I spent a lot of time during that period learning more about, and practicing, the ancient Hawaiian spiritual practices, as did Loralei through Hula and song, and we both absorbed a lot of teachings from the spirits of that land directly. The land, the aina, in Hawaii is SO alive, and also so varied in a way that I have not encountered anywhere else, and the devas and nature sprites abound.
What a wonderful place to raise a baby into a young child! We delighted in our beautiful blonde boy, even as a rift slowly grew between us.
Here’s the thing with relationships that are formed in the context of unresolved trauma – they are damn near impossible to make sustainable. Even we, who were conscious of using the triggers that relationship and family brought, such that we might move together through that and more deeply heal, eventually even we could not resolve the weight of all that was still unresolved within us and, in 2004, we split up and she moved back to the midwest to be near her family.
I tried, for a couple years, to live there too, so we could still co-parent together, and that worked nicely for a while. But eventually, I couldn’t stand living in that culture anymore. I got fat, depressed, and angry, and in 2006 I moved back to the woods and my old stomping grounds at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon, where I would spend the next four years.
I accepted the fact that I just was not made to be in the normal world. I never would be. I would live out my life in the woods, in the counterculture.
As long as I was there, in my safe bubble, I was great. In the context of that bubble, and that lovely community of hippies, misfits, and seekers, I became healed and whole, powerful, and respected.
But. If I went to the city for errands and supplies I would, after the span of a few hours become overwhelmed, anxious, and paranoid. And I would retreat back to the safety of the forest.
I thought it was just my nature. I’m just not made for the world. That’s just how it is. But that was not the truth.
The truth that I did not know was that still, after all the inner work I had done, I had still not healed or even barely touched my unresolved trauma.
Why had my trauma not been able to heal?
Why, after the Vipassana, the glorious spiritual heights I had experienced, the plant medicines, the detoxing and cleansing, the power of emotional expression, the many ways of working with energy, why, after all that, was I still so broken inside? And why did I not even know that I was?
All of those years and events have been on my mind lately, and now, I know the answer to that question.
All that I had done was valuable, and I still to this day use bits and pieces of all that I have learned, but at the time, none of it touched my trauma because I did not understand the nervous system, or how to work with it; and at the root level the nervous system is where trauma lives, and it must be addressed at that level. For more about that read this article.
Without doing that, without understanding the intricacies of the survival responses, the subtlety of the attention that system requires, the delicateness with which it must be approached, and how that work must be done in the context of safety and right relationship; without that knowledge and skill, all other approaches either miss the trauma entirely, reflect off of it, overwhelm it and cause it to hide, or explode it into reactivity.
Thankfully, in 2010 I met my wife, Irene, who pulled me out of the woods and into the world, and into the profound work of somatic, nervous-system-based trauma healing, of which, after many years of training and working on myself simultaneously, I am now a practitioner.
It took me about six years of doing that work to get to the point where my nervous system was regulated and I actually, for the first time in my life, understood what it felt like to truly be safe on the inside, while in the world, fully engaged with all it’s beauty and toxicity.
With the bulk of my trauma resolved and my nervous system no longer being run by survival energy, all should be dandy, yes?
Well, yes. In fact, all is pretty much dandy these days.
And. That does not mean that shit shall no longer happen.
* * *
On February 22 of 2021, my old pal, Staph, made a reappearance.
Just like before, it appeared out of nowhere, this time on my leg, and I realized very quickly what was happening, and why.
I had been practicing martial arts regularly, both boxing and kickboxing, for about four years at that point, and two days before the sore appeared, my hips, which had long been chronically tight and which had slowly loosened over the last few years, suddenly opened up dramatically.
My left leg had, for as long as I could remember, been much more clunky than my right leg. The foot tended to be turned in, almost clawlike, and there wasn’t much nuance of movement or dexterity in the whole leg. This was primarily because of that first physical injury and shock trauma with my mom and the bicycle wheel long ago, compounded by countless rolled and sprained ankles over the course of many years playing soccer, and skateboarding in my youth.
When my hips opened up, the fascia in that left leg began to thaw, and unwind.
Fascia is amazing stuff.
It is the slippery, silvery thin layer of tissue that separates the skin from the muscle and allows it to glide.
Put a hand on your forearm right now and grip it loosely. If you move your hand up and down, gripping the skin, or rotate it left and right, you will probably feel how the skin can slide independently from the muscle underneath. That’s because of fascia, which also wraps around all of the organs. It’s important stuff!
It is supposed to be flexible and fluid in nature, yet amazingly, it can also be hard as steel, and I believe that this is because of how the fascia responds to trauma.
You know that uncomfortable feeling in your tummy you get, when you walk into a room full of tension, where people are hating each other but silent about it? That’s the fascia, tightening up, responding to the tension in the room, and in other people’s fascia. It’s amazingly communicative stuff and I think it should be considered a form of nervous system in its own right.
