Falling in love with myself – 5-MeO-DMT experience

I sit on a bare mattress in the center of an almost perfectly cubical room. Windows allow the sun to shine in through a mild and promising spring afternoon. Next to me sits a close friend, but today he is also my trip-sitter. I am going on a 5-MeO-DMT trip today, and I while I am not anxious, I am feeling a sense of jittery anticipation. I have heard several stories about the drug that is known as one of the stronger psychedelics. I have no idea what to expect, but my friend tells me “You can do whatever you like, don’t try to judge your experience as right or wrong, you can go and have a shit in the corner, or take off your clothes if that’s what you feel like”. Since the trip takes less than thirty minutes usually, I don’t expect to be going to the bathroom during the experience.

The substance is smoked in a small glass-bowl pipe. The 12.5mg of crystallised 5-MeO-DMT is placed in the bowl that is then heated. My friend holds the pipe and heats the bowl with the impressive gas-flame lighter. He has instructed me to conserve my intake of air and slowly inhale to allow for all of the substance to vaporise before I run out of space in my lungs. He looks at me and I nod, we’ve known each other long enough for us to feel comfortable with just that, and I feel as ready as I could possibly feel for something I have no idea about. The crystals begin to bubble and then vapour begins to swirl inside the little bowl. As the little swirling cloud thickens he looks at me and with a very serious voice says “It’s almost time”. I exhale completely and move my head closer to the pipe, he removes the finger that is covering the mouth of the pipe, allowing the vapour to slowly move through the tube. I put my lips to the glass and begin inhaling slowly, like I would smoking weed from a short pipe.

The taste is sweet and thick. It is a bit too hot to be very pleasant, but definitely not unpleasant or bitter. It is best compared to the taste of the hookah, but thicker – more substantial. I keep inhaling without trouble, and finally run out of space for more air. I exhale a little in order to get the last smoke in an extra inhalation.

I don’t feel a thing. But then after a few seconds it begins. It feels like a river, I notice it in my headspace first, but it quickly grows to a fullbody experience. My meta-selves retain consciousness and clarity observing the experience from outside. I hold myself with pre-programmed integrity-selves that – after this experience – I am sure I have crafted well enough to stand against any psychedelic. After a little while I decide to let go, to get the full experience and not treat it as an exercise in meta-self-programming. I notice my friend out of the corner of my eye, and I “see him”. I see that he is truly there. And then I fall back, slowly.

On my back on the mattress the river begins to strengthen and I loose myself in the flow going through me. I become the river and my sense of self completely dissolves into a sensation of pure naive pleasure. I meet the reason for my movement, I meet the reason for my whole being. I meet the thing that initiates all initiative and provokes all provocation. I am faced, not as a self, but just as an experience, with that which is me. It is who I am when I am most free, when I feel the most safe, when I feel the most liberated. It is the one who I am when I forget to be who I want to be. It is an eight year old boy walking curiously through a forest. It is a naive trust given from a source of curious sweetness. It is an unhurt child smiling at anything in the world asking “Hello, what are you?”. It is looking at the world without fear, without a self created to protect. It is the body beneath the body, it is the thing I have created a self to defend. It is a defenceless young smiling soul, full of love and curiosity for everything it meets.

My deepest and unspoken anxiety about the experience was that I would unleash a monster from within. I feared that a dark demon would come out, a devious, game-playing and cruel being. But instead this came out, this very “felt” physical river inside me, this bubbly young thing.

My body moves in a naive feminine ecstatic movements, sometimes almost orgasmic – yet too innocent to be erotic. I am completely taken away by this and I just wriggle in the pure joy of this feeling, sometimes mouthing a “Wow!”. This wow is at my own being, at my surprise at meeting this. And I fall in love with this being, this little river inside me. I fall in love with its sweetness, and I understand all who have loved me before in my life.

After a while I get a desire to experience other things, while still under the influence. I reach out to my friend and catch his foot. Initially eye contact would be too much so I just drag myself up to him, and allow him to hold me. I cry, I smile, I mouth “Wow!”. We stare into each others eyes for several minutes. He has tried it before, so he knows that I am going through something, but he is probably not completely aware what. After about twenty-five minutes we begin talking, and sharing the experience in words.

My experience remains with me. It is not one of “That was an interesting drug”, it is one of seeing myself. The most profound side-effect is that I can see who have love for me, and who does not. This took an understanding of love for myself, something most probably learn from childhood, but I had missed for several reasons. I already knew who had love for me, and who had not. But I missed it because I was standing in the way of this myself. My personality created to defend my little river, is all the river is not. It is often hard, determined, controlled and understand everything that is going on. It has everything figured out well before it happens, and will not change its mind based on experience.

