From Stoner to Sober: How I Ended My 18 Year Relationship with Mary Jane
(6 minute read)
How It Started
I got high for the first time when I was 15 years old. I was with some friends from high school. It was a school night on a warm SoCal summer; I remember wishing we could put the windows down to catch the breeze across the hill. But apparently, that’s not how you “hotbox” a car. We were 6 people packed in tight, passing a pocket pipe around and listening to some loud rock music as we watched the skyline.
You could say I was a pretty typical teenager. I was experimental; I listened to a lot of Nirvana. I was sensation-seeking; I craved novelty. I was curious, and negatively curious about life. I didn’t understand the meaning of my existence. I didn’t understand how I got here. Or why. I was convinced it must have been a mistake.
You could say I was having an existential crisis. Typical teenage stuff.
My sentiments towards myself were laced with excruciating self-criticism and shame. Why can’t I be skinnier? Why can’t I be prettier? Why can’t I be more popular? What the hell is wrong with me?
I remember coming home that night feeling exhilarated. And free. The world seemed to be a little less perilous; things made a little more sense. My self-criticism was finally silenced. I was outside of myself, at last. And in this space, I could pretend to be anyone, anyone but a confused teenager. I felt safe there.
How it Progressed
Mary Jane quickly became my best friend and the perfect respite from my boredom, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other emotional problems that I accumulated over young adulthood. Mary Jane was my prescription for dulling every ache and pain I didn’t want to feel. Not only that, but she made the inevitable redundancy of life tolerable, even joyous. I felt undeniably, unambiguously happier when I was high. With one hit, cannabis could shift my entire internal landscape at the blink of an eye.
Over the next 18 years, life was an endless pot party, with Mary Jane as my side-kick. She helped me remember less, notice less, and feel less when it came to events and experiences that were not fun, and remember more, notice more, and feel more when it came to events and experiences that were. In other words, she filtered my reality.
And I loved her for it.
When I was high, the usual, meaningless chatter in my mind was replaced by a labyrinth of thoughts and images that were detailed, exquisite, and beautiful. Creating from this space helped me tap into who I wanted to be, and feel less disappointed in who I was. Many a time, Mary Jane introduced me to a world far bigger and wilder than my imagination; she had a hidden knowledge that fascinated me and represented the humble beginnings of my quest for the beyond.
How It Evolved
My relationship with Mary Jane was important to me; it was one that I cultivated and nurtured over a long time. I got to appreciate her as my little mood modulator — my escape vault. I relied on her heavily to keep me sane, balanced, and stable and I convinced myself (and everyone around me) that I was.
But as the years went by, getting high became bland and mechanical like everything else. Yet I didn’t think much of it; I was determined to keep it going, the way you’re determined to fit into your favorite pair of jeans from high school. I experimented with consuming cannabis in different ways — different strains, different people, in different countries — in search of new adventures, novel experiences, and unknown skylines. Anything to escape my apathy.
At some point, after 10+ years of being a habitual stoner, the rewards I got from getting high began to subside. I still loved Mary Jane (at least I thought I did), but my excitement towards her steadily slackened, leaving a nagging irritation where comfort used to be. But still, I ignored it. I would go days without using — sometimes even weeks — to clear the slate and reconnect to my childhood nostalgia. It became increasingly clear to me that the anticipation of getting high, was better than the high itself. This was a truly disheartening realization.
But still, I persisted.
Even after week-long breaks, I came back again and again, like a stray cat, looking for warmth, connection, safety, and relief. Mary Jane felt like home to me — somewhere to soothe my ongoing existential crisis. But the truth is, she had become nothing more than a blissful alternative to depression and anxiety.
How It Ended
Towards the end of my 18-year marriage to Mary Jane, my life had split into two tracks stretching further and further apart.
I left the country to study meditation in India and was just starting out on my new venture as an entrepreneur. My dream of launching a personal development brand was finally coming to fruition. At the same time, my psychological dependence and enmeshment with Mary Jane made life intolerable for me. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to resolve that enmeshment if I wasn’t to sabotage a future I was about to taste. I decided that I needed a break — a separation. I didn’t intend on it being a divorce, but at least a few months without Mary Jane so I could clear my head and find out who I was, or who I could be when I wasn’t addicted to weed.
During those months in India when I was completely clean, sobriety strengthened the part of me that was somehow still intact. I meditated for hours every day. I journaled out my feelings. My life clarified, simplified. I worked through things that I had tried to neglect for too long. I learned a great deal about my sadness and anger, loneliness and shame. And underneath the fog of depression and anxiety, I discovered a self that longed to be seen, that no longer wanted to be punished for being flawed. I felt whole again; it was a feeling that I cherished. Sobriety gave me a sense of optimism: that it was possible to be myself in this world and not let the world break me.
I remember the first time I got high after a six-month break — the longest break I had ever taken in over 15 years. I was by myself. I took 1mL of a cannabis tincture and sat with my feelings. The high seemed almost unfamiliar to me. This wasn’t the high that I used to love. Any actual enjoyment of the experience seemed more like an emotional habit.
I sat with my feelings. And I began to realize that I didn’t like them. Not because I felt bad, but because I didn’t feel anything at all. No real comfort, some mild semblance of regret… circling fatigue.
I sat with my feelings. It was the first time I felt uncomfortable with the invisible presence that embraced me and carried me away. It was the first time I didn’t want to be carried away. I liked where I was: comfortable in my skin. For the first time, reality was better than a dream.
P.S. For those asking me how to stop their own cannabis use, I don’t know. It’s a personal journey, one that has to do with deep self-inquiry, unshakeable self-love, and expansive self-awareness. Ask yourself: in what ways is cannabis helping me resist reality in this moment? Start from where you are, become curious about your use, and allow it to shine a light on the unconscious patterns that are keeping you stuck and not free.
If you need guidance, support, and mentorship on releasing that which no longer serves you and stepping into all that you are meant to be, apply for my six-week one-on-one mentorship program — Authentic Self.