I had a bad year when I was 57. My first grandchild died at 2 days old, my youngest sister descended into madness and my husband fell in love with a young woman the age of my daughter. And I was enveloped in the misery of cronedom who was cackling like the sexless hag I was becoming. Now this was a perfect recipe for people to feel sorry for me. I always felt angry when I read about some ageing male ditching his wrinkly wife and running off with some smooth skinned harlot. I was in danger of being that wife; the wife everyone felt sorry for AND I was grieving two tragedies! However I was also in a committed relationship with an abiding principle, the 50:50 rule. Whatever goes wrong between us we have equal responsibility – both for its cause and for sorting it out.
While I was in Australia supporting my grieving daughter and helping sort out the fall out from my sister’s severe mental illness, Jake and I were invited to an ecstasy party with friends in London. In fact this was a crowd of Enlightenment Intensive friends who had participated in the Enlightenment meditation groups we used to run. I was in email and phone contact with Jake and encouraged him to go without me. He went. And that is when it happened. He fell in love with HER. He didn’t put it like that when he emailed me. He didn’t realize it then. In fact he said I had to come to the next ecstasy party which was scheduled a few weeks after I returned from Australia. He told me the party was great and he had very close contact with everyone. One of those people was Stella and she really opened up to him. I didn’t think anything of it. Jake had been her spiritual teacher so she had him up on a pedestal. I trusted Jake totally and besides was busy with my sister and the messy situation with her small son to sort out.
It took a while for the penny to drop after I returned. I noticed that Stella was phoning Jake every day. I still didn’t think anything of it as Stella was having problems with her husband Tom who was a recovering heroin addict. Then one evening a photo of Stella came up on the screensaver of the computer we kept in the living room. She had sweet elfin features and looked like a beautiful serene sphinx. I could see when Jake looked at the photo he was smitten. ‘I really miss her,’ he said simply.
‘You what?’ I said aghast. ‘You miss her?’ It was then I knew this was trouble. I felt an acute pain in my heart. Had I lost Jake? I looked at him squarely and said, ‘I want you to tell me everything that happened at that party.’ So he did. He and Stella had been ensconced on a sofa together and she had divulged things about herself. I knew what it was like. I knew how ecstasy opens up the heart. I also knew that ecstasy blurs boundaries and brings up sensuality. I wanted to know exactly what boundaries had been blurred.
‘Did you kiss her?’
‘What does ‘well…’ mean?
‘I nibbled her ear.’
‘I nibbled her ear.’
‘You nibbled her ear. Why?’ I was horrified. Jake might as well have told me he had bonked her. But this felt even worse. Nibbling someone’s ear felt extraordinarily intimate. Especially when she was young and beautiful.
‘Well we were really close and her ear looked very inviting, so I licked it.’
I was beside myself with jealousy. I was reminded of Ally McBeal the television drama in which Ally kisses her former lover who is now with someone else. That KISS caused a scandal for weeks. This felt like a similar betrayal. But guess what happened? My sexuality which had disappeared with my eggs, came back like a tsunami. I suddenly became a wild sexual panther. I was rampant. Jake didn’t know what hit him. He loved it. I was back! I was not going to even let him think about that bitch and her sphinx like ears. The party was looming up. I ditched my purple clothes which I had been wearing for two years. I dyed my hair black and bought tight leather trousers and leather jacket. I was going to London and I was going to claim my husband back, big time.
The party is being held in Tom and Stella’s London house. Many of our friends from EI days are there. They are all a little shocked by my appearance. Hey I was their Enlightenment Master, was once blonde and used to wear soft flowing skirts. Stella is wearing tight jeans and when she bends over I can see a pink thong outlining her curvaceous backside. She looks up at Jake, all doe eyed. My God, I do have my work cut out.
We all take some ecstasy. I take a half a tab and suffer a bout of nausea. I put the nausea down to a particular inherited aversion to psychoactive drugs that runs in my family. My mother suffered severe side effects from lithium when it was given to her in the 1960s and I had been battling with psychiatrists to take my sister off olanzapine for years. They finally did but it was too late. I thought of her lying in her chair in a Melbourne nursing home, totally paraplegic as a result. So drugs aren’t very good for me – I can’t even have a sleeping pill. So I live with the nausea; Jake hugs me tight and it passes after fifteen minutes or so. The party is hotting up. Tom and Stella are the same age as our kids and were brought up in the rave culture. They both dabbled with other drugs and Tom had got hooked on heroin. Doing Enlightenment Intensives had helped him get through his dependency. Two other couples Angie and Will and Gerry and Irma are present. All have done Enlightenment Intensives with us.
The ecstasy starts to do its heart opening magic and the ambience in the room is lovely. I see how beautiful Stella is but I feel feisty in my leather gear and Jake seems to appreciate this new hot sexy woman he is with. Then Stella’s friend Angie, who is training to run Enlightenment Intensives, asks me to tell the group about Mind-Clearing. This is a therapeutic process that I once practised and trained others to. Angie is very interested in learning about it. So very brightly I say. ‘Hey I will demonstrate one of the techniques. Right here, right now.’ I turn to Gerry and say, ‘Are you up for it?’ ‘Yes,’ he says. The whole group watches. I turn to Gerry and tell him I will ask him a mind clearing question that is aimed to deal with guilt.
