Citation: Bun. "Trapped Behind Dissolving Eyes: An Experience with 4-AcO-DMT (exp84044)". Erowid.org. Aug 27, 2010. erowid.org/exp/84044
Three months separated me from the most trying time in my short history as a person. I had returned home – had been rescued, rather, by my family – after destroying my life, job, and friendships with my addictions to cocaine and heroin, and was living with my parents for the first time in over two years.
A life-changing MDA trip snapped me out of my addictions overnight (see “Beauty’s Rebirth”), but now I was battling a new host of problems in the house I grew up in: unemployment, discontent, sloth, and fear. Was I not in the time of my life – a college graduate in his early twenties already with two years’ professional experience and full of potential? But no: I had to abandon my life and leave my decaying accomplishments behind – throw my apartment away, quit my job, say goodbye to my independence, and crawl back to the past with my tail between my legs, and kiss the steps of my childhood home in abject subservience. Like a coward and a child, I had run back to my parents after my chance at grabbing the world by the tail had dissolved into nonstop intoxication, leaving me destitute, twenty-five pounds underweight, and shell-like in search of my soul.
But I didn’t encounter these problems immediately upon my return, for I tripped three times during my last week and a half in Virginia (twice on MDA and once on LSD) – trips I will forever cherish for how they pulled me out of the black webs of depression that had bound my mind and body to the void I had thrown myself in, returning me to the beauty and joy of life that I had been missing for the greater part of a year. I returned home eager to work and regain my family’s approval.
But then month after month passed by, and the tasks I had allotted for myself went largely unheeded as my body recovered from the abuse I had afflicted upon it. While I did my best to find work, jobs were scare given the state of the economy. Before I knew it, I had settled into a daily schedule of sleeping late, attending to personal errands, reading, going out, and coming home just hours before my dad had to leave for work. Moreover, I missed all my graduate school application deadlines despite my dad’s constant reminders to get them taken care of. I knew this was all displeasing to him, but I felt trapped and didn’t know what else to do. I never quit looking for work, but I just couldn’t find what I needed anywhere – or so I thought.
Such ambivalence and diffidence about one’s present function in life is not a recipe for psychedelic bliss. I knew I was playing with fire given my growing discontent with life at my parents’ – no job, no income, no girlfriend, and an ever-growing fear that my father didn’t believe I was doing my best to get back up on my feet, but was instead loafing around and taking advantage of his grace.
Well, for the first time in months, our fair city was to be blessed with clear and sunny 60-plus-degree Saturday. I had enough psilacetin for a few people, and we decided to go for it. I had previously taken up to 25 mgs of this 4-AcO-DMT wackiness, and, as I thought it would be my last trip for a long time, I wanted to take it to the next level; so I measured about 45 mgs for myself and around 35 mgs for my friends S and K.
We dosed at 4:00 pm and, within the hour, made our way over to a neighborhood park. I have always hated the onset of psychedelics (who doesn’t?), but this was particularly unpleasant: My every motion, mental or physical, grimaced with anxiety, and my legs had the worst case of the wobbles I can remember.
We hadn’t been at the park for twenty minutes when all this started to subside, and I started to see things I had never before seen on any psychedelic. We lay down on the grass, and right before my eyes I saw a larger-than-life cloud in all three dimensions – and in about five layers of kaleidoscope patterning. It was the most beautiful thing I could imagine, what with alternately transparent and translucent shapes, patterns, and stream-beams of soft light and shadow informing and connecting five layers of cloud. “Five layers of cloud” – I don’t even know what that means, but it’s the only way I can describe it. It had been partitioned into pieces by depth, and I could see every facet of its puffy posture. Soon, S and I started to see picture animations of mythical beasts, science experiments, and other mystical happenings in the clouds – each informed by this multi-layered kaleidoscope vision. I could have looked at these forever, but unfortunately, K needed to go back home for something. Little did I know I would still be on my way up for almost another hour.
So we went back, and I saw these four- or five-layered surfaces in everything – the concrete sidewalks, the sides of cars, doors, houses, a woman’s face, everything. And each layer was breathing with designs and shapes and surges in bright neon colors that alternated between layers like anti-gravity goop. The depth of surfaces I experienced was indescribable.
At this point, K started to bring the trip down with her bizarre behavior. She was trying to act normal and suppress the fact she was tripping: She assumed a “proper” demeanor and started regimenting her behavior as if she were taking cues from a book. It was phony and pathetic, and it influenced the rest of us by making us evolve into a reluctance to be open with one another: “If she’s not making herself vulnerable, will it make her feel weird if I do?” As any experienced tripper knows, such a situation cannot but bear evil tidings: You simply must have someone else to bounce your insanity off of as that’s what keeps you in the groove; and such communion implies mutual vulnerability. Moreover, the psychedelic experience is about authenticity, and when you know one of your companions is acting phony, it casts a dark light on the whole enterprise. It was clear we weren’t in this together, and we soon lost our jive.
