A Biographical Sketch of My Conversion Experience (Part 3) by Joe Lamay
Up until this time, late winter to early spring of 1981, I had never taken any hallucigenic drugs because they frightened the heck out of me. But one evening, in March, my marijuana supplier was out of my stuff, but he told me he had some “killer hallucigenic mushrooms.” He finally talked me into trying them. Two hours later, I had an experience like I had never had before. It was really enjoyable. And since I woke up the next morning with everything back to normal, it was not to be feared as I once thought. I could not wait for the next experience. So over the next two months, usually with friends, I dropped acid or ate mushrooms on at least ten different occasions.
And then I experienced a life-altering “nightmare.” While frying on mushrooms with two friends, an irrational and overwhelming fear began to grip me. The thought that I was on the verge of experiencing what was known in the drug culture as a “bad trip” intensified the mental turmoil all the more. As I was on the precipice of losing all sense of reality, my two buddies deserted me out of the fear of catching the panic that was overtaking me. So there I was, standing in the middle of the street on Poinsettia Avenue in Manhattan Beach (some names and places make their indelible mark on our memories) fully conscious and yet I was convinced I had died, my body was lying in some emergency room, my parents were devastated, and I was in hell…though it looked exactly like the trees and houses on Poinsettia Avenue. It is virtually impossible to relate this terror to people who have not had a similar experience. I do not know how long it went on that night and I do not remember getting home, but I found out a few days later that my friend drove me home in my car. When I woke up the next morning, it was as if I knew my life had changed forever. It was not like waking up from an extreme night of alcohol intoxication. It felt like, even though I had come down from the effects of the mushrooms, I would never really move on from that experience.
The terror of that night made me apprehensive to smoke marijuana for fear that it would thrust me back into the same horrifying experience. Over the next few weeks, I would wake up each morning feeling like the night of my bad trip was inches away from leaping on me again. I found myself desperately holding on to some semblance of a normal mental state. After two weeks of no pot smoking (the longest stretch in five years), I headed over to my friend’s house three blocks away to find that one of my high school baseball teammates was in town because he had been suspended by the New York Yankees for (you guessed it) too much partying and curfew breaking. As George and I sat in the living room talking, he began to roll a joint. Eighty percent of me was saying, “Don’t you dare take a hit, Joe.” The other twenty percent was salivating as he reached out with the understood jester, “It’s your turn.” I cautiously reached for the beautiful smelling weed and took it deep down into my lungs again and again over the next few minutes. Then suddenly…Bam! I was right back to where I was the night of my bad trip. The terror of this gripped me so much that I said to myself that I needed to get into my car and drive the three blocks to my house immediately or I would never get home.
This day, which commenced five months of flashbacks, made the night of my bad trip seem like a walk in the park. I was now mentally and emotionally stranded on an island by myself. I was a caged and fearful young man who was losing his grip on reality. Everyday I would be overpowered by foreign thoughts that were trying to convince me that Jesus is not God, who became human in order to die and be raised from the dead for sinners like me.
This was tormenting because deep down I knew that nothing made ultimate sense--and there was no hope--outside of the good news of Jesus Christ being resurrected from the dead.
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