I remember looking for something in the refrigerator of my previous boyfriend's apartment to wash down the sleeping pills. Since he was a teenager and a boy, all there was to drink was beer. I remember thinking that I didn't want to mix alcohol with narcotics because that would be stupid. (Okay, the fact that I wanted to end my life and had been prescribed sleeping pills because I had been sexually assaulted and still was unable to sleep two years after the incident). I went next door to a neighbor's apartment and they gave me some Kool-Aid. I don't remember getting sleepy, I don't remember falling asleep, I don't really remember anything - but I DO know that when I 'awoke' - for lack of a better term - in my consciousness, I was in a place that was deep, black.
It was a tactile darkness that felt at once like a sumptuous velvet was all around me and at the same time had the feeling of what a cocoon must feel like. I was aware that I had 'sight' and could see the darkness, not see into the darkness - just that I was aware of the dark. Then, something happened and it felt like a robe-like garment fell away from me. I have always had physical pain from an abusive upbringing and the subsequent sexual assault, which always felt as though the pain was grasping me, tightly, for long periods of time. When this 'robe' fell away, there was no pain. It was gone, all of the pain. I felt like I could cry and then something strange happened. In front of me, a distance of about ten to twelve feet, a micro-thin line appeared. It was a white, luminous line that was brighter and more beautiful than any crystal-like prism casting light; a white that made the whitest white I know of to be dull and off-colored. As the line widened just a fraction, the light became shards. Sharp, razor edged shards of light. It was so beautiful that I knew the only thing that I wanted was to go towards that opening, sure that beautiful would be an inadequate word to describe what must lie beyond that light. I could not propel myself; I felt that I no longer had limbs to walk with, to pull myself forward with, no hands, nothing. I thought in my mind 'Move forward, move yourself towards that light' and at that moment, I felt two hands pushing downward on my shoulders. The voice was masculine, it came from behind, it said, 'It's not time yet.' The next sensation was taking a huge breath in, like someone had breathed for me, deeply taking in as much air as possible.
The second sensation was the familiar physical pain and sadness that was deeper than any loss I had experienced before that moment.
There were two things that have lingered since that day - the memory is always as vivid and life changing when it happened.
Date NDE Occurred: Summer 1972
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Uncertain Suicide attempt Other Attempted suicide
I took an entire bottle of sleeping pills with the intent of taking my life.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Wonderful
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? More consciousness and alertness than normal As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? From the moment I 'awoke' in that dark place until the moment I took in that breath. It was not a dream, it was not a hallucination - every single moment of the experience was as crystal clear as the water around the island of Caprice in Italy. Complete clarity.
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Like being in a waiting room without any chairs, plants, lights, doors or receptionist.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Please compare your vision during the experience to your everyday vision that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. Clarity, colors, brightness, heightened to the n-th degree.
Please compare your hearing during the experience to your everyday hearing that you had immediately prior to the time of the experience. There was no sound in the place that I was in that was black. There was no sound when the sliver of light opened up, nor when the light changed to shards. I did not 'hear' the robe, which I assumed, was my physical body falling away. The sound of the person speaking to me as he had his hands on my shoulders, I knew came from behind me. It was not said into one ear of the other, there was no accent, no identifying characteristics other than that of a man.
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Uncertain I don't know how I got there, or how I left, only that I was literally SLAMMED back into the mortal body.
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? Yes Something that I thought was human because it talked to me came from behind and physically touched both of my shoulders, pushing down on them.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes The sliver of light which then opened wider as in a door opening a crack.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Complete peace. I am afraid of the dark, the sexual assault happened in the dark. I was not aware of being in pain when I 'awoke' in the dark black place, but when the shell of a body fell away from me I was acutely aware of the absence of physical pain, the absence of physical sadness and depression and loss of hope. I felt 'free,' as though I had never been abused, sexually assaulted, dumped, abandoned, hated by my parents and the hopelessness of not knowing where you are going to live, that if you died there would be no one who would know you, no one would claim my body, and the world would go on without knowing that I was no longer living in it. I felt at peace.
I felt as though someone stripped away all that was mortal and revealed that core of what I was. As corny as it sounds, I felt that 'I was loved,' 'I knew what love felt like', 'I was valuable to the universe' or whatever it was that creates us and when we die takes us back to wherever it is that we are supposed to go. Living a life devoid of familial affection, screwed up relationships and a type A++ personality who feels that workaholics is next to godliness and leaving home for good when I was fifteen or sixteen without any plan other than forward momentum - this was BIG.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future Afterwards I found that déjà vu seemed to happen more frequently and sometimes I would 'feel/see' something in a person like where their pain was/is. Sometimes it still spooks me when I mentally 'see' something that is going to happen and it comes true.
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Liberal None
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Uncertain I was not in a religious family, did not understand what church was about - but it did change the way that I listened to religion after that. As the years went by and I tripped across Buddhism I explored it because it said to question what you hear, see, believe. I loved the way that it talks about the illusion of chasing after materialism and relationships and money; but the most important thing that I love about it is that it says that one should laugh daily, many times daily, full heart in it laugh. I felt Lightness, in so many forms.
