Assortment of Ecstasy pills. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can’t piece together any of the events in October, November and December of 1998 in chronological order. My intake of mind-altering substances was at an all time peak. I was smoking pot all day, tripping two or three times a week, snorting speed pills, drinking booze, skipping school, failing every class in my senior year of high school, and bouncing around like a lost pinball in Pete Townshend’s Tommy Rock Opera Sub-Conscious Machine. The ways of right-living people were aglow with light; But the road of wrongdoing became darker and darker, where travelers couldn’t see a thing; and fell flat on their faces. (Prov. 4:18-19 The MSG) No matter how many times I would fall flat on my face, there was always someone else to blame other than me. I would reason that it was my parents’ fault, or society’s fault, or my teachers at school. They were the instigators of my ruin, not me. I was living in a delusion.
I remember the people that I despised the most and were “aglow with light”. It wasn’t those who tolerated me or scolded me. It was those who loved me. I remember the nicest guy in my grade, Elias Wayans. Every time that I encountered Elias, he would smile and seem to look deep down into my soul. He would say things like; “Hey Ben… How are you doing buddy?” He was well liked by everyone in our grade. Amongst many religious people who were hypocritical, and would join me in partying. Or those who were holy rollers that would judge and marginalize me, he was a rare bird, someone who seemed to be a real follower of Jesus. He lived a clean and respectable life, but he also exuded an unconditional love toward everyone that I couldn’t grasp. All my speculation about the Woodstock Generation and Bohemians of the past couldn’t match up to the life of Elias Wayans.
One day, somewhere amidst the blur of the end of 1998, I was sitting alone in Arabica Coffee shop in Hudson, Ohio, coming off of one of my many acid trips. I had a wool cap on, and my Green Grateful Dead Terrapin Station t-shirt on over a long underwear full-sleeved shirt. I was smoking a cigarette and watching the smoke trail off into little phantoms in the air- where molecules would splice themselves into life patterns that developed into fiery crows, circus clowns and werewolves. I looked up and saw a girl arise from the elusive mist and sit down across from me. Her name was Jaime Wyatt. There was definitely an immediate attraction that happened between us.
Not only was there an attraction to her, Jaime seemed to understand me. She was heavy into the drug scene herself; addicted to prescription speed (Adderall), and smoking dope. She had also done her fair share of LSD. She talked me down off of my trip, and made me feel better. I was still depressed about my ex-girlfriend Harmony and I breaking up, and getting so much focused attention from a girl definitely gave me greater confidence.
In some sort of whirlwind, Jaime and I began hanging out all of the time. This was in late November, leading into December and the Christmas Season. Santa Claus was an old burned out psychedelic hippie to me as the winter of 1998-1999 crept in. Jaime and I became good friends. We were so much alike in so many ways. We were idealists, we were outgoing types, and we observed a certain poetry in life and loved to discuss deep things. Jaime and I had a taste for wild, spontaneous adventure at the time. We were both hedonists to the core. We didn’t care about responsibility or respect to any authority. We roamed free like two wild flower children in 1969.
I don’t remember when or how we first kissed or began dating, though I know these things came to be. We were high all of the time. The drugs were flowing around us like oxygen. I got in with her circle of friends, some whom were drug dealers of a higher caliber than I had known before. All of a sudden, I was getting supplied with almost any substance I wanted.
Something unexpected happened as well. As my confidence grew, and my crazy habits multiplied, two of my ex-girlfriends came back into my life. It’s true what they say about some women becoming attracted to notorious characters. It’s as if my criminal ways actually made me more appealing to them. I don’t know why living life on the edge is attractive to some people. Maybe it’s because life in the middle is so mundane. I know now that one can live a righteous life on the edge, living radically in pursuit of Jesus, but back then I only knew the terror and risk involved in infamy and self-destruction.
Madiera, my ex-girlfriend from two summers before, was in the same wild party scene that I was in, and we began fooling around again and partying together. Because I was so inebriated all of the time, I didn’t take it seriously. But Madiera began to speak again of being in a relationship with me. I led her on to believe that I was romantically interested, and we continued fooling around and partying. Madiera had continued to be a close friend to me, and because she appeared in a moment of ethical weakness and personal despair, I gave in to my own manipulative intentions.
Then low and behold, the answer to what my dreams were at the time came true. Harmony came back into my life. She had begun to party more heavily as well. However, as in the past, she had high standards for getting back together. She wanted to know that she could trust me, so she didn’t get in too deep with me right away. But we did party together and kiss and talk about how we were going to get back together…
I had never been the type before this to date a variety of girls simultaneously. It could have been because my parents were always faithful to each other. I never wanted to be in anything but a serious relationship. I had personal lust problems with myself, but always remained devoted to one girl at a time. Drugs do deteriorate the pure intentions of the heart. Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. (Titus 1:15) When a person fills their mind and life with venom, the vision and judgment within the conscience become blurred. I just wanted to be high and have fun. I was so high all of the time, I didn’t care that I was about to deeply wound the hearts of two of these girls, or maybe all three.
It was also quite a juggling act. I would try and fill my week with plans, seeing all three girls at different times, making sure they didn’t overlap, and making sure to be secretly romantic with each of them so that no one would let the word out and get me caught.
