Struggling with family since "coming out" of the psychedelic closet

Hi all, I’m guessing I’m not the only one with this problem. I was never a recreational drug user and as a child of the 80s, I was absolutely indoctrinated by Nixon/Reagan’s War on Drugs. It wasn’t until I went to Peru in 2009 on a yoga retreat that I ever heard of Ayahuasca. At the time I knew I was not ready for that because I knew from yoga friends what an intense experience it was.

Fast forward nearly a decade. In 2018, after going thru a breakup and suffering a deeply broken heart, I knew it was time. I went to Peru for an Ayahuasca retreat. A tip there led me to psilocybin which ended up being a better medicine for me. My first journey with psilocybin revealed so clearly to me that society had been largely brainwashed and stigmatized against these substances which I knew indigenous peoples had used for eons. Michael Pollan’s book only solidified that all for me further. I was angry that I had basically been lied to my whole life, and taught to believe something that I now knew firsthand was false, so I knew I had to get involved with the Decriminalize Nature movement here in Seattle.

Thankfully, the group I was involved with just recently managed to Decriminalize entheogens here in Seattle which is a huge step forward. In the meantime, I had learned of ketamine therapy from one of the members of the Decrim movement- he runs the ketamine clinic I am now going to. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you all how obviously the dots are connecting.

My immense and painful challenge, however, is that the majority of my family are not remotely supporting me in this work and they have largely alienated me (though they would tell you that I and “drugs” have caused the alienation. Unfortunately that couldn’t be father from the truth. ) A powerful psilocybin journey in 2020 revealed to me a huge, gaping mother wound that I have from a childhood in a home with an emotionally unstable mother and very unhappily married parents. I’ve been working on healing those wounds for the past 2 years.

But during that time, the mushrooms, along with therapy, gave me the strength to finally speak up to my mother about all the ways she had hurt me. You can guess that didn’t go over well. She has largely stonewalled me and cut me out of her life for the past year. That has been incredibly hard because A. We’ve been otherwise close for years and B. She has incurable cancer (though doing quite well) so the family of course blames me for being selfish and “creating chaos.”

My therapist, along with various psychology books, have helped me to see that my mother is simply an emotionally immature human, with deep, unresolved wounds of her own, and isn’t remotely capable of engaging in mature, healthy communication. So I am trying to make peace with that fact. But the main source of pain for me right now is that I feel like I have been abandoned by the majority of my family (except one brother who is being supportive and open minded), as well as many friends.

I felt a moral obligation to speak out openly about my struggles with both depression, as well as about the powerful medicine that psychedelics are, as a means to work towards ending the stigma. Simone Biles inspired me so much with her brave speaking out about mental health and I felt I needed to do the same. I shared my story very openly and honestly on FB the night after my first ketamine session. It was raw, honest, but hopeful and shared the science of all that we here know that is happening. It was met with overwhelming support and encouragement and old friends reached out from all over the world to offer support and applaud my bravery in speaking out.

BUT, as you might guess from the lead-up to this, those who have been noticeably absent in that support are my family and my closest friends of many years. It is obvious to me from their lack of engagement that they are disapproving of what I am doing and are judging me for it. And it’s both making me so angry, but also deeply hurting me. The stigmas are still very much there. I can sense that my family thinks “drugs changed Jeannie”, instead of being open to actually LISTEN and read the science I have been trying to share with them. My closest brother even told me he think I am bipolar and need to be medicated- this is not meant to offend anyone who is actually bipolar as I have some good friends who are as well- but the point is that my therapist has confirmed that that is not my diagnosis, but that rather I simply have trauma from childhood that I need to heal. That my brother gaslit me like that forced me to have to walk away from him (for now, at least), and that has been so hard given how close we always were.

I am feeling so very alone in the world. It is true that psychedelics changed me, but not in the way they think- instead they allowed me to see the root cause of my anxiety and depression, allowed me to see the unhealthy, toxic patterns that existed in my family, and gave me the strength (with help of therapist) to speak up about those things and to change bad patterns and break toxic cycles. I know this is the right thing to do for my healing. I also know that it is the right, and BRAVE thing for me to speaking publicly about it. I am an influencer, and I know it is my calling now to be a part of this paradigm shift. I cannot ignore that. But it comes at a huge price, the loss of most of my family and many old friends . This is incredibly hard to swallow and accept and not be terribly upset by, especially when I’m already trying to heal depression.

I think I needed to get this off my chest after session #2 and I suspect that others out there are wrestling with similar struggles. I’d appreciate any words of wisdom or experiences that others would be willing to share. :pray:

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Get in touch with your local Decriminalize Nature chapter. I know there is one there. They can connect you to safe, underground access to what you need.

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You live in Wisconsin, home of a truly Neanderthal legislature? You have my most sincere sympathy, because I live here too, about 15 miles below the UP state line.

