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E Is for Optimism
MDMA (Ecstasy)
by Halray
Citation:   Halray. "E Is for Optimism: An Experience with MDMA (Ecstasy) (exp109625)". Apr 1, 2019.

T+ 0:00
1 tablet oral MDMA
  T+ 3:30 1 bowl smoked Cannabis
  T+ 5:00 1 tablet oral MDMA


Our relationship of 23-odd years was in crisis. The cause was mundane enough, and while our our momentum as a couple was enough to carry us through private silences and social noise-making for a time, there was a ripping sound in the ether that only the two of us could hear. Against all promises and predictions and vows, we were heading for divorce.

The effects of this gradual and frightful realization were excruciating. We'd been together since our teens, and had remained committed to each other, passionate, communicative, supportive; in love. Friends would use us as an example of the perfect relationship; we would, too. Hubris. There came a blunder that twisted our lives into new and painful shapes, and a void opened in the center of this idyll. The sense of loss, immediate and impending, was enormous. We spun through the days like electrons, never touching, never far from each other's orbit. Our momentum began to falter, with nothing to take its place. We'd had some golden times, but right then being us wasn't very nice.

And the date of our wedding anniversary was approaching.
It was time for some lateral thinking. I'd recently read an article about the therapeutic potential of ecstasy in the context of couples counseling. I'd taken pills a couple of times, but the reality had never matched the hype.
I'd taken pills a couple of times, but the reality had never matched the hype.
A slight, giddy joy and a pleasant, non-specific buzz for a couple of hours pretty much sums up those first encounters. My wife had tried the same second-rate pills; she was equally ambivalent about the whole ecstasy thing. There must be some good stuff out there, I reasoned (this wasn't entirely delusional in mid-2000) and I set out to find some.

By sheer luck – I was in the wrong age group, with no dealing connections and no real idea how to tell a good e from an aspirin – I succeeded. Not that I knew that at the time. The important thing then was that I'd found something to bring to our troubled table, something that should cheer us both up. With four small yellow pills in my possession, each stamped with some illegible script or design, I hatched my plan. I secretly booked a hotel room for us in a nearby country town, accumulated and stashed cool CDs, massage oil, candles, a few good buds.

I told my wife that I had a surprise planned for the weekend of our anniversary. It would entail going away for a couple of days; I refused to tell her more. She glumly but readily agreed; it had to be better than sitting at home, moping and squabbling. We set off early in the morning, as cheerful as we'd been in a while, making an effort. It was a lovely autumn day, and the drive from Fremantle was exquisite. We managed to conjure up a sense of jovial excitement. (My wife confessed later that she thought we were going skydiving after we passed a roadside panel with a parachute painted on it.)

We arrived late morning. We found the hotel – it was quaint enough, a simple room with a nice en-suite bathroom – checked-in, then discussed lunch. At this stage I had to reveal the surprise because eating a big meal before taking the pills would probably have been ill-advised. My wife was happier at the revelation than I had expected her to be (it may just have been relief that we weren't going skydiving). I slipped the pills into my wallet and we set off into town for a light snack. After a shared toasted sandwich and a glass of white wine, we checked to see no one was looking and necked our pills. Then we went for a walk around town.

We were browsing in a dimly-lit second-hand shop about an hour later when I got a faint feeling of confusion and claustrophobia. I glanced at my wife and saw instantly that she was feeling it too. We left the shop, pale and woozy, and stepped into the afternoon sunshine. The sun was its own tonic and we became aware, now in a positive way, that something very interesting was unfolding in our bloodstreams. Excited, intrigued by anything and everything, we wandered the streets. We stopped to sit or lie down in comfortable-looking spots, sunlit tufts of grass, an old sofa someone was throwing out, a smooth rock. We peered innocently into gardens and windows and strangers' faces to see what we could discover there. Down by the creek, two young Aboriginal girls were playing in knee-deep water, giggling and shrieking. We stopped for a moment to chat with them. The words flowed easily, with no tension or self-consciousness. All four of us were laughing when we parted. “It's working,” breathed my wife, a lovely smile on her face, her eyes alight. There was a delightful, nape-hairs-on-end feeling of excitement, coupled with a growing sense of inner joy. “It's working,” I grinned back.

