Now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence.”
There is currently a lot of positive movement in my life, a lot of meaningful connections and realizations being made, and I’m overall just feeling so grateful to have made the decision to do Ayahuasca in December 2018. Now, two years later, my experience at Dreamglade has helped me quit my job to work on my mental health, start my own business (that’s currently on hiatus), become a certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, and join a social change organization, all of which has been teaching me the healing powers and importance of community (way better than any traditional therapy I’ve ever done). I’m feeling more fulfilled and stable than ever before, largely in part to learning how to repeatedly surrender to the unknown and change my relationship with pain through cultivating deeper connections with the Earth and my own natural cycles. Plant medicine helps a lot with that, and this new perception I’ve developed since the Ayahuasca retreat has no joke gotten me through the pandemic and this crazy time in history. Not to mention make peace with my dad’s death and build resilience and patience to feel capable of mentally handling life’s difficulties. As I do more and more healing work to untangle the programming that got me to where I am today, I see how Western culture and the polarities of my upbringing contributed SO MUCH to my bipolar tendencies. Now that I finally have a break to get to know myself, I’m finding that for me, it’s all about learning how to manage my energy and shift mindsets and patterns to rewire my brain.
A huge pattern for me is suicidal thoughts and ideation, which is so common for bipolar minds since we feel so deeply, and the pain to keep living can become unbearable. There’s no ceiling to the mental pain we can inflict on ourselves, whereas if you break an arm for instance you generally know that the physical pain is temporary and it’s gonna heal. Around the time I got diagnosed, I was feeling constant pressure from wedding planning, work, and life in general that these thoughts became so overwhelming I was actually making plans to do the deed. It’s a huge part of why I took the plunge and bought tickets to Peru. For me, I was ready to die and I was terrified I wasn’t long for this world if I didn’t make a drastic change. I was about to get married, and I knew I had to learn to manage these thoughts because I couldn’t do that to my husband, dog, and any potential future children. Ayahuasca was a last resort, and I’m SO GLAD IT WORKED. My internal landscape has been permanently transformed in a way I never thought possible. Integration has taken a while, but I’m starting to notice profound positive changes in how I show up in the world.
Ayahuasca is also called the vine of “small death,” and I owe my intensely life changing ego death experience at Dreamglade to the decision of opening myself up to doing kambo, rapé and sananga. I won’t go into what these medicines all are, but you can click on their names to read about them. You can also check out our kambo experience here. All of these plant medicines have vastly shifted my perception of pain and increased my resilience to my bipolar episodes, helping me stay grounded, empty my mind, and create space for the universe to step in. They not only remind me that life is a miracle, but also that death is an important part of the cycle of nature, and it’s to be embraced. Even though it’s super hard to do (at least for me because I’ve had a TON of resistance). But thankfully, after a couple years, now when I have suicidal thoughts, I try my best to shift the focus on accepting an INTERNAL death, rather than feeling like I need to take some drastic action to end my physical existence. I ask “What part of me has to die? To be reborn? What is lashing out that I still can’t let go of?” I guess this is process.
One of the reasons I’m most grateful for the internet is because I feel like the healing and integration happening with me, right now, is SO supported by having access to rapé and sananga. Our brains get so wired with bullshit throughout our lives that repetition is necessary to break all these bonds to suffering that become our comfort zone over time. It’s an absolute DREAM to be able to do them on a consistent basis. This is my little kit! I named my kuripe Raul after the shaman at Dreamglade ;_; You can hear one of his icaros here…so glad someone posted this on Soundcloud.
I see now that the weed actually made my bipolar worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. As my awareness has increased, I notice how quickly I reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body.”
I used to smoke a lot of weed, but last month I developed a sore throat with occasional earaches. I took this as a sign that I probably needed to stop smoking. I’ve been doing a lot of embodiment exercises, yoga, meditation and the rapé daily (sometimes morning and night), but I was still giving in to the weed habit. As my awareness has increased, I’ve noticed how quickly I would reach for my pipe when I’m feeling uncomfortable energy in my body, either to soothe the mania or depression. I see now that the weed actually made it worse, offering a temporary numbing solution but messing with my energy to contribute to rapid cycling patterns. It works for some people, but I’ve definitely read it’s not great for bipolar minds… something I never wanted to admit to myself until now.
I’m grateful for this neverending sore throat because I keep getting messages of “you need to stop smoking weed.” I tried my best to, but the other day ended up doing it again… and ended up going to the doctor yesterday since my throat and ears were so bad. After the exam, he said I looked perfect. Just as I thought…energetic. Of course I could do edibles but… what this whole thing is making me realize is that I had actually gotten addicted to weed which I never thought would happen. I really don’t want to live like that anymore. My body is done with that, and I’d rather come into my personal power than rely on getting “high.” My mania is already a natural drug anyway. What now feels more productive for me is shifting that relationship to pain and discomfort and learn to stay grounded and connected to the Earth to not get swept up in whatever energy is coursing through me from my moods.
“Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.”
– Kai Njeri
Growing up in America, I feel like I was taught to create unrealistic expectations for myself, and because those expectations would never be met, I’d just wallow in self pity, hating myself for not being able to make shit happen. We have also been taught to fear death and the natural cycles of life which are honored in other cultures. Just like the seasons, the moon, and everything else in nature… we have to die eventually, along with certain parts of ourselves. Otherwise, we’d have no space for anything new! One of my friends from Shakti Rising said the other day, “Imagine if we forced the trees to not shed their leaves in the winter, what would happen? They would be stuck with a bunch of leaves they don’t need and be unable to adapt for the next season.” Seriously. From everything I’ve experienced and have committed myself to experiencing… embracing death is the best way to peace.