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I did not know that,I’ll check that out. Thank you

The Tavern league is pretty powerful here

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@yogiininchia, thanks

I was a child of the '70s. My father occasionally, very moderately drank (wine, beer), mom never touched it, sometimes cooked with wine. My rebellion came in the '80s, after I was out on my own. After they divorced, my dad knew I smoked pot. I don’t remember if I told him I was dropping acid or not, but he definitely found out after I checked myself in to the ER during a bad trip. When I turned 21 we had a “father/son” chat. He said he never liked pot because it just put him to sleep. Then (I almost shit my pants) he said “I never did acid. I only did mescaline once…”. My mom and my brother know of my past hallucinogen use (both quite self-righteous religious), but probably not my ketamine treatment (if I would just ‘get right with God’ I wouldn’t be depressed). I have talked with my niece and nephew about it, since they have depression issues. I am not at odds with my mom or brother, but we definitely don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I have always been close with dad, but he is to the point of being beyond day to day nonsense, he is more interested in literature, etc., academic interest in what time he has left.

Oddly enough, the first time I met my father-in-law, we all did mushrooms and wandered around the woods (he, myself and my wife and our dogs).

Having said all this, where my third eye has opened is realizing just what the state of my marriage is. In getting the ketamine therapy, I am realizing just how…alone… I feel. We don’t communicate. We barely talk. No open hostility. Just…no connection.

It don’t seem fair, that what makes us feel better makes us feel worse.

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I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with family acceptance, but I’m glad you felt comfortable sharing here and started the conversation.

I’m also new to Ketamine. Even after just 4 treatments I feel like I have a new lease on hope. It was totally random that I asked my long-time psychiatrist whether ketamine would be a good fit for me, and once I did he was enthusiastic about the prospect. So I strongly feel there needs to be more socialization and outreach about the value of this treatment option. I could have gotten this years ago!

But honestly, I’m not fully “out” about my depression and anxiety. I’ve only recently come out to my parents and brothers about how depressed I am, thanks to the family zoom chat. We’ve lived in different states since my twenties, but it’s only now (thanks to COVID) that we’ve set up a weekly call.

There’s a real tension between protecting yourself from vulnerability and advocating for ketamine based on your own experiences.

One thing I see in your situation… if you took the ketamine out of the picture, it seems as though your mother, and maybe some of your family, would still be reacting negatively to your personal growth. Telling your mother that she caused you a lot of trauma, while she is emotionally immature, is always going to cause tension between you, regardless of how you came to be aware of your trauma.

People have a knee-jerk dislike of other people growing out of negative behavior. If you are evolving out of your negative habits, that puts pressure on them to do the same.

All I can say is surround yourself with people who are also on a journey to healing and growth. Cut out the people who are negative, or get yourself into a position where you don’t believe their negative statements about you.

One of my favorite authors on shame and vulnerability is Brene Brown. She recommends you get a piece of paper that is only 1" by 1" and write down the names of the people whose opinion matters to you. If the name doesn’t fit, don’t listen to their opinion. If it’s someone who is only negative, dismissive of you and your feelings, they don’t belong on your list.

While being willing to share and be vulnerable with people is the root of connection and belonging, you don’t owe sharing your true self with anyone. Not your mother, or your older brother. I’d focus on sharing your new ketamine experiences with people you can trust, especially now when you are still dealing with the shadow of depression.

Huh, now I think about it, this is exactly what I’m trying to do right now… share my ketamine experiences with other people who get it - all the lovely people on this forum. I’m dreaming of the day when I feel comfortable sharing the benefits of ketamine with the public and my family, but for me that time isn’t right now.

OTOH, I probably will start an anonymous twitter account to talk about ketamine and mental health… I already have one that I use to talk about politics and election reform, so I know it’s a comfortable way for me to express my opinions and get more information on a topic.

