The dextromethorphan factor

Day ten of a thirty day writing challenge. Previous post here. First post here.

When I was 21, I started the bizarre habit of chugging cough syrup to get high. The active ingredient in cough medicine is called dextromethorphan, or dxm.

Dxm is a crazy trip.

The first time I did dxm, I was talked into it by a friend, who assured me it would be an interesting experience. And it was. It became a tradition for a particular circle of friends and I, to chug eight ounces of cough syrup each, and proceed to indulge in bizarre, unconventional social hijinks.

Before that, I was a heavy drinker. Mostly vodka. Liquor lost its luster after I started using dxm. Liquor just numbed me, distracted me, dumbed me down. Turned off the lights in my brain. Dxm flipped all the switches in my brain on, resulting in fascinating, near indescribable ways of thinking, perceiving, and being.

For a while, I only used dxm socially. But then something happened. As a friend and I were coming down from a trip, I had an epiphany. I’d never seen the world more clearly than in that moment. It felt like a realization that would change my life forever. My mind was so blown, I can’t scratch the surface with words, of the awe and enlightenment I felt.

Then, I passed out, expecting to wake up and live a new, transformed life. But the next day, I could not remember the epiphany. It was gone. Poof, like a dream. I remembered it happening, but the content itself was erased from my consciousness. I knew it had something to do with viewing the world and perceiving society and my place in it. Other than that, nothing.

After that, I started doing dxm by myself. I wanted to get back to the revelation, and experience that again. Maybe 1 out of 20 trips triggered anything that profound, though. And every time, I could not properly remember afterwards.

And it’s not like I could just write it down. These profundities happened in the deepest recesses of my mind, while laying down usually, eyes closed. To call myself forth to consciously pick up a pen or write on a computer would have shattered that state of mind and its revelatory tidings.

So, I was determined to keep going back to that “place” in my mind, until I could figure out a way to bring the epiphany back to my conscious, waking state.

Which amounted to doing insane amounts of dxm over an extended period of time. I was obsessed. I’d trip every day until my body could not take it anymore. Sometimes I’d keep tripping after my body was beyond its limit, which resulted in me being completely unable to function for weeks at a time. I spoke with an unnatural lisp, and uncontrollably drooled all over myself. I could not walk without falling over, or see straight, or put together a coherent sentence.

I’d often have this feeling, like my skin was screaming, like my atoms themselves were suffering in torment, and there was no relief but to wait it out. To recover my faculties through copious sleep. To slowly return to myself, and to some sense of normalcy. Then when I reached normalcy, I’d go do it all over again.

People looked at me, and wondered: why? What kind of moron does that to themselves?

I was on a mission. That’s the only way I can explain it. I’d had visions in my depths that mattered more to me than anything. I felt like I was on a path, and in my mind it was noble and imperative to keep walking it.

After all, life has never made sense to me. Being a human in this society was a non-intuitive endeavor for me, from day one. On dxm, even for fleeting moments, I found a version of reality that finally invited me to feel at home, feel alive. That was powerful. It felt important. I felt important. Being on a mission endows a sense of importance.

The drug roused the anti-conformist in me. Fed it. Turbo-charged it.

There’s a social stigma for drug use in general. The stigma for taking cough medicine to trip is even greater. Because it seems so stupid. So desperate. So childish. But to me, dxm was my answer to everything. It was my god. It was my teacher. The contrast between how significant my actions were to me and how absurd it all appeared on the outside only fortified my resolve to keep my middle fingers permanently erected towards the establishment and norm.

All the resistance from friends, family, anyone else. All the ultimatums, the demands, the insults, the lack of understanding. The clashes of will, the fights, the crying, the screaming, the judging. No one could see what I felt in my heart. No one could feel my drive for truth. No one but me, and occasionally others I’ve met who have walked a similar or parallel path.

To society, I was a strung out idiot. To myself, I was a truth-seeker who was willing to make incredible sacrifices for a higher ideal. And I hated society for seeing me as a strung out idiot. For being so superficial. I had already been frustrated with society to begin with, so this friction elevated my social disturbance to a fever pitch.

