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When At The End of the Road – Heartbreak and Calling it Quits

It took 43 years of me experiencing life to get confronted with one of life’s great pains. Heartbreak. I mean true, uncut and untethered heartbreak that comes in through your mouth, goes down your throat and then grabs your heart and rips it out through your nasal passage as if to be excreted in a violent alien like motion.

Of course, I’ve been in many relationships over the years that have had all sorts of trajectories and a variety of endings. That said, they have all (until now) shared a common attribute of organically fading away when the end is near. Never before has a relationship confronted me with the ultimate blow – being completely abandoned, dumped and left alone.

New age power brokers will immediately cry “victimhood!! Stop!” Eh. Ok but no, I’ve come to learn that at times we are actually victims. Bad shit does happen to good people. And that is totally ok.

What happened was I was walking along enjoying the best romance of my life (albeit long distance) with great messages being sent my way like “you are my soul mate, cosmic love and best friend. I couldn’t imagine my life without you.” Or..”we have no real problems, just challenges.” This was our day to day reality – of course there were little blips along the way that had has running and crying and going to the core of our dark selves but very quickly we came back to this intensely high soul connection. Then one day I made a mistake and by all accounts it was a mistake that every single person I’ve asked found to be in the realm of tolerability. Of course it’s more complex, more nuanced and comes complete with back story that verifies the fact that I’m not entirely innocent. It wasn’t the first mistake in this area (note money) and it created a schism in her ability to tolerate me. That said, I was honest about it and was doing my best to be transparent and vulnerable in this area of personal work. Anyway, this mistake was made one day and poof, it was all gone. The relationship went from one day resting sweetly in a place of unconditional love that could never be severed to it being ended over email and text half across the world. Seriously – over email and text. From someone who said they were my best friend, partner and soul mate literally the day before. I’m not exaggerating.

“Until we have we seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we forgive someone’s darkness, we don’t know what love is.” – Unknown

The level of fucked-up-ness in this situation caused me to freak out. To scream like a man being slashed and burned and to completely loose any sensible control of my emotions. At first I retaliated with the only power I had left – text and email outbursts. Rather than taking a deep breath and being calm and centered I unleashed a couple of low blow texts that I knew would hurt her. Why? Several reasons. One, because I was not thinking clearly. Two, at that moment I felt (accurately I might add) abandoned and discarded like a commodity so my fight or flight impulse kicked in. Am I proud of that? No. But am I un-mistakingly human and chock full of bad programming? Yes. Sometimes all that stuff serves me inside of my head but rarely does it translate outside of it. Part of the biggest cycle of fear based thinking in my life is centered around acceptance and unconditional love. When I feel that I’m not worth loving solely because of my imperfections I tend to not deal with that well. Same goes for most of I’m sure. We all want to be loved and accepted for who we are.

What is most interesting to me is that when presented with the most nightmarish situation how true practice, or lack thereof, kicks in. This was to me a real living nightmare that I’ve never before experienced and the roller coaster that happened next was beyond anything I could have imagined. Whatever tools I thought I had for something like this turned out to not to be present. Because I never had them in the first place, clearly. It’s worth noting that my digital outbursts made it worse. For anyone taking note of how to behave when things go south – don’t make it worse. I did and payed the price most likely.

Here’s why it was a nightmare though.

I know many people might see it as “fuck dude, it’s just a relationship that lasted seven months. Calm down and move on. So she dumped you.” This was different though. She was (probably still) is the one I knew I could settle into and build my life with and around. She was a total love at first sight experience and I’ve never had that. My lack of any real family (a mother who lives 8000 miles away) created a gaping hole in my life that I fill with people who love me and are my family. So this particular significant other was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Never before had I met someone who could actually “see” me and radiate with all of my personality and humanity. Complete dream alignment that was my partnership to a whole life. Cut to: obviously she didn’t “see” me if she would cut and run one day so suddenly. I get that. Still… She was my person that mutually committed to stay in the form of unconditional love and to work through all of our stuff in a patient and human way. We committed to not freak out over fear based projections. Endless texts, talks and bonds that cemented those promises.

Now with some distance I’ve come to learn and to have compassion and empathy for the idea that it’s unfair to hold another to everything they said or promised at one point during a relationship. We’ve all said things and felt things in the heat of the moment that were true at that moment but perhaps were driven by intoxication, hope, idealism and fantasy. Forging a real relationship takes years of discovering and accepting another human being and allowing them to discover and accept you in whatever form you come. Some people may think they are ready for that but others, when faced with a challenge find out that they are not. That’s what seemed to happen here. The idealism of being someones soulmate outweighed the reality of it. In this case – it felt more cowardly than anything.

