Pardon me while I get real and raw for a minute. This past year, I have been in some kind of a rut. It has been a difficult thing to properly identify and acknowledge because by all accounts these last twelve months have been by far the most transformative, prosperous, and impactful of my life. At no point have I hit rock bottom, or felt like I’ve been unable to go on. Nevertheless, I’ve been carrying this quiet feeling of displacement from myself that has been softly tugging away at my heart and holding me back.
I have always had an active mind and experienced a great deal of difficulty sleeping. In fact, my passion for writing stemmed from attempts to busy those sleepless hours with something worthwhile and productive. Around this time last year, however, I started smoking a whole lot of weed to quiet my mind. My dealings with the drug until this point were quite typical for people from my generation in my area of the world. I would occasionally smoke a joint at a party, or with a group of friends. This was different. I began smoking on my own, nightly and passionately. Smoking weed quickly became much more than an occasional treat. It became routine — something I looked forward to at the end of each day.
Before I go on, this is not a comment on anyone’s personal choices or lifestyle, or even on smoking the drug itself. I’m no expert, but marijuana seems like a far less damaging substance than alcohol or the myriad other drugs out there. In fact, my problem with it wasn’t the effects of the drug itself but the reason I was (ab)using it.
In all the years leading up to my new habit, I had been in a constant state of war with myself—of exhaustion, moods swings, and brief periods of feeling like I was on the brink of collapsing under an enormous weight of some self-imposed imaginary pressure. The moment I started smoking, all that went away. I slept better, I stopped worrying so much, and for the first time in a long time, I felt totally OK and content sitting back, breathing deeply, and doing nothing much at all. (If this is beginning to sound like a marijuana endorsement you would be half right, and it’s the reason I became so deeply dependent on it in the first place.) But as the months passed I slowly but surely began to sense that something was amiss, and now it is finally clear to me what that thing was.
What I now understand is that by escaping and blocking out the more difficult and darker aspects of my personality and behaviour, I was actually alienating and distancing myself from the whole of who I am. I was discarding vital and valuable characteristics that make me ME, totally oblivious to the fact that those faults and flaws were the very reason I was able to remain driven, inspired, and mad enough to build a life pursuing my passions in the first place. I see now that our flaws and damages should not be ignored or desensitized but harnessed and embraced — that all of our quirks and qualities have a part to play in the greater scheme of our lives and should never be silenced or drowned out.
I believe now that a thing can be abused whether it is good or bad for us or both. That moderation is key in all areas of our lives because it gives us the opportunity to be the clearest and most sincere version of ourselves. However you choose to numb yourself—whether it is alcohol, weed, or something else altogether—why don’t you take a couple of weeks off and allow yourself the chance to be vulnerably, unapologetically you, to open yourself back up to the things that frighten you and rediscover how vital they really are to the strength and depth of your soul and heart, to learn that all of your broken, bruised, and brittle bits have important value too?
So, for now, I have made the decision to ditch my vice (I will certainly be revisiting it from time to time for a laugh with my mates, of course!) so I can explore what it means to accept both the light and dark I carry within me—to be thoroughly, truly awake to myself, and dependent on nothing but my own strength and resolve.