Which is why I am SO grateful for the plant medicine! Rapé is like jungle snuff that you inhale through the nose, an herbal blend made by various indigenous cultures in South America. You can read all about it here, what it is, benefits, all that. The one I have is an Ayahuasca blend, which has been MONUMENTAL in continuing the healing work with Mama Aya that was started in 2018. When my friend told me she found a site where you could get this, I actually cried. If interested, you can order it here from Rainbow Bridge. Proceeds support the indigenous cultures they work with, their customer service is incredible and rapé blends top notch… I’d highly highly recommend ordering from them. If you’re feeling called, please use the promo code RAINBOWHEALING for 10% off!! 😀
I’m dying because I just saw that they now have these HUMMINGBIRD KURIPES!!! Even though I absolutely love my lil shaman… hummingbirds are my spirit animal so I couldn’t resist ordering a new one, especially because they have a new Ayahuasca blend! So excited to try it!! 😀 I’ve been doing the rapé pretty consistently since December, and it’s enhanced my dreams and really helps me feel connected to Mother Ayahuasca. And talk about embracing death…When this stuff is taken with intention, I can attest — It’s absolutely life changing. Every day when I inhale through the left nostril, I meditate on what I need to let go from my life, and on the right, I meditate on what needs to be reborn… the newness that will take up the space of that death.
To me, life is now a ceremony. Because why not? This shit is magical.”
Amy also recently gave me a vial of sananga, which we did together in Peru at the retreat. I told her that I had been using it whenever I had a weed craving, which helped so much. These cleansing eye drops make your eyes sting for about 5 min, but they leave you with clearer vision, an empty mind, and often soothing messages. Here’s a conversation we had the other day that I don’t want to forget. She has such a beautiful way of condensing information, whereas I word vomit all the time. I love how she recognized that I was working on “not being afraid myself anymore” which is exactly it… pretty messed up how easy it is to get caught up in that type of self hatred.
The exact part of that Little Witch Academia episode unfortunately isn’t on Youtube, but this wonderful analysis of it is!!! 😀 I was blown away by how beautifully Trigger handled an exploration of the inner psyche. Definitely worth watching…one of my absolute favorite LWA episodes. (This show changed my life btw, highly recommended especially if you’re into that magic vs technology kinda thing)
Anyway, I remember taking that sananga at the retreat two years ago before the ceremony that changed me forever. It made me feel deeply in my soul that pain is temporary, and that learning how to move through it with grace was the answer to regaining my power. Now, continuing these plant medicine rituals, I find that to be absolutely true. I’ve even got Eddy starting to see the point of them when previously he thought I was insane. He’s been having a ton of physical aches and pains from working at the computer, and taking the sananga and rapé was able to shift his focus on his physical pain to the pain of the plant medicine… but in a good way. If only more people were more open to this! Mother Earth really does have all the answers we need…
When we went to do Ayahuasca, we were told that she always gives you what you need, but not always what you want. They said it was important to not have any expectations and to PAY ATTENTION to what she was trying to tell us. I remember back then thinking “HOW DO YOU NOT HAVE EXPECTATIONS?!” And I see now that the way to do it is to listen. Listen deeply for what the universe is trying to tell you…what each MOMENT is trying to tell you. It’s all there, it’s all within us, because we ARE the universe. Everything is so deeply, unfathomably connected, and the more I repeatedly feel this IN MY SOUL, the more I find that it’s absolute truth.
To me, LIFE ITSELF is a ceremony. The more I am able to deeply listen, the more I find that every moment truly is a teacher, and the more meaningful and profound this adventure becomes. I think… maybe I’m starting to get it 😉
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”
– Joseph Campbell
It’s crazy that it’s already Spring, and I’m really resisting the urge to beat myself up about how little I feel I’ve gotten done. Why do we always do that? Oh yeah. Because of our culture. Thanks America. Seriously it seems like COVID, in addition to all the dark systemic bullshit it’s brought up this past year, has also sped up time.
Last October I quit my job on Rick and Morty, which ended up being one of the best, most life changing things I’ve ever done. It’s funny because when I started at that studio I had this deep feeling in my soul that it was my last animation job… at least for a while. And I had ALWAYS wanted to work in animation. But I finally felt like it was time to try something different. I had been moving toward a different path for a while. Doing Ayahuasca in 2018 broke me open in ways I didn’t expect, and I feel like even with just 4 ceremonies it’ll take a lifetime to unpack. I honestly don’t think I could’ve gotten through this pandemic without having that experience… I feel like I would’ve had a major psychotic break if my inner world was still as negative as it was “pre-Ayahusaca.” To me it was a testament to how much I’ve grown… to be able to choose myself and step into my power to quit one of my favorite shows ever. I’d only ever quit one job before, and it was to pursue a career in animation.
I recognize now, looking back at that career, that I had gone into it with the wrong motivations, which made it absolute hell for my mental health. However I am FOREVER GRATEFUL for the experience. There were unfortunately just too many negative patterns built into me about survival and constantly feeling behind that ate away at my soul…making me feel like I would never be good enough (even though no one ever told me that). I thought that working around other artists would push me to become better, and that I would at some point stop feeling like an imposter, but this invisible pressure I put on myself just got worse and worse. I hoped my mental state would improve but it never did…and then I was diagnosed as bipolar!!! NO WONDER!!! It got to the point that my anxiety was so crippling I could barely look people in the eye and would hide in the bathroom and cry during crew events. Thankfully I managed to do the work, and strangely was able to fake it and make people believe my bubbly cheery mask even when I was totally dying inside. None of it would ever meet my expectations. I would never meet my expectations. Just like Stephen Fry says in his bipolar documentary “My stress is your easy day at the office. One person copes, the other goes mad.”
This is such a loaded topic and I have so much to say… which is why I’ve avoided writing about it so far. I’m so sick of having all these thoughts and nowhere for them to go…Ended up waking up at 1am to paint this in an attempt to ease my mind. Last week I finally started experimenting with the gouache I’ve had for like 5 years and realized I really love the medium! Don’t know how to use it, but definitely learning how to play with it 🙂
It kinda worked but now here I am writing because I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the energy… nothing seems to be coming out right. Nothing is flowing. When I look at that painting I think “TRAPPED” — like all this crazy energy but inevitably trapped again in the darkness…
STOP BERATING YOURSELF. WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO IMPRESS?!?!?!
