Soul Journal

How A Lifetime of Narcissistic & Verbal Abuse Led Me to Ayahuasca

May 16, 2021

#ayahuasca  #narcissism  #travel 

Why did "Ayahuasca" and "Plant Medicine" keep coming up this year?

Could Ayahuasca, the Mother of Plant Medicine, help me release the PTSD residing in my cells from a lifetime of experiencing narcissism and verbal abuse?

In March 2020, I traveled to Costa Rica with my 11-year old son. It was the first time in 12 years that I had been to Costa Rica, the last time being when I was pregnant! I own land in Matapalo, a slice of jungle heaven on the beautiful Osa Peninsula. We started our adventures there, learning to surf at world famous beginner's break, Pan Dulce, and soak in the animal kingdom all around us. From there we traveled to see my dear friend and SoulJour sister, Talaya Thomas, who is living in Cahuita. This was our first time to the Caribbean side, a place that used to be described as dangerous, Rasta, and not a place for gringos. This isn't the case now and I'm so glad we journeyed to this incredible region filled with friendly people, Reggae music and super chill jungle vibes. El Caribe hasn't been exploited and colonialized by the white man like so many other places in Costa Rica. It is still authentic to its roots where Blacks, Indigenous, Costa Ricans and a few Gringos all reside. Even when it seemed like there wasn't much to do, there was so much to do and each day was filled with adventure and nooks and crannies that unfolded the longer we stayed. There was something about this place that intrigued me and while in the airport heading home, I was already booking a flight to come back. Alone. This time for a very different heal the wounds of a lineage of women who experienced verbal abuse, bullying, narcissism and the manipulation and lying that goes along with dealing with these people. 
A seeker by nature, I have always been keen on uncovering "Who Am I?" I've traveled extensively in India, Africa, Central & South America, Europe and more. I've done yoga for nearly 30 years, am a daily meditator, and continue to value learning and growing to be my best Self each day. When Ayahuasca whispered in my ears over and over, I wasn't scared. Curiosity had taken root. It was time to ask the plants to work their magic in a way that up until now, I hadn't been able to. Perhaps Mother Aya would help the relentless mind chatter and unwanted negative energy I had been experience after 25 years of dealing with a covert passive aggressive narcissist and addict? It was certainly worth a shot!

How Narcissism Became my Norm

I grew up as a competitive horseback rider with an extremely abusive horse trainer (verbal & physical with our horses) who constantly yelled at us that we were "weak and feeble," who kicked the crap out of our horses in front of us, whose temper was so hot and unpredictable that we rode in fear and walked on eggshells. 6 days/week I spent hours and hours each week at the barn and competing all over the West. That was age 8-18. My impressionable, adolescent years.
And then I went to college where my parents got divorced and I my way of dealing was to go on a rebellious streak, growing dreadlocks, traveling all over seeing The Grateful Dead & other bands, experimenting with marijuana, mushrooms and LSD. For someone going to Duke University and being in a sorority, this contradicted everything I had been taught to be and do. This was clearly the beginning of me knowing that there must be something else in life besides the insatiable quest for materialism and living the straight track. I never felt like I belonged to this system. 

In 1997, less than a year after I graduated from college, I met my now ex-husband at a Widespread Panic show in Utah. I instantly fell in what I believed was love. Now I understand that I was being "love bombed" – the first stage in narcissistic abuse. Love letters, endless phone calls, and overall fun times went on for over a year where I ended up moving to Boulder, CO to be with my man who was in graduate school in Ft. Collins. I later attended graphic design school in Denver, and after graduating, I followed him (again) to Portland, OR in 2001. My whole extended family grew up outside Portland so it seemed like a great idea. We got married in 2005, had a baby in 2009, and then got divorced in 2014 at age 40, after 17 years together.

When I look back on what was an extremely toxic relationship, I see so much heartache and pain. Years and years of feeling confused and filled with doubt. Years of not living my best Self, of not listening to my intuition that was clearly telling me something was wrong. Sadly, I didn't listen because this type of abuse was my "normal." I didn't know anything else. By the Grace of God, I was always independent – I traveled all over the world, often times alone, was super outdoorsy, and did so much with friends who were more likeminded. I was married to someone who was my opposite and we led very different lives. While my light certainly dimmed, it never totally diminished. 

"Devalue" is the second stage of narcissism and unbeknownst to me, I most definitely was devalued which was so confusing since I basically wore all the hats! I purchased all of our homes, I worked at Nike, I ran marathons, I practiced yoga every day, I traveled all over the world and brought my husband with me, later I was a mom. Now looking back I see drops of love and friendship but more than anything I see so many red flags, so many signs – master manipulation on the most subtle and cellular level that's hard to believe for anyone who wasn't closest to me and saw what was really happening behind closed doors.

If only I knew then what I know now about covert passive aggressive narcissism combined with addiction. If only I knew....