The decision didn’t enter my mind on who to choose until I had delved in deeply. I was a hopeless romantic. I didn’t treat relationships casually. I made all three of these girls think that I loved them and they were the only ones for me. This was the most I had mastered the art of lying, though nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. (Luke 8:17) All liars, even the most effective ones, get caught.
One night, by some wild stream of events, I partied my mind out. It was Christmas break of 1998. Jamie and I decided that we should try a newer drug called Ecstasy, which was the street name for a drug derived from components of mescaline and methamphetamine called MDMA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDMA I had been told by some of my new Raver friends that Ecstasy would turn my mind on to new waves of compassion and understanding.
People in the late 90’s called being high on X “rolling”, because it would release so much serotonin in your brain at once that your eyes would constantly roll up into your head from the overload of dopamine. It’s amazing how the enemy of our souls and the nature of humanity encouraged the search for chemical compounds that create an artificial experience of elation and higher consciousness. It’s straight out of a science fiction novel, because in the wrong hands, manipulation of this level could be used for serious mind control.
I took two little blue pills with butterfly designs on them. Jaime also took “two blue butterflies”. I can’t describe the events that followed, because so many other drugs were being consumed with these… speed, marijuana, and the old standards, caffeine and nicotine. Our minds were blurred and floating. I only remember being in Jaime’s room at her parents’ large, brick house on a man-made lake in the nicest neighborhood in Hudson, Ohio called “Canterbury Place”. It was 3 am, and we were listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. With the effects of the butterfly ecstasy pills pounding our brains, the music was emotionally moving to us. We were babbling in poetic riddles about it. The ecstasy also persuaded us that we were truly in love, and had finally found our destiny in each other. I wrote a poetic song right in the middle of our intense experience called “Two Blue Butterflies” that deified Jamie and I as little demigods of our own Kingdom of escapism. The words still ring in my mind and memory, as I revisit that night of incense and candlelight, which is a pale illusion and lucid dream to me now. Ecstasy, Jamie, Dark Side of the Moon, and my non-ethical, elated ego created a moment of false salvation in this experience. I still remember the song I wrote and it’s lyrics, they rang out;
Floating by a candle
In the pale shade of moonlight
Waiting for my love’s destiny
To rise towards me
In the middle of the sunrise
Kiss the sun, and I find myself as one
Rising like a luminescent cloud in the star filled sky
I’ve been waiting so long
To be taken up above where I belong
Think it’s you that I’ve been dreaming of
My beam of light, will shine bright
Like everlasting time
Like withstanding the endless glow that shines in your mind
And in your heart
In your eyes…
I always knew before that writing a song for a girl would capture their heart. But something about this wild, drug-induced moment was deeply intense. To this day, I don’t know if Jaime and I had really fallen in love in that moment. We were definitely great friends and attracted to each other, no doubt. But the effects of Ecstasy on the mind are described as:
- A general and subjective alteration in consciousness
- A strong sense of inner peace and self-acceptance
- Diminished aggression, hostility, and jealousy
- Diminished fear, anxiety, and insecurity
- Extreme mood lift with accompanying euphoria
- Feelings of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness toward others
- Feelings of intimacy and even love for others
- Improved self-confidence
- The ability to discuss normally anxiety-provoking topics with marked ease
- An intensification of all of the bodily senses (hearing, touch, smell, vision, taste)
- Substantial enhancement of the appreciation of music quality
- Mild psychedelia, consisting of mental imagery and auditory and visual distortions
- Stimulation, arousal, and hyperactivity (e.g., many users get an “uncontrollable urge to dance” while under the influence)
- Increased energy and endurance
- Increased alertness, awareness, and wakefulness
- Increased desire, drive, and motivation
- Analgesia or decreased pain sensitivity
This completely describes the situation that Jaime and I were in. I was convinced that these were true emotions I was feeling, and I wanted to give up everything to chase after this idealistic, utopian dream-world we had created.
I soon told Madiera that I was in love with Jamie, and we had to break it off. By this time it was almost Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas present! She cussed me out and told me I was an insensitive jerk (though she used another descriptive noun). She was crying and angry with me. In my drug haze I didn’t even care or feel the least bit of remorse at the time. Drugs make an altered reality outside of the ethical realm of true existence more appealing than actuality. I probably smiled at Madiera as she broke down, and told her things like; “It’s ok, it’s ok! Everything is beautiful…” I thought that I was on a higher plane than everyone, and it made her hate me more.
I also broke it off with Harmony, who had once been my first love, though something deep inside me felt it was wrong. I was riding a high, and didn’t want it to end. I knew Harmony wouldn’t approve of my use of harder drugs, and Jaime would. I broke the news to her, and was so high when I did it that I came off completely calloused and detached. She cried and cried, angry and hurt that I would betray her like I did. I didn’t know how to care about her anymore.
I didn’t have chagrin for God, or myself, my parents, or anyone who really knew me. I wanted to chase the Elysian fields of Ecstasy, and it wouldn’t be long before I would make popping disco biscuits and hanging with Ravers a regular weekend habit.