Gail's Odyssey

The following was actually written two years ago, in conjunction with a "Soulo" expressive therapy group I was part of. I performed it for the group, and since then for several family members and friends. Each time brings a new level of healing. I wrote my "Soulo" all in one sitting. The first time I performed it I simply starting reading, not trying to memorize. Later sharings seemed to take on a life of their own. The catharsis of that first sharing was truly awesome - for the first time I was intentionally sharing, with relative strangers, the deepest darkest lesson my soul has ever experienced in this incarnation. So deep is the lesson that for years I didn't think there would ever be a way to find the words for sharing it so I could heal.

But find them I did, because for me it's always been the old slogan of NA (narcotics anonymous): "Share or die".

With each new time I perform this monologue I heal that much more completely from the searing pain of spending time in the pit of insanity. Because I "recapitulate" - and I remember more and more details and can see how they fit in the larger lesson. It was truly a gift, and I want to give it back to others, so that they may see the spiritual side of insanity. You'll see the script skips lightly over some aspects of my experience, particularly the drug therapy, that I didn't have words for then. I'm still filling in the blanks on that one; so I welcome a chance to share again, and grow. It also gives sparse detail on my metaphysical experiences - I guess I'm still integrating those, a life-long process!

MY DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

Head down, in yogic pose:

In the beginning

There was me.

This is me? This is me. This is me. (Examine me, where I'm at, what I'm feeling. Look at and feel my body. Stand and walk. Stretch. Pose. Shake. Run. Jump. When appropriate, pause and say:

Who am I?

(Laugh) Why, silly, you're Gail, of course. Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are? (pensive as impact of that hits. (Then, derisive, as a new, dark presence makes itself known:) Who do you think you are. Don't you remember, you blew it already, baby, back three years ago, when you lost your mind. And let's not forget all the years of alcoholism and drug abuse, shall we? Who are you trying to kid anyway? Why don't you just admit it - you're all . . . . washed . . . up (slow my movements to a crawl)

(Then walk doggie-style on all fours toward audience) You peaked in high school, remember? Cheerleader bouncy bubbly, strait A student, teacher's pet. Had the world by the tail, didn't you? Remember the words you scratched in your desk to inspire you - "Failure means only this - that your determination to succeed wasn't great enough."

Hey, wait a minute! Don't put me down! I was damn good!

Yea, but was that the real you? Or was that a face you were putting on for the world. To please your Da-ddy (derisively). To make people like you.

But I was happy. I felt good about myself.

Yea, as long as other people approved of you. What happened when you got pregnant? It all started to slip, didn't it? Didn't it?

(Whisper) No, no, no, don't tell them about that. I don't want to deal with it. That was a long time ago. I want to forget that. This is me. I just want to be free.

Free to be me Free to be me Free to be me Free to be me

FREE TO BE

And then you wasted your 20's trying to find freedom from a bottle and then from a pill - remember how fast you fell once you went to college and daddy wasn't looking over your shoulder all the time? You couldn't wait to try everything you didn't dare to do before. YOU FELT FREE! WHEE! And when you drank all your doubts went away like magic, remember? It was delirious, intoxicating, magical. Worlds were opening up like never before! And all you could think of was soaking it all up for all it was worth, rushing headlong, heedless of your innocence.

And then you hit your 30's, and began the slow climb out of your addictions. Four years ago you finally conquered the last one - smoking. All your crutches were gone! And then, two months later, the ultimate irony hit: YOUR BREAKDOWN!

It wasn't a breakdown. It was a breakthrough. A spiritual crisis. The awakening of the kundalini. It's all in the book by Christina and Stansislav Grof!

Yea, right, call it what you want sister, the fact is you went insane. Bonkers. Crazy. Nutty as a fruitcake. YOU LOST IT BIG TIME GAIL!

(Hands over my ears like I don't want to hear, then slowly whisper.) It started out beautiful. I knew, finally, what it was to be one with the universe. There was such a feeling of beauty and power - why, it all finally made sense! And all the things I've believed all my life, the things I read in The Teachings of Don Juan and Tales of Power, they were all true! I saw auras around people. I made up my own movies in my head with me as the star and watched them on TV and created it all as I went along! If I didn't like the way it was going, I remember I could even make it rewind and play it over again to make it come out the way I wanted. And it was all so real! It was like being on LSD only I knew I wasn't. This was me doing this, communicating telepathically with my dog. This was me. This was me. . . . . (Voice trails off . . . )

(Snidely) Aren't you forgetting something?

The fear. (Hands fall to lap, body shrugs in defeat)

The fear. The fear. There was a part of me that was above me like an overseer, watching all this happen to me so fast I couldn't control it. I tried to make connections. I thought it was all part of a plan to wake the planet up on Earth Day 1990, the 20th anniversary. Yes. That was it. And I was lucky enough to tune in to this fact. I was tuning in to the energy vibrations that were speeding up all over the planet as we rushed toward this glorious day of awakening.