Seriously… so fucking sick of it. This past week I was so manic, having meetings what felt like all day every single day, talking too much but being hyped up by every single conversation. I ended up losing my voice and my throat hurt so bad, and by Friday I was completely and totally drained, crying myself to a restless sleep that doesn’t feel like sleep at all. Some great messages and lessons came through though, the biggest being to surrender to the unknown. Which by now, yeah I know — The more I surrender, the more miracles I witness… the more I feel pushed along a path that, on good days, I’m super excited to keep going on… but then when my mind flips like this I just start to doubt everything again…
STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. THIS ISN’T WHAT YOU CAME HERE TO WRITE.
As much as I disliked the first Frozen, the songs Into the Unknown and Show Yourself from Frozen 2 have been like… an anthem for this time in my life. Into the Unknown specifically is such a great representation of what it feels like to be pursuing this path of “following Spirit.” Or you know… just life in general. We’re all traversing the unknown with this whole pandemic situation. What comes next? Nobody knows! And that’s ok!
ANYWAY. WTF IS ALL OF THIS I CAME HERE TO TALK ABOUT MY CAVE.
In January of this year, I realized that if I was gonna get ANYWHERE with my own business, I had to face my ultimate fear — my creativity. Someday I’ll go in depth about that, but definitely don’t have the energy for that right now. Running on fumes. But yeah. I was afraid to journey within myself to see what’s actually there… what I’m actually artistically capable of. Because you see… I had told myself I wanted to work in animation my whole life… but I think what I’ve really wanted to be is an artist. And really stupidly because of labels and mental hangups, even after working 6 years in animation I didn’t feel like an artist. When really, what I’m finding now is that art is an expression. Freedom. However, doing design for animation and drawing as an assignment each day really wore on me… stripping me of that freedom and making me forget what art even was. We’re ALL artists, but in these jobs I just felt like an imposter. A fake. Because my expectations of what I needed to be for other people were unreachable. And that was something that killed me inside everyday until I literally couldn’t take it anymore… The fear of not meeting those expectations amplified my shame and guilt to where I had to do something drastic.
Seeing it written out like that… it seems like no big deal. But again… because of the intense emotions compounding itself over many rollercoaster cycles over many years… the patterns of worthlessness and inadequacy wired themselves so deeply in my brain, piling up so high I couldn’t see myself anymore. Couldn’t see inspiration or joy anymore. All I could see was comparison.
I was trying to create a brand for my art, but was terrified of creating for SO MANY REASONS that I felt like even though I had this manic push to create my store (more on that later) I wouldn’t actually be able to keep it going if I didn’t figure myself out as an artist. I love that quote by Joseph Campbell — “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
So I decided to paint a metaphorical cave for myself, delete social media, put my phone in the safe (yes we have a safe that we put distractions into — mostly has videogames in it), and go on the inner journey I’ve been afraid of going on for my entire adult life — exploring my inner world through art. And so far… treasures are definitely appearing, but not in the form I would think. I’m not necessarily getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need.
I thought I’d be out of the cave by now, but holy shit a TON OF STUFF has come up since I’ve been in here… I’ve eased the restrictions a bit but I really do NOT feel ready to come out of the cave. Every time I try, I’m shown reasons why I really shouldn’t come out yet — mostly that I’m WAY too affected by other people’s energy and haven’t figured out a way to protect myself yet — and it pisses me off to not know when or how I’ll be able to get outta here. I’m both grateful to have begun this process, but anxious because it’s opened up a whole can of worms, which I guess is what I was afraid of in the first place. Now that it’s happening though, I guess it’s not too bad…more interesting and roller coastery. I can start to see inklings of how it’ll all eventually come together but fuck I just hate that EVERYTHING TAKES SO MUCH LONGER THAN YOU THINK IT WILL!!! AND I KEEP GETTING DISTRACTED!!!! >:0
My dear husband Eddy has been so patient with me these past 7 years, but he’s gotten to the point where even he’s basically done with my behavior and has taken it upon himself to force me to try and create finished pieces. I had literally developed a phobia of it… I’d wanted to paint for years but was so terrified of “doing it wrong.” So Eddy got me these Winsor Newton (expensive) watercolors for Christmas and some Arches paper (also really expensive), and because they were gifts I felt like I needed to use them. He has this thing that he does with me that he calls the “Thunderdome” (taken from Mad Max) where he basically locks me in my room to do art even though I literally scream and kick and whine, and he takes away my phone and checks on me every hour to see if I’m actually doing the art. It sounds extreme, but I’ve found that because of this “bipolar” thing, I apparently respond best to extremes. This cave painting ended up being my first completed watercolor ever, which is quite an achievement for me. Eddy hung it above my computer to remind me that every time I actually sit to do an art piece, I’m going into the cave.
The first time he did this resulted in an art piece that actually made me believe I could start this brand I’ve been dreaming up since college. It started being called “Tizzy” in my early 20s, with the idea being that the world was so overwhelming that it would always put me in a tizzy. I wanted to create clothing to cope with that overwhelm and remind myself that things were ok. But of course, I was too much of a mess and never able to create designs for it…and it’s something that bummed me out in the back of my mind for years and years and years. When I went to do Ayahuasca in 2018, it transformed into “Hasthira,” this word I made up combining the Polynesian word “Ha,” which means “breath of life” and “sthira” a yogic word meaning stability. The idea for a personal brand became a HUGE multi-faceted healing operation that was so painfully overwhelming, but it was even MORE painful that I was too afraid to even start.
But guess what — I ACTUALLY STARTED!!!! (Haha writing this out is making me realize how I’ve come pretty far and haven’t taken the time to truly recognize it…I guess that’s why it’s helpful to journal and see the words in front of your face).
Looking back at 2020… it was pretty weird. This is turning into a novel but… I’m realizing I probably need to get this stuff out. Super long overdue.
