The reason for alternate healing
When Alex was diagnosed with ALS we made sure to always have open and honest communication. We knew this was the only way to stay in a positive space. We tried to talk about everything, the positive and the negative. One of Alex’s fears was suffocating. At one point he met with an ALS specialist to talk about what would happen at the end cause he didn’t want to experience that.
At the hospital when it came time for Alex to decide it was time to go it was something I had a hard time accepting. It just didn’t feel like time. I remember walking away from him cause I couldn’t deal, the social worker had to call me on my phone. Walking away seemed easier then accepting what Alex decided.
Flash forward about 2 hours when I walked into the room at St Paul’s Hospital right after the doctor removed the breathing tubes. I will never forget the look on Alex’s face. I told the nurse to give him as much drugs as possible cause what we were watching was horrifying. Since Alex passed I convinced myself that I failed him. Walking into that room I should have asked him if he wanted the breathing tubes back in. My job was to make sure everything was taken care of and I didn’t do that. I failed. I failed him and Raine.
I have lived with this feeling of guilt for 6 years now. Over the past year many things have happened that brought these feelings very close to the surface, where they have stayed, and it had become too much for me to handle. No therapy has helped me deal. I knew I needed something different. I was starting to feel desperate. I didn’t know anyone my age that had been through what I have. Nobody could relate and understand.
My Path to Peru
I spent several months searching for alternate ways of healing when Paul mentioned that Christian had just booked a healing trip to Peru through a company called Pulse Tours. I looked it up and was floored with what I was reading. This felt like what I needed.
Leading up to the trip to Peru I had SO much anxiety. Not only was I traveling to a foreign country on my own but I knew this was going to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Nobody really understood why I was going. Most people thought it was going to be a fun trip. Wow… I wish it was for fun!
I feel like I could write a book about my experience, but I am only going to write about the important elements from my journey.
I will start off by saying that what I went through was WAY more excruciatingly painful – physically and emotionally then I ever could have imagined. I felt like ayahuasca tore me apart and I threw up everything into a green plastic bucket. I cried for hours until I didn’t have anything left.
The actual retreat is beautiful. It sits facing a beautiful and very active river. They say that spirits are attracted to moving water. My first hour at the center (after a 21 hour journey) I sat on a chair watching the river and documenting how I was feeling. I have never been so nervous in my life.
The Ceremony (#1)
How do you prepare for something you have no idea how you are going to react to? Even before my first ceremony I felt like I was going to throw up! I kept thinking I can’t throw up before I even take ayahuasca!!
Before each ceremony you sit in front of the Shaman’s (we had 2) and tell them your intention. I told them that I want to rid myself of guilt of Alex’s passing. That was about all I could get out without breaking down. The Shaman’s decided to give me a small dose of ayahuasca, meaning not a full one most people got. I am sure they could sense my nerves. All of a sudden I didn’t feel ready. After giving the Shaman’s my intention I took ayahuasca and went and sat back on my bed waiting for something to happen.
About half an hour later my body felt numb and I can honestly say I wanted to die. My stomach felt like it was being ripped apart from the inside. I was in so much pain that if I was offered death I might have taken it. It was awful. I couldn’t lay down cause the pain was too much. I spent 6 hours sitting cross legged on my bed/mat. At one point I wondered if I was dying as black was starting to take over my vision, I would blink, and everything was clear again. I threw up 3 times during the ceremony.
During the ceremonies the Shaman comes around and sings an icaro to each person. Each night I felt something different. This night it took everything in me not to throw up while Diago was singing to me. Once he moved onto the person beside me I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
After the ceremony I went directly up to my room and threw up two more times. I sat on the bathroom floor (thank goodness I had a room to myself) and cried. I kept thinking what have I signed up for. There was NO way I would ever take ayahuasca ever again. F*** it!!! I tried calling a few people as I was getting lost in myself but with the time change nobody was available. I had to sort this all out on my own.
The Next Day
I felt like shit!! I felt like I was hung over and determined never to do ayahuasca ever again. I went down for breakfast, filled my plate and almost threw up again. At least at this point I could laugh at myself. I sat there listening to everyone’s experience thinking wow how come I was the only one with a painful experience. I didn’t have any visions, mine was all about purging. But after talking to Diego (the shaman) that needed to happen for me. My first experience needed to be painful. I have spent 6 years forcing down feelings as deep as I could keep them. The ayahuasca did give me an experience, she loosened up those feelings and made my body process them by purging. As painful as it was, it was my path. That is what I needed.