What is your religion now? Liberal Buddhist
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Uncertain I was not in a religious family, did not understand what church was about - but it did change the way that I listened to religion after that. As the years went by and I tripped across Buddhism I explored it because it said to question what you hear, see, believe. I loved the way that it talks about the illusion of chasing after materialism and relationships and money; but the most important thing that I love about it is that it says that one should laugh daily, many times daily, full heart in it laugh. I felt Lightness, in so many forms.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Yes I felt as though the physical touch transferred this feeling of 'knowing' that Love was the most important thing there was. That this love was contained within me now - something I had never felt about myself or that anyone felt about me. I felt that something acknowledged that some-kind-of-being was with me always, and always. I felt that my life was not random, not left over, that my life was uniquely made for me to be living in. I felt that my life was not a solitary function. Rather, what interactions I had were part of an exchange of questions and answers to another's life. Their input filled in a part of the puzzle that was me and vice versa. It was no longer a random existence of wrong choices and decisions. I had the feeling, comically, that this 'life' is not ABOUT me. Human beings do what they do because they are engrossed in their life and interactions happen because they are playing out a script and you cross their paths and become a character they need to complete a scene. It was like telling someone 'don't take it personally, or it's not about you.'
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? Yes I feel as though that day I experienced that connection that the heart looks for when you are young. As a female of a legal consent age, I was looking for the 'perfect someone' who would love me, make my life complete, happily ever after, rose covered cottage with the white picket fence man that the Madison Avenue experience tells me is my right as an American. I felt that unconditional love in the dark black room. I felt that it was inherently inside me already and that it was therefore in everyone. They just didn't know it yet. I see people as they are, remarkable in and of themselves and not needing them to finish/complete me nor I to rescue or care for them.
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Yes It is pretty embarrassing sometimes. I'll pick up the phone (this was in the days prior to caller ID) and say the person's name. If it is someone that I know and feel comfortable around, sometimes I ask them questions about what happened the night before or ask them to ask the person they are with something that I had wanted to ask this 'friend's friend' without realizing that I'm doing it. If someone I know, sometimes it happens with someone I've just met, is not feeling well I can see the place it hurts/is sick by a slight change in color around it. If I am touching someone, I can feel the heat in the area where something is wrong.
If I am intimate with a person, sometimes just touching them when they are next to me I can feel if they are in pain or ill. I can feel where they feel the pain. My partner has cluster headaches and it is someone that I grew up in the same island with and school together but didn't date or anything - thirty years later, we were re-united and when he flew out to see me, I touched his face and searing pain went through my eyeball and temple. I stood back and asked him if he was in pain and told him what and where I felt/saw it. He was a little shook up, but then he knew that I had always been 'strange' as he puts it (translation: I was a visual artist). Sometimes I can feel someone before they come into a room - great parlor trick at the airport when you are waiting for someone to come in.
I also seem to feel some deceased people (and not just the ones that I know are dead - people not close to me).
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? All of it. To live a life where you were not wanted at home, unknown at school and invisible to most everyone around you - AND in physical pain and depression. This was like someone gave you absolute proof that you were not junk/trash/worthless/useless and all the other adjectives of hopeless existence.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Immediately - to the old boyfriend. He was spooked by me and my déjà vu already, this was too much for him to handle.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real Do you know when you discover something and you find out that it is 'real' - undeniable, absolute, unquestionable - 'real'? There is something in the core of your being that resonates and says, 'Yes! Exactly! That is how I viewed it.' I have always taken responsibility for my life and what I do. I accept responsibility for feeding, housing, earning a living. I did not expect to be rescued by prince charming nor did I believe that I had the right to the happiness that I saw sometimes around me. I believe in hard work and take joy in a job well done. I read constantly - I love non-fiction. I trust words because they are there to go back to again and again - they will not change, these words that I read, they will be the same word on the same page today, tomorrow and as long as that particular book exists, that word will be there. The comfort I took/take in the concrete, realness of reality - that feeling was exactly how that experience left me - no doubts about the existence of a greater force in the universe and the knowledge that I was a part of it.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real It has never dulled; it has never become less than what it was. It was a life-altering experience leaving me without any fear of what will happen when I die permanently. That there is something that is as close as my breath leaving my body and it is always there - and will be there until the day I die.
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? Yes A surgery a couple of years later produced another NDE apparently from too much anesthesia. Same room, same light - me trying to move as quickly as I could to get to those shards of light only to, alas, hear the same voice behind me as he pressed down on my shoulders and said 'It's not time yet.'
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? What happened, that first time, changed me forever. It left me with a feeling of peace and a 'knowing' that something much larger than myself loves everyone who is here on this blue planet moving around in space. That no one is more important or less loved.
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Could you ask - 'If someone you know was dying, would you share your experience with them?' and 'If you shared your experience of NDE with someone close to you who was dying - do you fell that it had an effect on the dying person? Was it positive, negative, made you feel like you were foolish?'