I started smoking pot (and cigarettes and drinking and trying other drugs) when I was 12.
My grade school teachers described me as a “social butterfly.” I had lead roles in school plays, sang solos, MC’d dance festivals and was the Brooklyn, NY Storytelling Champion of 1980 (seriously, I still have the trophy – I lost the City competition to Queens – I may still harbor resentment).
In junior high school I was one of a few students given an application to the high school of performing arts. I vividly remember filling it out – and never handing it in. The seed of apathy I inhaled with my first joint took root.
As my inner fortress strengthened, motivation, ambition and self-confidence were locked outside the gates. My vow to obtain independence never faltered, but I never considered achieving it with talent or my love of anything; and through the years whatever I did accomplish was overshadowed by imposter syndrome.
My commitment to numbing, fortified by decades of regular marijuana use (I’m trying to avoid writing daily, but it was daily) reinforced earlier subconscious lessons.* The seed of apathy flourished into a weed of insecurity.
It’s no secret that I was trying to deaden childhood pain. What I’ve recently come to realize is that I didn’t repress pain in isolation; joy and love were equally chained within the deepest dungeon of my fortress.
Does this make me, me?
The me of today is engaged in undoing decades of conditioning. I don’t get high or drunk anymore. I know my thirst to anesthetize is based on discomfort and an effort to avoid my feelings so I question that instead. Oftentimes I’m insecure and feel (a mostly self inflicted) pressure to be something unnatural; sometimes the company I’m keeping is out of alignment with who I am or who I want to be.
With open eyes I know that desensitizing myself adds bricks to my fortress. I prefer to open the gates to connection to feel anything and eventually, everything.
What makes you, you?
Pivotal Moments is a collection of experiences that contribute to who I am. Have you considered what makes you, you?