On a warm summer day, I woke up with pure joy. This particular day, my friends and I decided to have a barbeque, inviting some people over that we all got along well with. Filled with excitement, we went to the store to buy food for our party. I was remarkably giddy, dancing and singing to my favorite songs on the way.
A few hours later, all of our guests arrived. Living in the suburbs, we are lucky to have a nice patch of forest in our backyard. Our fire pit, surrounded by gorgeous trees and vegetation, was a perfect place for us to hang out. Suddenly, in the wake of this beauty, my world completely shifted.
As I conversed, a strange sense of separation overtook my body. I sat and stared at the faces of the people I’ve known, feeling an uneasy sense of unfamiliarity. My body felt hot— the sensation of “spacing” out overtook me, removing all sense of myself, destroying my ego.
My view became distorted. As if I had taken psychedelics, the light around me intensified in uncomfortable proportions. The beauty of the greenery, the flowers, the grass, were overshadowed with this brightness, this intensity that can only be experienced through a swift change in consciousness. Had I been drugged? What the hell was going on?
Physically, my stomach twisted and turned. Any sense of appetite was gone.
This initial shock sent me to the ground. Laying on the grass, I cried and cried, even with guests present. “What is wrong with me?” I thought, as I clutched the grass for support. The comfort of the earth beneath me was the only sense of relief that I could muster.
Eventually, weakness overtook me, and I retired from my presence in the party. I remember laying in my bed, completely separated from who I was, where I was, and who I knew. From these varying levels of consciousness, I woke up because I was not breathing; something that still rattles me to this day. The feeling of light-headedness was severe, falling into a deeper coma-like sleep than I have ever felt. What or who woke me up? I remember clinging to my dissipating consciousness, feeling love emitted only from my cat, who never left my side for the next seventeen days.
This continued for months afterward, making my normal routine something of a stranger. I would look at my sister and feel as if I didn’t know her. There were many mornings that I woke up, completely terrified and confused about my boyfriend being next to me, feeling as if I didn’t know him. Everything felt weird and pointless, but not in a depressed sense. It was as if I was an alien in this new world, confused by the engineering of my storyline. It was quite a scary time to have experienced.
Any sort of drinking or smoking was nipped in the bud, even after years of partying and trauma. In addition, all caffeine was cut out, as I could not handle any mood-altering behaviors.
Unsuccessfully, I had tried to quit drinking twice before this experience. I realized that I was unable to “escape” through drugs or any forms of chemicals. I realized that reality itself was so fickle that it would be idiotic to try and intensify these symptoms. On the day of writing this, I am almost a year sober from alcohol— a solution to a familial detriment that has been passed from generation to generation. I can only hope that through that terrifying time, the fruits of my labor were not to be ignored, finally ending generations of trauma induced by alcohol abuse.
I realized that life would never go back to what I had always known, as if a fire was lit within my soul. I went to college after several gap years, improved in mood and productivity, spreading kindness and wisdom over pain and egotism.
It is to be noted that with the complete destruction of my sense of self, I knew that ego was an important force in my human experience. Instead of fighting ego, I now understand that through balance, the ego provides a stage for the soul to perform. It is important to balance yourself with both spirituality and confidence in your higher self, a point made clearly through a war within myself.