Instead I let a very sick human mirror my innate ability to empathize, be generous, and open. Ever the contrarian, I allowed him to feed off my positive energy and then somehow confuse me into believing that everything that went wrong was my fault. Narcissists love to words like "blame, this is your fault, you did..." Even when it bothered me to be with a daily pot smoker, I rationalized that he was nicer with it. Usually I would escape to the mountains but more than I would like to admit, I also would smoke weed and drink with "his" friends to belong and fit in. He rarely hung out with my friends and usually triangulated me against my family – clear signs of a narcissist. I feel so grateful that I always had yoga and sports to keep me from falling into the party scene too heavily though. After we split, within 2 years I quit drinking, smoking weed, and partying. I have to wonder...was I ever being true to MY Self or I was living for someone else in order for him to love me? 

It is said that life is like an onion. At age 40, the final straw happened and it was obvious it was time to part ways. Divorcing the man I'd been with nearly half my life at that time felt hardest thing I'd ever done. In reality it was minor in comparison of what was to come - co-parenting with a covert passive aggressive narcissist. THIS has been by far not even close my hardest challenge to date.

Co-Parenting with a Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist & Addict

When a Narcissist is shamed or left to dry with no energy to feed upon, they will do their best to make your life hell. It's like what happened in the pandemic where the rug of life was lifted and the bugs living underneath were uncovered with nowhere to hide. Faced with evaluating our priorities, we either let fear consume us or we thrived. In the case of a narcissist, there is no self-reflection. They believe they're right so there's nothing to reflect upon. Instead, their fear and inability to empathize raises their ugly heads and takes out everyone in their path.

After so much confusion as to how my life partner was suddenly my enemy took years and a lot of rabbit holes, therapy, yoga, meditation, books, and somatic healing to grip on. I still won't ever totally understand it. The manipulation and lying that occurred on all levels post divorce opened a whole can of worms as to what exactly happened when we together. How much lying was I a subject to that I didn't even realize? The feeling of being duped has been the hardest pill to swallow. For years and still to this day I am called me "selfish," "a hilarious joke," "not legit," while claiming himself to be "easy-going" "flexible" and "honest." I see now these sentiments as a projection but it wasn't always so clear. It still hurts and frustrates. Co-parenting with a person whose goal is to not let me, a free spirit to the max, live life on my terms with our son's best interests in mind, is suffocating and debilitating. Co-parenting with someone who gets great pleasure from my pain and who will do his best to control any situation where change is involved is hard to even put into words! If you've been in my shoes, you get it. For most, it's hard to believe.

But by far the worst part of the past 6 years has been that our son has observed everything. In Human Design, our son is a "Projector" meaning he's highly tuned in and sensitive to energy. Even more than other kids, he picks up everything! At age 9, he discovered firsthand that his dad is a liar, an addict, an interruptor, a narcissist. A child who just wants to be listened to and have his voice matter, instead consistently feels controlled, shamed and made to feel tiny. He knows what drugs are, how they affect people, when his father is stoned. There is a trauma that our son is experiencing that I pray each day won't manifest into his cells any more than it already has. So much money I've spent on attorneys, therapists who all say the same thing...Filing for full custody is a major ordeal. It's invasive and will take 6 months to a year. It doesn't necessary mean you'll be able to move. Blah blah. It's so frustrating to know that our systems aren't set up for our children's success. Judges don't see covert narcissism as the sick disease that it is. It's slippery. Shady. And like Woody Allen, Jeffrey Epstein and so many other men who have gotten away with way more than any monster should be allowed to get away with – the cycle continues?! 

So rather than deal with a broken system, I've taken matters into my own hands and pray the rest of the time that this will all end up as it's supposed to...where my sweet boy will be safe and protected and loved and listened to the way he deserves. My priority now is to empower my son to stand his ground and use boundaries. To continue to instill values of empathy, compassion and service to all. His innate empathy gives me hope that he won't end up like his father whose pre-frontal cortex literally didn't develop and was later crushed even more by alcohol and drugs.

In the month prior to my Ayahuasca journey I was given The Verbally Abusive Relationship by Patricia Evans, The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist by Debbie Mirza and listened to a podcast called Is it Me? with Linda Barnes that peeled back perhaps the biggest layer thus far in my understanding of narcissism. All of these tools made me sick to my stomach they hit home so hard. My life in a nutshell revealed to me all at once. All while I had a flight to Costa Rica with a goal of experiencing plant medicine. Coincidence? Of course not. Divine timing to say the least.

They say that Ayahuasca calls you. For ages I was ok with the Ayahuasca ship sailing without me. And then this year it kept coming up. Over and over. First a whisper, then a loud call. No fear. No resistance. My time had come. 

But where to go and how to do it?

Read More about My Journey with Ayahuasca & the Quest to Heal a Lifetime of Narcissism