I guess the catalyst was my Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training at The Yogi Tree. Well… the catalyst was actually Ayahuasca, which made me realize that I loved the “healing circle” retreat atmosphere and making real connections with people who also wanted to improve their lives. Learning how to be vulnerable around absolute strangers and be loved and accepted for it was completely new to me. After being so used to living in LA and working in the entertainment industry, it was refreshing to be around people who weren’t really interested in “what you did” but “who you were.” The level of depth I was able to experience with them made me feel like I had found a “tribe.” It made me realize that there were actually like-minded people out there who had the courage to break out of the system that wasn’t working for them and seek answers elsewhere. Choosing to live an “alternative lifestyle” never even seemed like an option to me until my experience at Dreamglade…
Returning to “the real world” from this dream retreat in the Amazon was so jarring I felt like I was being torn apart… it was incredibly painful to go back to my job after becoming so aware of duality and the suffering in the world. I felt like I was completely useless, trapped and unfulfilled. I distinctly remember one moment when Eddy was driving in traffic and I was looking out the passenger window and being in the depressing gray city environment surrounded by cars felt like absolute HELL. I started to shriek at the top of my lungs “FUCKING GET ME OUTTA HERE I FUCKING HATE LA I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE JUNGLE WHERE I BELONG” and started clawing at my skin. I really feel for Eddy. He’s put up with a lot.
Thankfully I’ve come a long way since then.
Because I was so out of control and ricocheting from mania to depression like nobody’s business while still having to work at WB, I decided I needed to find a way to integrate my experiences. And this is where those miracle synchronicities start to happen.
I came back from Peru in December 2018, and after about a week one of my friends who is SO not into spirituality at all saw an ad on her facebook for a free masterclass by this storyteller woman named Leah Lamb who does something called “Soul Stories.” She’s all about using stories for “healing,” to help us transition into new parts of our lives and step into who we’re meant to be. I felt like this had happened for a reason, especially because my friend had weirdly found this and recommended to me exactly when I needed it in my life. Even weirder, I was about to turn 30 and was going through my intense “Saturn Return” period at the time and she was offering a workshop on harnessing the energies of Capricorn to plan out the new year. I immediately signed up for that, and also a one on one mentorship with her. Looking back — holy cow this decision COMPLETELY changed the trajectory of my life.
The first thing I had to do for my mentorship was get a private soul story done by Leah — you can listen to it here it is in case you’re interested! (Background art was a piece I ended up creating for her)
She’s absolutely amazing 🙂 I can’t believe I haven’t talked about this… it deserves it’s own post but I’ll probably never get to it so — RIDING THIS ENERGY TO THE MAX.
There was too much going on in my life at the time and even though I had signed up for it at the end of 2018, I was too busy with work and had to push it until April 2019. Prior to that, in March of 2019, I went to do a Half Marathon in Antarctica with a friend. We had signed up for it back in 2014, deciding it would be an awesome thing to do when we turned 30. But wow… again this trip came at exactly the right time in my life. I totally would NOT have gotten as much out of it prior to Ayahuasca. Mama Aya really opened me up to embracing who I really am and living each moment to the fullest.
At one point we were kayaking and I had this unrealistic expectation of wanting to kayak over a humpback whale. When we got to the location and realized there would definitely be no whales there, my mind began to betray me and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, and a storm of thoughts came up like “this is gonna be so boring it’s just ice, what’ll we possibly even see here” I couldn’t even BELIEVE I was being such an ingrate, getting the opportunity to travel all the way to Antarctica — KAYAK even — and I was still complaining! Then Mother Ayahuasca’s voice came into my head, told me to be still, be grateful, and focus on the beauty around me. My mind became silent, I felt like I tapped into the universe, and everything changed. I couldn’t stop crying witnessing the beauty of my surroundings. Then the magic began to unfold.
We were kayaking through an ice field and it was silent except for the sounds of ice cracking every so often. It seemed like nothing was around, but then we noticed these little birds sitting on top of the ice! They were perfectly camouflaged — Antarctic terns!!! TONS of them!!!
THEN someone shouted they had seen a LEOPARD SEAL of all things! The seal started checking out our kayaking group, which was awesome to experience. Then we were called back to return to the ship, but me and my friend Bre ended up staying still because the leopard seal had taken a special interest in us. We were on our own, and the gorgeous creature decided to hang out, for quite a bit of time!! This will forever be one of the most magical experiences of my life.
I’ve always loved seals, but a leopard seal is different… this was a massive apex predator at the ends of the earth taking notice of us — PLAYING with us. When I showed this footage to the expedition crew back at the ship, they were really surprised because apparently leopard seals can be pretty dangerous. We saw a number of leopard seals during the trip, but this was the first one we came across, and also the biggest (which is why I’m convinced she was female even though at first I stupidly said “he” in the video). Later on we witnessed the aggressive leopard seal behavior when one of them wouldn’t leave the zodiac driver alone as she waited for our hike to finish — completely different demeanor than the one we met. Further evidence that this encounter was simply meant to be… I felt like I had experienced a noticeable shift in energy — like I had learned to “tap into the oneness” of nature.
TOTALLY SIDETRACKED!!! But basically why I even brought up Antarctica in the first place was to say — this was another event, really soon after Ayahuasca, that made me realize I couldn’t go back to a normal life. I had met so many amazing people on that trip, and especially fell in love with the One Ocean Expeditions crew, who were living these amazing alternative lifestyles I didn’t think were possible. Returning to my 9-5 job where I was sitting at a computer all day was torturous… I had to find another way to live.
It was after Antarctica that I started doing one on one sessions with Leah, which led to me doing an art piece for one of her projects and having the opportunity to go to a Women’s Retreat that she was hosting that July as a “work study”. It was called “Journey Home: Reclaiming The Wild Woman Within.” I couldn’t even BELIEVE it because one of the things I had started reading to help with my Ayahuasca integration was Women Who Run With The Wolves. Basically everything happening at this point in my life was rapid fire synchronicity. Not to mention this came right after the show I was working on at WB ended. I was already freelancing for Rick and Morty at the time, but I was basically home free.
