Part Two of the strange and unlikely story of my quest for freedom from addiction to creeps, weirdos and vampires of the yogic variety, in which I am apprenticed to a Junky Shaman and become the World’s first graduate of the Wild Dragon School in the elite Kung Fu of Magical Sobriety and the Beautiful Arts of the Elegantly Bent Mind.
For Part One HERE.…
In the dream, at a road sign at nightfall, warning of a dangerous incline on a steep pass ahead, a desperately thin woman stands with empty breasts and a famished baby in her arms against a desolate landscape, pleading to an indifferent world for nourishment for the child.
Carl Jung, Freud, the sage Prisoner of War and South African writer, Laurens Van Der Post, brilliant modern thinker, Jordan Peterson, addiction expert, Gabor Mate and neon human sign post to a life less miserable than most of us are signed up for, Russell Brand agree – the soul of the world is in trouble, and that means yours and mine.
The above mirage, from brilliant novelist, Dostoyevsky’s warning of a future built on the unhealed wounds of our past, is thrusting up all over the planet, as the very image of what could happen to us all – personally, and collectively – if we don’t heal our shadows and deal with our agonies.
The feminine in us all, self-starved and begging for attention. The child of the world, dying and joyless. Nature, in shambles. The people, neglectful. Horror descending, and an urgent cry for us all, and together, to save ourselves.
This is a mission which I, unwittingly and without much of a strategy, really, have been messily engaged in for rather a very long while now – as have you – if you could only see the genius in your own messy jellywrestle with the demons that design not only your despair, but your redemption as well.
Perhaps these notes, from peculiar and wonderful junctions along my particularly curious stumble may prove useful to somebody out there? They are a continuation from a previous story, in which I got myself into exactly the right kind of trouble to initiate an adventure, if not a nervous breakdown – in which I am sure I am not alone.
Bangkok Airport, 7am: Thank you for flying Lion Air, we hope you have a pleasant fright.
… and then it was Ko Pha Ngan time again.
When the chill winds of doom, or even just the creepy breeze of anxiety, blow across the fragile human psyche, everybody knows that one of the best solutions is to run away to a remote island and become a Tantric Goddess.
This was not exactly my plan. Because I had tried that already. And after a year of determined Tantricking in Bali and Thailand, had been forced to acknowledge that I was neither disciplined enough to sustain the eating disorder, nor American enough to sustain the immense disrespect of human intimacy required for such a mission.
But I thought that perhaps, by temporarily swanning about among the pleasure-hunters of Thailand’s debauched yoga scene, I could at least soak out some of the stains left on my soul from living for too long in Ubud, in Bali.
It was a bad plan. But in fallow times, and with a soul laden with all kinds of goopy bad magic from the jealousy-ridden voodoo of Bali rice fields and vampiric halls of Ubud’s curdled healing scene, a bad plan is better than no plan. Sort of.
Strange forces had been wooing me, anyway. There was an invitation. My baby rescue squirrels had fledged their sieve and been returned to the wild (under the malicious gaze of the cat), and a rising helix of both dread and hope in me, alchemised into the certain knowledge that there was really nothing for my situation but a hair-brained fling at bad odds, to improve my lot.
So it was, that I found myself standing on the slippery rock of potential transformation, with the wrong shoes but the right intentions.. in need of escaping a very bad man – once again.
This is Part Two of Death by Frog, my Grand Thailand Adventure, in which I managed to complete a vital childhood fantasy of running away from my dad, mystically trigger the downfall of an empire of orgiastic yoga weasels, and become the first fully initiated graduate of The Dragon School of Criminal Wisdom for Promising Young Ladies on a remote beach, under a full moon, with only a small amount of psychedelics involved.
The solution to all my problems was sitting at an exposed table, inside at Cookies cafe, a known haunt for orgy predators, nympho yoga hookers and other entrepreneurs of the drug, sex and narcissism scene on this soon to be highly explosive little island, in the soupy Sea of Siam.
Among a greyish flotsam of bad-toothed, mean-eyed, muttony hyenas preparing to feast upon the new thigh and crisp bank notes of the next wave of spiritual tourists to spill out over the filthy streets of Surat Thani (henceforth to be known as The Rat), Ko Pha Ngan’s yoga district, he was wearing a Hi Viz polo shirt and golf shorts.