I knew what was going on with her, but was quickly losing control of my mind. I grew more and more queasy, uneasy, and uncomfortable until I found myself holding my head and barely capable of speech. I had been standing in the same spot for about five minutes, afraid to move. I was breathing very heavily out of my mouth and telling myself silently that I could handle it, that I was fine. But the fact that I was telling myself I was fine led me to think that, in fact, I wasn’t okay, and that I wouldn’t be telling myself I’d be okay if I actually were faring well. Circles, circles punctuated by speed bumps, and more circles: My mind was careering down a dark road, closer to spinning out of control with every second that passed. All this only provoked more fear. One thing was certain: We had to get out of that house and find a way to quell K’s influence on the trip.
As we walked out the front door, I told my friend S (who was having a fabulous time) that I thought I had taken too much, and that I was very apprehensive about where this might go. All three of us walked back to the park in utter and complete silence, and I could still feel myself coming up now two hours after we dropped. The sun was setting, and our collective silence plagued my mind as thoughts of shame and inadequacy starting spinning around faster and faster in my head. I didn’t feel I could tell anyone because of the atmosphere this girl has conjured up, and dark emotions began to take hold of me.
By the time we arrived, the sun was down, and I believed myself to be thoroughly insane as auditory hallucinations ricocheted around my brain despite my incessant pleas to the contrary, matching sick, deformatory hallucinations in whatever I was looking at. Desperation had set in. Everything I saw mocked my mind with its indifference to my state. God through nature was out to get me. At one point, I tried to prove my viability by counting branches in this epic array of trees – a completely ridiculous and illogical task which I couldn’t accomplish in a million years in such a state, and which only drove me to further desperation. I kept turning my head this way and that searching for a way out – something I could see which wasn’t screwed up, some path that had retained its normalcy, ground that didn’t look dangerous to walk on. Nothing.
My friends were no help: K because I don’t think she understood or cared, and S because he didn’t know what to do. I kept breathing heavily out of my mouth and darting my eyes around to different objects every half-second. I could express nothing but muffled apologies to my friends for ruining their experience as I now ascribed blame to myself for our silence and lack of communion: “Sorry, guys; I’m so sorry, so sorry.”
By this time, I saw no surface – no tree, no car, no fence, no graffiti, no twig, no sidewalk, no slice of sky, no door, no siding, no leaf, no oil streak, no nothing – that did not bear a host of multi-layered evil faces staring me down in all my littleness, in all my squalor, in all my waste of a life. Eyes, eyes, eyes – all dissolving my very person before their slicing scrutiny. Layers of eyes, swaths of faces bathing in mean seas of swarming colors, each of a sick carriage: Greens and yellows mixing and merging and tying my head to their fixed gaze as they moved around and followed me: Stop looking at me! Leave me alone!
“What are you doing?” they asked. Tripping, huh. Figures. You don’t do anything productive with your life. How long have you been back from Virginia? And you’re still doing this? What were you thinking? What a waste. What a fool.
I felt there was an out-of-control engine inside my head, redlining and about to explode. I had no recourse, no sanctuary. Everywhere I went, the eyes followed and the realities dissolved. Screams, judgment, stares: My father’s dissatisfaction (which he had never once actually voiced to me) had been given auditory and visual form; and these sentiments that had grown arms and legs, now wielding electric daggers that sliced open my self-perceptions, were drowning me in psychical sensory overload – a double-barreled assault on my consciousness unlike anything I had ever experienced. All sureties crumbled, all flat surfaces warped, and there was nothing I could look at that wasn’t sizing me up in its crosshairs.
This was terror, the purgatory of mind. I was trapped behind my own eyes – eyes that dissolved everything I saw –, and I was trapped in front of thousands of others that dissolved me under their tractor-beam-like regard. Oh, to gouge them out and be done with it!
S looked at me as I leaned up against a pole and held my contorted face between labored streams of heavy air. “I think you’re a bit farther up there, man.” He was concerned, but he didn’t know what to do. I told him I was insane and that there was no going back, but he reassured me that I still had my mind, that I’d be fine, and he started to swing on the swing set. He was having a good time – and that crushed me.
At this point, a four-year-old Hispanic girl in a bright pink sweatshirt ran over to the swings with her father. Even in my messed up mind, I couldn’t escape her cuteness – but I was still afraid, deathly afraid, of it. As soon as she saw me, she stopped, pointed right at me, and started talking a mile a minute in a very excited manner to her dad who started to laugh. I couldn’t understand a word of her Spanish, but she was very excited about my being there. Was it my appearance – a long black, woolen trench coat; black jeans; black shoes; and a black fedora? Could she tell what was going on? Whatever it was, she wouldn’t quit pointing at me or warbling on to her dad in her girlish singsong Spanish. I smiled at her – I have no idea how – and K tried to talk to her. (Yeah, that worked – talking in a foreign language while tripping.) But for a second, I felt okay just looking at this little girl in all her cuteness – but not for long because K didn’t feel comfortable tripping near her, so we gave up our swings, said goodbye, and bid her and her father a fair evening.
But oh, the fickleness of mind: As soon as we walked away, just as my friends were saying that the little girl must have snapped me out of it, I fell right back down into the same pit. I pled with my mind to stop, to let me go, to loosen its grasp – but for nothing. The eyes, the faces, began to reappear with a new ferocity in the darkness of the streets we trod down, and I could find no escape. I started to cry.