The other card that has been dealt to me was the ol’  “the relationship is only good if it serves our higher self” chestnut – whatever that means. The implication being that my mistake laden behavior around my current financial predicament didn’t serve her higher self or something to that effect and that she felt “abused” and taken advantage of because of it. Let’s be very clear – the word abuse is inappropriate here and no such thing happened. I was a great boyfriend, loving, kind and adoring – yes with a few of humanities issues attached to me. I was by no means abusive in any way shape or form.

Drama aside – this is what happened. I made a mistake, was totally honest about it FYI but was just left suddenly and without any recourse or option to talk it through. An email saying “it’s time we part ways but thanks for a great 7 months” is all I got. I’m not kidding.

Sometimes reality can really smack you upside the head.

The big deal to me was that it reinforced the idea in my head that I don’t deserve unconditional love from another person. I’m damaged and fucked up therefore I’m not worthy. Look, I got thrown out by my favorite person in the world because I’m damaged. I’m not worthy of her love, clearly. That was the immediate re-inforcement idea played over and over in my head. Those are the messages and patterns in life that are very difficult to not let program you to death. Seeing eternal truths and real value in ones own self takes lots of work – it takes pushing aside these stories. And fuck, let me tell you. That’s hard to do.

All the spiritual work I’ve done and all the 12 step work I’ve been immersed in tells you that the above A) isn’t true and B) looking to be whole via outside people is a faulty way to live. I know that and I’ve taught that to others for years. I’ve come to learn, however, that teaching these things to others when I have never experienced them myself is a operating in a vacuum. It’s just theory. It’s not that I didn’t know what I spoke of it’s that I didn’t know myself. I’ve come to learn something very touching and fragile about myself.

I need people. Other people. I need others to make me whole. Yes, I said it. And all of the hard core new agers will throw every single book at me and tell me that’s suspect. But it’s true. I need and most of all want a family to call my own and to make my circle complete. Krishna’s love just isn’t enough in this material world. And when that gets ripped away from me for seemingly a really bad reason it’s unbearable. And…you know what? I’m ok with that. It’s who I am. I love and adore the few people in the world who can see me for who I am and needing them to stay connected with me is ok. My individual self gets lonely, scared and freaked out looking at the weight of the world. Needing others to make the experience a little more gentle is totally fine by me. I’ll stand by it. I need people. I need love from other people. What more is I thought I found that person who would give that to me – boy was I mistaken.

All that being said, being prepared for when that DOES get taken away is what I have to look at. I had zero idea that she would actually not mean what she said and actually run away from me due to my humanity. I had no tools for when that day would come. Learning to expand the tool set for all possible outcomes is the only option within this maze of dimensions we call life. I’ve learned that no single situation is bullet proof. You have to expect any possible outcome, option and predicament to present itself at any given moment. As lovely and solid as many people can be – no one is immune from expressing their own truths by leaving on to whatever is right for them. And that’s her story. I don’t think she’s bad or mean. I think she’s fear based and confused. It pains me to think that no one is 100% reliable. I want to operate from the place that they are. But no one is. We are all here alone as a sperm in an egg suit floating on a god damn rock. If we are lucky enough to connect with another egg suit and find a union for a bit of time then that is grace. But to be naive enough to think that the other egg suit will never ever let you go no matter what – simply isn’t reality. Some people get lucky and find that. Others, like myself, have yet to.

Am I mad? Yes. Am I sad? Yes. Am I victim? Yes. Do I need others? Yes. It’s all true. At the same time – are we all alone? Yes. Do our tool sets need to be built to be more robust to tolerate any outcome? Yes. Are people free to move on defying any reasonable explanation? Yes. We all have free will and people are never 100% reliable. They can turn on a dime.

The end of the road seemed to present itself in the middle of this, I might add. Or should I say at the beginning. I was borderline toying with suicidal  thoughts and had to go to the hospital twice just to calm down and get something for sleep. I hadn’t slept in days and was starting to see double. I’m not embarrassed by any of this. I’ve come to learn how fragile I really am and in ways that I didn’t know even know existed. The end of the road, as I know it, is a place that when grace presents itself moves away from you just a bit. You can still see the end of the road, sure but it gets further away. And then next day, a few chants later, the end of the road is even further away. And so on. But my path knows that the end of the road looks like – as dark as that may seem to some. My mortality and heart is inextricably human, vulnerable and prone to darkness. This is why I was a drug addict. I’m not a zen master. I’m a spiritual aspirant whose objective is to know thyself. My objective is to not know the universe. If that comes, great. But I still hover in the center of it all and unless I truly know who I am nothing else applies. What I learned here, again, is that I didn’t know as much of me as I thought I did.

