Saddest Girl in the World
For some time, whenever I would do acid or shrooms, partway through the trip, reality would melt away. I would close my eyes and go somewhere quiet and still within myself. It’s a deep underground cavern filled almost to the top with water. A voice would say YOU WILL ALWAYS COME BACK TO THIS PLACE and I would a deep sense of sorrow. This dark dank pit, ominous, somehow comforting, a private place to which I could always retreat, curl within myself.
I began to realize I had been there before. It was the place I would go to whenever I was deeply suicidal, whenever everything felt way too overwhelming, too fucked to salvage, too out of control. I was in the water, flailing, drowning myself, trying desperately to keep my head above water.
After I became aware of this space inside me, I started visiting it while sober, intentionally, whenever I felt sad. I would close my eyes and float in this dark hole inside me, staying above the depths. I felt safe, calm.
When I moved back to New York, something shifted. I was telling my psychiatrist about a Buddhist silent retreat I had been on, where I hadn’t talked for five days.
“It was bliss,” I told him, “but one of the teachers pissed me off by lecturing about enlightenment, about equanimity. She told the story of an enlightened Buddhist monk who walked through a temple on a fall day when the leaves had all turned fiery and was unmoved by beauty. I would never want to be enlightened.”
“I like being attached to things. I love to love things. If sadness is the price I need to pay for love, then it’s absolutely worth it. Mourning is beautiful. Otherwise, what’s the point of being alive? Why not enjoy it?”
He smiled broadly at me, shook his head a little, and leaned back in his chair.
The next time I tripped, I went back to that place, as I always did, and always will. This time, I dove underneath the water, found that I could still breathe. I was breathing underwater. That same voice said THIS IS THE PEARL OF YOUR SADNESS and I saw a perfect pearl before me, soft and luminescent, and the water turned bright, and the dim stalactites of the cave began to glow.
All my tears of sadness turned to joy and all my pain turned to beauty as I wept.