For almost all of my adult life, I’ve been a bonafide stoner who never thought she would stop smoking pot.
What began as an act of teenage exploration and rebellion had congealed into an adult routine of escape. Everything seemed better and felt more beautiful when I was high. It calmed my anxiety and helped me relax from my habitual hyperactivity. It made me forget the dark clouds that loomed overhead – for a little while, anyway.
Like many people living in California, I had a prescription for medical marijuana, which dispelled any lingering worries that I had about its criminality. So after almost two decades of smoking pot almost daily – why did I stop?
Too Broke to Toke
Originally, I stopped smoking pot for one simple reason: I was broke.
It was the fall of 2013. I had just returned from a trip to Peru that had drained my bank account and left me in dire straits. The journey had been incredible, but it was over. I was back in my tiny apartment, in a city that for me had lost its shine. I no longer had the cash to fund my habit. So I stopped smoking pot.
Immediately, I found that I was crying myself to sleep every single night. Hmmm… perhaps THIS was the reason I was smoking pot to begin with. Looking back, it’s easy to see that crying yourself to sleep every night is a symptom of depression. But at the time, it just seemed normal.
Instead of sliding into an indica-induced stupor every evening, I was forced to confront my emotions. I no longer had the mental escape that I had relied upon for years. I had to face the darkness within. The unresolved issues. The pain. And it SUCKED. I slid further into the hole.
Questions Bubble Up
With the newfound clarity that comes with an un-fuzzy brain, I could no longer ignore the questions that had been silently nagging me for years:
- How much damage am I doing to my body by smoking pot?
- What else could I be spending my marijuana money on?
- How is smoking pot helping me to reach my goals and dreams?
- Was marijuana helping me to be a better human being?
- Do I really even like being high?
And most of all:
- Why do I feel the need to alter my normal state of consciousness every single day? What’s going on in my brain that I want to drown out?
I was alone, broke, and depressed. And then my grandmother died. She was 98 and it was her time – but her death was harder to handle than I had imagined. I broke down and smoked some weed to numb myself – and realized that I really didn't like the way it made me feel.
Smoking pot made me tired, most of all. Lethargic. Okay withjust sitting on my ass and doing nothing. I just wanted to sleep and forget – and I just needed to escape. For years, I had accepted the lackluster energy that accompanied being high – something I hated – because it made the pain go away.
Finally, the Healing Begins
It would be another six months before I finally accepted that I needed help and found a good therapist who changed my life forever. I realized that I had been self-medicating with marijuana in an attempt to heal from several traumatic experiences in my past. The trauma had happened long ago, but it still affected me every day.
I do not judge myself, or anyone else, for doing what they have to do to emotionally survive. The struggle is real. Smoking pot was indeed one of my lesser vices in the years that I was trying to right my ship (hello, vodka!). And I definitely don’t think that every stoner has unresolved emotional issues.
But I did, and instead of blunting them with a cloud of smoke, I am slowly working my way through them. I am healing. Escape can be wonderful, and is sometimes a necessity in this life – but it should not be confused with healing. We all deserve to be healed, and there is only one person in the world who can make that happen for you.
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