All the images in this post are ones I screenshot the morning I woke up. I found them, organically, shared across different social media. I saw nothing negative, only hopeful and beautiful things. It reassured me that everything was going to be okay.
I shot up from a dead sleep, the way you see happen in movies but almost never do in real life.
To the dark room, I say aloud, “Did that happen?”
Kai, my sleeping girlfriend, stirs awake, then freezes. I can tell the energy in the room is different than it normally feels in the middle of the night at our bubble friends’ house.
She doesn’t answer, so I add, “With the paramedics?”
“Yeah,” she says, getting into a sitting position as well. “That happened.”
The three of us: Kai, our friend Nancy, and I sat around the living room, compulsively refreshing our phones to witness what should have been a landslide in the US election become a neck-in-neck tie with no declaration of victory in sight. I hadn’t had any intention of watching the results so closely, thinking the new old white guy would for sure beat the old old white guy, but we got wrapped up in the drama despite ourselves.
We all called it a night fairly early, and Kai and I went upstairs into the room we always stay in while we visit Nancy and Jay, who is away hunting. Kai and I talked for a bit in bed, as we usually do, and I worked on my nighttime routine: take my medications and supplements, write in my daily pain journal, and tonight, start my new regimen of FECO, or Full Extract Cannabis Oil.
I have had FECO before, having finished half the protocol in September; I had to stop as I didn’t have the money to complete the 60 grams. Then, my loved ones started a crowdfunding campaign for me, in part so I could continue with the FECO treatment. I’d had the complete protocol mailed to me, which consists of 60 1-gram syringes of the tar-like, very concentrated cannabis oil (also called Rick Simpson Oil or Phoenix Tears). It’s popular among cancer patients like myself for its promising results on tumour growth and also its ability to ease nausea, promote appetite, and help with sleep.
When I’d stopped before, I was up to taking a full gram, so I decided to jump in again, thinking I’d likely still have some in my system. I also take a much lower concentration of THC to help with pain as needed and never had any psychoactive effects from that. I didn’t take an entire gram, but certainly didn’t start at the ‘grain of rice’ that is recommended.
Kai went to sleep, but I wasn’t able to. My sleep is poor on a good day, so I was anticipating a long night of trying to meditate myself to sleep. I made two notes in my text app, which isn’t unusual. The first was an idea for my column for the Doppler, and the second was inspiration for an innovative housing plan. I worked on that for a bit and then tried to get back to sleep, cuddling into Kai.
I realized I was freezing, so pressed in closer to my human furnace.
If I only told you my side of what happened next, it would include a gravitational well, the brightest light you can imagine, the sound of a million women laughing, a trillion lives re-experienced (and as many deaths), and the kindest, most loving energy I have ever known. Also, the answer to why we are alive, and what happens after we die. It would be a terrifying, confusing, impossible story.
Luckily, two people I trust and care deeply about have shared their perspective of this experience, so while I know what I experienced internally, I also have their insight as to the sequence of events, and many things I thought I was thinking but was indeed saying or doing.
So while I’m writing this as close to linearly as I can, I maintain that time is completely meaningless, and I’m only settled back here in my life is because I was too scared to decide to die, and because I saw amazing things here in this time and space that could still be done, and be done by me.
I woke Kai up with all my pressing into her – I started to see that my mind wasn’t in its normal state when I was looking at the alarm clock and thinking, how do people possibly forget? Forget that every inhalation is like dying and waiting to start life over again, over and over with every single breath? Oh my god, how do we forget? It was beginning to feel like nothing would ever be the same again.
Sleep was impossible because my brain was trapped in the dark, in the cold with pain and suffering.
Kai tried to reassure me, but I was in that place between understanding that something was really different and thinking if I could only sleep, I’d be fine. I’d been stoned on RSO countless times, and I usually just lie down and sleep it off. Only one time did it actually impact my functioning – I had to stop halfway through starting a load of laundry to go to bed because the washing machine was just too much to comprehend.
This time was quickly surpassing that.
I had another psychedelic trip in my early twenties, so a part of me understood what was happening, but another part was convinced this time was the real time, the time I would die. I would take in too much information and my mind would literally explode. It was after that experience that I completely changed my life, learned boundaries and communication, came out as a lesbian, began to believe in myself and my writing… but that all came later. Immediately after that trip, I fell into a massive depression, unable to reconcile the things I thought to be true with what the magic mushrooms ‘revealed’ to me. So as my trip heightened this time, I was afraid what would happen to me afterwards.
But before long, I no longer cared or believed that anything bad was possible at all, or that I was a person that things could happen to.
Kai reports that I sat up in bed, much like at the end of the night. Only this time, I say, at the top of my voice: “We all need to wake up RIGHT NOW!”
Nancy says what actually awoke her was my pained, haunting yowls. From that point, Kai says there were as many as ten cycles of me losing it: beginning with a giggle, that would escalate into me throwing my arms around as widespread as they could go, and spinning around on the bed, with no concern for the very real limits of the mattress. Kai and Nancy tell me, and my bruised body confirms, that I would throw myself off the sides or end of the bed onto the floor, full force.
