After my first sit in the hot seat, it was evident that I was fucked.
I was asked by my teacher Mikis, in my consultation, in front of the group "Who are you Phoebe?" I froze.
I never knew how to answer that question, my self-confidence levels low.
"Well, who are you?"
"Uh... I'm 29"
"I'm funny, sometimes"
"You are funny sometimes?"
"I like animals. No, I love animals"
I went quiet and started to well up.
"I'm useless, I'm ugly..."
I could feel everyone in the room feeling me.
My body covered in goosebumps.
Rain began to pour from the sky.
The jungle was crying with me.
Mikis asks "Are you fake?"
Soaked in tears but fully trusting this workshop was going to be my turning point, I pondered the question.
I remembered when I was a TV personality, people liked me because I was "authentic" maybe authentic in comparison to other talking heads... I responded "sometimes?"
"Are you fake, Phoebe?"
"Yes" I responded, sitting with the idea.
At the end of this consultation, Mikis said, if I'd like, the hosting team could give me a make-over.
I've always created my appearance. I started colouring my hair in grade 6 and getting funky haircuts shortly after. I went through every phase imaginable.
Avril Lavigne (thick black make-up and Dickies pants).
Snowboarder chick who only wore "Roxy" brand.
Olsen Twin (hobo chic, chunky thrift store jewellery, which led me to form an eating disorder... control).
"Gangsta" girl (wearing Baby Phat, doing hard drugs, coupled with a boyfriend who was an Eminem look-a-like).
Screamo scene-chick (black hair, gauged ears, piercings).
Eventually I became a MuchMusic / MTV personality, having myself dressed up in all sorts of trendy looks. Fake hair, fake nails, fake smile. I never fully trusted the producers, make-up artists or hair and wardrobe stylists to make me look how I wanted. I was definitely a challenge to work with. I quit the TV industry and moved to be with a small hippie community, what mask to wear now... do I stop dying my hair? No make-up? Stop shaving my armpits? Who should I be?
Okay hosting team, I NEED REAL PERMANENT CHANGE. Help!
I cringed as Sara cut my hair short. She felt that the shaved sides and mullet was giving mixed messages. I agreed. She pulled out a box of BROWN hair dye. I began to shake. Boring, brown box dye. I felt they were trying to make me boring, a for sure fear. I bit my tongue to keep my mouth shut. My appearance has ALWAYS been my one control. I handed it over. Aura and Brielle gathered some dresses for me. They were not cool seeming, exactly the point.
I felt like a newborn baby but looked much closer to my actual age than ever before!
The crowd went wild!
Fast forward our first Ayahuasca ceremony and many looks from Mikis to stop putting the "silly show" on... it was time for our second night of Ayahuasca.
We had a very long day in the Airport (our classroom in the jungle). Everyone eager for their night's intentions. After working with many, Mikis takes the tobacco to his lips, looks at me and everyone goes quiet.
"Phoebe, I have your intention. It's a hard one, are you ready to work?"
"What If Nobody Likes Me, Grandmother? Phoebe, to be clear, the question is LIKES not loves. I'm going to help you but you need to work hard."
Everyone was dismissed to change into their ceremony clothing, the jungle was dry so tonight, we drank under the stars.
I stayed behind the group, "Mikis?" "Yes?"
I got nervous and my eyes started to fill, shakey, I open my mouth, "I just want you to know that I've been living out of my car, I don't have a home or a job..." "Phoebe, I know." "Please help me." He looks at me like a father to a daughter "I'm going to help you, I promise you, but I need you to work." "Okay." We hug. "If I was your father, I'd be proud. I am proud."
I scurry to my room, relieved, thankful and motivated to work my ass off in ceremony tonight, no matter what I have to face!
To be continued...
Art by: Luis Tamani