Tasting the sweetness of myself made me believe that I was loveable, because I now loved myself. I felt a kinship with those who loved me, an agreement with their decision. I looked at those people in my life who had no love for me and thought “What am I doing trying to force love out of an empty box?”, I felt a strange twinge of “Well, you have no love for me, that’s clear, I don’t completely understand this. I’m really REALLY sweet you know?”, but then I also accepted that this was not their taste. People have different tastes and that’s only fair. I felt no compulsion to try to make those with no love for me somehow change their mind. I reached out to some and thanked all those from whom I felt love clearly. Some I reached out to and asked “Do you have love for me?” because it felt right to ask. Some I told “I have love for you”. But mostly I just felt that whatever anyone else feels, most importantly I have love for myself, and it’s a love I want to take. So the most important thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love, and be loved in return. The hardest lesson in this is that you need to do this alone before you do it with anyone else.

Early morning lonely

It’s three in the morning, and the rain drums quietly on the roof. I walk ponderously between sleep and wakefulness, going through frustrated dreamlike states of loneliness. Different people are shown to me, and my mind expresses a backward desire for being reached out to by them. Blames them for not knowing that I’m alone, frustrated and needing to be seen and loved. My mind proposes strategy after strategy, in its unending helpfulness. This is my primary way of dealing with loneliness: Planning. I stumble into one dead end after another “Maybe if I wrote this person, in this way…” or “Maybe if I said this when I meet that person…” but they all fall short. I know I will be a different person when the time for plan-execution arrives, and what I feel is happening right now.

The raw feeling is not one of failed planning though. The feeling is that of a physical weight on my chest, and the sensation of an iron mask on my face. It has no symbolism, it’s just that physical sensation. I can try to tease it apart with an analytical scalpel. Turning it into words and concepts, but I already have clear primal understanding of what is going on. It is the sensation of being alone, and it feels wrong. I am in my bed alone, and it doesn’t feel right, and my body is reaching out. My brain tries to help, asking “What if I did this?” but my body is no more advanced than when I was ten years old and missed my parents. Through years of suppression I have forgotten how to physically react to it, so I simply lie there and stare into the darkness like so many insomniacs before me.

My body insists that something is wrong, the pressure remains on my chest, urging me to do something. My mind goes through scenarios and solutions, propositions of what I could do differently. How I can build to protect myself from this feeling.

But something deeper is wrong, because I can write this for everyone, but not to anyone. There is no single person I feel comfortable reaching out to. There is no one that can know this. Because no one has the keys to the inner sanctum of my cathedral. The doors are open, and the cold stone floors and massive pillars are on display. You’re expected to talk in hushed tones, but no one even knows of that room five stories below, where a heart beats. And I don’t blame them, because it is hidden away with great care; not open to tourists. The most you will get is a picture on a post card.

I have built my relations with my strength, with my can-do with my know-how. I thrive in being alone most of the time, and I consider emotional outbursts and loneliness to be weaknesses. When people are out of control I mostly react to it with a controlled caring facade, but I’m rarely able to hide my patronising disgust. If their lack of control hurts me or ends up asking me to change, a cold gate will immediately slam in their face. Unfairness cannot be tolerated after all. This disgust is also at myself obviously, so I try to prove that I am sensitive, by exposing that which seems sensitive, rather than exposing that which is sensitive. I tell the story of that which resembles openness, rather than tell the reality of that which needs to be seen.

I was surprised when I learned what the word vulnerability meant. I thought it meant being hurt and in a state where you should be hiding. A state where people could easily utterly destroy you in case they saw your moment of weakness. I saw it as being temporarily weak, and open to attack. This is partially true, but only when seen from the narrow point of view of the fighter. I only learned very late in life that it meant: Letting someone in to a place where they can hurt you… Or heal you. It struck me as such a surprise that this was the meaning. To give someone the keys to do either. Admitting to those around you when they are in a position where you are easily hurt by them. Doing this in the context of a fight is suicide, doing this in the context of love is required. If the keys are never given, you will never be hurt and never be healed.

