In the mid-to-late ‘90s, my dad made all these new friends online.
He’d get so excited sharing over dinner about connecting with collectors of certain rare naval knives or watches from whichever important periods.
I was in my mid-to-late teens at the time.
The internet was fairly new to everyone.
I’d go online mostly just to email friends or search around.
Occasionally, I’d drift into the online dating scene for brief stints.
But I never connected with new people who shared my interests in any kind of real way.
My dad would actually meet the people he met online.
He’d have them over to the house.
I’ve really come to admire that about my dad: He’s been able to form natural, lifelong friendships with likeminded hobbyists and others across the globe.
When I started using medical marijuana, I remember hoping it would lead to making more friends.
I’ve always loved getting high with other people.
Some of my fondest memories are of hysterical laughter, interesting conversations, and just so many other cool experiences shared together with others on weed.
But instead of connecting, I quickly became isolated and dysfunctionally committed to “maximizing” my high time with only entertainment.
I couldn’t handle the feeling that my high words or actions might make me come across (to some) as this awkward, zany doofus.
I’d sometimes smoke and end up at weed-related discussion boards or social sites; but I was always way too anxious to join any of the conversations.
Watching my weed use escalate to full-scale addiction didn’t help.
Here’s something I wrote while high a few years ago:
“I think I feel bad because I’m addicted to weed and making all sorts of potentially irrational decisions.
“I’m a little worried about whatever it might be that causes me not to take that fact seriously enough when I‘m not high.
“Maybe I do take it seriously, but what do I actually do about it?
“This is where research would suggest that ‘asking for help’ might have been a good idea back when I first realized I wasn’t following through on my own intentions.
“Instead, years have gone by.
“So, do I ask for help now?
“People say they need help for these sorts of things, right?
“Is help necessarily wrong?
“No, I get that; but maybe there’s another way.
“I mean, it’s not that I’m looking for sympathy, or for some group to hound me about keeping to my own decisions.”
I’ve been defining addiction as simply doing what you’ve told yourself not to.
I feel guilty whenever I get high compulsively.
I usually write something down right away to remind myself why I shouldn’t be getting high so much.
Then the high goes away, and I go into this fuzzy, dull state.
All conviction behind my own written warnings and advice slips away.
When the compulsion for weed returns, I use again, feel a fresh sense of guilt, and then write all the same warnings in slightly new ways.
That’s been my addiction experience since 2011.
All my high self-advice (about why I shouldn’t be getting high so much) just keeps piling up, making what I’ve always wanted increasingly difficult to ignore.
Imagine seeing thousands of unopened emails from your own conscience, all basically saying the same thing.
What I shared above about finding a new way to ask for help was just the bare roots of a raw intuition at the time—an unjustified belief that going public would somehow help with whatever was missing when convictions lifted and things got fuzzy again in the dull light of dawning sobriety.
Has recording your intentions over time ever made ignoring them more and more difficult?
Has making your intentions known ever helped you follow through on them?
How has your addiction affected your relationships?
Eventually, I’ll share how my original hope—that weed would lead to making more friends—has indirectly been fulfilled.
Tomorrow: more on how going public with your real experience makes it harder not to live by your convictions.
After writing today’s chapter, I got high and wrote:
“How would you expect weed to lead to more friendships?
“I bet the way it happened for me was less direct than however you’d expect.”
How would you expect going public with your experience to make not living by your convictions more difficult?
Tomorrow’s chapter might also surprise you.