In 2006, I had a dxm epiphany that I would never forget. That’s when I realized that I am you. You are me. I experienced simultaneous oneness with everything that ever was, is, and will be.

Words are exhaustingly inadequate. I could put more effort into explaining. Craft some metaphors. Inject it with conviction and passion. But I won’t. Not here. Because I don’t care who believes me anymore.

I’m simply writing this to share about the events that created the person I’ve become.

A person that believes that nothing is more important to live for than the inherent equality of all living beings, because we’re all one.

After my realization of oneness, I sought out other worldviews and found validation in Buddhism. Pantheism. Quantum mechanics. I realized my drug-induced epiphanies were nothing new. People have been coming to the same conclusions by a great quantity of means.

You’re a part of me, and I am a part of you. Members of ISIS are a part of me. Every serial killer, child molester, and rapist. Part of you and me, along with selfless altruists, revolutionary activists for peace, homeless people and billionaires, bankers and gas station attendants.

I reached that conclusion through my own trials. And it’s precious to me. It’s how I learned to love everyone, unconditionally. It’s how I learned to be less judgmental, and to walk in empathy and respect for all beings. It’s how I became a hippie.

I was born a philosopher, but did not transition to proper tree-hugging hippieism until philosophy presented a compelling case for why I should.

The utopian ideals and criticism of money expressed in this book so far were conceived from my relationship with the chemical, dextromethorphan. It was all foreshadowed in those original epiphanies in my early 20s, the ones I could not remember afterwards.

In other words (and this is key): I fought for my perspective. Inflicted immeasurable trauma to my body and mind for it. I was mocked for it, and stigmatized, alienated, and rejected. My perspective is one thing in life that I have earned. Worked for, hurt for, and believed in, no matter what the consequences.

(Consequences like jail, psychiatric hospitals, broken relationships, broken everything.)

In 2008, I really lost it. I mean, I thought I’d found it. But I’d lost it. Well, I’d found… something. Summer of 2008, I believed I was the reincarnation of Jesus. I was in a dxm-induced mania for months. I hardly ever slept. Didn’t need to. Always felt energized and ready to go. Off to perform miracles and shit.

I sold and gave away nearly everything I owned. When I was younger, I adored having huge collections of movies, videogames, music, etc. I let it all go in 2008. Even mementos and sentimental objects. I was practicing non-attachment, which I’d learned about from Buddhism. I was also lightening my load, because I felt called to walk the earth nomadically with no material possessions holding me down.

That’s relevant, because it’s indicative of the way my attitude about property (and thereby money) has formed since then. What is property? What makes an object mine or yours? What does that even mean, if we’re all one? What authority does a human being have to lay claim to a piece of the earth? Through these thoughts, I began to see society as an incredibly phony mechanism. It’s a dream that people agree is real. A dream that runs everything and dictates and limits our potential to see reality for what it is and ourselves for what we are.

Reading these words is one thing. Just imagine that you didn’t read them, though. You realized them. Came to these ideas through your own process of analysis and meditation after years of fighting for your own relevancy in the shadows of stigma and obscurity. How would that have impacted you? What would you do with yourself?

Anyway, the Jesus thing is really it’s own story. As all-over-the-place as this book seems at times, everything is written with the underlying intention of resolving my relationship with money, and possibly helping others do the same. So, I’ve gotta reign myself in here. Suffice to say, and the vital point to take away is, my life had spiraled into such ridiculous realms that a crash was inevitable. What goes up…

Oh, gravity, you smarmy bastard.

My life bottomed out in late 2008. It seemed like the end of the world at the time, but I didn’t exactly have that much to lose. So, it paled in comparison to the nuclear disaster my life became in 2016.

From 2009–2014, dxm was out of the picture. I didn’t expect that I’d ever do it again. I focused on school, self-improvement, and even work for a few years. There were even a few reasonably impressive (by my standards) financial wins in there, signs of progress, teases of stability. To be expounded upon soon.

As I felt increasingly directionless, restless, and confused about my path in 2015, I started using dxm again. Then, a chain reaction was triggered by conflict with friends and family. Harmonious relationships became dissonant. Relationships that were already dissonant became unbearable. Unbearable relationships ended. Dead relationships were dug up and shat upon.