Eventually, I would calm down and could be coaxed back to bed. But, Kai says, it would start again with a giggle, and before long I’d be flinging myself around the room in a frantic twirl.
Nancy told me: “I could hear Kai attempting to calm you so waited a moment with the assumption you were in the middle of a night terror. But the howling continued mixed with Kai’s comfort. The giggle part started later and would then descend; arms waving almost dancing to horror again. It may have been the word NO, but if so, it came out noooooooooo in a most haunting and fearful manner as one might cry out on learning something terrible and not as a command.”
From my perspective, I was dying. I remember at one point, stretching my arm, shoulder and neck against the bed-frame hard enough that I broke the bed, only to me, every point of contact was like a million pixels bursting and cascading to the ground. I was breaking into shards of light.
It felt like what a seizure looks like, and I have seen many. My back arched, my head flung back, my fingers stretched and reaching. I saw, not stars, but frantically snapping synapses like a fireworks display, only each explosion was connected to and ushered in the next, explosively growing.
I thought that I would die, that this was death. There wasn’t a question of accepting it or being okay. At that point, I didn’t think there was any choice left in the matter.
From my perspective, the entire event took… millennia. I relived my life, from early years to present day, trillions of times, at varying speeds. Each breath I took began at my birth and ended at the current moment, just preceding death. If I could only just inhale all the way, I would be released from my life to the incomprehensible beauty of what’s next.
At one point, I felt that I was falling backwards into, or being held up by, the utter blackness of the vacuum of space. Every time I ‘fell’, I’d catch my breath and a burst of light came from my form (which was not human shaped, but more like a ribbon of rainbow light). And whenever I inhaled, more light held me up until I wasn’t falling, but dancing in the darkness as I lit it up with the light and joy of the connections I made with people while alive. As the lights flared, I saw the story behind them, a time I had connected in loving truth to another person. I fell, golden and glittering, through the billions of stories of other people, their laughter, the times I’ve helped and been helped.
It’s like if you measured being alive on a spectrum. Having an orgasm is in the middle. Obviously torture and suffering is on the ‘bad dark scary cold lonely loud’ end of the spectrum, but death itself is on the bright warm big loving peaceful side. And when I inhaled, it almost felt like the way you catch your breath before an orgasm – but over and over and every time it happened, I fell farther, was more supported, and the golden sparks got bigger and brighter. I had to let go, but it was scary because at first it felt like a broken arm or having all your hair pulled. But then I would let go, fall through the golden laughter, and be upheld. It was a good pain, like pulling a brush through the last knots in your hair.
The spinning I was doing makes sense to me, though I thought it had all happened inside my head. I would by lying on the bed, my eyes flitting from one item in the room to the next: from the lantern on the shelf, to the blue wall decor, to the rug, to Kai, to Nancy, to the dog, and back, spinning faster and faster. Inside my head, I’m coming to terms with the meaning of life, and it’s joyous, so I’m laughing but out-of-control. Even spin is another round of this life, bringing me closer to truth somehow.
At one point, when I’m really stuck in the life-review, I look at Kai, and the clarity, the absolute infinitesimal detail of her, and every item in the room, it was too much for my brain to take in. Everything reminded me of some other place, some other person, countless other people, always approaching recognition but never arriving. In Kai’s face, I saw the faces of hundreds of people I knew, people who had loved me. I even saw myself throughout the ages, most strongly myself as a teenager. I also suspected there were faces of those I have not yet loved, but will.
The next moments felt like they took a lifetime. I observed everything in the room from the point of view of every atom in the room. I saw everything, things at a scale or time-frame I couldn’t possibly see or understand.
Every breath I took was now preparing me to face the final challenge of being ‘alive’. I had to breathe so deeply, so consistently, that my breath would transcend my human form and become light, the light then destroying all form and revealing me as a new star.
My fingertips stretched outward because wherever I touched, I could see the imaginary walls that contain us, and on the other side of what we think of as ‘everything’ IS everything. When I touched it, sparks of light pierced the veil, and I could see that infinity is just us collapsing into stars, experiencing for eternity the good thoughts and feelings of the people who love us, and it’s enough. It doesn’t seem like it could possibly be enough to last forever, but it is.
When I looked into Kai’s eyes, which I’m told was quite intense but did not last several millennia for her as it had for me, I saw pure light shining through from the other side, as if people ourselves are gateways or channels of universal love, containing it or translating it. I kept looking between her, Nancy, and the dog, and thinking, everything that I love is so good, and I am also made of all of that love. It was beyond reassuring. I remember looking at Kai, seeing all versions of us within her, and thinking (and saying), like a mantra: “Oh, I’m so glad it’s you. Oh, I’m so glad it’s you!” But at the same time, I knew in my heart that no matter who was there, I would be that happy.
When looking at her, I felt she was telling me how to be ready to transition to the next phase. That she and Nancy and even Mills the dog were all there to help me meet/become god/a star. That all my life, ALL life, sped by up to this moment, where suddenly everything was so very slow. And on the other side, of her, of the veil, was infinite loving warmth, was love itself, pure and condensed.