When my ankle and lower leg got wrenched, so long ago, by that turning wheel, my whole system went into shock, and then freeze. When that happened, the fascia in my leg also stiffened up in shock and, because as a child and young adult I never received any sort of body work whatsoever to heal from that and many other injuries, the fascia in that leg hardened over time, giving me that claw-like foot and unrefined movement.
There is another thing that I suspect, and that is that fascia which is frozen and hard can act as a storehouse for toxins.
There have been a few times in my career as a practitioner when, as I worked with a client to process a surgical trauma, the room suddenly became flooded with the smell of anesthesia, perceptible to both of us.
Another time I was working with a client who’s chain smoking uncle had molested her frequently, and as we worked through a layer of shock and freeze the room was filled with the smell of cigarettes.
I have spoken with many colleagues who have had the same kinds of experiences.
How does this happen? How does the body hold, frozen in time, these chemicals? For decades?
Fascia. I’m pretty darn sure it’s fascia that holds these things.
And I’m pretty darn sure the fascia in my leg, which had been the most frozen place in my body for decades, was holding on to some Staph from that time in Hawaii, and when the hip opened up and the fascia began to unfreeze, that bacteria was let loose.
* * *
It showed up looking like a cluster of spider bites, and it is possible that is what it was, and that the spider was carrying some Staph. At first that’s what I thought, but when I looked up spider bites it didn’t pan out – there were no fang marks for one, and no poisonous spiders in the area I live except Black Widows, which left a different looking wound.
So, here we go again. My body was releasing Staph, and as the infection progressed, I got a sense of why this was happening. Remember – no accidents in my world, only synchronicities, and things that, however painful or strange, need to happen for some reason or another.
What I noticed was that as the infection progressed, despite the discomfort of my skin being eaten away, that leg actually began to feel much better on the inside. I was discovering a range of motion, nuance of movement, and finer degrees of inner awareness than I had previously had access to, and I realized that the bacteria was literally eating away the very old bracing pattern in the skin and fascia.
So, I needed to let it do what it needed to do.
And, I also had to keep it from taking my leg or killing me, both of which became real possibilities as the infection progressed.
So, back to the wonderful medicine cabinet of nature!
I put myself on a blood cleansing diet again – no sugar, alcohol, or grains. Lots of turmeric ginger tea with Manuka honey, along with doses of Curcumin, Vitamin D, C, and E, and oregano oil.
I also used poultices. Crushed garlic, after being allowed to sit for ten minutes, releases Alicin – a powerful antibacterial, so I used that, combined with Manuka honey, Curcumin powder, and Bentonite Clay to make paste to apply directly to the wound, and then would wrap it up.
The wound was starting to scab up in places, indicating progress, but the redness also continued to spread, indicating continued infection, so at that point I contacted a lovely colleague who does what’s called body dowsing – using a pendulum to scan the systems of the body and determine what it needs, and what it needs to avoid, and she put me on a specifically timed regimen of massive vitamin C doses (8000 mg at a time), vitamin D (7000 mg), E (5 capsules), and citrus bioflavonoids (5 capsules).
After the second massive dose of vitamin C, things began to change rapidly. Later that day bumps started to appear on my hands – not Staph, this was different, and it looked like an allergic reaction. By the next day my hands and wrists were swelled to twice their size and completely covered with bumps, even some on the palms! And I had massive red circles under my armpits where the major lymph glands are.
This could have been alarming for sure. It was certainly one of the most uncomfortable physical experiences I have ever had, but I tuned into my body and asked what was happening, and the information I got was that this was a detoxing from a die-off of the Staph that had found its way to my blood and organs. My lymph glands had processed what they could, and my body stored the rest of those little bacterial corpses in my hands – as far away from the organs as possible.
My intuition was confirmed the next day when, finally, the wound started to crust up in earnest and scab over, and the redness had retreaded a tiny bit in some areas. The next day it began draining yellowish-clear pus in large quantities which sounds gross, but which was a tremendous relief as the swelling in that lower leg, ankle and foot began to be relieved, and that kind of seeping is a clear indication that a Staph infection is coming to its close.
One wouldn’t know it by looking at my leg at that point, but I knew I had beaten the infection naturally, and that in doing so I had allowed the bacteria to do its job of eating away the old bracing pattern.
My leg looked hideous, and felt amazing! SO much more nimble.
It was at that point that my body said – ‘Ok, time to get some antibiotics to help clear this up more rapidly.’ There was clearly still some infection in the leg itself, but I knew that my blood was clear.
So, I went to see my doctor, who was absolutely horrified that I hadn’t seen her sooner of course. Hard to explain the shamanic perspective to someone trained in allopathic medicine, but to her credit, my doctor at least listened to my perspective without judgement or calling it nonsense. She already knew I was a bit… different.