We wandered around the park through the neighborhood to its far side and entered again to lie down in the grass, but I subconsciously positioned myself away from my friends. I didn’t even know I had done it. There I lay looking up at the clear sky full of stars, wiping away tears of desolation and loneliness. The universe didn’t care, and why should it?
S is a really good friend though, and he wasn’t about to let this happen; and even though he had never dealt with someone having a bad trip before, he knew enough to pull me up between him and K. Now I lay on my back beneath the clear sky in all its glory, my peripheral vision bordered by K’s face on the left, who was sitting up – and, I should add, was considerably softening her perspective on the trip –, and S’s profile on the right, who lay down next to me.
I began to smile as I started right then and there to have a true +++ ride. “I don’t know what I’m looking at, but there is tons of it – everywhere,” I stated in ineffable wonder. The sky, the earth, the stars, the moon, the planes that were taking off and landing from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport just ten or so miles away, the radio tower on the right – everything, in short – I saw tied together by a sky full of moving, bright shadows – bands and webs of energy. Again, my entire visual perspective was composed of between four and six layers of kaleidoscope designs patterning in the darkness accompanied by mystical webs weaving through the sky, hooking and bonding every object to everything else. S could not stop smiling, laughing, or repeating the exclamation, “Oh, man! Oh, man!”
I had never seen or experienced anything like this: I saw with my own eyes the interconnectedness of the universe. Was it real? I don’t know, but it really made me feel a part of something special, and completely snapped me out of my bad trip in about twenty seconds. Feelings of warmth, belonging, purpose, and joy suffused throughout my body; and for the first time all night, my mind shared communion with the desires of my heart.
The moon seemed to peek from behind a cloud – a cloud that was not there, a cloud of designs and shadows brought to life in the darkness, but which radiated light from within. The stars gleamed and glistened and circled across the night-dome-sky, and these glorious trails of light brought S and me to tears of joy and aching abs from all our laughter.
Every time a plane would fly across the sky, the webs that bound everything together would make way for its entry and surround it with loving embraces before slowing and gently ushering it out of sight; then the bonds would loosen and float down to something else – always shepherding, always guiding. I beheld the harmony of accident and coincidence in present time. What wonderment this inspired. There are no words.
We stayed down on the grass talking, laughing, and letting all this sink in for about an hour – the most enjoyable and meaningful psychedelic experience of my life – before deciding we needed to go swinging again. En route, I saw the sidewalks still glowing and drawing themselves in crazy arrays of neon colors hovering throughout five-layer fractals and geometric figures – only now, they didn’t frighten me.
We stopped to talk to someone who was practicing with his glow ball. The guy was really talented, and we were seeing mad trails circle around his body every second – a magical hypnosis that kept us giggling agape and exclaiming “Whoa!” every time we saw a belt of light kiss his torso. While K told him how much we appreciated his craft, I simply stared at his face, which would not stop morphing. I think I saw every muscle in his face dissolve into live, breathing silly putty, and his head pulsated and vibrated between multiple auras of – soul? I tried explaining what I saw to S, but I couldn’t do it – and I still can’t. There were sphere-like auras of energy hanging around the upper half of his body that were coming at me in waves, each one of a different shade of greenish purple. They were exchanging places, somehow consonant with the decay and reformation of his lineaments. It was absolutely wild, and I could barely maintain my composure while looking at him.
I could keep writing about this trip, but there’s no need. Suffice to say: At this point, the rest of trip was fine, and I had learned my lessons. As the drug wore off around midnight, I grew contemplative and quiet, reflecting on the fact that my harrowing experience stemmed from this tacitly antagonistic relationship with my dad. All the mutual judgments that we had been passing to one another came out all at once that evening, and I found myself in the purgatory of mind, on the precipice of hell.
But God rescued me from digging my own mental grave before it got too late, and led me to witness what seems to have been an expression of the interconnectedness of his creation. Again, I am not a pagan mystic, but it’s hard for me to deny that these soft webs of translucence that constellated throughout the night sky with their shepherd-like undulations and mesmerizing layers of kaleidoscope figure rotation didn’t mean something to me personally. At the very least, they served as the tool God used to pull me out of purgatory. I was a part of something again.
I know I can’t trip again any time soon. I shouldn’t have been tripping anyway given my situation at my parents’. I learned my lesson. After being dragged through a valley of piercing blades and having my mind raped by anxiety, guilt, and isolation, I basked in the comfort of personal placement in God’s world; saw the interconnected purpose of creation, latent in reality, but present in the moment; and understood that I had to deal with my relationship with my father as soon as possible.
More than anything, then, I would say this trip led me to the certainty of the problematic tension between father and son. It was no longer a vague malaise or a nebulous shadow that gingerly eclipsed our dealings with each other. I could no longer size up our difficulties in “awkward silences” or “talking past one another.” This was a subconscious war, and it had finally broken the surface of my consciousness. Taking this realization in stride, I go forward in life, and I hope – truly – to be able to mend our fractured state.
I emerged enlightened with a firmer grasp on my existential role in life – but only barely.
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