I remember clearly the moment when I first lost my mind. It was January 24th, 2011 – a rare sunny and crisp Pacific Northwest day – and my heart was breaking again.
I loved a man who loved me back, the way nitric acid loves glycerol, bound by irresistible chemistry, explosive in physical proximity.
Oh, we had tried. Logan and I had tried to be a normal, healthy couple seven times already, but instead we had only grown more unstable and volatile.
Only two weeks prior, we had been exploring the fragile elegance of iced waterfalls in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. The steep ice we climbed still held the mark of our tools and crampons, the trees to which we anchored remembered our passionate belay station kisses, and the valleys below still resonated from the yells of our daily arguments.
I had flown home from Colorado knowing I needed to cut the rope and set us both free. Instead, the rope was being torn, frayed and ripped apart.
I clenched my hand on the phone and held my breath.
I couldn’t leave, he said. And I believed him, but also, I had to go. This “us” was all wrong. We’d be better off apart. Whenever we were apart, we felt freer, happier, and more grounded. But what about our huge love? What would we do with the huge love? Had I not left seven times already only to collide back again? Had we not felt we belonged to each other from the first moment we met?
I suddenly felt dizzy from the argument and curled against the arm of the sofa for support. Even with a frayed rope, Logan still held my heart and mind captive.
I felt my mind wriggle in my head, like a buzz of confusion, and suddenly, it set itself free. My sense of presence detached from my curled body, floated up, drifted slightly to the right and slowly rotated clockwise above my physical location.
My hand clenched the phone a little tighter and my eyes opened wide with fright, but I was not involved in these motions. “I” was rotating and getting queasy from the rotation. I could still perceive the room and my body in it. Nothing physical about me was rotating. I could still feel the pressure of the sofa on my back and hear Logan’s voice in my ear – though his words no longer mattered to me.
Without a goodbye, I let my hand hang up the phone and drop it on the coffee table. The moment I stood up, I was sucked back into my body. But not completely. Some of “me” remained outside the constraints of my physical envelope.
At the time, I believed I was my physical self. Nothing about “me” could escape my body’s boundaries. I left the phone in the living room and returned to my bedroom where I let my back slide against the wall and wrapped my arms around my knees until my body was coiled into a tight and safe little ball.
What in the world had just happened? Was I having an anxiety attack or had I really just left my body? And who was this “I” that could float away anyway? Was I going crazy?
The day outside was still crisp and blue and my heart was still breaking. The world looked exactly as it had a few minutes prior, yet my life would never again be the same. I had already unwittingly, unknowingly, taken my first step to the edge of the Rabbit Hole.