It’s been a year since I “came out of the cannabis closet” to my husband and the online world.
A lot has changed since last year. Most of all, that I’ve stopped smoking pot, serendipitously before needing to pass my first drug screen for my new job. But despite changing my ways privately, I recognize that in such a small community that, in my online honesty, I’ve created a reputation for being a “pot smoking mom.” This isn’t a good thing, especially when my new job is working with families and youth in my community.
As fate would have it, I have a professional networking meeting tomorrow, on 4/20 during 4:20 with a group of community leaders of people working on substance abuse prevention. I also went to an opioid and substance abuse summit last week, which really opened my mind up to how sharing my personal experiences could help families in my community.
First, I feel as though I need to do what I can to clear up my record.
It was reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly (while completely sober on the beach in Hawaii) that first inspired me to be courageous enough to speak out about smoking pot (even though in hindsight I probably overshared, and I hope that I can salvage my reputation). Brene talks a lot about how everyone finds ways to “numb themselves,” whether it’s TV or exercise, wine or herb. Some numbing just happens to be more socially accepted and some habits are better for us than others. Some numbing can do enough to cut the edge off or it can get in the way of being our best self.
In my personal opinion, any “numbing” should be done in moderation and with as much awareness/honesty as possible about how it’s impacting you and your family/work/life.
As my 420 stories share, I intentionally decided to stop smoking pot in college, knowing that I wanted to focus on my career. It was also because I didn’t want to be a mom who smokes pot, especially while pregnant or nursing. I’m proud that I was able make those choices, and I know that my mom/parents are incredibly proud of me.
I love my Mom, who smokes pot.
She has her own story, which isn’t mine to share. But I’ve been given cautious permission to share from my own perspective.
As a kid growing up with parents who smoked pot, but always hid it, I was mostly oblivious to how it affected my childhood, especially since they were always engaged and dependable. My parents were careful to hide it from us, and for a phase they became more mainstream, drinking beer after work and saving pot for occasional parties. Once our Mom was hired at the school and was subject to random drug screens, her partying days were over…it was our Dad who we worried about, simply because it was illegal.
Back then pot may not have been on every other street corner, but it was just as prolific. I vividly remember being in a D.A.R.E. lesson and mentally counting all the kids whose parents I guessed or knew smoked pot. In high school the guest speaker told us all about how potent and prolific marijuana was in Douglas County and we all tried to act surprised.
But it was first when several close family friends went to jail (who had kids who I am still friends with) that I became concerned. (The raids came when Reagan cracked down on pot and started sending helicopters in droves to our remote part of the country, where they still don’t even get cell service). The idea of my parents going to jail really did scare me/us, and it always felt like a big family secret.
It was first when my parents got medical cards to grow their own marijuana that I finally started to breath a sigh of relief, and once it became legal that I started smoking with them when I came to visit. They both have multiple health issues, and I’ll be honest in saying that even though it helps them feel better, their health would be better if they didn’t smoke or at least as much. Especially since my father’s early death, I do worry about my parents dying prematurely, but like any good daughter, I try to refrain from judging my parents for their choices.
Yet, I can make my own choices, and I feel better than ever now that I’m addicted to kundalini yoga instead of pot.
I am so happy for the renewed clarity in my life, which supersedes the creative bursts that came from getting high.
Just before I quit smoking, I started to become aware of how scattered I was feeling, even when I wasn’t high. I started to catch mistakes, and simply knew that I wasn’t reaching my potential. But most of all, I found myself intentionally disconnecting from family and friends. I can’t express how happy I am to be through that very isolating midlife “crisis” phase.
I’m not going to claim that I’ll never smoke again (morphine gives me hives and opioids make me wretch, so I need medical options), but I know with certainty that at this new phase of my life, as a mother and aspiring community leader, that I will need all presence and stamina to share my open heart.
I hope that sharing my story will not simply be fodder for small town gossip, but that I’ll be help to other moms/daughters/families who face their own life choices.