This was the first women’s circle I had ever experienced, and became absolutely addicted to the magical, healing power of being in sacred space with women. Thankfully when I returned, I found out that the yoga studio literally TWO MINUTES from my apartment (I had lived there for 5 years at that point and had no idea it existed) offered women’s circles every month called “Women Join The Red Tent”!!! If you’re searching for a supportive women’s circle btw, they’re now being offered on zoom every first Friday of the month. Highly recommended 🙂 I’m usually always there!
I fell in love with the owner of the studio, Jen. She’s become my primary example of the “divine mother” archetype… completely selfless, nurturing — full of wisdom and unconditional love for everyone around her. This is why I ended up signing up for the Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training she was offering that year! I was on the fence about it, but when I told her about my bipolar, she said that it would give me really great tools to ride the waves of life. AND IT DID.
This Kundalini Teacher Training was crazy though because it started basically when I began my job at Rick and Morty. The energy of the job was the COMPLETE opposite energy of the teacher training group and it made me realize that I really did not feel like I fit into that type of studio environment anymore. I could feel the stark divide of my career and my soul’s destiny more and more each day….
AND THEN COVID HIT, two months before our training was supposed to be over. We had to do the rest over zoom which was quite an experience.
Teacher Training, something that was supposed to take only 9 months ended up taking over a year! We actually STILL haven’t had complete closure, and most of my group ended up dropping out. I am so incredibly thankful I made the decision to do it though because it taught me SO MUCH, not only yogic philosophy but what they call “Teacher Consciousness.” I broke through so many emotional walls, learned what a real community felt like, and built up confidence I didn’t even know I had.
We were required to teach 6 classes in order to certify, and I almost didn’t do it because I was absolutely terrified. Thankfully the teachers believed in me enough to not only convince me to teach, but supported me through the process. This was an INSANE time because I had to continue working, prepare for my classes, AND Leah had recommended me to a friend of hers to mentor his daughter who loved Rick and Morty and was interested in the arts! I had been saying that I wanted to quit animation and become a life coach, and MY FIRST CLIENT SOMEHOW JUST FELL INTO MY LAP!!! THANK YOU LEAH!! ;_;
It was also around this time that I had to stop taking my meds because they had caused Tardive Dyskinesia, a nasty side effect of antipsychotics where you basically lose control of your body. You can read about it in my previous entry here. I had to go to the ER and it freaked me out so much I swore off meds. It was crazy to be prepping for my classes, mentoring my first client, and working at Rick and Morty while still getting used to the pandemic and dealing with the transition of getting off my meds. Jen (my Yoga Mama) had a long talk with me about how I needed to take my health seriously, know when to ask for help, and keeping up my yoga and meditation practice to keep building my awareness of my cycles.
It’s still always a wild ride… but I think typing all of this out has shown me that I can handle it. As shitty as I feel sometimes… I really DO have tools and a support system to cope better than I ever have.
Why did I bring this up? OH YEAH! Because I said Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training was the catalyst to this life I’m living now which is so vastly different than the miserable life I felt trapped in at the beginning of last year before the pandemic started. It not only gave me those tools to surf the waves of life, but it helped me realize that the life I’ve lived has VALUE. Mentoring… teaching… passing on the wisdom I’ve gained through my experiences has proved so much more fulfilling than anything else I’ve ever done. My first client from last July referred me to another client, which led me to another…I know I’m slowly building the confidence to eventually expand my business, but what I have planned with the art side can still get overwhelming.
Which brings us to September 2020, right before I quit Rick and Morty when Eddy forced me to complete this piece.
Around the same time I discovered these e-commerce videos and it sent me into a manic state that pushed me all the way through the process of creating a store and getting enough art together to throw on product. I realized I loved doing this WAY MORE than having to draw for other people all day, and I already had two clients which was barely enough to pay my share of rent. I set a deadline for myself to open the store in November for the holidays.
I hadn’t experienced such a productive manic state like this in… I can’t even remember. Lol it was so jarring for Eddy because he said that to him it looked like, for the first time since he had known me, I was using my whole brain. I CAME ALIVE, and I was so terrified that I wouldn’t get the store open before my manic energy left my body, so I barely slept, barely ate, and when I ate it was shitty fast food because I didn’t wanna wash dishes — I knew I couldn’t waste any of this energy on work I didn’t wanna do, so I quit!
But after so many months of just running on empty and having so many crazy changes happen, after I opened the store I couldn’t even really make it to the holidays… I crashed SOOOOO hard and cried for days. I literally couldn’t do anything else — it was like for the first time in my life I was seeing myself. I saw how much of the rest of my life I had neglected during my mania… how it had affected Eddy, our dog Han, and other relationships in my life… My body and mind felt absolutely destroyed from lack of exercise and meditation — after I finished teaching my yoga classes I completely disappeared and cut myself off from my community to get the store done…
Yes I had started my business, but there was no way I could even manage my store or do anything new… my life was completely in shambles. With the newfound awareness I had built from my Kundalini Teacher Training and mentoring teenage girls, I became INCAPACITATED with guilt and shame of realizing the consequences of my mania.
Which brings us to January. I had so many plans for the new year that I had to painfully learn to let go in order to prioritize my health and well being. Which is why I decided to enter the cave… to once and for all deal with the core issues of my adult life… I kept telling myself that I would get back on social media every month, giving myself deadline after deadline and recognizing each time that I still wasn’t ready. The more stuff that came up, the more I felt like I had been poisoned… by our culture, by how I was raised, by past mistakes… The art I was producing was… ugly to say the least. But raw. And informative.
I hadn’t let myself just go crazy on a page before, and allowing myself to do so was absolutely liberating! I was starting to see the healing power of art, but it wasn’t exactly stuff I was comfortable putting on products to sell… I needed to empty my cup. I needed to stay in the cave. I didn’t realize that THIS is the sorta thing that would be coming out… but I guess it makes sense.