At age 43 life can still throw you a big fuck off and how you deal with it is where it’s at. It’s the pain, the beauty and the falling apart. I’m proud to have fallen apart. I’m still broken in what seems beyond repair. But slowly, very slowly, I can see a reassembly happen. Being left in the cold alone really sucks. But finding the warmth once again is a lovely experience. However…please God, don’t let it happen again. Grant me the wisdom to see more clearly where love is real, honest, pure, reliable and also vulnerable and suspect.

Through all of this I don’t love her any less. Most people are telling me that I’m a co-dependent zombie if I believe that. How can you love someone so deeply who would just bail on you over EMAIL?? Zach, wake up. The heart wants what it wants. I recognize her humanity and confusion and see her as my teacher. Does it matter much? No. It’s how I choose to see the world.

Me The MAPS Podcast

The MAPS Podcast is live!

I’m so thrilled, honored and humbled to announce that the MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) Podcast is now live. It’s been in the works for some time and took a little crafting to get it just right. Myself and the good people at MAPS are finally ready to release it to the world!

The intention of the podcast is to take the very rich and valuable MAPS audio archives and to curate them in a way that can target not only researchers but also the general public that is looking to learn more about the vast landscape of modern psychedelic research. Some episodes will feature some of the great talks by many of the great minds that have spoken at past Psychedelic Science conferences, breakout panels and keynote speeches while others will be original content that tap some of the great modern luminaries, scientists, journalists and even comedians.

My role, as the host, is to give each episode context and flavor stemming from my life long admiration and association for the community, the research and culture. Without getting into too much personal melo-drama (because the podcast is not about me) I do want to say that I am very humbled to be able to contribute to this community in any sort of official capacity. I spent many years keeping a distance because of the ever looming presence and brilliance of my dads work. Being too close to it simply felt too nerve racking and not authentic to my own path. Time does pass and it’s afforded me wisdom in the form of being granted confidence in my own voice and knowing exactly what I have to offer. With that, I am beyond excited to find a little niche that works for me.

Thank you to the MAPS family for including me in this adventure!
These two episodes are now available:

Episode 1 – James Fadiman, Scientific Problem Solving with Psychedelics 

Episode 2 – Stephen Ross, MD – Psilocybin, Addiction and End of Life Anxiety

To listen and subscribe on iTunes please click here

To get more information on MAPS please visit their site at www.maps.org

Me

Welcome to IAH Productions!

The goal of IAH Productions to extend my work into areas that exist outside of myself but feels true to what we’ve created here on the IAH podcast. For years, I’ve been separating my work into different components, categories and compartments. Rather than continuing that separation I feel that the best way moving forward is to unify everything I do into one cohesive philosophical offering that has within it different offerings

Please click here to learn more

Funny Me

2016 – My Problem Child

(Yes, I stole the blogs title from Albert Hoffman’s seminal book ‘LSD – My Problem Child’. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have minded)

2016, by all accounts, seemed to be a rough year for most people. If it wasn’t “rough” it perhaps certainly was a year of transition, change and deep shifts in our collective consciousness .

Here’s some of the bigger learnings for me from this past year.

1.) I’m smarter than many but not as smart as some

In between these two spectrums lies the ability to know where my strongest suits are settled. This space is where I can tread effectively and meaningfully. If I have doubts that I’m not smart enough to deal with a certain topic then that just sells me short and I don’t get the results I’m after. On the flip side I know what topics I can only skim the surface of and don’t dare compete in. That realization allows me to stay in my zone and be the best I can be within that zone.

2.) Podcasting is harder than I thought

Embarking on “It’s All Happening” in 2015 was no doubt a good idea however, 71 episodes later I’ve come to realize that it’s harder than I thought it would be. Releasing to the world an hours worth of good content every week takes great care, preparation, thought and balance. The art of listening to other people is a whole art unto itself. But listening to others while gently steering them in the right direction in order to keep the conversation vibrant and interesting is also an art unto itself. I’ve learned that you really just can’t throw episodes out in a hurried and rash fashion – it’s better to release a show late than to release one on time but of poor quality. My listeners have taught me so much and now that the show has a decent following getting listener feedback is more important than ever. That’s the barometer.

3.) The political sphere follows and does not lead

I heard Ram Dass say this in a lecture from 1983. At the time I never really paid much attention to it nor did I even think it was true. It was then and is now. He was so right on. Let’s not forget it.

Politics follows polling data and then adjusts according to that data. If the political narrative really was based on leading it would forge it’s discourse not based on fear, a watered down pubic sentiment (polls), or precedent. Rather it would be based on breaking ground and boldly deciding what we can collectively do as a society. Sure, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams listened to the frustrations of the late 18th century but do you think they really cared how the Declaration of Independence was “going to play” in the field. Fuck no. They were rebels, they rebelled. Let’s do more of that.

