Neil from Victoria, BC Feature

For over half a century I’ve been on a quest to discover the reason for my life turning out as it has. From the age of sixteen I was always in therapy (self-motivated) and participated in many self development workshops constantly hoping I could learn what happened in my life that made it go sideways so badly, hopefully finding the remedy, and believing that if I just knew what was wrong I could then seek its solution. I spent 20 years enrolled in austere, demanding Buddhist meditation retreats to gain a deeper understanding of self, and believed that through this kind of suffering I would find peace. I participated in a few ‘new thought’ churches along the way, hoping to find a spiritual peace while along the way also becoming a scholar in A Course In Miracles (a remarkable achievement in its self considering my learning and comprehension difficulties).

During one Vipassana meditation retreat I did, however, have a full-blown white Light experience, which I found glorious but it never happened again. But it did keep me returning to meditation retreats for another 2 decades hoping to have another encounter with the Loving Light. I’ll never forget that experience...being held in cosmic Wholeness.

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I wondered why my life had turned out so differently than my siblings. Why I was the black sheep (scapegoated) child and had become the buffer in a less than perfect family?

I came to understand what my learning disabilities, ADHD, depression, and PTSD were about, but these were just symptoms and not the cause.

I learned family systems theory and gained an understanding (and compassion) of the world and times my parents were raised in.

But still no answers!

I started considering FASD as the possible cause 5 years ago. But I didn’t have any of the physical disfigurement I thought was required (back then) nor did I come from a disadvantaged socio-economic group (another belief). Although I had run-ins with the law since age 12, and am fortunate today not to have a criminal record today, it was chalked up to a wild, misspent youth.

I didn’t have to look very hard to find evidence of my mother drinking during her pregnancy. She freely admitted to drinking through all of her pregnancies. This was also the justification that it must be my problem because the other siblings didn’t turn out as bad (by comparison).

Introduction of Valium: Compounding my early years of development, and apparently in an effort to ameliorate my ADHD-like behaviours, my mother put me on Valium at times (long car trip). However, it would be twenty years later when it was determined I am allergic to this tranquilizer and have a reverse reaction to it. The anxiety of this medication pushes me up, not down.

Nothing made sense. I looked normal, often sounded normal — my life should be normal! Perhaps I just needed to try harder. Of course, every attempt to try harder usually ended with even worse results, eg. cramming for school exams.

Employers and social groups never seemed to last long. At times I wished I had the features of a down syndrome person. Then at least people would have an obvious context to explain the complicated, and extreme range of behaviour I could display.

The conundrum was either to swallow all the low self esteem I’d acquired, or fight for something better...as solution, that lay just around the next corner. Maybe. I began living my life for the purpose of finding ‘my’ solution somewhere just around the next corner...the next workshop, the next retreat. All to no avail.

I’m exhausted.

I always thought it would be a great relief to finally have the answer, never realizing it may come without the solution. I never thought my life could get any more depressing but, now, knowing I have FASD (ARND?) and there is no cure brings on a whole new level of depression. Perhaps my psycho-spiritual pursuits all this time were preparing me for acceptance of this incurable fate. I have nothing else to guide me now.

So finally, as a hail Mary pass, I enlisted two therapists for guided, supervised psychedelic remedies, hopefully. It was in one of these experiences I came to acknowledge — say out loud to myself and others, that I suffer with an FASD. And it was also these experiences which released me to a cosmic Love I never thought possible, that I cherish and hold on to today. In another experience a voice, not from myself, but from the universe “thanked” me for my life. Huh? (I’ll take the support wherever I can find it)

My ‘expected’ reality is currently something that is changing rapidly. My hope today is to find a trusting partner who can Love and accept me as I am, and in spite of my plight is willing to live with me until my time is up here.

Thank you for listening.

Neil from Victoria, BC