I smoke pot. Well I did. I quit recently.
I didn’t smoke a lot but I did it every night. Like one little hoot a night before bed with my hubby. I don’t drink (except a shot of tequila once a year at a party, and then I rip up the dance floor like a fucking monster queen) but on my 13th birthday I chugged a 26er of vodka on the railroad tracks with my best friends and woke up in the hospital after getting my stomach pumped and found out that three of the 6 of us had been sexually assaulted so I haven’t had a taste for it since.
So my medicine has always been weed. It stops my brain, calms me down and gives me the giggles before bed. But lately (for the past 10 years) I’ve been secretly feeling ashamed of the nightly ritual. I’m 38. I should be able to live without being stoned. I should be able to feel my feelings and find healthy ways to calm myself before bed. Also, getting up at 6:30 every morning with two toddlers is noticeably harder with even the smallest stone over, so I quit.
And ever since my last toke, every single night I’ve been plagued with the most horrendous nightmares.
The nightmares have only 2 themes. Being gang raped repeatedly and my mothers death.
The rapey nightmares are manageable because I wake up mid attack and I think “holy shit, I’m safe, that was just a dream” and I can fall back asleep. But the nightmares about my mom are more complicated because in them I relive her death. I feel the pain of her passing as deeply as I did 3 years ago when she actually died. And then I wake up and I think “oh, thank God, it was just a dream….” And it hits me, no, it’s not just a dream. My mother is dead. And the nightmare is true.
It happened again last night and waking up to the shock of the pain that mom is gone for good- again, fucking destroys me.
So I get up, I walk around the dark house bawling. I crouch over and rock. I don’t want to go back to sleep because I know I’ll just go back into the dream and have to wake up again and re-remember the truth so I try to exorcise the nightmare from my system by pacing, drinking water and crying it out.
Last night I went outside. I sat on our deck and looked up at the stars. The thing about pot is that it’s a great numbing agent. It takes away the stab and without it, I have to face…life.
Isn’t it interesting that your body knows? It wants to process and heal your pain, and the minute you take the barriers away from that happening- it starts the job full force.
I recognize this as a necessary thing.
I’m tired of numbing out.
I want to be able to feel it all.
So I was sitting on my porch looking up at the stars and I let the knife blade in.
And after awhile a voice spoke. It wasn’t her voice. It wasn’t God’s voice. Maybe it was…
But the voice said “stop trying to push the boulder uphill Em.”
I had an immediate image of a tiny little me pushing this ginormous rock up a huge mountain. I was actually making headway. I was really strong. But I wasn’t getting anywhere fast, and sometimes I’d slide back down and I saw from a birds eye view, the futility of the effort I was putting in.
“It’s incredible you’re this tenacious Em” the voice said, “but you’ve just gotta stop trying to push that rock up that hill.”
I felt a wave of relief wash over me.
I stepped away from the rock.
And the pain lessened.
Stop trying to push it away.
Stop trying to bring it close.
Stop trying to heal.
Stop trying not to.
Stop trying to push that fucking rock up that fucking hill.
And I took a deep breath and I went back inside and my eyelids were so heavy I had to hold the bannister to walk downstairs in case I fell asleep before I hit the sheets.
I crawled in next to my sleeping boys and I fell into a dreamless sleep and my husband woke me up at noon (wha?) and I moved around all day like something had just broken and I had to be very careful the way I moved because I didn’t want to disrupt the bones knitting themselves back together.
There was no shame in that. No judgement. Just a carefulness in the way I was moving that was new to me.
Wow, nightmares can save a lot in therapy bills.
Feeling is hard, but not feeling is harder.