A few months ago I am sitting in the opening circle of a contact improv class. People are sharing how they feel mentally, emotionally and physically. A more than average number go into crying and hugging sessions, sharing various diagnosis’ with the group. When it comes to me I say (in a feat of classical me-ness): “I feel emotionally stable and physically strong”. It’s a pun on all of their pain of course, and it’s funny enough to illicit laughs from the group. It’s not funny enough to stop anyone from crying. I have the feeling that some wiser person sits in such a group, looking at me, knowing what is happening. And in that persons wise kindness it feels sorry for me. But at that moment I’m hard and blind.

I pay for it in the middle of the night of course, when there is no one to reach out to. When my mind’s go-to reaction is strategic planning on what I could say or do to make someone reach out to me. At all cost I want to avoid being vulnerable to the specific someones. To all those people who holds the keys to my heart without knowing it. It’s so easy for me to blame them for not reaching out, to enter into a state of bitterness, or regret at my own failings to share. But the truth is that I didn’t tell them. I just left the keys at their place. Like that friend who knows how to fold the origami birds. Who always makes them from a random scrap of paper and leaves them on your table. You keep them for a little while, but then just throw them away.

In my fear of vulnerability, I made it clear to the world that it shouldn’t come close. Don’t piss in my cathedral, don’t even talk. Don’t even think about crossing the velvet rope that leads into the basement. Because to me vulnerability means being hurt, and not healed.

I’m not fixed in this obviously, I could make it seem so. I could make this out to be a “story of me as I was” but that would utterly defy the point. I don’t write this to be seen either, I don’t write it as an invitation into my cathedral; that place is closed off to the public still. This is me, as I am, I’m ok with that.

I write this because in my writing the most common feedback I have gotten is “I feel less alone in my feeling”. I write to remind myself to be there when someone reaches out to me in their loneliness at three in the morning. Because if they dare to do this, maybe I will be inspired by their bravery and do the same some day. For now I’ll just go back to bed.

Poly-partners without rush, ambivalence and expectations

Discovering partners

I’m openly polyamorous. I don’t currently adhere to the idea of a primary partner. The result is a group of people I consider partners. There are three criteria I use to identify my partners.

  1. A partner is ok with being described as my partner publicly
  2. A partner is someone I take with me in my heart wherever I go
  3. A partner is someone I have a specified commitment to

Hand holdingThe first is quite obvious. If the term partner is mostly a label used to describe relationships to the world. Then someone can only be a partner if they allow me to describe them as such. What I mean by taking with me in my heart is that I consider them in my decisions. If I’m about to do something risky on my snowboard or I’m thinking about moving to a different country, then I will take the feelings of my partners into consideration. There needs to be at least one specified commitment. It can be an easy commitment like seeing them if we are in the same city, or maybe committing to staying polyamorous (this one I don’t go without).

In many cases there are feelings of passion or desire with my partners. In many cases there is physical intimacy. But not in all of them, and sometimes it is love without physical intimacy or vice versa. Indeed it may just be someone I’m practically committed to; a very important friend who fills up a very unique role in my life. Or it might be that we are going through a period of being apart, and so passion and desire are in hibernation. My way of identifying a partner is not one based on love or physical intimacy, it’s one based on testable conditions. Because I’m not monogamous, and I never make commitments based around special rights, I don’t need the title of partner for anything other than communicating with the outside world.

If you put this together you may ask whether or not any person living up to these criteria is a partner. And my answer to that is a loud booming YES THEY ARE! And this is essential. I am not trying to find partners, by asking someone to be my partner. It is simply that when the three criteria are met, that is when someone is identified as my partner. I discover that they are a partner, not because I want them to be, but because they happen to be.

Recently I was chatting with someone I feel myself moving closer towards. She is someone I could see myself identifying as a partner somewhere down the road. She described the feeling of closing the distance between us like this:

It lacks the feeling of rush, ambivalence and expectations, and that feels good.

The above sentence inspired this entire text. It succinctly described how I like relationships to feel. Below I will address rushing, ambivalence and expectations. I included my way of identifying partners above to give some context to what comes below.

Rushing

What often feels rushed about relationships is the hurry to chisel them in stone, or get to third base. We express our desire for something manifest, a title or a symbol, that will tell us that the relationships really is. Instead of simply observing and identifying what is, we seek to make it come into existence by adding expressions that speak of and about the relationship. When haven’t kissed yet, that first kiss seems a symbol of the relationship. When we haven’t had sex, then this must be the expression of it becoming more real. Finally we need our partner to give us a title, and then express that title to the world. Then finally we can accept that the relation is. All this is strange because isn’t it really the feelings we have towards each other that makes us kiss, hug, have sex and put on various labels?

