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Ayahuasca #5: Ugly and stupid

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The queaziness is coming on again, as expected. I enter into another round of seemingly interminable dry heaving. I get caught in. This has happened frequently enough now that I know to ask for help.

I get taken into a backroom where the leader encourages me to breath, focus on my breath, find that inner stillness. In any moment of pain or confusion, I can always simply return to my breath and find peace.

I sit and try to focus on my breath. Feelings of unworthiness start creeping into my being. I’m not worthy of this support. I am taking up too much space. I am a nuisance to the group. I don’t belong here.

I return to my breath. I let those thoughts dissipate into the background. I slowly find stillness and come back to center. The feelings of queasiness subside. All is well again.

I want some fresh air and I start making my way to the fire outside.

I can’t find my shoes. I am looking all around for them, shuffling, making noise, taking up space. I ask for more help. The helper cannot find them either. What a commotion. What an idiot I am. I can’t even find my own fucking shoes.

After what seems like an eternity, finally, I just decide to walk out in my bare feet. I could have thought of that about 15 minutes. What a fucking idiot I am. I shut the door behind me. Too loudly. Idiot! Can you not doing ANYTHING right? What an ordeal this is turning into.

I slowly walk out to the fire. What a relief it will be to sit by its warmth and let these feelings of shame wash off me. That will make all this hassle worth it, I tell myself. But as I walk up to the fire, I find that it hasn’t been lit. Ha! What a joke this night is becoming. What a joke I am.

I walk back inside. It’s time I settle back down. I’ve been too much of a nuisance. But I’d better go to the restroom first. I walk to the back of the house. The first bathoom room is occupied. I walk to another. That one is occupied too. What a mess! I can’t seem to do anything right! I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself.

My mind is now becoming overactive, confused, mired in shame. Where am I? What am I trying to do? What is wrong with me?

I am so confused. I get help back to my seat. The leader slowly helps me back into the room. I stumble slowly through the dark, head spinning. And I trip over someone! What a mess, a commotion in front of the whole room. Now they all see me. Ugly. Stupid. Can’t get anything right. Just a child who can’t find his own shoes, go to the bathroom, or walking without tripping over someone. Pathetic.

I finally get back to my seat. I curl into a ball and put blankets all over myself, shame streaming through my veins. I so hated to be seen by everyone as incompetent, powerless, ugly, bumbling. I so want to be seen, to feel, in control, like I have my shit together, like I know what I’m doing. How am I of any value to anyone otherwise?

But I don’t have my shit together. I’m not in control. Not in this moment certainly, but not in life either. I like to pretend to myself that I’m in control and know what I’m doing. But deep down, I am just stumbling through the dark, trying to do my best, just like everyone else. It’s all a facade. I am lost, just trying to find my way through the mystery, just like everyone else.

Slowly, the shame transmutes itself. I begin letting go of the idea of myself that I am in control. I accept that I am not in control. I accept that everyone in the room is going to see me as bumbling, frantic, stupid in this moment, just as I accept them.

I breathe in. I realize that everyone here accepts me, all of me. There is no judgment. No criticism. No laughs. Just loving acceptance and support.

I breathe out. What a fucking relief to not have to pretend that I’m control anymore. What a relief to simply be who I am, in my beauty, in my joy, in my ugliness, in my stupidity, in my awkwardness. All of it. Right here, not needing to be changed or apologized for. Just here.

All of it.

Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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