October 3, 2021

A Perfectionist’s Guide to Surrender & Letting Go.


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I am stuck in a small, smoky room with a man who is doing his absolute best to make me hurl.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) for both of us, he is succeeding.

As I clutch the blue plastic bucket I’ve been given closer to my chest, I can feel the liquids sloshing around inside.

It smells like wet dog.

While I’m busy contemplating what dietary decisions might have led me to this unexpected outcome, my stomach finishes its musings.

Ending the impromptu self-reflection with one of my least favorite things.

I puke. The act of which seems to only encourage more puking.

I groan and settle back into a deeply uncomfortable seated position.

I don’t want to open my eyes because doing that might mean I get to puke more.

“Get to.”

The puking is healing.

Or so I’ve been told.

I’ve lost track of time.

Time is the illusion between the sine wave of nausea that is my current existence.

My right shoulder is carefully flecked with a neat row of mushy gray balls—gray balls of frog poison.

They steadily deliver their payload to my skin and bloodstream.

There is no escape.

Nor should there be.

I signed up for this.

I paid money to be here.

Probably someone, somewhere off in the distance, is being proven right about my idiocy.

All that’s left to do is be with the experience.

And no matter what.

Absolutely. Do not.

Think about how much time is left.

I burp, cough, and sputter.

My stomach heaves.

I wonder for the sixth or seventh time, “Why did I sign up for this?”

I should tell you at this point that I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Sometimes I tell people that I suck at sucking, and in that moment, I get to feel rather clever about myself for having come up with that turn of phrase.

But what that really means is that letting go of control is one of the hardest things in the world for me.

And yes, I’m aware of the irony of being a control freak in a reality where almost nothing is in my control.

I can’t control the California wildfires.

Global warming.

The giant f*cking pandemic.

Or a failing political system.

But what I can control…is me.

Or at least that’s what everyone keeps telling me is the healthiest approach.

I mostly believe them.

I train people in this.

But every once in a while, I get to see the limitations of that approach.

When the only way to stop feeling out of control is to control yourself, sometimes, it spills into the territory (in my opinion) or needing to control everything about yourself.

Which (again, in my opinion) is just about the most stressful possible way to live…one second only to being poisoned by tree frogs in a small, burning-sage-filled room.


Right now, it feels like I’m awash with cosmic irony.

In theory, Kambo was a means to force myself to surrender.

To wallow in the muck.

To be forced to exist in a state of gross messiness and begin to accept that sometimes, that’s how things are gonna go.

Sometimes, the reigns aren’t in my hands.

And sometimes, it’s okay to go along for the ride willingly, instead of fighting.

In practice, it’s doing exactly that.

It’s just not pretty.

Every dry heave.

Every time my bucket gets a little bit sloshier.

Every time my guide tells me to drink more water so the purging can come a little easier.

I must learn to trust that no matter how bad things currently feel, in the end, what my body is choosing to do—what I am experiencing—is exactly right.

Resistance is futile.

Maladaptive, even.

I can try not to throw up, but that just means I get to spend more time nauseated.

Time and time again, the medicine/poison proves to my brain that allowing my body to do its thing is the only correct move.

Piece by piece…

Drop by drop…

I am learning to let go of what “should” be.

And flowing with the tide of what “is.”

And while I definitely got my wish, I learned to surrender.

Right now, my strongest desire is for someone to remind me not to do this again.

Please tell the universe that I have (hopefully) learned my lesson.





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