She put me on a strong dose of pure penicillin, as she suspected that it was a Strep infection (which penicillin is the best pharmaceutical remedy for), not Staph. The culture of the puss sample that came back from the lab confirmed that it was actually BOTH Staph and Strep. A lively flesh-eating bacteria party in my leg, everyone’s invited!
She also had blood tests done, as she was SURE that my white blood cell count was going to be through the roof, and she suspected I would need to go to the hospital for I.V. antibiotics.
Imagine her surprise when my white blood cell came back totally normal, my blood sparkling clean. Haha!! Told ya.
Still, I’m glad I got the antibiotics, as I could tell they were speeding up the healing process, and what’s more, my acceptance of their use and the role they could play was significant for me personally.
In those old Hawaii days, when I was full of spiritual hubris and disconnected from my trauma, my stance towards western medicine was very radical. I literally would rather have died than use it for anything apart from casting a broken bone, sewing up a cut that needed stitches, or repairing internal injuries from some kind of accident, all of which modern medicine does excel at.
I still lean in that direction – I’m not into the idea of preventative testing, and would never use western medicine to address any sort of ‘illness’ – cold, flu, cancer, autoimmune stuff, etc. I think the allopathic approach does not understand the wholeness of the body, nor its interconnectedness, subtleties, and fundamental energetic nature, nearly well enough. Germ theory is patently ridiculous in my opinion, as is the stance that the body is some kind of machine that can be understood by breaking it into separate parts.
As Gabor Mate, MD, said, ‘trying to find the answer to cancer by looking at the individual cell, is like trying to understand a traffic jam by studying the internal combustion engine.’ Indeed.
However, my stance has softened a bit when it comes to infection. I had severe diverticulitis a while back, and, despite my protests and arguing, had to go into the hospital and get I.V antibiotics for three days in order to save my colon. It’s possible I could have addressed it naturally, but it’s also possible I could have been wearing a colostomy bag the rest of my life, or die from sepsis, so yeah, I went into the hospital.
And actually had a pretty great experience! The nurses were kind. It wasn’t awful. And my infection cleared up.
That was a transformative experience that took the zealous edge off of my anti-allopathic stance; and so this recent experience of beating the infection naturally, and then using some good ol’ Penicillin to finish cleaning up was a powerful reconciliation.
There was one more level to this experience. The spiritual, karmic level.
I haven’t put pictures of my leg directly into this article, as not everyone can handle looking at pictures of wounds; but I did chronicle the entire experience with photos and have put them all into a PDF document along with dates and descriptions of what was happening. If you want to look at that you can do so here; and if you do, you may better understand what I mean when I say that with this experience I was, karmically-speaking, pulling my leg out of Hell.
* * *
I’ve been around for a long time.
The recall of past lives that began with that first Vipassana retreat did not stop there.
I’ve had a daily meditation practice ever since then – for more than 20 years – and as that practice deepened, so did my recall of older and older experiences. Memories began to come of different planets, different species, different dimensions, and other Universes.
Ours is not the only Universe, it is only the most recent. I have discovered that I am originally from a much earlier Universe, and I have travelled through many different Universes during my soul’s journey. I have experienced countless forms of incarnation, and countless forms of experience, and not all of them were positive.
During this lifetime I have had some pretty dark experiences, but I’ve never physically hurt anyone or engaged in anything that could be considered evil, and I’ve always done my best to help others along with healing myself.
But. I’ve lived quite a few lives as an evil fucker, I know that for sure.
Vibrationally speaking, that leg was stuck in that claw, stuck in that bracing pattern, because it was representing, in this life, the karmic debt of all my past misdeeds from ALL my lives.
It was told to me in meditation that this process of infection, transformation, and healing, was facilitating not only the emergence of what feels now like a brand new leg, it was the final debt paid for all the horrible, ignorant, violent things I had ever done.
As Bill Murray once said, “So, I got that going for me. Which is nice.”
* * *
I would imagine there are some elements of this tale that may seem fantastical, or even the ravings of delusion to some. Oh well. I’m pretty used to that.
Growing up having my perspective and inner truth denied, ridiculed, and gaslit, such that I learned to keep it to myself had the side benefit of inuring me to such abuse now.
Though being ridiculed still hurts a bit, the sting doesn’t last long.
And if we want to be whole, vibrant, healthy, and powerful beings, we need to speak our truth, no matter if the whole world says no.
We may discover later on that we were wrong, or that our understanding was incomplete, but still, it is much better for the body, psyche, and soul to confidently speak one’s truth and be open to being wrong, than to stay silent, timid, and never take the risk at all, or to couch one’s expression in qualifications and apology.
The human body and mind are far more mysterious than most are willing to consider, and I believe that the low foothills we do understand about our fabulous fleshy self, and about the abilities of the soul and spirit which animate us, are dwarfed by the mountains of revelation that we do not yet understand.
So I invite you to question.
To keep searching.
At the finest level of your being you are indistinguishable from the starry cosmos, of which we are, all of us, made.