‘Tell me something that you have done that in your own estimation you should not have done.’
Before Gerry can answer Jake interrupts. ‘Gerry are you sure you want to do this?’ He is making sure that Gerry is not being railroaded into something he is not prepared for, especially whilst intoxicated with ecstasy. ‘On second thoughts,’ says Gerry. ‘I’ll ask Eva the question.’
‘Okay I agree.’ Foolishly I make a mental decision to say the first thing that comes into my head. I have participated in several Enlightenment Intensives with these people and think, ‘they have heard it all’.
Gerry turns to me. ‘Tell me something that you have done that in your own estimation you should not have done.’
Oh damn, the first thing that pops into my head is unbelievably bad. My inner censor snaps to attention. No way baby are you going to confess THAT! I desperately try to think of something less incriminating. Damn the ecstasy. I’d heard it was a truth drug. It plus the Mind-Clearing question has unearthed an embarrassing secret. A secret Jake doesn’t even know. Everybody’s eyes are staring at me expectantly. And to think I started this! Damn! What has risen unbidden is a time 20 years earlier when Jake and I were running an Enlightenment Intensive in Devon and I sneaked off in a break to a telephone booth to phone a man I had fallen in love with, to tell him I missed him. ‘I can’t possibly say this!’ I remember the instruction. Is this something I’ve done that in my own estimation I should not have done. Definitely. I am so ashamed of sneaking off secretively without Jake’s knowledge. Jake knew everything else about this chap but not this horrifying detail. It had been a difficult time in our relationship and I thought we had got through it. But I had never told Jake about the telephone call. And hey I can’t say this in present company? Enlightenment Intensives are workshops about Truth with a capital T and I was always spouting that ‘the truth shall set you free.’ And there I was being two faced and doing the opposite. I can’t say this to the people in this room. They all look up to me as a ‘truth seeker.’ I can’t say this in front of Stella. I’m here in my black biker gear to see her off for being intimate with my man. I’m the injured party here. I’m not going to confess that I broke the rules and snuck off. There is a deathly hush in the room. Where can I run?
No less incendiary confessions bubble up in my mind. Only me, sneaking off to a phone booth in the middle of the countryside and telling this guy I miss him. But somewhere I find courage. I blurt out the lugubrious contents of my mind to Gerry. I see his eyebrows arch in surprise. I hear Stella gasp. The leather of my trousers chafes uncomfortably against a sheen of sweat The guilt clearing process requires a thank you and the next instruction is ‘Tell me something you have failed to do in your own estimation that you think you should have done.’ I turn to Jake. He is looking at me intensely. I move towards him.
‘Oh Jake I am so sorry I did that and failed to tell you.’ His eyes burn. ‘I am so sorry it has taken me 20 years to confess.’
The remorse is genuine and deep. The tears well from my eyes. We look into each other deeply. I realize how much I love this man and how deeply sorry I am for keeping this secret from him. His eyes are dark, unfathomable. It is like a deep barrier between us is, being broken.
‘I promise I will never lie to you again,’ I say. My inner censor is freaking out. ‘You can’t promise to do that!’ it screams. ‘That’s too hard. Your whole persona is built on secrecy. What will that do?’ I ignore the inner turmoil.
Jake’s eyes clear and I can see straight into his heart. I see the vestiges of hurt, that me falling in love with another guy, deposited there. I don’t ever want to hurt him again. We fall into each other’s arms. It is a sweet moment. The rest of the group stand as witnesses. Jake and I gently extricate ourselves from each other. I turn to the group. I am feeling as light and clear as a fluffy grass seed in the wind. ‘There, that is an example of guilt clearing in action,’ I say. ‘You examine yourself and decide in your own estimation if there is something you did or failed to do in your life. You bring it into the light, have it received by someone; feel the remorse; put it right, and you can go on. Anyway now let’s all dance. This is a party!’
The rest of the evening was great. Jake and I only had eyes for each other. We noticed that Stella was cosying up to Tom. I had got my man back but in the most unexpected way.
The next day Jake and I revisited the conversation. We always felt that anything discovered while under the influence of intoxicants had to be repeated whilst sober. That way we could bring it permanently into our life. It did feel permanent. There was a deeper understanding between us. I marvelled at how efficient the universe was in resolving this particular crisis in our relationship. What had stung my heart just a few days earlier was Jake saying how much he missed Stella when he saw her on the screensaver. It was like a dart had found its way to a hidden crevice in my heart. The combination of guilt clearing and ecstasy did the rest. ‘And your courage,’ said Jake, softly.
So we processed the Stella party. We were now square. I missed that guy, Jake missed Stella; the fifty:fifty rule seems inviolable.