Right after breakfast we spent 2 hours in a sweat lodge. After throwing up 5 times and spending 2 hours in a sweat lodge I had NOTHING else to give. I was drained. Our second ayahuasca ceremony was that evening and I couldn’t help but be 100% fearful. My stomach still hurt, I was totally dehydrated. Somehow I convinced myself “ok Patty… you are here… you need to do ayahuasca again, lets do this”.
The Ceremony (#2)
Ayahuasca was easy on me for the second ceremony. I had the same small dose as the night before. Sitting there waiting for ayahuasca to take affect I was more aware of other people around me, at least I wasn’t the only other one throwing up. Almost everyone did.
I started to feel the pain in my stomach again and I knew throwing up was about to happen. At least I threw up only once that night.
The ayahuasca made me feel very very very light, almost like I was floating. I knew it was showing me how I should feel on an everyday basis. I walk around with so much on my shoulders every day that I am weighed down. This is how I should feel on an everyday basis. Messaged received.
I saw about 8 black figures walking around the room, going from person to person. I wasn’t sure what to think, although I was thankful they were not coming towards me!
I didn’t realize it that night but I did black out at one point during the evening. I was told that Keith (my bed neighbor) left for 30 minutes and went outside. I laid facing him the entire evening and never noticed that he was gone that long. That scared me. I am glad I didn’t realize that I blacked out until the next day.
The Ceremony (#3)
Leading into the 3rd ayahuasca ceremony I felt ready. I was ready to receive a bigger dose of ayahuasca. I changed up my intention for the evening. I asked the Shaman’s if Alex could visit me. The Shaman’s took some time to talk it over. It was obvious that they don’t get that request very often. I was told that the white light would bring Alex to me. I was ready.
Sitting on my bed the ayahuasca started to take affect and I started to panic!! Even to the point of trying to make myself throw up but mother ayahuasca wasn’t going to let that happen.
My entire body went numb, a numb I have never felt before! You could have punched me in the face and I wouldn’t have felt it. My entire vision was like a kaleidoscope of colors. I spent about 30 minutes in pure panic, wanting everything to stop. Staring at my puke bucket I started to lose track of time and my vision went totally black. I would come to and still be sitting in front of my green little bucket and I had no idea what just happened. It was like I teleported to another place and had no memory of it.
After purging twice I convinced myself to relax, lay back and embrace this experience. I am glad I decided not to fight anymore. As soon as I relaxed my vision become completely white. I wasn’t scared. All I felt was happiness. Love. A love that I have never felt before. I felt at peace. The white light moved to above me and blocks (almost like pixels) started to be dropped into the top of my head. Then it became a stream of happiness. At the same time Shandra was singing in Spanish (I think, I don’t speak Spanish) and she said in English “all I want you to remember of me, is me loving you”. Then Keith (the guy beside me) said “thank you”. This “thank you’ teleported over to me and it was Alex’s voice whispering in my ear saying “thank you”. I cried for what felt like hours!
As soon as I stopped crying the Shaman was at my feet singing an icaro to me. My body started to become numb again as he sung. He touched my feet (something he hadn’t done before) and the tears started again. As he kept touching different parts of my feet I felt like he was taking away the sadness and I started to feel calm.
After this I saw my body with a huge zipper from top to bottom. This zipper then unzipped and “stuff” started to come out. I can’t really explain what this stuff was.
The Path Forward
So many emotions came up while in Peru. From everything with Alex to feelings of abandonment, which I am still trying to figure out. Everything is/was very raw.
I have been home for a week now. I feel lighter and more free. The top of my head hurts from where the light entered my head. I know that some stuff is still with me but its now about how I manage it all. I have the tools, I just need to use them.
I was told that the hardest part of the journey is when you return home to old patterns. Wow they were right! Friday was a very difficult day for me.
I was told by Shantanu (one of the facilitators) that some relationships will need to change, cause you have changed. I wasn’t sure I understood this at the time but I do now. Things will need to change and its about accepting and embracing those changes.
Experiencing ayahuasca was unbelievably hard, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt like ayahuasca almost killed me but it showed me things I never could have imagined. I wouldn’t change the experience for anything.
Shaman Diego performing an Icaro