My approach to this is different. I admit that it causes frustration with some people, but I take this frustration as a sign that we don’t really fit together. It is simple: I just wait and see what is. I don’t mind waiting a long time. This waiting may seem a bit like abstinence for the sake of it, but it’s not. My method is pretty straight forward: I begin by building a friendship. Once I identify the person as a friend I will kiss that person when it feels right, and only when I don’t feel like the friendship is at risk. If I believe the friendship may get hurt from a bad kissing experience, I’m not willing to risk it. When it feels good, then I might observe that I feel like having sex with the person, but I will only do it when I feel safe that it won’t hurt the fact that we can be friends-who-kiss. If all goes well and that happens, then I may do it and it may be really nice. From there I feel safe that we can slip back and forth between being friends and lovers without friction. This entire process can easily take between half a year and many years. I can only say that I think it is really worth it, and that relationships built like this have a tremendous staying-power.

I am not saying that friendship must be the base of any relationship. But you should be aware of what you consider most fundamental with another person. Also if you do not agree on the most fundamental aspect it may be hard for you to find an equilibrium. One person may be looking for the friendship and the other for the physical intimacy, as they each consider that the most fundamental and foundational aspect of the relation.

Ambivalence

Ambivalence seems to arise when we fear that we will not get to the next level. Our efforts of rushing are failing and we are losing momentum. Our fears drive us towards acting without full disclosure, and this lack of transparency leads to ambivalent feelings in others. We are hunting for that special person to become what we have envisioned them like in our private fantasies, Instead of accepting that it may not be, we attempt to change ourselves to fit what we believe they will be drawn to. While the actor may not be caught lying directly, the underlying sense of incongruence gives rise to ambivalent feelings in the other.

The frustrations that a relationships are not moving forward can also lead to explosions of anger or implosions of sadness, and these can lead others to either shy away or loose respect. It is a big thing to ask someone to love us while we are angry that they do not, or to ask someone to desire us while we are sad that they don’t.

My approach to this is to go for less. I treasure the friendship above anything. It is what I try to preserve rather than feelings of desire and passion. I will not actively engage in physical or emotional intimacy on the foundation of a shaky friendship. Then I will focus on strengthening the friendship. This can sometimes feel cold and distanced to those I engage with, because I enter into fixing the friendship before the partnership. This again is a price I’m willing to pay. Whenever I feel myself wanting the relationship to be, I focus on what it is. I treat it like one of my plants, I can’t force it to grow, only place it in the sun and give it water and care.

Expectations

I see now that all this is about expectations. Expectation is to know what you will get before you have it. This works well with ordering pizza, and sometimes when making wishes for your birthday. It works pretty bad when it comes to relationships. Let’s imagine we are two people painting a picture together, and we can’t talk while we do it. Having expectations is like me pushing you away in the beginning and drawing all the outlines, then nodding and pointing, urging you to fill in the spaces with color. It’s not really painting together anymore, it’s more like I dictate what will be, and you must fill it out. When you know what you will get before you have it in a relationship, it is truly your relationship. There is no quicker way of killing a relationship than by owning it. I may be verging on stating the obvious here, but relationships are all about relating, and this is a reflective two way process. One relates to the other, and the other relates back.

I think expectations rise when we really want her/him to be that special someone. My approach to quelling this desire for someone is to trust that wonderful people will come my way, and that they will naturally also consider me wonderful. In other words: I trust that those I love will love me back.

This is a blind decision, not a delusion. There is no proof for this, it is simply a thing that is so constructive to believe that it seems foolish not to. It may be completely false or it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. But even so, I believe you deserve to trust it as well. You can only make this decision yourself, and no one can tell you anything that will convince you that it’s true. But I find it unlikely that we would even have a word for love if it wasn’t the case.

Love

To me love is respect, friendship, transparency, passion, intimacy, commitment and trusting that you will be loved by those you love. And as the song goes: This is the hardest thing you will ever learn.

The power of expressing desire

Handing apple to shopper I’m standing in the kitchen of a friend. We’re in the midst of planning the day. We both want to see one of her old friends whom I have recently been introduced to. She tells me that he had expressed a selfish desire to spend the day with both of us and gave some more details about what he wanted to do. I repeat the words “selfish desire” back to her because they’re slightly odd sounding to me, and I must have said it in the tone of a question because she elaborates with a “I think he means that it is his narcissistic personal desire, if he was the only one deciding what would happen”. At this point my mind begins making mental notes for writing later. What triggers my interest is that he is clearly expressing what he wants, before taking into account what others may desire. He is given my friend the courtesy of being directly honest about his personal desires, exposing them directly to us. Immediately I feel a sense of ease and lightness from knowing what he wants. An ease that arises from knowing that he hasn’t taken my wishes into consideration.