His head of sandy hair, teetering on its last blush of fullness, was cut back, military grade, and his biceps, recently sculpted, made lovely shapes, like nice soft sleeping creatures with strong backs, against the long bones of his obviously American body.
He was, in other words, clearly in the wrong place.
And I told him so.
He burst into relieved and boisterous laughter. His eyes lit up like sea creatures. And he leaned in and said, “Yes. And you are in need of Recovery.”
“Take a Seat. I will buy you a coffee and then we’ll sort out your shit.”
Tim convinced me, before I had even gotten to the jam centre of my delicious, plump little donut friend, that my problems were not existential rage, nor the side-effects of New Age Bullshit, or even flakiness or Feminism.
My problems were not, he said, that I was tangled up with lost and degenerate people. That was a symptom. Nor was the central issue that I had a meticulous radar for deadbeats. My path was not hopeless. I was just lost in the fog. I had unresolved childhood wounds. Was making a deal with addiction. I had to get clean.
It was lucky we met.
He said it rather loudly, as Americans tend to. And he did it with a sort of golfy straight forwardness.
It was all so completely absurd that I was eager to hear as much as possible.
I think I allowed it also, because he had good teeth. I had not seen good teeth for at least two weeks. And find them extremely reassuring.
“Your problem is the booze,” he said. “And whatever mess went on with your family. It’s the same thing everywhere. I see it all the time.
Quit drinking. Now. Everything will immediately fall into place.
And move out of that fucking house as well. Your friends are parasites and the demonicly undead. Do it tomorrow.”
Despite my reputation for fierce independence and trigger-haired attack glands, rich with protective acerbic acids, I find being bullied about by dominating men rather comforting, so even though I am about as close to ‘alcoholic’ as the next occasional beer drinker, I was willing to go along with Tim’s theory of my woes. I was willing to be soothed and even inspired by his not totally ghastly American enthusiasm. And I decided, no matter how off track he might be, that I was going to take his advice.
Especially since it was so completely ridiculous as to be utterly unthreatening.
And because NOBODY wears Hi Viz on Ko Pha Ngan. Or anywhere else in Asia. Which was leading to me some rather surreal interpretations of what was going on.
It was vivid clear to me, in a sort of Wizard of Oz way, as I watched his unlikely being move about in animated certainty and encouragement of my metamorphosis, that Tim, despite being convinced of his own reality, was a synchronistic event played out with eye-popping irregularity in the matrix of events that strung together, were called my life, but were really a theatre of freak and possibly hallucinatory events designed to torment me to either suicide or becoming some sort of useful siren for a society collapsing under its own bad definitions of meaning.
In other words, he wasn’t real. He was a sort of meaningful coincidence. Or a glitch in the reasonable order. A sort of horribly badly presented fairy-type being thrown up by godly, insane or other kooky forces in an elegant, or desperate attempt by the universe or my own subconscious, to assist me on my way.
I’ve seen this sort of thing a million times. I am ready to go with it.
In fact, I think the absence of unlikely events and extremely kooky characters with no business at all showing up in ‘reality’ is a sort of mental health problem that those of us stuck in ‘normal’ know all too well as the kind of ‘sensible’ that makes a misery of being alive.
Yes, Tim was clearly an agent of mystical forces which had taken extra care to ensure he stood out among the dusty, miserable trawlers of “the Rat’ by making him so ridiculously out of place. Like a cheerful clown at the scene of a toxic spill. Like a sort of Day-glo hero figure in a very badly written Yoga Zombie film.
And yes, I was so deeply glad of his existence (virtual or otherwise), and also his encouragement to move on from all that plagued me, that within minutes I pretty much just wanted to curl up on his lap, (real or science fictional), and purr the day away instead of face the horrors of booze, porn, debauchery and French malice that were waiting for me at home. I was willing to agree that I was an alcoholic, if that was what was required.
And to agree to sign up, immediately, to the 12 Step Program, (whatever that was) and run away from home. Even though he wasn’t coming with me.
Since the murder and grotesque devouring of the squirrel by my bedside, and the descent of my host, Eric Le Frog, into a full-scale whiskey-fraganced tsunami of trauma bondage and other types of soggy rage, it was obvious, even to the geckos that hung about my room, that my only option was escape.
The signs were definitely there. I needed to evacuate my situation, hasta pronto! But I have always found it excruciatingly difficult to abandon fucked up scenarios involving abusive power figures, the death of furry things, or psychopathic men.
