This text is troublesome to write down. It is an admission that I failed. And it isn’t like I failed as soon as, however failed repeatedly over the course of a number of years. And it isn’t that I actually failed failed, you realize. It is that I failed myself. I didn’t dwell as much as my very own expectations.

However I am getting forward of myself. Let me begin at first.

Goody Two-Sneakers

I grew up Mormon. Amongst different issues, this meant that no person in my household consumed leisure medication of any form. Mormons have a strict prohibition towards such indulgences. And, as most folk know, they even take their stricture towards “sturdy drink” to imply that caffeine is forbidden.

So, my dad and mom did not drink alcohol or espresso. They did not smoke cigarettes. They did not do something that led to altered states. Hell, my father even hated tv as a result of he thought of it a “plug-in drug”. For a lot of my childhood, we did not have a TV. After we did have a TV, entry was usually restricted.

My dad and mom left the Mormon church once I was a freshman in highschool. We returned to the native Mennonite congregation during which my father was raised. Mennonites aren’t fairly so restrictive with mind-altering substance as Mormons are — they love their espresso! — however they’re shut.

In highschool, I used to be by no means tempted by alcohol. I had pals who would drink, nevertheless it by no means appealed to me. Plus, it was towards the foundations.

Additionally in highschool, I had pals who found marijuana. Whereas I used to be ambivalent about booze, I used to be actively against pot. I believed it was evil. Plus, it was unlawful. As a rule follower, there was no approach I’d contact the stuff. And once I was with pals who did get stoned, I would learn them the riot act. (I as soon as chewed out my greatest buddy Sparky as a result of he had the gall to get stoned whereas we have been ready in line to purchase tickets for a Tears for Fears live performance.)

Basically, I began life as a Goody Two-Sneakers. I refused to do something unlawful or immoral, and I condemned others for selecting something that I would not select. I used to be a self-righteous younger man who could not see that there is no single Proper Reply to life.

Hey, School

School opened my eyes. I used to be uncovered to tons of of different good children, most of whom had radically totally different backgrounds from my very own. They believed various things than I did and so they made totally different decisions. As a result of I lived with them and noticed that they have been (largely) good folks, it was unattainable for me to sentence my classmates as evil or immoral. No, they merely had totally different backgrounds which led them to have totally different worldviews.

Most of my pals in school drank alcohol, as an illustration. Our campus was a kind of protected haven for underage ingesting, with an express “do not ask, do not inform” coverage. So, children drank. So much. I experimented with alcohol a bit too, however I did not just like the stuff so did not drink often.

It is in all probability no shock that school is the place I first smoked pot. Marijuana use wasn’t frequent, nevertheless it wasn’t uncommon both. And the youngsters who used it did not attempt to conceal it. By the point my ethical stance towards the stuff had weakened, it was a easy matter to search out anyone within the dorm who would present me the way to get stoned.

I smoked pot 3 times in school. The primary time was superior. It is nonetheless one among my favourite reminiscences. However the different two occasions I smoked the stuff, I used to be unimpressed. I barely bear in mind the incidents. Weed held even much less enchantment to me than booze.

As an grownup, marijuana was by no means an possibility. For one, it was nonetheless unlawful and I’m nonetheless (largely) a rule follower. Extra to the purpose, my ex-wife was a forensic chemist for the state police. She wasn’t allowed to make use of unlawful medication or to be round anybody else who was utilizing them. To take action would have value her a profession. She was effectively conscious of this, and so was I. Neither of us have been ever remotely tempted.

So it’s that I managed to keep away from marijuana from the time I left school till the time leisure use turned authorized within the state of Oregon.

Legalized Marijuana

When Kim and I returned from our 15-month RV journey, Oregon had legalized marijuana. I made a decision to experiment with it.

My expertise with pot began slowly. I had actual issues inhaling the stuff, so I shied away from smoking it and opted as an alternative for edibles. I preferred gummies. I additionally preferred tinctures I might take beneath my tongue.

The issue with edibles and tinctures, although, is that they have an inclination to have variable onset and variable results. If I eat a gummy at, say, six within the night, it might take wherever from thirty minutes to 3 hours to set in. And when it units in, it might give me a light buzz or it might flip me right into a puddle of pudding on the sofa.

In time, although, I realized the way to smoke weed. I additionally realized which strains gave me a cheerful little excessive (versus sending me to Loopy City). I notably preferred Willy’s Marvel.

In late 2016, once I first started experimenting with pot, I possibly used it as soon as every week. As an alternative of ingesting on a Friday night time, I would get stoned.

The frequency with which I used pot elevated over time. This occurred for a couple of causes.

