*Disclaimer: This article has been written to bring awareness to the safe use of psychedelics and for educational and harm reduction purposes only. If you have any health conditions or are taking medication, DO NOT take these substances without first doing your own research, and talking with your doctor or healthcare professional.*
When I was five or six, I was told the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I recall with
visceral effect my inner child squirming and wincing as the story unfolded. Starting first with a
woman made from the body of a man. Then placed in a beautiful, lush garden to be in his
Inside the garden, a serpent, slithered around the branches of the trees. He was with the man and
woman, watching them, studying their behaviors.
After some time, the serpent zeroed his focus in on the woman while the man was hunting for
food. He lured the woman by tempting her with succulent fruits. The woman had been told to
avoid the fruit, to enjoy only certain things and leave the rest behind. For some of the fruits,
despite looking appealing and tasting delicious, could have lasting negative effect.
The woman couldn’t contain her curiosity, and the serpent was good at manipulating. He assured
her it would be fine, no permanent damage done, so the woman tried a bite.
I remember relating to her feelings of curiosity. I could almost taste the explosion of flavor when
she bit into the apple and my little mouth watered.
The woman knew she was being tested, but she couldn’t resist. Momentary satisfaction gave way
to immediate regret. In the end, it seemed she lost everything for this fleeting experience and
taste of sweetness. She and her beloved became burdened and eventually were banished from
“But why would there be such delicious fruit if she can’t even enjoy it?” I asked.
“You’re missing the point of the story,” my Sunday School teacher snipped with frustration.
In the absence of a cohesive explanation, the five-year-old girl filled in the gaps. This was the
moral of the story as she internalized it: Eve was weak. She was punished for this weakness. She
lacked self-control over her body and her mind. She lost love and safety because of this lack of
control. She succumbed to the serpent and became a kind of prisoner as a result. Eve could not
trust her instincts or herself. She was a problem and a disruptor. Because of this, she was
sentenced to pay a price for her weakness and disobedience.
This price was paid in blood and pain each month and would culminate in the ultimate suffering
of giving birth should she decide someday to become a mother. That journey of bringing her
baby into the world would be agonizing, and that would be her own fault. If only she’d had self-
control, her life could have been very different.
This was the story told to me of my own inherent, tragic flaws. This is the story that set a
trajectory of thirty years of relentless and self-deprecating attempts at controlling my body and
It is a wonder given this backdrop that I ever wanted to become a mother. It wasn’t always the
case but overtime the curiosity about what that journey might be like consumed me. Perhaps the
way Eve’s curiosity consumed her. The restless lure for what could be possible, the longing to
know the depths of that kind of love. Perhaps the little girl in me who went straight from baby
into severity wanted an opportunity to do it over again, a childhood by proxy.
Only not unlike the fate of Eve in the garden, once I became pregnant, I felt immediately
tormented and terrified. My body raged with hormones out of control. Fear engulfed me. If I
could not even control myself – how would I possibly control another?
MDMA made me a better mother than I ever could have been otherwise primarily because it
helped me know mothering has absolutely nothing to do with control. But, rather, everything to
do with unconditional love.
You see there is a tiny, yet significant part of the brain called the amygdala. The amygdala
manages our response to fear evoking stimuli. When that terrifying story of Eve was presented to
me as a child, the amygdala inside my still developing brain recoiled in fear and got stuck. It
pulled like a tortoise in a shell and made an unconscious yet convicted choice to remain retracted
where things felt safe. I stayed like this comfortably and uncomfortably in a state of alert for
decades until my children were born, emerging like catalysts, demanding my expansion.
When the MDMA peeled back the layers, I saw that young girl version of me in a new light. I
felt her feelings as my own but also with a different kind of healthy detachment that had not been
accessible before. I saw her terror. I felt her frightened, but strong. Confused and on guard. She
appeared as if sitting in bunker underground.
Strapped to her shoulders was a tiny little backpack, and inside the backpack was a robust alarm
system. That alarm system went off any time she experienced strong feelings of curiosity or
desire. In other words, it went off a lot, as curiosity and desire are the primary emotions and
experiences which govern the landscape of childhood.
In her little body and brain, this alarm system sent an electric shock whenever she felt anything
deemed inappropriate, which was basically everything. After time, all those shocks left her
partially numb while also aching with a dull, consistent physical pain.
Now, I affectionately call her my “Alarm Girl.” We are becoming friends. Following her lead,
I’m remembering how to be curious and wild and free. She still carries her backpack just in case,
but she’s not frozen or hiding in a bunker anymore.
She used to be scared she didn’t know how to play, which meant I was scared I might disappoint
my sons with my intensity, with all the fear bottled up inside. But my sons have helped all of me
remember play is innate to being human. There is no wrong way to play. Only the absence of
play is wrong.
So, when I tell you MDMA helped me be a better mom, this is a little window into how and what
I mean, a little pathway into the world of neuroplasticity and changing the brain. Scientists talk
about it in big, fancy terms and words. For me, it was actually quite simple and far less scary and
painful than everything else I’d done before.
Heaven forbid, we break the rules. Especially as mothers.
Before the medicine work, I parented from an intellectual place, as my heart was almost entirely
contained by my amygdala. I pushed myself to be perfect for my children. The intent was pure.
The execution is where things got tricky.
I still catch myself out on that ledge of relentless striving sometimes. But these days, when that
happens, I’m able to access another part of myself MDMA helped me to discover – the “Good
Enough” part, the no more saying I’m sorry part, the healed and healing part.
MDMA reminded me I was worthy of love not by earning it, but simply by being. She gave
permission to let the real, vulnerable, messy parts come forward. She encouraged me to break
rules with intention and integrity. To stand in my truth and my agency.
These medicines and this path to healing is not about checking out or escaping reality. It’s all
about arriving, arriving in a new, more enlightened space where we can actually model what it
means to truly repair. To have wonderful, constructive conflict and keep our hearts open.
My “Good Enough” part reminds me what my kids and my own inner child need most is my
attention, my affection, my broken self disassembled and reassembled again and again, an
artifact of resilience, marvel and hope. A solid, imperfect being they can hold onto.
About the Author: Raised by evangelicals on a farm in rural Tennessee, Micah Stover is now far from home in Mexico where she resides with her family and works as an integrative support therapist with trauma survivors. Micah is currently writing and revising a memoir, chronicling the path to healing intergenerational trauma and PTSD with MDMA, psilocybin and guided psychotherapy. To learn more about her work, check her Website or Instagram.