I have put this down to dysfunctional levels of loyalty, a tendency to bewilderment and some sort of weird, hi rotation relay of a childhood wound, which plays with odd, washed out and mechanical frequency, through events in my life, and is clearly a piece of unfinished poetic business, demanding to be re-lived, and re-lived, and re-lived, until I find a way to do it differently.
As most of us will recognise in our own strangely repetitive biographies. Right?
There are some scenes in life that fate will simply not metabolise.
And, unable to stomach the way things played out, life, or karma, or epigenetics, or the sensible and determined forces of the great cosmic laundromat dooms, or commits, us to live over and over and over again, until we do something more courageous, or true or life-affirming than we did, or were able to, when we first got stuck in the dangerous hydraulics of a soul withering choice.
Yes, I have been trapped, for more than 4 decades, in a re-run of a scene played out back in England, when a 7-year-old me, in blonde bunches, with my hands set fiercely on my egg-shaped hips, stared my dad dead in the face after some sort of standoff – after years of standoff, really, – with everything in me just DONE with whatever was in him, FINISHED with his sarcasm, and his tickling me til I wet my pants, and his refusals to love me as much as I needed, and his going to work every day and leaving us – SHUT DOWN TOTALLY with his hitting me, when I was so in love with him, and wanted to live it – this me had stood in the hallway, clutching my Cindy, my copy of The Magic Faraway Tree, a blue hoodie, a blanket and a packet of spaghetti, saying “THAT IS IT! I am leaving home!”
His eyes had narrowed, but he didn’t flinch. He squared off in the hallway, regarded me with an unphased expression and said, “Fine. Go. But You’re not leaving without putting all that in a proper suitcase.”
Which seemed reasonable.
Tragically for me, all our suitcases were stored in a loft which was at least 6 foot higher than I had hope of reaching. And neither mum nor dad would assist me in my quest for a better life by getting me a proper bag to run away with from the roof.
“Fine. Go. It’s your choice, But don’t expect us to help you.” Dad had said, smugly, on his way to watch the Sunday boxing. “You want to be free? To live your own life? Well, then you’re on your own.”
Which seemed reasonable. I was done for. And I knew it.
But something was wrong with this whole scenario. And I have never been able to put it to words. Something was so very badly wrong with it that I have somehow managed to live out this exact play, over and over and over again, so vividly that boyfriends of mine will verify that I have a tendency to live with a bag packed, ready to go, at all times – but am utterly unable to pick it up, or cross the threshold with it, no matter how much misery, treachery, abuse or condescension they can lay on me.
But this time things were different. Not only was my host, Eric Le Frog, somehow recreating this scenario with an almost circus-like magic realism, but I was being sent a Day-glo-clad American life coach and cheer leader to encourage me along the way.
Yes. After a pep talk from Tim, a firm agreement not to touch beer or whiskey of anything like it for the forseable, three lattes and two fresh donuts, I went home that afternoon to face the Ultimate Savagery of drunken malice, battalions of empty whisky bottles, the stench of vintage depression and sloth, the flashing anuses and bloody carcasses of life at my place, and knew that this was finally it – I was leaving home, and I had just the bag I needed.
Besides, news that I was an alcoholic barely caused me a hiccup.
Hfff! I thought.
I am a bottle of beer to while away an evening, or fend off a spell of despair, loneliness, sense of dread or boredom sortofagirl.
Sure, I am a Sauvignon Blanc type of long luncher. I have been known to have more Coconut Killers than a poet and yoga teacher ought. I am not unknown to order the Long Island Ice Tea. I have drunk alone. I have gotten drunk alone. Whatever!
It didn’t worry me. If being an alcoholic was what I needed to be to get some sensible direction, and even some support from somebody clearly not afflicted with cretinism or a sex addiction, I was prepared to be it. I didn’t take it too seriously. I could be it, or not be it.
But the unbelievable truth of everything he said was to sneak up on me more slowly. On soft paws. Over a much rockier road than the one I was already on.
Until then, I was more than busy enough just disentangling from the hobgoblin form my unresolved childhood anguish had thrown up in real life before me as the dire shambles of my present reality.
Things were going well. All I had needed was a sober American with a supersize of common sense. This was good news. I was an easy fix. Hooray for me. There was wind in my sails, and none of it had nicotine or hops upon it.
