Tuesday, August 6, 2019

THC Is Not For Me

Pot isn’t going to kill you. You’re not going to commit petty crimes to get more when you run out. You’re probably not going to crash your car while driving high, either. It’s even safer for every day use than Tylenol. The stereotypical stoner is portrayed in popular media as a benign, Cheetos-munching burnout and celebrity potheads are widely admired for their weed-loving ways and imitated by their adoring fans. The nationwide trend towards state-level legalization and decriminalization is gaining momentum and will surely be legal at a federal level sooner rather than later. But what gets lost in the current pro-pot hysteria are the insidious effects of regular marijuana use.

Let me stop here and admit to one crucial caveat to this post: I’ve only been clean from weed for 41 days. 

Lest I sound like some preachy, fresh from rehab anti-drug zealot, I should also say that I am not opposed to marijuana use. I still support nation-wide legalization and believe to smoke or not to smoke is a decision that should be made by the adult individual, not the government. Some people can use it occasionally and responsibly, and some can even use it daily with seemingly no ill-effect on their lives. I’m just not one of those people.

When I quit using IV opioids around 10 years ago, I made a bargain with myself that I could still smoke and drink. I didn’t go to rehab, though I wanted to badly. I just didn’t have the financial resources, so I somehow found within myself the willpower and resolve to kick my seven-year habit. “Harm reduction” was my justification for my continued use of weed and booze; after all, I reckoned, they weren’t responsible for the predicament I was in. If trading a deadly habit for substances that were much more manageable kept me alive and free from the physical addiction that was controlling my life, well then that seemed like a reasonable plan. 

After I quit drinking about eight months ago, my pot consumption began to increase even more. Though I don’t live in a state where marijuana is either legal or decriminalized, it’s increasingly easy to obtain potent strains of bud, powerful concentrates and edibles. I was loving this new era of pot, having started as a teenager on Mexican dirt weed full of seeds and stems. However, I was completely unaware of the effects it was having on me. My wife, on the other hand, was acutely aware, and it had become a major problem in our relationship.

I finally made the decision to quit for good, just like I did with opioids 10 years ago and more recently with alcohol. One thing I know about myself is once I truly make my mind up to do something and commit to it, I will do it. After all, I did kick one of the most addictive drugs known to man cold turkey, without the help of a rehab facility and with no one but myself to go to for help. Not even my co-addicted ex-wife, who was still using when I got clean, but that’s a story for another day. 

It took me about two weeks of not smoking for my mind to begin to clear up. My relationship with my wife has immensely improved; I had no idea how moody and unreasonable it made me. Weed had taken from me the ability to be present with my wife and grandchildren, and now that I have begun to experience the joy that comes from that clarity of being, I will never go back. I have even begun nurture my spiritual side and have discovered some wise teachers like Elkhart Tolle, Alan Watts and Adyashanti that in a short time have helped me calm the incessant noise in my head, become less reactive to negative situations and to live life more in the moment. I passed a home THC test today and my next project is find a job that is more fulfilling, both in terms of work and pay, than my current one. 

So much for harm reduction. As much I never wanted to be a teetotaler, here I am. You may find success with methods other than total abstinence, but for me it’s the only way to go. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The Perpetual Adolescent

I was once referred to in the midst of an angry Facebook flame war as a “perpetual adolescent.”

Usually a cleverly-worded comeback would have flown from my fingers almost as fast as it entered my mind, but I was so taken aback that I paused, temporarily stunned by how accurately my adversary had reduced my life to two words, despite her really knowing little about me. My anger temporarily receded as I accepted the truth of her accusation with a smile and a nod of the head. This description not only felt right, but it felt good. It was a role that I relished.

I was in my early 40s at the time, and up to that point my life had been a selfish, entitled blur of events. My drug and alcohol-addled mind was without rudder, lost in an unconscious and egoistic facade that vacillated wildly between self confidence, self-loathing and low self-esteem, bouncing back and forth from one extreme to the other, often within moments of one another.

I had worked hard to get this point, and was very successful in avoiding the responsibility of adulthood and any emotional discomfort that came my way. I was a master escape artist with a toolbox full of instruments that I had devised to check out of any uncomfortable situation and into the deluded fantasy world that occupied my mind most of my waking hours. I was single again, attempting to put my life together after a failed, co-dependent marriage to another addict, and diving headlong into a life of hedonistic excess in an attempt to numb the pain and guilt I felt over the divorce.

Surely by now you’re thinking that I’m describing a moment of great epiphany, a turning point in which I can now view my story in two parts: the painful struggle of life before this great realization, and the blissful success that followed. But sadly, her words only served to bolster my identity as the crazed Peter Pan who gleefully thumbed his nose at the sell-outs and squares, laughing on the outside as he continued to stumble through life aimlessly and seemingly without care, but on the inside was blinded as to the source of his suffering and without any hope of ever improving his station in life.

As I write this initial blog post today, I’m several months away from turning 50. More than half of my life on this planet is over, but I’m in a much better place, happily embracing adulthood and sobriety with a beautiful, patient and loving wife by my side, and two amazing grandchildren that through their love have helped me transition slowly away from my former life and into a place of happiness, peace and contentment. Better late than never, I suppose.

It’s my hope that this blog will not only help others who have struggled with addictions of any sort, or just growing up. I hope you follow me through my journey, but I have no expectations and I’m willing to accept any outcome. With any luck, you’ll be informed, entertained and moved to make changes in your own life. At the very least it will serve as a personal reminder of where I once was and strengthen my resolve to never return.

THC Is Not For Me

Pot isn’t going to kill you. You’re not going to commit petty crimes to get more when you run out. You’re probably not going to crash your c...