I’ve ever had. Pain, loss, grief. Deep sorrow. I don’t know what’s real about my life, or what comes next, but this awful feeling is real. This process is real.

It’s been a wild few days. It started there, with the pain. But there’s already been beauty in this process, too. Talking through it with my loved ones has been a blessing, an opportunity for real deep conversations, for the exchanging of feelings and wisdom and love. I believe in this process. I believe pain is a teacher, and that as I feel and allow myself to cry and grieve, something in me is healing. I am like a forest that needs to periodically be burned. We have to let the parts that don’t serve us burn away, and we must feel the burn, feel the pain… it gives us space for new growth.

It’s time for me to grow. This is an opportunity for me to reflect on what happened between us and what my part in it was. It’s a chance for me to learn how I can be better to myself, more true to myself. And my whole life is coming into sharper focus now. What here is real? What comes from me, and what comes from something else? What’s important? What can be let go? I must grow more into my real self… and that is a journey that, while hard and scary and painful at times, is also thrilling and full of light. I care a lot about authenticity and truth. This is a chance for me to listen and learn, a chance for me to lean into pain and my own growth.

I do want to use this as an opportunity to say, I am so grateful for the mushrooms. I could have left out that part out of the story, as I’m sure people have different perceptions of what these things are, and to some people the idea of these substances might evoke fear and misunderstanding. Psilocybin mushrooms, and other psychoactive plant medicines, have coexisted symbiotically with humans for thousands of years, and have played an important role in human spirituality throughout time. They really, really help us make sense of things and find deeper meaning in this life. I cannot tell you how much some of these substances have helped me, and how void of meaning I could see my life being without this relationship to these medicines. This story is only one example of how they’ve shown up in my life and given me clarity, direction, and deep healing. Ayahuasca earlier this year also hugely impacted my life, helped me heal things that were holding me back. That experience paved the way for a lot of personal and professional growth, and probably even for this experience, to some extent. I respect and appreciate these medicines a lot, and want to be honest and share my experience with them. It’s important. The world feels like a crazy place right now, and it feels like this is a missing ingredient for the way our culture works. If there’s any way I can help bring that relationship into balance, I’ll do it. Maybe just being honest about it is a good place to start.

Friends…. of course there’s more. There’s a lot more. But it is time to close out for the day. Thank you for reading, and for participating in this life. I’m grateful to each and every one of you. Cherish your life and your loved ones. Dare to be vulnerable. Remember that everything could change overnight, and when it does…. welcome it.

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