The last night I smoked pot was the night my husband announced he didn’t want to be with me anymore. Just give me a year to get on my feet, he said. As I heard the words come out of his mouth, it was as if a stranger was speaking them. He was this other creature, not the man I loved for the past twenty years, the man I shared six beautiful souls with. He walked away and I curled up in a ball outside on our patio under the stars. I just wanted the darkness of night to swallow me up.
My oldest son found me there, broken down and not in control of my emotions. He lovingly took my hand and led me back inside the house. Our roles now reversed, he peeled back the covers of my bed and coaxed me to get some rest. Then, he sat beside me until I fell asleep.
These aren’t names usually associated with a mama of six kids but I was all of those things for nearly six years.
My relationship with marijuana began at a very young age. I remember smelling my dad’s “funny cigarettes” at the ripe old age of five years old. My earliest memories are of a round wooden table that was low to the ground in our little bungalow in San Diego. I would sit on the floor of his art studio and thumb through stacks of albums as he broke up his green pile of weed. As he sat back, blazing one of his rolled up creations, Santana would waft through the house and I would just walk out into the sunshine, my long braids swaying in the California breeze.
I never thought he was doing anything bad or “illegal”. He never acted funny or strange. He was a kind person, a loving father and a good provider. It’s just what my dad did and over the years, it has become woven into the fabric of his being.
When I was about 11 years old, I stole a joint from my Dad’s backpack. This was in the 80’s, smack dab in the middle of the “Just say no” anti-drug campaigns that swept through our schools, coming straight from the White House. For whatever reason, I didn’t classify the green plant the same way former First Lady Nancy Reagan classified cocaine, pills and speed.
That was the last time I would touch marijuana for another ten years.
Weed became my friend once again when I entered college. It was the early 90’s so the “good weed” wasn’t financially feasible, and I made due with sticks and stems — whatever I could get from boyfriends. I was very much the cliché art student: moody, defiant, all-black wearing, “free thinking”, bong-ripping feminist that wore band tees every day. I got high on a daily basis for five years straight. I spent my college days in a haze of green.
Then, God did something powerful in my life and I became a wife and a mother. Marijuana no longer had a hold on me. I mean, when you are popping out a human every two years, there is really no room for joints and bongs. So I stopped — cold turkey. For twelve long years. And I was okay with that. To be honest, I never really thought too much about it. Obviously, I didn’t have the chance because I was up to my ears in diapers, breastfeeding, potty-training, co-sleeping, homebirth and homeschooling. However, slowly but surely, marijuana crept back into my life.
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The year was 2009. California’s medical marijuana program has been established back in 1996, but it wasn’t until Senate Bill 420 came into effect that the easy accessibility of pot became a reality for me. Southern California streets are dotted with green pharmacies and if you weren’t paying close attention, you wouldn’t even know they were there. But I knew. Just like that, I started smoking weed again.
To be brutally honest, I loved it.
Getting high as an adult was not like getting high as a 20-something. I used to get high to help with socially awkward situations and pure boredom. I was always trying to hide my use from family and co-workers, thinking they would judge me or disapprove because let’s face it, marijuana has a long history of villainizing its users. Not this time. I no longer needed anyone’s approval. I’m a grown ass woman, I used to tell myself. Smoking marijuana was like revisiting an old friend.
The need to “medicate” myself after hours upon hours of wrangling six kids and managing home life was strong. I looked at it just like a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s something I used to relax, to connect with my husband during those late night hours we saved for our creative pursuits. By this time, our youngest child was four years old and it was easy to wait until everyone was in bed for the night.
We would sit outside under the moonlight and blow trees.
At first, I smoked weed infrequently. Sometimes I didn’t feel like coughing up a lung just like a Notorious B.I.G song. It felt good to know I had the ability to say no if I wanted to. But that didn’t last long. Eventually, I began to smoke every couple of weeks. Then it was every weekend — with me eagerly waiting for Friday night. Then it was every day, even multiple times a day, smack dab in the middle of me being a mother. I actually thought I was a better mother when I was high. I laughed more. I nagged less. Suddenly, the sink full of dirty dishes or piles of dirty socks strewn across the floor wasn’t that big of a deal. Mom was fun.
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Still, life has a way of twisting and turning. The very thing that I believed brought me so much “relief” and relaxation became a crutch. The truth is, I began to use it to escape my life.
The stress of my marriage being unstable, my weight creeping up higher and higher and the bills piling up began to make me feel anxious and scared. The best way I can describe it is like living under a pile of giant rocks and trying to climb out from under it. It was exhausting and hopeless and I no longer wanted to try. I simply turned to marijuana to save me.
To soothe me.
To make me forget.
To make me numb.
It wasn’t until that night that I realized how much I was depending on weed to help me cope. How on Earth did I end up here? Instead of relying on my faith and turning to God for help, the source of my comfort and peace, I began to smoke away my troubles. Only to discover they were still there, growing in size and urgency. My husband announcing to me that he wanted to end our marriage was my wake-up call.
My decision to stop smoking pot doesn’t mean I believe it’s inherently evil or bad for you. There are so many sick people who benefit from it and it’s a powerful healing plant for those who really need it to survive. But in the end, I discovered that the intent does not sanctify the practice. Still, I don’t judge those who continue to use it, whether it be medicinally or recreationally. I know many people who smoke marijuana and I love and respect them greatly. I wouldn’t judge them.
But for me, marijuana is unhealthy — physically, emotionally and spiritually. To put it simply, God told me to break ties with it. So I did.
Three days after that night under the stars, I flushed whatever marijuana I had down the toilet. I never want my children to see me the way my son saw me that night. That was seven months ago.
I haven’t looked back since.