And now here we are in March. I wanted so badly to do something for the Spring Equinox and I ended up missing that too. Even though I’m trying to learn how to let go and tell myself its ok that I’m still not active on social media, still not promoting my store, still not creating new product, still not working on the Hasthira book I want to publish this year, still not updating my Bipolar Beastie comic, still not able to consistently eat healthy and meditate, still not — what was the point of this again?
It’s now 6:51AM and I started writing this at 2:30AM, getting distracted with uploading those Antarctica videos, getting distracted reminiscing about stuff… getting so distracted that I forgot I was in a bad mood when I started this blog post! Which is a huge lesson to me and anyone who actually read all of this (lol probably no one) — JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I’ll get out of this cave when I get out of this cave, and it doesn’t matter when! Hell, even taking the time to write all of this is a sign I’m getting close. But who cares? I’m already doing the work to face all these parts of myself I’ve been terrified of looking at for years. That should be enough. It’s always enough. Because WE ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH even though our culture teaches us that we’re not. What a bunch of bullshit.
I was falling into those similar patterns of worry, self doubt, feeling behind. “Will I ever find my way?” Writing all of this down and taking a good look at how I’ve gotten here… it’s pretty obvious to me that I already AM finding the way. That I’m making a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to pursue the life I’m meant to live.
I’ve already come so fucking far. And so have you. So have all of us just from living through a goddamn pandemic. Anything is possible, nothing is how it used to be, and as awful as it is to see all of the systemic racism, wealth inequality and divisive bullshit in the world, this is a pretty exciting time in history. Because it’s time for something new. Everything is changing at such an accelerated rate and sometimes it really does feel orchestrated by the invisible hands of the universe.
We know the way — it just takes courage to go down the path of not knowing. But really… that’s the only path there is.
Walking barefoot in the jungles of the Amazon, I was on an entirely different frequency. The rain on my skin, the thick humid air, the mud between my toes. I can still feel it if I really come into my heart space.
I can feel it all.
Everything I have ever loved, all at once.
Today I started to realize the depths of my death from doing Ayahuasca… and that I never stopped to grieve.
I just have to say… I’m really grateful for being on the path that I’m on during this crazy time. I feel like I’ve made such immense progress as a person over these past 10 years and it blows me away how I am where I am right now. I would NOT be able to handle it as well otherwise…
Seriously… going to meet Mother Ayahuasca broke me open in ways I’m just beginning to feel and understand. Moving forward as a species, we have to all be able to connect with nature in a similar way as taking ayahuasca… She has a way of making you feel it.. feel it ALL…that warmth of connected oneness with the universe. And we’ve done so much to damage her so now we’re paying the price…
I watched this pandemic series on netflix and in one of the episodes a student asks this virologist “Why do you think humans haven’t evolved to take care of this virus yet?” and he replies something like “That’s the question isn’t it…” But to me it really does seem something like… this is just part of the cycle. As humans we have to collectively learn how to handle the pain of the consequences of history if we’re meant to move forward once this quarantine is complete.
“I hope you remember this next time you want to end it all… It’s a small taste of what happens when you disappear. You need to stop doing this to people” – Eddy
There are some events that you know will change your life, but you never expect anything like that to happen on a regular day… which I suppose is part of the beauty of life. It’s so random and unexpected, and we grow slowly and steadily from nudges of daily occurrences.
I meant to write this entry yesterday, but I was processing so much and had work to get done so I missed the boat. But it’s something that I don’t want to forget.
I’m becoming aware that when I get depressed, I quickly go MIA because I can’t stand seeing people doing well when I get into such a low frequency. Yeah part of that is envy, I can’t help it, but the other part, the heavier part, is feeling like a burden. When people around me are doing well, I feel SO uncomfortable sharing about how down I am. I don’t even feel like I CAN, and then I start spiraling into “well this person doesn’t even need me in their life at all anymore because I can’t even get my shit together and look THEY’RE doing so well…”
My logical mind knows this is ridiculous, because it’s unfair to compare in this way and we’re always collectively suffering. Even when things are good, it’s not like we “shun” each other just because the other person isn’t doing so great. Humans (well at least some of them… the ones I surround myself with) love to help. It reminds me how at the Ayahuasca retreat, Drew “commanded” me to ask for help and I had to write it on my hand “DREW COMMANDED ME TO ASK FOR HELP” to remind myself to ask for help even if I don’t feel like it.
Stace: So why do you have such an issue asking for help? Me: Because I don’t want to burden anyone. I feel like I’m such a downer and it’s such a waste of time and Drew already has so much else to do… Stace: But Drew LOVES helping people, that’s why he’s here. Drew: Yeah when I help people, it takes me out of my SELF. Forget my own problems. It makes me feel good. ASK FOR HELP. Stace: So Elora what about you? When people ask you for help, how does it make YOU feel? Elora: Well… I guess you’re right. It DOES make me feel good… Stace: So why would you deny us helping if you know it makes us feel good?
That really put me in my place, but I forget it all the time… especially when I know what people have on their plates. And with this pandemic, I know that a LOT of people have a LOT on their plate. We went into lockdown RIGHT as we were supposed to do our March Kundalini Teacher Training, so we had a zoom check-in call and it made me feel TERRIBLE. Something about connecting on zoom still bothers me too… I have NOT gotten used to it. I think part of it is that I can see my own face talking which makes me feel like I can’t openly speak, or be myself. It makes me too self conscious. But anyway. When I saw everyone in the zoom call… I couldn’t help but feel ashamed because some of them were really feeling great. Like really awakening to their power during this time of crisis, and I was so depressed and chaotic, I couldn’t even explain how I felt. I just felt totally useless, when there were people stepping up, starting to lead meditations, get their community together, help out in any way they could…I was also SO impressed by Jen, the lady who owns the Yoga Studio I go to, the Yogi Tree. She had to scramble to get all the studio’s classes online while dealing with her husband and kids and being a dula and all this other shit… whereas I was just at home wallowing and freaking out over this trip I couldn’t control which wasn’t even a real problem.
