Rescuing Jill – Chapter Segments

Chapter 1

Do Epic Shit

MDMA and magic mushrooms saved my life. Can they save yours? I don’t know. But I have a hunch that if you picked up this book, there is something, somewhere, in the back of your brain, or your body, telling you there is a problem.

Or maybe you know someone who is deeply sad and lonely.

I have a little sign on my desk that reads Do Epic Shit. That sign is there to remind me to do things my way, especially when my way is a bit different from what other people would do. In my career and my life, I’ve made some decisions that became Epic Shit fast.

I wrote this book for you. I wrote this book to show there is a path to healing deep childhood trauma.

  • If you feel emotions in your body that show themselves as physical pain and discomfort, then you might have some trauma making itself known to you.
  • Are you hyper-vigilant and constantly looking over your shoulder because you know something terrible is coming?
  • Do you know it is just a matter of time until life throws you another devastating blow from which you’ll need to recover?
  • Do you have a deep sense of isolation because you know you aren’t worth loving?

Those are just a few hints that you have some trapped emotions from childhood trauma. There are more symptoms, but these are the ones I experienced the most.

Chapter 3

No Trauma Here

I remembered my father as a big man. He was about 6’2″ and 230 pounds. I remember feeling overwhelmed by his size and the weight of his anger when he would beat me. One day my father was upset about something and was yelling at me in the kitchen. He suddenly left the room, but I was frozen in place because that was weird behavior. I rarely escaped getting hit when he was riled up, and I was afraid to move. This time, when he came back to the kitchen, he had a small travel bag with him. He pulled out pictures of my mother who had tried to commit suicide by slicing her wrists in the bathroom tub.

The image I remember most is of my mother’s left arm on the side of the tub with its lines of blood that pooled on the tile floor.

With pride, I explained to my therapist how I calmly looked at those pictures and didn’t respond to him. I can’t even remember if I felt anything looking at those pictures. I didn’t know why my father was showing them to me, but it seemed like some trap to get me to respond so he would have an excuse to keep yelling or hit me. So, I didn’t respond. I got exceptionally good at not responding in general.

My therapist’s raised eyebrows stopped me mid-story. I hadn’t seen someone’s response to my father’s cruelty in years, and I paused—embarrassed.

I had focused on my strategic reaction to avoid getting hit, while she focused on my father’s overt cruelty. First, it meant he took Kodak film pictures of my mother after she had sliced her wrists and had passed out in a tub of her blood, got them developed at a photography store (this was the 1970s), and showed his nine-year-old daughter those pictures years later. But it was just one of the many weird and cruel things my father did, which to me was just a big pile of ugliness. I felt a familiar flush of shame on my cheeks as I realized, uh, here is more shit about my childhood; now she knows I’m fucked up. Normal people don’t grow up like this. I’ll never be like normal people.

Chapter 16

Mom Tried to Escape

My journals about feeling alone also touched on my mother’s attempt to kill herself with a shotgun. I was five, and my mother had already tried a few times to leave this world via pills and razor blades. Her arms had the unsuccessful, crisscrossed scars that she explained away with a fictitious car accident.


My father and I came home and found my mother in the upstairs bathroom. I remember her on the floor with blood across her stomach. But the sense of being alone hit hard when I watched the ambulance’s red and blue lights swirl from my neighbor’s door. I remember being alone and scared for my mommy. I don’t know how long I stood at that door or what happened after that ambulance left. My body remembered how alone and out of place I felt standing there.

I felt like the last kid at a party after all the other kids had been picked up and the parents were putting away the decorations.

I didn’t have anywhere to go.


I look back now, and I think my five-year-old brain was overloaded with everything I didn’t understand. I knew life was tough and lonely. That much I knew.

While walking Sadie one afternoon, I suddenly looked at my mother’s shotgun suicide attempt differently. I had always harbored a bit of resentment that she was willing to leave me with my father, so I hadn’t spent much time in my adulthood thinking about her suicide attempts.

I don’t know what made me think about hunting as we walked by the creek. Maybe the geese and ducks that waddled into the water turned a few gears in my head as we approached. Suddenly I realized that my father was the hunter in the family, and he was the owner of the shotgun my mother used.

My mother didn’t own a gun.

My mother didn’t know how to handle a gun. She didn’t know how to load a gun. Heck, she couldn’t even kill herself with one.

It was like a forehead slap when I realized that my father had made his loaded shotgun available to a woman with numerous suicide attempts under her belt. A long-lost memory of my mother telling me the gun had been kept in their bedroom floated into focus.

The medicine let me empathize with my mother in a unique way now. My mother wasn’t trying to leave me. My mother was trying to escape my father. The nuclear option of shooting herself became her only option. Her initial cries for help with pills and razor blades had been ignored. I’m sure she, and he, thought a shotgun was a sure thing. Later that day I wrote in my journal:

I guess he got tired of her fucking it up.