If someone had told me “Express your desires. It will make you happy.” I would likely have agreed with her. It may even have happened to me once or twice, and it has almost surely been mentioned in one of the many psychology and philosophy books I have read over the years. What it took for me to understand its power, was to be subjected to it myself. Experiencing a person clearly and honestly state their desires without no expectation of fulfilment. Throughout the day I kept reminding myself to write notes, and remember this profound act of communication. Only a few days later I had the time to fully write down my experiences and ideas. This turned into a “How to clearly express your desires” guide, and missed the point of my journey completely, it took me a long time to find the motivation to write up a different perspective.

My first question was why I hadn’t done this before. It seemed blatantly obvious. How could I possibly have missed such a useful tool, and how could I have survived without it? I started keeping an eye on my communication regarding my wishes, desires and needs. It quickly became obvious that most of the time I was asking others what they wanted, seeking to see how my desires may overlap with theirs. In many cases, I noticed that they were playing the same game. None of us would truly divulge our innermost clearest desire, and so our wishes to fulfil each others would always be limited by our own holding back. There was a benign and caring intent of respecting the desires of those around us, that eventually ended up blocking out stating our personal desires clearly. I began exchanging my “What do you want to do?” with “I have a desire to see you at 12.00 at the café and spend two and a half hours together, then I have a desire to go home and work”.

My expectation was that people would be offended at this directness. Rarely this was the case, but mostly people responded in the opposite way. Often people felt relieved that they knew exactly what I desired. They felt safe that I would express my desires.

I began making clear distinctions between needs and desires. Needs were different from desires in that they were required, I couldn’t go without them, and I found that I ended up using needs very rarely. Most of what I wanted was desires, in other words they did not need to be fulfilled. I made a promise to myself to always state them. I made this promise to give myself the opportunity to have them fulfilled but also to give others the opportunity to fulfil them.

In the period that followed people became accustomed to my new way of clearly expressing desires. Quickly people learned to say no, and planning time together became less of an insecure probing-the-waters and more of an open and honest sharing of things that would bring us joy. I ended up feeling much better about expressing my introvertness by expressing desires for meetings to be time-bound, and expressing a wish to be alone together. Often I would have a secret desire to just sit together and read or write, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable expressing it. This way of expressing myself in a way where I felt that my communication was clearly only about my selfish desires, helped me to overcome this discomfort. In a surprising number of cases others revealed that they had similar desires to mine.

Now I find myself starting almost all conversations with a statement of desires. I find myself planning by expressing my desires almost all the time, and giving space for others to express their selfish desires. Sometimes I will explain that it is my personal desire, and that I haven’t taken anyone else into account. Often I will ask how that desire sits with them. I have found that the fear of being rejected in terms of sexual or romantic desires have become almost non-existent. This is mainly because I am able to express my desires without accidentally making the others that they should fulfil them. Most rejection hurts because it is accompanied by a push back. This push back, I feel, is often the result of the undercurrent of “and now you should fulfil my desires”. That is the difference between expectations and desires.

My language has become a lot less manipulative. Subtle (not malicious) manipulation has been replaced by the (disturbingly obvious) tool of direct language. I am sure that I have read advice similar to what I am giving here through my story. For it to sink into me I had to experience being on the other side of clear communication of desire. I am hoping that by writing my impressions instead of a “The guide to expressing desire” you will go along with me on that journey in your heart. The first step is as easy as saying: “I have a desire to see you”. Statements of that type have become a recurring theme in my language. Because this is what love feels like to me; a direct desire to see someone. Sometimes I have a desire to be close to a special someone, to touch, to kiss, to play board games and many other things. Stating them seems more like expressions of love and not of personal selfish desire. As I have experienced others adopting my mode of speaking I can tell you that there’s nothing quite like being told: “I have a selfish personal desire to be close to you”.

I have no illusions that you will promptly pick up the mantle and begin expressing your desires to those around you. But I do have a hope that you will feel inspired to let a few of them slip out, and then maybe that trickle will slowly turn into small stream. One day I may pass under the waterfall of your desires and I can be that person who will fulfil them. There are few things that bring more joy than to fulfil the desires of those we love, but the first step for that to happen is to get to know them.