In 1984 I died and was resuscitated, which in itself is not that uncommon, people are revived every day now but: the event did plant the very seed that would help lead me to now practice mindfulness every day. In Jan of 2018, I tried to kill myself when that same feeling of peace washed over me after eleven years of being on opioids for my broken spine. I had recently quit all the pills I was on “cold turkey,” and made the attempt as my body was rebelling at the very mental and physical discomfort often associated with such an action.
But, it wasn’t just the mental anguish that pushed me towards the precipice of the abyss; it was also the decades of suppressed anger from the sexual abuse I had suffered as a child and teenager, not to mention the addictions to anything that would help me not to re-live those events for these past forty-three and a half years. Most of my adult life I had been putting Band-Aid’s on a wound that needed “mental and spiritual surgery!”
I had decided during Jan of 2018 that I would rather die than to continue living like this, it was a difficult choice given the love I have for my children and grandchildren, not to mention the rest of my family. You see, during the worst part of my “withdrawals” I had reached a point of not caring who got hurt as long as I didn’t hurt anymore.
Through my own spirituality, I believe that this moment during my attempted suicide was far more likely a wake-up call. We all reach a point when the road we’re on seems like a dead-end; it’s this cul de sac, where I found myself during these withdraws. It’s hard to describe, during the apex of these withdraws, you’re lying there in bed trembling with your senses on steroids apparently as your sense of smell is increased to levels one has never experienced before. Trust me, even your own sweat smells like poison, you feel nauseous in a way you’ve never felt before, you suffer from chronic diarrhoea, exhaustion while being hyper awake mentally, and all you can think of is wanting to feel normal again: and through all of that, there’s always a voice in your head crying to end it all constantly! I had never felt this way in my entire life before, nor would I ever want to go through this again!
There was no human intervention at this very moment, simply a calmness that washed over me, just like in 1984, and it set me on a path to understanding what the hell just happened. This, in turn, led me to start meditating in my life. The effects began almost immediately as I focused on my whole being, then calming myself from a detached position in my mind and soul, a simple observer that refused to judge my thoughts or actions.
This technique was not necessarily new to me. My Father and the military had taught me long ago how to disconnect from any given situation so I could function and allow my training to take over. The concept is hardly new, but to apply it through meditation was an epiphany to me at that time. Again, I was functioning simply on my experiences. To fully appreciate this, you have to understand my personality; which has always been one that had to savour each moment in my life, albeit in an immature manner without any conscious goal in mind. I never understood why? But now in retrospect, I’m beginning to see that from a spiritual perspective, the powers that be were allowing me a desperately needed purpose again. I previously had been driving professionally until my back was broken on the job in 07. Now, I can work again using my life as a constant source of reference. “Ego Renascitur” I am reborn!
My pain level before and during these withdraws that I was experiencing was at a constant 7-9 on a uni-dimensional pain scale; constant levels like these; one would think that would naturally lead to a psychotic break after years of discomfort, and they almost did on three occasions to which the V. A. helped me through. The fourth, I helped myself through dogged determination not to let my body decide my future anymore. After I began my meditations, my pain levels began to drop. Eventually, after about a week of meditating daily three to six times, I noticed a marked difference in the levels, Going from a harsh and cruel 9 down to a tolerable 6 and eventually dropping even farther to a very grateful 4.
I have found, since that morning in January; that my perspective on life and spirituality has completely changed me for the better. My taste in music, the friends I have, and the very way I look at life has completely, irrevocably changed my entire being! Mindfulness is that surgery my body, mind, and spirit needed to start living life as I should have all those years ago.
At almost fifty-eight years old, I’m back in school, I haven’t touched any drugs since my awakening, and I witnessed beauty in life I had been blinded to all those years. I believe one of the greatest epiphanies I had was accepting that I could not do one damn thing to change the past; it simply is what it is, the past. But I can learn from it, and that’s what I’ve done. Now, I want to help others instead of the selfish endeavours associated all too often with self-degradation through the use of drugs and alcohol.
May you all find the peace, it’s right there inside you, all you have to do is listen without the blinding, all-encompassing guilt of addiction. Thanks for letting me share my experiences with you. Have a blessed life.
Most Humbly and Sincerely,
A. T. Hirsch