Hope that helps,
CAM

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Hi CAM, thank you so much for this very kind, thoughtful and wise post. You are so spot on with everything you say. It is absolutely true that my family has never taken me seriously when I’ve shared any of my personal growth methods. I’ve been on a healing journey for 20 years now, had a massive transformation thru yoga in my 30s (that even led to me publishing a book about yoga!), and though they were supportive of my growth and book, my eldest brother especially has never taken me seriously on any of the wisdom and knowledge I have gained (hard-earned!) over the years. What is particularly hard about his/their reluctance to LISTEN, be open and HEAR me, is that we’ve always been close. I’ve always been able to talk to this brother about everything , but after his 2nd divorce in recent years, that all changed. I know this is all happening because he himself is in a VERY bad place. He is drugged up on 3 different psychiatric meds and thinks that is the best way. He will tell me he is “the healthiest he’s ever been” and then end up in the ER with a panic attack (I’m not even supposed to know that, mutual friends share that with me). You are absolutely right that my work is threatening to him/them. My dear friend and yoga teacher said this very thing to me- that my doing this work is threatening to all of them because it presses on the edge of their own trauma. In fact, my brother and I share much of the same trauma from my mmother. And he knows that, that is why it’s been so hard. I’ve always been able to talk to him about that. And he has been in therapy for years, but because of that he thinks he has all the answers. He thinks I need a psychiatrist and meds and refuses to listen when I tell him of all the science around psychedelics. He had the audacity to tell me, “if you want to believe in this pseudoscience, that is your choice.” And I was like, “are you f’ing serious? Johns Hopkins, Harvard, NYU, etc, etc. That isn’t pseudoscience.” The only reason I came out about all the psychedelic work is because I knew the hard science was there to back it up and I knew he was a science guy. All of this made me realize that my brother has never taken me seriously as an adult (nor has my mother). I am 46 years old and they still treat me like a child because I’m the youngest, baby sister. A dear friend (who I led to psychedelics and ketamine and credits ME solely with his massive healing) pointed out to me that my brother mansplains to me a lot. His perspective has really helped. And it’s only in these years that I’ve been able to see that my brother has turned into a very closed off, rigid, angry man, and a bit of a misogynistic (though he would completely deny that as a dad to 2 daughters). But he really is. I find myself not at all liking who he has become, the same is really true of my mother. And so that is why I’ve had to cut him off for now. It was a huge step for me, but I’ve always cared WAY too much about what they think of me and I think that is my biggest work right now. That is what I’m processing thru all of this. I’m fortunate that my whole yoga world and psychedelic community are on board but those friends are mostly far away now and as I get older and people get bust with families , it gets harder to have day-to-day friends who are present. My mother and I end both ended up in Seattle where my brother has been for years and so I’ve really relied on them to be my support network. But in this past year it has been clear that I can no longer do that, that I need to make new friends to support me. That has been particularly hard because of the pandemic and yoga studios largely being closed. I had a great yoga community and friends in San Francisco before moving here, but I was just beginning to form community here when covid hit. So, so much of this all has been exacerbated by the pandemic and I know those stressors apply to everyone out there. It’s been a hard time. And also for me, that I’ve been nursing a broken heart for 4 years now. I moved to Seattle with and for that ex, so I’ve felt so abandoned and alone here with largely no friends. It’s been truly a dark time (and I’ve survived and overcome various other dark nights of the soul). But honestly, just being able to share this here is so helpful. I knew when I posted that last night, it was a very open and vulnerable post and largely like a diary entry, but I knew it would be helpful to share it here with all of you, and that is proving true. This support group is helping me so much right now. In a time when I cannot get the support of family and also many friends who share the stigma around psychedelics, this group is more valuable than ever. So I thank you so much for your support. I love Brene Brown and I love that exercise you suggested. That is a great one that I will surely do! Thank you again for your kind words and wise advise. :pray:

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This is a sentence I could have written myself!

Add on to that, I moved just six months before the pandemic hit, so I know exactly what you mean about just beginning to connect to your neighborhood social network and then getting stopped cold.

This group is a lifeline for me, too. We may be small in numbers, but this is a just right fit that makes so much sense.

I’m on the East Coast, or we’d be making plans to meetup, yogi So glad you found my comments helpful. :hugs:

–CAM

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100% we’d be meeting up over a nice, cozy coffee talk. I’m with ya, sister. :sparkling_heart:

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This whole post I can relate to and you totally describe my mother. That’s how I learned, "Misery loves company, " is a real thing.

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Amen to that, sisters… why do I get the distinct impression that a lot of us are here at least in part due to awful relationships with toxic mothers? Mine likes to say I’m her “kindred spirit “ … God, if that is true and I’m a bitter self-righteous resentful bitch… just shoot me now.

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How come I can’t give this post a triple like or something?

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I’m so glad it resonates with you and I hope it helps to know you are not alone in these struggles with family. :sparkling_heart:

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Trauma. It so often begins in the childhood home. We are the brave ones for being strong enough to unearth it and face it. Kudos to all of us. And yes to us being sisters. We are truly all in this together. What a huge difference this support group is making. I’m very grateful to all of you. :sparkling_heart::pray:

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Thank you for sharing all of this so openly. I am so sorry that you feel so alone. I get it, totally. And I’m so sorry that you feel so alone in your marriage. I can only imagine how hard that must be. Just know that you are not alone. We are all here to support you. Hang in there. :pray::sparkling_heart:

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Thank you. It kind of goes up and down. Some of feeling that way is a good indicator that I am on the edge of having waited a little too long for my next booster.

What can I say? We are still together after 20+ years, with ups and downs. Marriage is a great institution, if you don’t mind living in institutions. I’m sure that there are times that I expect too much.

I was about to say “Dammit! Why can’t life be like the movies or Hallmark cards?”, but then I realized that would be even worse.

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The East Coast is vast, but if by some miracle you’re close to Boston, we could meet up for that chat💜

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We have to understand that not all information is suitable for all people at all times, and that the status of sharing or not sharing is irrelevant to internal healing. This is a journey to take for yourself; it fixes you.
If you need an accountability party during or after enlightenment? Go ahead, if you must, but for most it would lead to more hurt. There are boundaries and limitations to everything. Good luck.

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