I felt weird about it so the next day I vomited to Jen how I felt in a text message, and she gave me a call (3/22/20). I told her about how I felt so shitty about myself because people were really stepping up and becoming healers and awakening and here I was feeling like I’d be stuck in shaktipad for eternity, like I was completely useless and incapacitated and had nothing to offer and it was really bothering me cuz I knew I didn’t have any real problems.
And she was SO GREAT. She reminded me that everyone on this planet is a soul that has incarnated in this lifetime at this specific point in history because we all have a purpose, something unique to bring to this world. And that we’re all like seeds, sprouting at different times. And the fact that I’m still here means I haven’t sprouted yet, but I’m incubating… and maybe this time for ME needs to be used to heal and really find my gifts. That I need to be ok slowing down, and when emotions come up, when instances where I no longer want to exist come up, to remember to ask where that’s coming from, and track it as far back as possible. Then the puzzle pieces will start coming together.
I remember feeling so great after this call, like everything was starting to make sense, and “YEAH THIS IS MY TIME TO HEAL!” But then a couple days later, I was so depressed and wanting to kill myself again and saw a text in our What’s App group of someone just gushing about how great she was feeling and I couldn’t even finish reading it without feeling completely nauseated and I ended up deleting the entire App. I had already turned notifications off but I knew I couldn’t handle the temptation of looking at the group and just feeling so bad about myself, so I had to get away completely. So that was about a month ago.
In the beginning of the teacher training, back in September of 2019, I LOVED this What’s App group. I was so active on it, getting to know all the people, absolutely ADORING this yoga community. They truly did become like a family to me, and even the conversation with Jen, and a later facetime conversation with Mary (one of the other teachers) really made me feel like I had found something so beautiful and amazing that I had always been lacking in my life.
Yet I still deleted What’s App, because avoiding is what I do. Eddy called it a “cry for help” and I said that was bullshit lol… but I supposed that response is an indication of what I’m working through.
So yesterday I got some texts from Mary, who btw is also amazing. I told her that she was immediately what I thought of when Eddy asked me how to define “strength.” She’s been through a LOT… so much so that I’m not quite sure how she continues to function, because I wouldn’t be able to. And on our call she told me it’s just because she accepts that she is how she is, even if she does have major depressive episodes and has to sleep all the time. And she accepts that she needs people to help her… she says “it takes a village.” Which… I guess I haven’t been able to accept about myself yet. She also helped remind me that… in this modern world, some people just HAVE to take meds because most of us aren’t allowed the luxury of dedicating our whole life to healing — like homeopathy, constant yoga, constant meditation — our lives now just don’t lend themselves well to that, unless it’s our business (like Jen). Looking back, that conversation is actually partially why I was even okay getting back on my meds… So so thankful…
Don’t wanna forget this:
Despite my light tone in these texts…I was freaking out in my head. I immediately re-downloaded What’s App, shaking from the shame and anxiety of having to open it up again after so long…and saw a ton of direct messages from people in the group… which I still haven’t checked. Then in our main group I saw a bunch of them talking about trying to reach out to me but not hearing back, and then Jen saying she was gonna try to track down my husband’s info to see if she could check with him…. I FELT TERRIBLEEEE.
I then went to post my comic on IG, which I had already done but was SO RELEVANT because it was about running away… This What’s App stuff had just happened so in my description I posted:
“Something just happened that reminded me of what a selfish piece of shit I am whenever I go MIA…especially from people who supposedly care about me…a community that, on good days, I’m so grateful to have in my life. I’m amazed at how hard it is to maintain any sort of attachment to anything or anyone when you’re a slave to your moods and feel like avoidance is the only way to make yourself feel better. How you can so easily trick yourself into thinking that no one cares, or everyone would be better off without the burden of having you in their life. Huge apologies to everyone I’ve ghosted over the years…I somehow clearly still haven’t gotten over myself to fix it. Really hoping I don’t run away from this project…There’s too much I wanna say.”
I saw my friend Edward reply to it, and then I texted him about what had just happened. We’ve gotten pretty close since Unikitty, because he’s also on this yoga training path and has a similar upbringing and anxieties to me. He’s a little older and not as old as my dad, but he gives me a really nurturing, masculine energy — plus he’s got 2 daughters so I feel like…he’s really nice to have in my life especially since my dad is gone.
Anyway, so I mentioned it to him and he said “Oh yeah… they reached out to me.” And I felt like I got punched in the stomach. He explained that Jen texted him, thinking that he was Eddy! They have the same name, but when I signed Eddy up for classes at the Yogi Tree, I used my info, but Edward signed up on his own so Jen had HIS info and thought they were the same person! She ended up calling HIM, realizing he wasn’t Eddy, but thankfully he knew what was going on with me so he told her that I was fine.
But I just COULDN’T BELIEVE she went that far out of her way to check up on me… because I had been ignoring HER messages… even AFTER she was so gracious about calling me a month ago after that first zoom call… God even writing about it today is still making me tear up because I can’t help but feel bad about it… and also feel so terrified about how to resolve this situation and apologize… Haven’t built up the courage for that yet. I also felt so ASHAMED that Edward had to deal with this having no idea what it was about! D:
When Edward told me about it, he started pressing me about how it made me feel…and that’s when stuff started coming to light.
This might not seem like a big deal… but to me it is. And that’s because… I’ve been doing this for YEARS. And it’s just gotten WORSE. It’s almost like… the more I care about something, the more I tend to push it away over time, until I push it completely out of my life through avoidance.
My ex even told me that he had a conversation with one of our mutual friends and they agreed —
“The closer you get to Elora, the further you actually become.”
He told me that close to 10 years ago now, but I’ll never forget it because I felt so HORRIBLE about it, AND this particular boyfriend never really communicated much to me. He was the kinda guy who, when something bothered him, rather than talk about it (because it caused “drama” he said, and he hated drama), he’d lock himself in a room for days and not come out until he could face me and be “normal” again. Meaning we never actually talked about anything real. So… this one line really had an impact. Thinking back, it was like the first indication to me that there was something wrong with my behavior and how I treat people.
