This Is Where I Leave You
It started off as such a blast - you and me and some friends. Side splitting laughter over dumb shit, enormous bowls of rocky road ice cream and cylinders of Pringles, washed down with Diet Dr. Pepper. Writing down the hilarious things we’d say to be sure we’d remember them later. Music sounding so.fucking.good. Feeling giggly and carefree and as if we were somehow existing on an elevated plane.
So began a relationship that would continue for 20+ years. We were together without problems for a long time. You were elusive, hard to find and illegal to possess, and that made you seem even more appealing. You made good times more fun, and you made me forget all about bad ones. My friends and I bonded over how much we loved you, and we included you in everything we did - camping trips, TV watching parties, hot tubbing, Sunday morning hangovers.
We lost touch when I moved to another state and I felt like I’d outgrown you.
Then, with much fanfare, you became legal in my state, and I could find you whenever I wanted. I was different - older, married, a mother, a responsible and productive member of society, but still, you had a hold on me. I was excited to reunite with you, my old and dear friend.
But you were so much stronger now, and you could be consumed so discreetly that no one even knew I was seeing you again. It was just occasional nights and weekends at first, but I became accustomed to dealing with my emotions by turning to you. My mother was dying and I was in unbearable pain, pain I didn’t know how to manage. You numbed me, and I was lulled into thinking I needed you.
Through my mother’s death, and then my dad’s, you were at my side, working in concert with your partner in crime, prescription opiates (another story for another day), making sure I didn’t have to feel anything. I was a zombie and I didn’t care.
I eventually dealt with my grief and my opiate addiction and figured I could at last say a final goodbye to you too. It felt so liberating to be free from your hold on me! I was clear and present, growing and evolving. I was connecting with my family and friends again, building a life in recovery that I could be proud of.
Then I saw you at a concert. Before I could consider what I was doing, I invited you back in and we picked up right where we’d left off, and then some. I couldn’t be without you for even a day. I felt like I needed to have your company for everything I did. I engaged in risky behavior and lies to keep you around and to keep anyone in my life from finding out you were back. I wasn’t sure I even enjoyed or liked you anymore, but I couldn’t break away. Every time the proverbial angel on my shoulder would swear to never see you again, the demon on the other side said, “Come on, loser, it’s just pot. You beat an opiate addiction, don’t be a pussy.” I rationalized and justified and told myself whatever I could to keep you in my life.
Lather, rinse, repeat, until finally, FINALLY, with time, therapy, my friends in recovery, and a lot of soul searching, I have stopped seeing you as “just pot.” You lulled me into a false sense of serenity and well-being, keeping me in my own privately defined world and apart from the one I actually live in. You put a wall between me and everything I love, and I was too stoned to see it.
You’re not good for me. I want to live a big, beautiful, fulfilled, engaged life, and having you around keeps me from doing that.
This is where I leave you.
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