(Stop and transition to fear, like having Alzheimer's)

All the peoples peoples peoples, who are they, the peoples peoples people peoples All the peoples what are they doing- what do they want- what do they WANT FROM ME? (Increase tenor to a loud whine) Tick tock, tick tock, good, bad, good, bad (Head goes side to side, up and down, back and forth) black, white, black, white, real, not real, real, not real, sane, insane, sane, insane. (Teetering on the edge) Make the connection! Make sense. Find a reason. YOU MUST EXPLAIN WHAT IS HAPPENING! Make the connection, even though you don't know what to believe. You must make the connection! (FEAR!) This is me.

So you went out the door in sub-zero weather, to conquer the universe.

I was going to heal the planet with the power of my love. We were all of us, all of us who was waking up at the same time I was, going to meet on the top of Rattlesnake Mountain in Raymond and put our fingers together at the top of the mountain and the heat from our fingers was going to start melting the snow and the snow would start receding down from the mountain in a great circle, melting away all the dirt and the filth in its path as it went and the movement would make giant soap bubbles from the snow and we would all get inside them and ride down the mountainside, laughing and singing all the way.

Laughing all the way, ha ha ha. Only what happened when you hit bottom? What happened after you had walked on those tote roads in the woods for God knows how many hours?

I saw a house. A blue house. Across the field with a stump in the middle. I remember the snow was so deep. Everything seemed to slow down. It took me so long to walk through the snow to the stump. I sat down and became the Thinker. (adopt the pose and hold it for a long moment.)

You were paralysed. Frozen.

(Softly) It was as if, there was no place left to go, you know? My feet were soaked through and so cold. So cold. So I went to the house and up the side steps and knocked on the door. A young woman answered with a baby on one hip and a little girl clinging to her leg. I must'va looked like a bag lady, and I said "I want to come in and get my feet warm!"

She looked at me in disbelief, and then fear. "I want to come in!" I repeated, and this time I pushed a little bit on the door. She said she was sorry, but she had little children and she couldn't let me. So I walked back down and sat on the swingset and rocked back and forth. I got up and started walking around the house.

Strange, how you can remember everything.

So slow, so slow, each step was an eternity. I became my grandmother, bent over and mechanical. I went to the front door. I don't even know if I knocked or not. The snow was wet and slushy, my head was down and I watched me making footprints in the snow. Time stopped.

The next thing I knew the cop car was there and I was sitting inside on stiff leather. He asked me questions but I couldn't speak. I didn't know who I was.

Who are You?

This is me.

The ambulance came and the people were like angels, beautiful people all smiles and caring. I was scared. So scared. A woman named Joyce spoke full in my face with gentle kindness and I thought: Joyce - Joyce - Joy. (With the look of one who has found salvation) JOY!

Yea, yea, yea, Joy to the World and all that jazz. Still trying to make those connections, weren't you?

Well wouldn't you if you were in my place?

I am in your place. I am in your space. I am in you and you are in me. I am the voice that rings inside your head and I will be here until you are dead. So tell me more.

I sat on a stretcher inside the ambulance with a blanket on my legs and watched the road recede away from me from the back door windows. Everything was so small and far away, like looking out the wrong end of binoculars. But Joyce was there, patting my hand, telling me everything was going to be okay. I wanted to believe in her. I wanted to believe.

But as it turned out, she was lying to you.

She meant well. (Sit back in chair). But when I got to the emergency room they put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me into this world of steel and white and all these people peoples peoples on this side, and that side, (brush my hair back) some sick, some in white looking busy and there was hardly any room to wheel me past them all and I wanted to run! I wanted to run away as fast as I could. So scared, so scared oh God why me. What's happening- my god I don't know what to do. whatamIgonnado whatamIgonnado there's nowhere to turn THEY'RE GOING TO KILL ME!

But you just sat there and let them wheel you where they would.

I couldn't move! What could I do? We took a left turn down another hall and I saw these men in suits and one of them I thought was a man was really a woman and all of a sudden I realized these were Ilieye Chochesku's guards. (Feel the fear. Feel the fear. Gasp.) I can't go on. I just can't.

Share or die, Gail. Share or die. This was your idea, remember?

(Choke -gasp - pant-whatever; then, speaking really fast:) They took me in this little white room and put me on a stretcher and I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to be there. I had to go pee wicked. So I peed in the trash can while their backs were turned and they let me know right away I'd done something wrong. Something wrong. These pretty nurses with golden hair kept coming to me and looked straight into my eyes 2 inches from my face and asked me who I was - and I couldn't tell them. I stared into that beautiful face, every feature so alive in my mind, that honey blond soft long hair, those unconditional loving eyes - and I couldn't tell her my name. I didn't know (clutch hand to throat) and I couldn't speak.

This is me.