  • First, pot is cheaper than alcohol. It is a lot cheaper, in actual fact. A package deal of ten gummies may cost a little me $20 (though it is normally much less). At one or two gummies per use, that is solely $2 or $4 per night of enjoyable.
  • Second, pot has fewer energy than alcohol. When you smoke marijuana, you devour no energy in any respect. Wine and (particularly) beer are filled with energy. So, in concept, utilizing pot is smarter for my waistline. (In actuality, utilizing pot virtually at all times gave me the proverbial “munchies”. My snacking whereas stoned was off the charts!)
  • Third, and most significantly, pot helped me sleep. I’ve bother sleeping. It sucks. However once I take pot I sleep soundly. It is so wonderful!

Due to these three components — particularly due to the higher sleep — my pot use crept from a few times every week to virtually each single night time. It took a few years to get there, however get there it did.

By the point the pandemic hit, I used to be a every day marijuana consumer. When you’ve been studying me for some time, you realize that this was additionally across the time that my psychological well being issues peaked. (Stunning!)

Stoner J.D.

I’ve at all times struggled with melancholy — that is been current since fifth or sixth grade — however by 2019 I would sunk to new lows. And as 2020 arrived, the melancholy turned coupled with anxiousness. Oh, how a lot anxiousness I had! It was dreadful. It prevented me from carrying out even fundamental duties. (Ask Kim how troublesome it was to get me to make a fundamental cellphone name…)

However the worst factor was that I would turn into silly. I’ve at all times considered myself as a wise man, a man who likes to learn and assume Deep Ideas and have advanced discussions with pals. However I used to be turning into dumber and dumberer, and I might sense it. I really started to panic as soon as I spotted that I used to be dropping the flexibility to write down a coherent article or essay.

For me, writing is life. Writing is how I course of my ideas and emotions and the world round me. If I can not write, I am crippled. The pot was leaving me wordless and damaged.

However I did not know that the pot was taking away my potential to write down. I did not know that the pot was making it powerful for me to learn. I did not know that the pot was exacerbating my melancholy and inflicting my anxiousness and turning me right into a bitter outdated man. I could not see the supply of my issues. All I knew was that these items have been occurring, and I hated it. To manage, I bought stoned. Once more. And getting stoned simply made me extra anxious and silly.

There have been occasions I would go weed-free for some time. These cases typically occurred once I was touring. If I have been headed to Europe for a couple of weeks, as an illustration, I would haven’t any entry to marijuana. I used to be superb with that. In my head, I did not have an issue with the stuff. Pot was simply one thing I used to sleep and (a few times every week) as an alternative choice to alcohol.

I used to be lacking some apparent indicators that sure, I actually did have an issue. This is an instance.

Throughout my three-week journey to Portugal, Wisconsin, and California in 2019, I had actual bother at first of the journey. I used to be attending an F.I. chautauqua, which ought to have been enjoyable and thrilling. As an alternative, I struggled mightily. I slept like shit. I couldn’t focus. Worst of all, I used to be irritable. I used to be an asshole. I managed to alienate a few colleagues, which I deeply remorse.

By the point I reached Joshua Tree on the finish of these three weeks, my disposition had improved. However nonetheless I did not notice that sure, I had an issue with pot. That sure, I would skilled withdrawal signs in Portugal. That sure, quitting is likely to be one of the best transfer for me.

Nope.

Once I returned residence, I resumed taking THC to assist me sleep each night time. The truth is, I upped my marijuana use as a result of I used to be making an attempt to reduce weight. I sharply curtailed my alcohol consumption and allowed myself to make use of as a lot pot as I needed — particularly as soon as COVID hit a few months later.

I turned your stereotypical stoner.

By the Numbers

As most of you realize, I am a numbers nerd. I like to trace issues in spreadsheets. No shock then that for the previous eighteen months, I have been logging each alcoholic drink I devour and each time I take advantage of pot.

This has been useful.

As an alternative of guessing at how a lot I drink and the way a lot pot I take advantage of, the numbers inform me the reality. (It helps that I am utterly trustworthy with my spreadsheet. It is unnecessary to “cheat” by placing in false numbers. That might defeat the aim.)

I started this spreadsheet as a result of I needed to doc my issues with alcohol. As an alternative, I discovered myself extra involved with my marijuana use. Sure, the numbers confirmed that I ought to cut back my alcohol consumption, however my ingesting actually wasn’t too far out of line with really helpful pointers. My pot use was.

I took 265 doses of marijuana throughout 2021 — then the same quantity in the course of the first half of this yr. And people doses grew stronger and stronger with time. Once I smoked, I took deeper hits. Once I consumed edibles, I took extra of them.