I feel like I’ve known a little bit of why I do it, but it’s so subconscious at this point that I’d rather just not feel the uncomfortable feelings associated with it, and go ahead with the avoiding to just get it out of my life completely. And I was trying to do this with this yoga group that, I SIGNED UP TO COMMIT TO for NINE MONTHS. And part of the reason I signed up was because I know I tend to run away, and I wanted to work on it and not do that anymore… yet I still did.
When Edward asked me how I felt about all of it… I froze. Because I noticed that I was constantly bringing it back to myself “IIII feel shitty because of it” which, I could see for like… the first time ever… was redirecting what I should see as kindness and compassion from the ladies over at Yogi Tree, to anger and hatred toward myself. Which is why I said I feel like there’s a wall around my heart…
Something has been happening lately, where, when I have these moments of clarity of patterns and habits I’ve exhibited throughout my whole adult life, I’m just flooded with emotion and I have a total breakdown, but in a good way. Like I’m cleansing something that’s been blocked up for way too long. And what happened here, was that when I felt that wall around my heart, I could instantly feel all these moments from my past where I’ve done this to people, even at the beginning of dating Eddy. If we’d get into an argument or something and he’d try to communicate with me to see where I was at emotionally, I would freeze and try to avoid him. Since we worked together, this was really difficult, and I would resort to talking to coworkers and completely ignore him in order to distract myself from the problem. This was really the first time anyone even BROUGHT THIS TO MY ATTENTION, because Eddy sat across from me and would SEE ME DOING THIS and he said he couldn’t understand it at first, how I could be so cold when he was clearly suffering, and I did nothing to try and resolve the situation. He told me later that he was actually considering breaking up with me for THIS SPECIFIC REASON.
So after I got up from talking to Edward, I went to talk to Eddy about it. Eddy and I have been together 6 years now, so we’re at this point of brutal honesty which I love, and I told him about everything that happened. The way he reacted was so different from Edward:
Eddy: Wow. That horrible because after all they’ve done for you, you just delete What’s App and disappear and leave them with THAT impression? Me: I know… Eddy: You deleted it back when you were saying all this stuff about wanting to kill yourself and everything too… it was totally a cry for help. Me: Well I guess it’s what people do when they feel it’s too much… Eddy: I hope you remember this next time you want to end it all… It’s is a small taste of what happens when you disappear. You need to stop doing this to people. Me: I know… but I don’t know how… CUE SOBBING FOR HOURS.
I see now that I have such a hard time receiving love, and I’m not quite sure what to do about it yet, except for maybe do some heart opening meditations, and I guess becoming more aware of when I’m doing it so I can try to achieve some kind of balance between solitude and still knowing how to reach out to people. It’s a strange feeling that I get in my heart, when stuff like this happens. Like… I get a blank look on my face and go into my head I think… and it’s how I dealt with trauma as a kid. My mom would always proudly tell our family “no matter what we have to do, Elora is by my side. She doesn’t even cry or anything, she just sits there!” Classic Enneagram Type 7.Distracting myself from the pain due to lack of nurturing.
Yogi Tree is like a family… and I realize now I haven’t been able to handle having a family. The responsibilities, the obligations, the EFFORT… it’s all what I’ve been so afraid of because I was never able to connect with my own family on that level. They weren’t a great example. There wasn’t much EFFORT. Only isolation. It’s all I know… and after being alone for so long it’s sometimes all I think I want. And it becomes overwhelming to even just “check in” with these people, so much so that I would just rather leave and just start up surface relationships with new people. But I see how… that’s a pretty sad way to live. It’s why I feel like I didn’t have any real, deep connections until I met Eddy and LEARNED how to develop the types of connections I had subconsciously been craving.
But now that I’m on that path, I’m seeing the reality of it, and it’s that my concept of love is still so warped. Eddy tried to get further to the bottom of it, asking why it was so painful for me to face things like this. He said something like “you’re so popular and you’re so loved” and I rolled my eyes and started feeling nauseous, and he asked why it bothered me so much to hear that. And after really thinking about it, I can see now how… like Edward said… I hate that kind of attention. I hate being complimented. I hate being “seen.” Because to me… it makes me feel a weird sort of pressure to perform. To “be there” for other people to maintain that “title”, that “compliment” which… basically negates the compliment lol! I suppose thinking about it now… I’m really tripped up by labels in that way, because it gets me in my head, and thinking, we’ve discovered, is really just not great for me to do most of the time.
I’ve gotten really into the Hunger Games lately, and I tell Eddy it’s like in Mockingjay where they try to make Katniss be a voice of the people, but if she’s given a script or has to do an interview or something, she gets way too in her head about it. She rather needs to be seen in the field, doing what she does NATURALLY. And I think… if I’m able to get out of my head and just act NATURALLY, that’s when people seem to love me. But then if I suddenly step back and SEE that people love me… I get all weirded out by it and feel like I have to somehow “keep it up.”
Ultimately we concluded that it comes down to me needing to learn how to forgive myself, but the idea of forgiving myself for all this self hatred I’ve developed over the years is SO PAINFUL… it feels like it’s GOING AGAINST MY ULTIMATE BEING, so instead of forgiving myself, I’d continue PUNISHING myself, and HATING myself for constantly ghosting people. It’s all so disgusting and backward I can’t even stand myself, but I suppose that’s the goal of this darkness inside me, the subconscious patterning that wants to keep living. That forgiveness and acceptance SHOULDN’T be the most painful thing for me, and yet it is, and I feel so trapped by it… how many more breakdowns will I have to go through, how many more people will I have to inconvenience and possibly hurt for me to just GET OVER MY DAMN SELF?
Instead I should focus on being GRATEFUL for all these people who CARE… I feel like a runaway child… Maybe I’m doing all the rebelling now that I wish I could’ve done when I was trapped and sheltered with my mom. That’s a thought.