4.) Time is finite

My incarnation as a 43 year old named Zach Leary is where I’m at and what I’m doing now. Sure, you can change and begin again. There is a certain elasticity to life that allows you to be flexible when needed and for memories to come and go. That’s great and all – but – time is finite. There are only so many days that I’ll be able to do what it is I think I should be doing and using those days wisely is of the utmost importance. I used to think that “Oh, I’ll get it to when I’m ready.” No longer do I think that.

The time is now. Move. Act. Follow through. Produce. Get into action.

Of course, I’ll have an off day when a Netflix binge and Thai food delivery is the best I can do. When that happens I’ll make peace with it and not beat myself up with the “undisciplined loser” dialogue. I can learn to embrace my shadow side with softness but also with enough sting to get myself off the mat and back into the ring. I can only speak for myself in that I feel I have just enough to offer the world, my God and my heart and that my dharma is to simply honor that.

As Krishna Das so wisely says “As far as I’m concerned the only thing we need to renounce is our self-hatred and judgment of ourselves, and our sense of unworthiness, and our sense that we are not worthy of love. This is where we should start. If we could just work with that place a little bit the whole quality of our lives would change.”

That’s it.

5.) Egg McMuffins – really people?!?

By far the most hate mail/tweets/messages that I received from being on the Joe Rogan Experience was from people responding to my  occasional failing of eating an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds. Seems that there are a fair amount of people who truly believe that succumbing to that occasional vice literally makes me “not spiritual”, “a poser”, “not a hippie”, “a cruel hypocrite”, “a drug damaged sociopath” and my favorite “a delusional acid casualty.” Well now, there you have it. I’m really in love with that sort of attack and find it so amazing that there are so many perfect people out in the world.

Should I not eat Egg McMuffins? Yes, of course. McDonalds is about as bad a corporation as it gets and factory farming sucks. But I’ve spent a huge portion of my adult life barely able to gasp for air or for any love at all. If I fall to an occasional trapping of the hypocrisy of the material world, I’m ok with that. And trust me the lowly Egg McMuffin is not as bad at it COULD get for me. I’ve danced in many more dangerous and disingenuous arenas than that. I’m blessed that I’m currently not doing those dances, truly.

Progress and not perfection. One day – yes – I will be Egg McMuffin free. Maybe that even starts now? Who knows? Ram Dass so often and correctly warns us of being “phony holy.” That is the one thing I never ever want to be. So there it is!

Happy 2017. I’m really feeling an upswing not just in myself but in the collective dialogue. Let’s do this thing.

Me

JRE Episode #891 with Zach Leary

Clearly getting the call to come on the Joe Rogan Experience is the one you want to get if you have a podcast that’s at all an irreverent stab at analyzing the cultural multi-verse. Without Rogan it can probably be said that the genre wouldn’t exist in the healthy and vibrant way that it does now. He’s the OG Jedi master. That of course means that getting that call to come on the show is thrilling, surreal, nerve racking but ultimately a fantastically joyful manifestation from the Gods.

It was a blast to do. Did it go as well as I wanted it to go? No. Were my expectations of myself too high? Yes. Do I want a do-over? Yes. That said, there’s some good stuff in it and I’m happy I even got the chance. Joe was kind, welcoming and generous with his time and attention. I hope you enjoy it.

Click on the image to watch it on YouTube or to listen on iTunes click here

Me

The MAPS Podcast

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

I’m thrilled beyond measure to announce a new project that I’ll be involved with. Starting in late January I’ll be hosting the all-new MAPS (maps.org) podcast simply called “The MAPS Podcast”.

It will feature classic lectures and panels from many of the sensational past Psychedelic Science conferences, treasures from the Rick Doblin archives as well as all new interviews and content made just for this.

I’m honored to be a part of it and hope that I can help steer the podcast into the high-quality show that it deserves to be. Thank you to Brad Burge, Matt Neal and Rick Doblin for having me involved. God speed!

Me

The Spirit Matters Podcast

I really enjoyed doing this podcast. I love every one that I’m so honored to be asked to do but this one was special because it was a chance for me to transparent and specific about my spiritual practice and views on practical devotion. The Spirit Matters hosts are very insightful old-school practitioners and Phil Goldberg’s book “American Veda” is WELL worth getting into.

They wrote:

Zach Leary is the host of the “It’s All Happening” podcast. He calls himself “a blogger/writer, a futurist, spiritualist, digital branding specialist and self-proclaimed social theorist.” He is a practitioner of bhakti yoga as taught through many of the Vedantic systems of Northern India, which “unlock doorways that allow the soul to experience its true nature of being eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.” Zach has also been influenced by other methods and traditions of consciousness exploration, ranging from trans-humanism to Buddhism and clinical psychology. At the core of his work is the belief that we have been fused together by the use of technology, spirituality and mysticism to define the very nature of who we are. We spoke about bhakti, chanting, his podcast and growing up with a unique and controversial father, Timothy Leary.