Some of you may know that I quit smoking pot in Spring 2020. The first two weeks felt impossible, the first month was better, and by the second and third months I was feeling better and being more productive than I had for the past few years combined. Then, literally two days ago, after celebrating five months of sobriety, I bought weed. I spent two days stoned out of my mind, ate my weight in Indian food, and was glued to the couch. I had relapsed.
And I loved it – until I didn’t. Because what goes up, must come down, and when the come down started, so did the panic attacks. I remembered, fearfully, how hard it was for me to quit smoking weed, and how awful I felt during those first weeks of sobriety. I was so disappointed in myself for re-opening this can of worms. In a moment of clarity, I realized I am not capable of being a responsible user of cannabis. So I flushed the two grams down the toilet, and threw the pipe in the garbage.
This happened two days ago, and I spent the last forty-eight hours in deep thought. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Relapse is a normal, sometimes necessary part of the recovery journey. Melody Beattie writes in Beyond Codependency, “Recovery is a process. Within that process is another one called relapse… ‘Relapse sounds like we are going all the way back to where we started from – square one on the drawing board,’ says [Scott Egleston.] ‘We don’t go all the way back. When we finish a recycling process, we move to a progressed location on our recovery journey.'”
- Two days of self-destructive behavior did not erase the last five months. Those months have been filled with hobbies, travels, books, and adventures that I never would have taken under the influence of cannabis. I wouldn’t have had the energy. But because I was sober, I was also very bored – and what better to cure boredom than making awesome plans? I found so much joy in life, and dropping back in to my old patterns of stonerdom actually reminded me how much better things are now. In a way, I’m glad this happened. I’ve got to look for the silver lining. This relapse reminded me of why I quit, and showed me how far I’ve come.
- It’s important to know what triggered the relapse. For me, it was having a pipe in my apartment. I found it hidden in a box; I threw away all my other pipes months ago. But this one somehow remained, and keeping it in my home reminded me of how nice it was to get stoned and do, well, pretty much anything. That good memory is what led to me to buying and smoking again. Note to self: You are not as strong as you think you are – don’t bring any paraphernalia into your home again!
- Don’t dwell in disappointment. I felt pretty crappy about myself, even after I made the good decision to flush the weed down the toilet. I felt like a failure, I felt weak, and I felt like I deserved some sort of punishment. But there is no use in beating myself up. I made a mistake, and I took steps to fix it. At this point, the best thing to do is to keep my head up and move forward with positivity. Easier said than done, because relapsing can be an emotional process, but finding ways to be grateful and thankful sure beats finding more ways to feel like crap.
- Always have a vision for where you want to go, and where you don’t want to go. The relapse forced me to take note of where I am in life, and where I want to go. Just as importantly, I had to accept where I don’t want to go – where I would hate to end up. Simple enough – my goal is to make a living as a writer. My vision of working with Vogue, Nylon, Bitch, Bust, and The New Yorker, is incompatible with cannabis. My anti-goal, or my nightmare, is to allow my laziness to lead me to another 9-5 job. “Two paths diverged in a yellow road…” And I am making choices that are in alignment with where I want to end up.
So here I am, my head finally clearing after taking loads of TCH to the face, and I feel sharper than before. It’s like when you almost get hit by biker while crossing the street – suddenly the leaves look brighter, and you want to hug someone.
Thanks for reading, as always. XO,