If psychedelics are assumed to effect personal change, then that relegates relationship-work to the post-trip arena of integration. We change ourselves to bring something new to static or maladaptive connections with other people. I’ve recently read about people ending (or transforming) relationships that didn’t serve them, after healthy psychedelic experiences. This runs counter to the predominant narrative of such consciousness-states facilitating a ‘love for everything,’ ‘realization that all is love,’ or that ‘there is nothing but love.’
Personally, I come from a more infinite possibilities view of tripping. I got no beef with love, of course; it just doesn’t strike me as the overarching narrative. Maybe that love-focus was more common in the Sixties. I came out of a more late ‘80s / early ‘90s head culture. There was a cerebral intention to the information technology that seemed to guide the psychedelic vanguard of the time. Virtual reality was taking the mind beyond matter, artificial intelligence was creating minds with algorithms of binary code. The heart-consciousness that once seemed so ever-present had become relegated to afterthought.
My story takes place in June of 1992 – specifically on the night I [finally!] fell out of love, after a long year & a half [and that’s in high school years].
I had met Sandi in the autumn of my junior year. It took me about 3 months to become full-time devoted to her. The months from then on would crest & trough from dismal separation to hopeful rendezvous, but an actual relationship never really materialized. My friends would end up declaring a moratorium on her name because I kept talking about her all the time.
Our last rendezvous, however, originally appeared to be the most promising.
I’d just graduated. High school was over. I was moving 90 miles south at the end of summer. There was already an active sense of on-the-cusp-ness, in respect to a major portion of my life closing, and a new, exciting one opening up before me. Like so many other recent high school graduates, we marked the occasion with Beach Week. About a dozen of us had two adjacent spots at the Beach. 5 guys (officially, 7 total) in my best friend’s parents’ condo, and an equal number of gals next door, among them.
We graduated on Thursday. Some of us got the beach early, on Friday. By Saturday night, those of us who were so inclined – about half of us – dropped acid at midnight. The idea being that we would walk into the Beach to play in the water while we watch the sunrise. This being the east coast, we get the killer view over the Atlantic ocean.
By 3:00 AM, things are pretty wavy inside that room. There were a variety of dosages taken, but having all dropped together, we were all still working on a similar timeline. The gals ended up sequestering the guys’ condo’s bathroom, giggling and closing the door at irregular intervals. I caught a glimpse of Sandi. Two days earlier she had pierced her nostril and had a small, silver/reflective stud right in the middle. That night, I saw her looking at her new piecing, a little cross-eyed, and say “It won’t stop looking at me,” accompanied with what may have been a budding panic.
The door closed and I thought she might be considering taking it out.
This is the instant it happened, and I can remember each frame of it. Now, whether or not that’s what she was thinking, that’s not what mattered. The fact that I could view her that way at all, was a first. A giant, crucial first. In that split-second, she felt … disagreeable. I was in love with the idea of being in love with her, so I saw everything about her through that lens of perfection. (Perfect for me, of course.) Her regular, human imperfections: mysteriously running away to another city, making out with other dudes; I’d always framed somehow in a way that made us perfect for one another, where she was still, as boys of that age sometimes say, TheOne. Despite all that, it was all, ultimately, agreeable. Hell, previous psychedelic trips could have furthered that, too – bending my perception[s] of her toward mandatory agreeableness.
But on that Saturday night / Sunday morning, I witness something imperfect for me. It sounds super petty – ‘I could never love a woman who would have to remove a piercing on a paranoid impulse.’ But the fact that a thought like that got through at all, past all my usual defenses for my self-destructive relationship habits, blew me away. “How could there be something about her I don’t like? She’s perfect for me.” You could say that she became human to me at that point. Not a constellation of stars that calls out to me in celestial tears, but a teenage runaway who couldn’t figure out why this guy was so persistently devoted to her.
In hindsight, I wonder if that on-the-cusp-ness – which is one of more exciting and enticing aspects of the psychedelic experience – may have influenced not just how I saw her, but how I saw myself. The ‘reframing’ potentials of my dosage could also have been pointed internally. Perhaps I envisioned myself not in love with Sandi – inconceivable up to that point. But in hyperspace, when we can fully grasp infinite potentials for manifestation, I was able to see and feel as a me without this obsessive ‘love’. Not just to picture myself (which is an important part, too), but to feel as I would, were I not obsessively in love with her. I hadn’t felt that since shortly after we met. To feel as I would seeing anybody consider undoing something they liked (removing a piercing, in this case), on a whim.
Everybody else in the room could see her as ‘just one of the girls’. Maybe there was some residual mind-meld there, too. Perhaps my habit of seeing her as so remarkable and exceptional was influenced by the rest of that group-mind (seven people tripping in the same room for several hours). Maybe their ability to see her as, if not normal, than perhaps a not-so-good part of my life, made it into me. Not that Sandi was hurting me, but I’m certainly hurting [myself] trying to make this relationship happen. Just a hunch – but it makes sense to me that six trippers’ shared appraisal can influence a seventh.
We had a full week at the condo. I was high on liberation the entire time. With that weight off my shoulders, I was finally able to excitedly look forward. Hang-ups (high school, parents, dead-end relationship) are shed, a new you emerges. I don’t think I could have seen how much this relationship was not serving me, without that trip. Passionate, unmet love was no longer attractive to me, as it had been for so long. I finally let go of something that had been pulling at me, that I’d struggled to maintain a grip on, and away it went.
As always, feel free to comment with any of your own stories of how psychedelics have helped you through maladaptive relationships.