I was conflicted about using dxm. I didn’t want to. I just didn’t know what else to do. How to cope. Then a night in early June came along, and I had a really powerful trip that led me back into that godlike mindset from 2008. I experienced the oneness again. Bigtime. My depression and confliction ceased.

In psychiatric terms, I went manic. It was a full-scale messiah complex.

Just imagine. The friendships I’d developed with people while sober. Who knew me as an aspiring social worker, a writer, a tutor. A bright and promising student, a thoughtful and empowering friend. All of that was ripped away from them by this weird, new thing.

But it wasn’t new. It was old. It had risen from the grave.

From my perspective, it was awesome and perfect. Everything was awesome and perfect. I was surfing the waves of the universe. I had automatic, effortless, piercing insight into any question. I saw miracles and awe-inspiring synchronicites happen every day. Believe it or not, astounding psychic and telepathic experiences were frequent and undeniable.

But that was just my subjective world. On the outside, in the subjective worlds of nearly everyone that knew me, my life was falling apart at a horrifying pace. Only a couple people could stand to be around me. Dear loved ones were terrified of me and didn’t want me anywhere near them.

In that state of mind, I connected to infinite abundance. My mantra was, “everything is always taken care of.” I had total faith what I needed would be provided at all times. And honestly, it was. Money and support (from strangers more so than the people who knew me before) flowed into my life when I needed it.

I was living on the streets, hanging out with the rodents in garages, sleeping on porches of abandoned houses, behind bushes, wherever. But I was taken care of. My needs were met. I was actually rather happy, although increasingly stressed by the loss and conflict I faced with family and friends.

A new dream formed in my mind, for my future. I envisioned myself forming a hybrid nomadic tribe. What that means is, we set up a network of communes all over the world, that serve as temporary or permanent homes for people. Some communes double as animal sanctuaries. The tribe travels mostly, from place to place, spreading love, compassion, art, and authenticity. Those who want to settle down, can live in the established communities, or wherever they choose. The communes are a place of rest and rejuvenation, not only for the tribe, but for everyone. Because the truth is, there is no tribe. There’s only everyone.

In my heart, nothing could stop me. I was well on my way. Things were falling into place, or so I thought. I was a blazing inferno of passion and charisma.

But towards the end of 2015, in the chaos of more dissolving friendships and familial hurricanes, my fire finally burned out…

What goes up…

…and CRASH.

And here I am. Recovering from that crash. Looking back at everything. Reassessing my values. Searching myself for my capabilities. Salvaging my effective attributes, and transforming the hindrances. Admitting how ridiculous and impossible I’ve been. Looking myself square in the eyes and realizing that I am fully responsible for my life.

I’ve been on probation all 2016, and have had dxm out of my system for most of that time.

Lots of time to think. And cry. And jerk off. And feel like I’m dead. And ultimately, lots of time to heal. And figure out why I’m here. And to invent a path forward, beyond the claustrophobic confines of my isolation, indecision, and fear.

What’s next? I’ll tell you: surrender.

I fucking surrender it all.

Every bit of it.

No more stubborn clinging. No more endless battles that turn myself and everyone I know into braggarts and hypocrites.

Everything I’ve hurt for, I let go. Everything I’ve bled for. All the rhetoric, pride, and insanity. I don’t need it. Nobody needs it. It’s over.

Surrendering is not the same as chucking my past in the trash. It’s more like recycling…. Compressing it all into raw materials, and rebuilding into optimal configurations. Like park benches built by repurposed soda bottles.

This surrender does not change my heart. It frees it. Lets it rise up as the badass phoenix that it is meant to be.

From these ashes, I choose to see the world differently. I choose to take the insights gleaned from the void, and apply them to cooperating with the system. Playing the game. Mastering it. Mastering myself.

From these ashes, I’m free to invent a brand new me.

(That was the first pass at chapter ten, from my upcoming book about overcoming beliefs and habits that create financial failure. Scheduled for release on January 3, 2017. Pre-order the ebook version here; you decide the price.)