It’s like, right now we see everything from the inside out. I look outside myself to observe ‘reality’. But I was able to see myself from the ‘outside’ of space/eternity (which is still us, somehow – sorry, this is impossible to explain). And I saw that I am not what I don’t want or don’t like, but I am everything I like and love, therefore we are all beings of true love, not the things we reject or hate, or the bad things that have happened to us or bad things people think about or say about us. Those aren’t real parts of ourselves. All that’s real is the love we’ve given, accepted, and created.
I watched my own story from the beginning, and saw me as a child say, “No!” and pull away from a dangerous situation. It wasn’t a memory because in real life, I hadn’t pulled away. But this time I did, and suddenly the scene divided, and I saw three little girls shout “No!” and pull away from the hands of someone who meant them harm. And when they yelled, the rooms filled with golden light, divided again, this time more girls, older girls, all shouting, being cast in golden light, and bursting into more scenes, and more. Until the world was filled with glowing spaces and safe girls, all using their own glorious golden voices for themselves and each other.
I realized two things: that time is not just linear and what we say and do now can impact the past as well as the future. I don’t fully understand it, but I watched myself live my own life over and over, and it wasn’t always the same. So what I do today could actually positively impact my past self. And I learned that when we stand up for ourselves, even when no one else ever sees it, it gives that power to others to do the same. It was like watching cosmic golden dominoes. That’s what I meant when I shouted that we have to wake everyone up – it became so obvious. I had to stay here and use my voice as a drop in the ocean of peace.
When the paramedics arrived, the trip felt more like a sitcom than a near death experience. It was explained that I had taken a moderate dose of high THC cannabis oil which is part of my cancer maintenance regimen. We couldn’t find the oil syringe to show them (someone threw all my belongings all over the room, real mystery).
One of the paramedics called me Sweetheart, and Kai told him to cool it with the terms of endearment. I found out later that Nancy had explained on the phone and again upon their arrival that I have trauma, which is good because if they’d tried to contain me, I might have unleashed the power of the stars I was channelling!
They did try to take my blood pressure, but I wouldn’t remain still and kept laughing and trying to spin around the room. I only had a sweater and underwear shorts on, so I was a little embarrassed later but in the moment knew nothing like shame. Finally, they were able to get a reading, and the one paramedic said my blood pressure was better than his. Apparently there was also a police officer on the scene, but Nancy explained the uniform and energy may not be appreciated, and he remained in the hallway; I never did see him.
I’m told the paramedics cleared me after a period of observation and released me into Kai’s care. Apparently when they were having her sign something, I shouted, “What are you signing!” because even on my way to becoming a celestial being, I still want people to read everything they sign.
The paramedics left the room only to run back when I immediately flung myself into the crevice on the floor between the bed and the wall. Kai says she tended to leave me there because I was snug like a bug and couldn’t hurt myself. I remember being a little chilly, however.
The paramedic who hadn’t called me sweetheart then called me ‘dear’, immediately backtracked and apologized, calling it a bad habit.
So, hopefully we all learned something from that… Trauma informed first response means no ‘cutesy’ names, just get the patient’s name and call us by that. Otherwise, they did a good job, they were respectful and didn’t try to handle me a lot. I imagine getting a call for a drug overdose for a woman my age, they are likely not expecting a psychedelic trip – it looks a lot different than an opioid overdose. Hopefully less alarming.
I remember, while spinning, that I needed to decide: I could keep spinning forever, like a neutron star, and finally experience what happens after “death”, or I could jump back into this timeline, and keep trying to ‘wake everybody up’ by saying “No!” to injustice and teaching others how to do the same, eventually saving my childhood self and all childhood selves, with the help of everyone and all their selves. Although it was extremely painful, because again, what is on the other side is so stunningly beautiful and joyous and good, I decided to stay here and see what else I can do before I die.
No part of this was painful, though today I’m quite a mess physically from having thrown myself around the room like a pinball. Some parts were very scary – every time I had to relive my life, it was like a nautilus shell. The beginning was so fast and so dark, with only a few bright loving spots/people. Then a long dark stretch through my teen and young adult years. Then in my mid-twenties, a long stretch of bright glowing love, intersected by black sharp void of my surgeries and cancer diagnosis, then gold glowing warmth again, then, interestingly, as we move to the outer edge of the spiral, time took up more ‘space’ in every direction. Feelings were stronger, memories more clear. To the point where I could predict these beautiful surges as I relived it over and over: one was Iceland, a cold and blue-purple stretch of time, followed by Hawai’i, a warm, humid, bright yellow stretch. I replayed my shell over and over, trying billions of potential paths, dying countless times. I realize ‘past lives’ isn’t about being a vestal virgin or Egyptian queen: it’s about all the times I lived MY life, changing only the most minute details, or changing everything, like this night. I have done this so very many times.
But thank goodness Kai was there, and Nancy, and Mills, or I truly would have lost it. I remember thinking of my sister and heaving a huge, weighty sigh of relief that she even existed.
Thank goodness it happened at Nancy’s, where I could be relatively contained. Apparently the dog had been really freaked out, and while in Nancy’s room, aimed herself at the door, hyper-attentive, and only lay down when I quieted down several hours later.