Within hours my escape was meticulously planned. Even though I had no actual destination in mind.
I was afraid, yes.
It was a 7-year-old’s sort of fear, that had grown from a hot coral bloom into an entire reef of heavy, complex forms, over its 40 years of gestation. I was shaking, even, as I talked myself over and over through the evacuation procedure I was plotting as I waited for night to fall, for Le Frog to get drunk, stoned, exuberant and then cascade into his nightly ritual of long distance mating calling his reluctant once and future X in Germany on Skype.
I had made my calculations. Le Frog passed out, usually, by 5am, at which time the fumes off his Camel cigarettes would cease fingering their way through my windows, and all across my bed. The sun would rise at 6. I would be in fits of despair and lethargy until about 9. There would be a window of action between 9.15 and 11.30am. Then I would lose motivation, get distracted and become remorseful until about 1pm.
Which meant I had a window of about one and a half hours in which it was imperative for me to get on my rented Scooter, with all my belongings stuffed, stowed or shoved in my stripey pink duffel bag. And go.
That was the plan. It was pure, engineered brilliance.
When the time came, I followed my protocols exactly.
I woke at dawn. Turned over. Fretted until 9. Between 10 and 11am I ran about madly, stuffing the pink duffel bag, had a shower, felt a catastrophe of dire gravities, euphorias, terrors and tremblings through every inch of my body. Ignored the curdling, broiling soup of my metabolics, threatening to undo me, and ignored the neurotic editorials of my mind also – by just sticking to the plan.
11.08: I was dressed, my bag was at the door, I had located my flip flops, and a map.
11.27: I washed the dishes, cleaned the counters, tidied up the horrific shambles sprawled across the living room table which held the contents of the kitchen, disemboweled for renovation since I had arrived, and undermining any possibility of nourishment or nurture in our lifestyle.
The table, the centrepiece and effective altar of our home, was a clusterfuck of trashed aluminium cooking pots, miss-matched crockery, an awkward clutter of ugly glasses, cheap and disfigured cooking implements, black-moulding chopping boards, tins of turpentine, rigormortisized paint brushes in herpes-afflicted jam jars, warty ashtrays, a giant-sized tape measure – one of those bulky square types, with the manly snapback action, all of which was presided over by the hand carved Buddha I had carried over as a house warming from Bali.
Yes, I created a little order in the junk, on the shrine, did something vaguely motherish and responsible in the kitchen, feeling sad and triumphant at the same time. Procrastinating. Obviously. I made one last coffee, which turned out to be bitter and disappointing, wrote a note that said, ‘Thanks for having me, I hope you get your shit together,” perched it between two bottles of red wine I had bought as farewell offerings, and, sick with hope and terror, sparked up the Scoopy.
With no plan other than to drown the writhing emotions in me with a vegan burger and a mango smoothie at the central market.
Which would be my first meal in 24 hours. And the platform on which I would embark on the terrible and grand adventure of being homeless, free and on the 12 Step Program to Recovery. Of what, I was not yet sure.
Within an hour of Running Away From Home my horizons had opened and I knew certain bright and useful new things for sure.
Vegan burgers, for instance, are not the right food for runaways. Too heavy. Too dry. Runaways have dry mouths. Their bellies are a lush habitat for anxiety moths, which do not do well with landslides of heavy breads, mashed tofu, potato wedges and waxy mayonnaise avalanching all over them.
Runaways do not do well with mango smoothies either. Too rich. Too swampy.
I was awash with sludge. In danger of vomiting. Or sleeping on the side of the road.
The other details of my escape, and the route I took are vague to me now.
All I know is that I headed, fast and without a helmet, away from everywhere I’d been before and the road seemed wide and fresh and hopeful. I stopped for a Thai massage somewhere along the way to I knew not where. The woman was big and heavy like a thing that can’t be pushed over. She squeezed the burger into a more comfortable shape. She twanged the nerves in my arms and popped me like bubble wrap. She showed me pictures of her sons, handsome in expensive suits, and her husband, dead from cancer. She asked my name, and gasped when she heard it.
She pulled me into her bosom, which was wide, like the ring of some great, warm planet, squeezed me with a boxer’s grip, and said, “Jaydee! You be the very good heart. This it means, in the speaking Thai. You be the very good heart.”
