This past week (February 11th, to be exact) I celebrated five years of being marijuana free. To some people, this is probably no big deal; but those who know me well know what a HUGE deal that is. Weed was one of those things that I never really thought you could have a legitimate addiction to, until I found myself spiraling further and further out of control. For about six years of my life, no matter what I did, I had to be high before I did it...work, school, recreation, family events, etc. Marijuana became as important as food or water. I just didn't feel normal without it. The fact that I'm a super intelligent person made it even easier to live in denial about the fact that I had a problem. I had completed college, earned an MBA, gotten a good job at a newspaper and then a magazine, and I was high every single step of the way. Even after I began to recognize that I might really have a problem, quitting seemed like too much work. Not being high meant that I would have to deal with all my insecurities, disappointments, daddy/mommy issues, an emotionally abusive relationship...in short, I'd have to deal with that girl in the mirror, and she was someone I had grown to hate.
2008 was a turning point year for me. I was tired...tired of living in a perpetual fog, tired of feeling like there was a person living inside me that I really didn't know, tired of feeling like I was falling short of all that I was truly capable of. I knew that I wanted to quit, but I was so afraid...afraid of admitting that I had a problem, afraid of looking weak, afraid of having to leave my friends and old lifestyle behind. But mostly, I was afraid that I didn't know how to quit, afraid that I would fail and end up worse off than when I began. Something made me try anyway. Making the decision to go to rehab was probably the most courageous thing I've ever done, and I truly do believe that it saved my life. For 13 months, I met one-on-one with a counselor, and in the safety of that space, I was forced to confront some dark, ugly, painful moments that I had been attempting to avoid by self-medicating. I also met with a recovery group every week, composed of crack addicts, heroine addicts, sex addicts, prescription drug addicts, alcoholics, and people battling a variety of mental illnesses. I learned so much from sharing and bonding with every single one of them over the course of that year, and I will never forget them. Most importantly, I learned how to heal and move forward, and ultimately love me.
Sitting here five years later, I look back over how far I've come and I am truly in awe. Comparing the broken, confused girl I was to the self-assured, emotionally confident woman that I am now lets me know that there must be some kind of wonderful, miraculous God. High off life? Yep, I'll take that over marijuana any day!