Then, about two months in the past, I ended utilizing marijuana. This wasn’t deliberate at first. It simply occurred.

Throughout the day, I used to be performing heavy bodily labor as I landscaped the entrance yard. This bodily exertion made it simple to go to sleep at night time. Plus, within the night Kim and I have been ingesting extra beer as heat climate set in. These two components led to a streak of ten days throughout which I did not use pot in any respect.

I prolonged this streak when Kim and I flew to go to her mom in Colorado. I had no pot with me, so I wasn’t tempted. By the point we returned residence, I would observed one thing fascinating: I felt nice. For the primary time in a very long time, I felt clear-headed. I felt motivated. I felt like my outdated self once more.

“Do you assume I really feel good as a result of two weeks has been sufficient time for the THC to go away my system?” I requested Kim. (THC is the lively chemical in marijuana, the stuff that will get you “excessive”. It lingers within the bloodstream, which ends up in residual results even when you have not used it for some time.)

“Perhaps,” she mentioned. “Most likely. You need to hold testing it.” So I did.

Two weeks with out pot become three weeks with out pot. That become 4 weeks. Then 5 after which six. It is now been almost two months since I used marijuana. At this level, I really feel assured concluding that the marijuana was inflicting a lot of my issues. Not all of my issues, in fact, however a lot of them.

I final used marijuana on Independence Day. Since then, my temper has improved remarkably. My fragile psychological well being appears to be regaining stability. I have been vastly extra productive up to now two months than at every other level since getting back from the RV journey. I’ve turn into extra sociable. I am studying extra and making extra long-term plans. I am writing a ton. The one factor that is actually suffered has been my sleep. (Marijuana certain helps me sleep!)

Marijuana Is Not My Good friend

Look, I am not anti-pot.

I am not right here to sentence marijuana use for society at giant. I am right here to sentence marijuana use for me.

However this is the factor. Whereas I assist your potential to decide on marijuana, I now not need to select it for myself. I’ve seen first-hand simply how profound an impact it might have on an individual. Every day that passes since my final use, my thoughts boggles at how a lot happier and extra productive I’ve turn into.

Once more, that is true for me. It may not be true for others, together with you. If utilizing pot helps you, unbelievable. Puff away. It did not assist me — even once I thought it was doing so. I had, basically, allowed myself to turn into the stereotypical high-school stoner: lazy, unmotivated, nonchalant, apathetic. This led to deep self-recrimination…then additional pot use.

It feels superior to be my outdated self once more. This summer time, I’ve actually loved rediscovering the way to learn books and the way to write lengthy articles like this one. I am impressed by my potential to have some troublesome (however much-needed) conversations, conversations that in some circumstances I’ve delay for years on account of marijuana-enhanced anxiousness.

I am not saying that each one of my issues have magically disappeared. I am nonetheless simply as tousled as the following particular person. However not less than proper now, I am not including gasoline to the fireplace. I have not shackled myself within the chains of THC. I am granting myself the flexibility to work my approach by way of a few of my points as an alternative of accelerating the burden with weed.

Subsequent up? Alcohol.

Once I determined to surrender pot in July, I gave myself permission to drink what I needed for some time. Properly, it has been some time. It is time for me to chop again on the booze once more.

A Troublesome Day

In the present day was powerful. Kim and I reached the troublesome resolution to euthanize Mother’s cat. We fostered Bonnie in January when Mother moved to reminiscence care, and it has been one lengthy, pricey, flea-infested journey.

Earlier than taking her to the vet, nevertheless, I drove ninety minutes north to offer Mother and Bonnie some closing time collectively. For almost an hour, they melted into one. They have been each so, so completely happy. Then I drove ninety minutes again to Corvallis and sat with Bonnie till she had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Bonnie on Mom's lap for one final visit

Now, as we close to bedtime, I am agitated and awake. I do know from expertise that it is a dangerous mixture. The seemingly result’s that I will not have the ability to go to sleep. I am going to toss and switch and my thoughts will spin, however I will be up till midnight or one o’clock — or possibly even 4.

My regular answer for this — regular since 2016, anyhow — could be to smoke some weed. Once I’m wired at night time, I do know {that a} hit of Willy’s Marvel or Blue Dream will knock me out.

I am not going to do it, although. Sure, I am going to seemingly be depressing tomorrow on account of lack of sleep. I settle for that. However you realize what? I would moderately have one dangerous night time than enable myself to relapse into that darkish and fixed state of self-loathing that is been my norm for the previous six years…

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