I headed for the hills. I followed the weave and curl of the smooth road up, up, up and into cold weather. A storm hit me. The little pink duffel bag and I got wet. Winds blew wildly from the east. The little bike and me were buffeted wildly as leaves and sticks and branches and stray dogs flew at us from all directions.
The road split. I let the bike decide our course. The rain turned to deluge. The sky soured. Darkness threatened. Thunder quivered us. The road turned to rubble. And there I was – at the ocean. Soaked. Alone. Cold. Nervous. Sick with vegan burger. Lonely. But hopeful.
And there – yonder – I saw it: a little bungalow, perched high on a hill. With a hammock tottering on the whirly winds, a Bougainvillea tumbling along its awkward verandah.
I knew the minute that I saw it that this was it: home. Rehab.
And that was how I met him.
The man who would oversee my transformation, teach me the ways of the world I was thus far failing at, and mentor me, night and day in the Special Arts of Recovery, to oversee my initiation in the Jedi Crafts of Junky Wisdom.
I knew he was a deeply dangerous and irritating specimen as soon as I saw him.
All 6 foot 4″ of him, splayed out in a hammock, in saggy undies, spying on me.
He had a perfect view through the banana palm, of my every move in my new paradise home.
And when our glazes locked there was a flashfizzle of deeply unsympathetic archetypal forces meeting, uninsulated, across wet surfaces, loaded with all the malevolence possible in the entire intergalactic history between man and woman.
“Well hello, pretty.” He said.
“Fuck you.” said I, secretly.
And from that moment on we were inseparable.
I hated and resented Mr Ivan Music in every possible way.
And he loved it.
He spied on me, vied with me, patronised me, attempted to pervert, drug and bamboozle me with Illuminati conspiracies and horrific versions of world power games and evil extra-terrestrial terror plots.
He kept me sober. He kept me swimming. He put me on a ruthless regime of true confession, hi-protein, jellyfish stings, and introduced me to the one-legged man at the elephant park, who had a monkey on his shoulder and magic mushrooms in his pocket.
Mr Ivan Music, felon, junky, keeper of dangerous dogs, anti-smoker, pharmaceutical drugs abuser, conspiracy addict, outlaw and believer in fairies was a very bad man who may well have been the best thing to happen to me since I had been diagnosed with alcoholism.
Strangely, he knew odd and intimate things about me as well. Things he couldn’t have known. Things that convinced me, even though I never let on, that he was sent also, by strange and poetic forces that were weaving some sort of unfathomable and hopefully benevolent meaning through the chaos of events unfolding around me.
“You’re a runaway?” he asked.
“in Recovery?” he said, lazy and in smooth New Zealand stone.
“Booze? Bad Men? Yoga?”
“How dare you!” said I.
“I am a yoga teacher!” I said it with lightning bolts and defensive chemical weaponry of soul-shattering viciousness arcing and fizzing off my tongue.
I haughtily, and sortof clumsily pegged a sarong up between our bungalows to block his spying eyes.
Which the spiralling wind, needless to say, made extremely short work of.
And when our eyes met again, his ice-blue, smirking patiently; mine, abyss-blue, warning of the dread perils of even thinking about messing with me – it was if the cosmos winked, and weird gears changed somewhere in the imaginatrix, and I knew that I was in the presence of a Master, or at least, of a man who had a criminal record and was going to do everything possible to get into my pants.
“Can you swim?” he said, penetratingly.
“Faster than you.” I shot back.
And so it began. Rehab. My precise and careful recovery from the unmetabolised love wounds of my childhood, and from the various men who have exploited them, as well as provoked the possibility of my reform, under the strange and intoxicating curriculum of Junky Wisdom, given at Dragon School, for the benefit of Bewildified Ladies.
“The problem with you is that you piss people off without meaning to,” he avised me, over our first breakfast together.
I snickered and glanced up at him in glee. “Ivan, that it simply not true,” I said. “The reason you’re pissed off with me is that even though I am soft and pudgy and five foot one and kindof a wreck, I am faster in the water, and you just cant stand it,” I smiled radiantly, and sipped on my watermelon juice.
“Maybe.” he said.
“But I am going to make you a bet,” he forked his grilled fish and lettuce up to his face and pierced me with his ancient blue gaze.
“I will bet you, $100 American, that within a week, somebody here is going to want to kill you,” he said.
And that was how I lost $100. And how Dragon School began.