At first they let me sit there with a posey belt but I kept trying to squirm out of it, pretending I could change my shape and slide under the steel side railings. In their report they said I tried to hang myself but what I was really trying to do was squirm out of it, so I could escape. I could see the tray with all the gauze and bandages in the corner and the box of needles. A box of needles with something written on the side. AIDS! They were going to inject me with AIDS! I lay back on the stretcher and began to wish I was dead. I brought the sheet up over my head and slowed down my breathing until I couldn't tell whether I was breathing at all. And then I thought I really was dead and I thought, 'so this is what it's like' - funny, but with that thought I began to feel calm.

But something told me I wasn't really dead. Slowly I pulled the sheet off my head and looked around at all the whiteness, searching, searching . . . I saw the plaster on the wall raised in bass-relief and it took on the shape of a cross. And then I knew. I was in hell. I was doomed to this room, to stare at these four walls for all eternity. Jesus save me!

Then I noticed the guard out in the hall, a young man - a boy, really - with huge penetrating eyes sitting in a chair facing my open door. His eyes met mine and for the longest time I stared. He started back, never blinking. I found my voice.

"Why are you here? I asked him, defiant.

"Why not?" he answered.

It was the first thing that made sense to me in a long time. Time passed. I could hear the crackling static of his portable radio interrupted by bursts of voices talking. Talking. Talking about me. Talking to Ilieye Chochesku giving orders. The man-woman's voice laughing gruffly down the corridor. I can remember so much so clearly. Funny. There's some gaps, I'm sure. But so much so clear. Is this madness? If it is, it wasn't like what I thought losing my mind would be like at all.

At some point somehow for some reason they were untying the posey belt - maybe I'd gotten twisted up in it, I don't remember. What I do remember is that there were three of them surrounding my stretcher, and I thought - this is it. They're going to kill me. I saw an outlet in the wall to my right and as soon as I saw my chance I lunged with all my might to put my finger in the socket. But the boy with the huge eyes was lightening quick - he snatched my hand in mid-air. Our eyes met again and this time his were wide with shock and something else - fear. It was the first and last time I have ever deliberately tried to kill myself and in those eyes I saw the horror of recognition of what I had tried to to. It was my own horror reflected back to me.

Then everything started happening real fast. One of them snatched some leather restraints from a chair and they started tying me to the gurney. They were binding my hands and feet spread-eagled to each end! I couldn't believe it! They were going to take turns raping me! I screamed and struggled but they were stronger and before I knew it the deed was done. Then something rose up in me, something huge and primal and final that took over every cell in my body that compelled me to express my rage. RRRAAAHHH! (Rise up from the pelvis like a backbend and scream). It was a perfect moment in time that my soul will remember forever.

That was you?

That was me. And maybe now as I think of it, maybe that, more than anything else, is what saved me. That one perfect moment of saying NO! Of taking back my power. God knows they did their best to take it all away from me, to kill my spirit with drugs in the month that followed up on P-6. The shrink named Sortwell - can you believe it, Sortwell - tried to put the fear of God into me and told me I'd be crippled for the rest of my life and if I ever went off my medicine I would have another episode. They labeled me manic-depressive, poked and prodded me along with all the other cattle in the stockade of totally confused human beings. But I was scared enough about what I'd been through that I bought their game for awhile. And so followed a year and a half of medication therapy until I decided I'd had enough.

You quit your medicine, didn't you, even though the doctor told you not to.

I chose to take the risk. I finally realized if I waited around for him to believe in me, I'd never be healed. So I decided to believe in myself. I chose to listen to that still small voice deep inside that I knew was the truth about me.

That was you?

That was me. That was the me that never gave up on me, that knew I could choose to be free.

Oh, there you go again. Free to be me. Okay, so you overcame a lot, nobody will argue with you there. You deserve alot of credit. But what's this all about? You're doing the same kinds of things you did before you're breakdown - getting into Yoga, doing meditation, trying all kinds of way-out things. Don't you remember that's what led you to snap? What are you really trying to prove anyway? Do you really think you can be great?

That's what I told the shrink. That's what I believe.

(Sarcastically) That's what you believe. Well I got news for you honey, you're living in a fairytale. And here you are, doing this Soulo thing. (Picks up chair and shakes it. So you want to be witnessed, eh? I'll show you some witnessing. I'll show you some witnessing. Witness that! Witness that! (as I shake the chair, held straight out from me)

What do you think, anyway? What are you thinking?

Do you actually believe THEY can heal you?

(As I say THEY I snap head toward audience)

No No leave me alone! Leave me alone! (I say, putting down chair and sitting straddle-legged in it, twisting toward its back rest and holding on with arms)

Everything I've done since my breakdown has led me to this moment, right here, right now.

(Twist back slowly toward audience and begin to sing, quietly at first, then gaining strength) See me - feel me - touch me - heal me. See me, feel me, touch me, heal me. See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.

This is me?

Yes, Gail, it is. This is you. The real you. (Sit quietly and at peace, in yogic pose.)

Hey you! Hey you Gail! Remember me?

(Turn slowly back to peaceful pose and say with eyes closed. "Screw you." END

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