We walked on, delighted by the town's understated storybook charm; people we passed assumed a slightly gnomish appearance; colours were wildflower vivid, chirruping lorikeets little flying gems and jewels. Views of the hills appeared in the gaps between buildings, secret slivers of some withheld miracle impatient to share itself. And all the while, a mounting sense of thrilling joy and anticipation: this was nothing like the other pills we had taken. We were barrelling down the runway hand-in-hand, clear for take-off.

We dragged each other along, skipping and giggling and chatting, free and joyful in a glowing wonderworld. For the first time in ages, our attention was outward-looking. We were aware of things, people, found ourselves sensitive to emotions that had nothing to do with us. We were suddenly aware of each other as man and woman, as lifelong friends, as lovers. We seemed to reach little climax moments at the same instant and vocalize them in the same breath, synchronistic revelations.
My wife suddenly grabbed my arm and yelped in delight: “I'd forgotten – we have a hotel room waiting for us!”

Oh wow! The hotel room! The bath I'd insisted on when I made the booking, ready to be filled with piping hot water – now, as the first chill of late afternoon slithered up our sleeves and down our collars! The cool CDs were lined up and ready to play. Massage oil and candles. Oh wow... We almost ran back, criss-crossing the narrow streets, enjoying the transient tension of being unable to find our way home. (The town is tiny; it didn't take long.) While the outside world had lost none of its magical glow, the possibilities contained in our room – intimacy, touch, communication, music, warm water and nudity – were almost too delicious to comprehend. We could do this; we could just go back to our hotel room, and... do whatever we wanted. It was wonderful. We'd been dragging our problem around like a rotting carcass for the past few months, barely able to address it aloud, totally unable to stop chewing it over in our heads. Now it was dealt with in a few insightful, compassionate sentences while we placed candles around the filling bath. Pain dissipated into the steam; and then we sank into the full-body orgasm of deep, warm water.

We returned to The Problem a few times over that afternoon, but never with bitterness; it never became a major focus of our conversation. It just slotted in here and there, along with a sharing of memories, thoughts on life and the afterlife, observations, realizations, revelations, intimacies, spontaneous prose, laughter, tears. There were many periods of wordless bliss, a simple, holy silence in which breathing sounds like a hymn. We washed each other's bodies, touched, kissed; we cuddled and nuzzled in the bed; we gave each other a massage. We made love. It was beautiful.

For the next five or six hours we had not a care in the world, only interesting concepts and challenges which could be turned over like puzzles and looked at from different angles. We topped the bath up with hot and climbed back in. We writhed with pleasure at certain songs and albums (Talvin Singh really did it for us that afternoon and evening). When the ecstasy's effects started to wane we smoked a bowl, which kicked things back up a few notches. When we started to come down for real, we redosed with another half pill each. Perfection for a few hours more.

The eventual come-down was painless, more afterglow than anything. We gently re-entered our daily lives, wary and tender, afraid the remaining strands of wellbeing would disappear. We found instead the gradual development of new confidence, self-respect and mutual appreciation. For a few days, a single toke of cannabis would bring back hints of that ecstatic feeling.

So did ecstasy repair our broken relationship? The answer is, perhaps predictably, Yes and No. We eventually divorced, but only after months of “trying” and, now and again, succeeding. With the passage of time came more traumatic actings-out, confrontations, anger, accusation and remorse. The tangible benefits of ecstasy didn't last, and The Problem hadn't gone away. But at least when we finally did split, we were to some degree prepared.
The tangible benefits of ecstasy didn't last, and The Problem hadn't gone away. But at least when we finally did split, we were to some degree prepared.
We had begun to grow in the ways that would allow each of us to embrace new lives, loves and adventures – for ourselves, and for the other.

The healing potential of MDMA is enormous, its illegality absurd and sad. I must note, though, that subsequent attempts to repeat these beatific experiences failed, and with diminishing returns. Whether that's to do with repeated dosing or the diminishing quality of commercially available ecstasy is hard to ascertain.

That weekend remains one of my most beautiful and treasured memories of a long, weird and wonderful relationship that spanned decades, countries and continents.

Exp Year: 2016ExpID: 109625
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: 46 
Published: Apr 1, 2019Views: 1,849
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MDMA (3) : Glowing Experiences (4), Personal Preparation (45), Therapeutic Intent or Outcome (49), General (1), Small Group (2-9) (17)

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