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Smoking Out the Past
When I’m high, I just don’t care
Anonymous
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I’ve been smoking weed for about two years now, and it has affected my mind and the way I see things. When I didn’t smoke weed I would overthink things and worry. Now I don’t pay much attention to anything. I also don’t expect much, so I don’t end up disappointed. For example, when I first moved to my foster mom’s house I didn’t expect her to be the kindest and fairest of them all, which was lucky because I would’ve been disappointed.

I started smoking weed at the age of 14 because almost everyone I knew smoked, including my aunt, my brother, my cousins, and all my friends. More important, a friend had told me that weed made you feel better, like a therapist does. A lot of things bothered me, such as the fact that my dad left me, my mom is addicted to drugs and couldn’t care for me and my brother, I was abused by my first foster mother, and because my aunt failed me as a guardian, I had to go into care with strangers. All those betrayals left me feeling lonesome and kind of worthless.

And that’s just the past. In the present, I have long arguments with my foster mom, where she accuses me of being lazy even though I help around the house. She also kicks me out of the house when she’s mad at me.

I went to therapy for about a year when I was 12, and that didn’t work. The therapist asked a lot of questions but didn’t seem to care about me. I wanted to get all the mixed feelings out of my head and off my chest and keep the past in the past. I hoped weed could make me stop feeling confused, alone, angry, and sad.

The first time I got high, with my sister and two friends, I thought it tasted disgusting and dry. But after I finished smoking the blunt, I liked the sensations. When I looked in the mirror my eyes were watery and emerald green with dark gray outlines. They looked bolder and more alive, even though the whites were all red. Ordinary things, like my eyes, became intense and fascinating.

I thought the littlest things were funny and soon we were all laughing at each other and at each other’s laughs. Everything was moving in slow motion, but I was dizzy, as if everything was on fast forward. I felt untouchable, light, as if I wasn’t really there.

Floating Above It All

Then I went home, and my foster mom asked why was I getting home at 2 a.m. I laughed. She saw my red eyes and smelled the weed on my clothing and fingers. She asked me if I’d smoked and all I did was smirk at her. It felt good to piss her off.

She then began to give me a huge speech on how smoking is bad, but I didn’t hear more than half of it. I was just in the zone—not paying attention to anything at all. I stared at her, nodding, thinking about what I was going to eat.

Since that first time, I have smoked a lot, and I love the way it makes me feel at the time. My friends were right. It doesn’t work as a therapist, but it does make you feel relieved. Your chest feels filtered as if you just cleaned out your system.

image by Terrence Taylor

When I get high, I feel light, calm, not bothered, isolated, like I can’t be hurt. I don’t have a care in world. I’m peaceful and I don’t have to worry about anything. Once when I was high, my foster mom tried to start an argument, but I wasn’t feeling that bad vibe she was trying to put me in. So we didn’t argue; she just gave up and went to her room.

Soon I was smoking every day, at friends’ houses, outside, at night, sometimes in the mornings. Over time it did change me. Smoking made me distant from my friends who don’t smoke. I pulled away from them because I didn’t want them to start smoking too. I knew they would care less about school and they could get addicted. I didn’t want that kind of responsibility on my shoulders.

When teachers would ask me a question, I wouldn’t know the answer because I was always sleeping (another symptom of smoking, along with being hungry and thirsty). If they asked me if I was OK, I would just nod. Deep inside I knew it wasn’t OK to sleep during class, but my attitude at the moment was I don’t care.

One thing I like about being high is that when I do think about sad or upsetting things such as not knowing my dad and not living with my mom and seeing people happy with their parents, they don’t bother me as much. Like when I lost my phone on the bus I thought to myself, “Just get another one.” I wasn’t really stressed out about it.

I’m really peaceful most of the time, but when I get agitated, I feel the need to smoke. The real me gets hidden when I’m high: I don’t really talk to people. My friends are also quiet when we smoke together.

Slowing Me Down

In January of 10th grade, I noticed my grades were slipping and I decided to stop smoking. It was hard stopping because most of my friends smoked weed, especially my boyfriend. It was also hard when I got into an argument with my foster mom; then all I wanted to do was smoke, to block her out. Instead I just left and went to a friend’s house or my sister’s house. I went for a total of three months without smoking anything.

During those three months, when I had a problem or when I felt mad I just talked to my boyfriend. Even though he would smoke around me, simply talking to him made me feel more relaxed. I never really spoke to my boyfriend when I was high, so it was actually easier to talk to him when I didn’t smoke.

When he wasn’t there, I went to sleep or went out with friends. Not smoking bothered me the most when I was home. Home is intolerable unless I’m high, so I tried to only go there to sleep.

The first time I smoked again after the three months, it was because my friend wanted me to. For no good reason, I said OK and we got high before school. When we got to class our geometry teacher Mrs. Greene stared at us. When we sat down she put a test on our desks. My friend and I looked at each other with a shocked look as if we were watching a horror movie and a killer popped out of nowhere.

image by YC-Art Dept

But the questions seemed easy. “I got this,” I thought to myself. When I went back to her class later that day, she gave me the test back. I got a 45. I was confused because I was so confident that I had passed it, but since I was still high I didn’t care that I’d failed.

After I got the 45, I decided not to go back to my pattern of smoking all the time. I stopped smoking in the mornings. I only smoked after school, but not every day, more like three times a week. Now that it’s the summer, I smoke like five times a week. I would say I’m high about 30% of the hours I am awake.

Smoking to Forget

One of the main reasons I still smoke is the ongoing stress from the arguments with my foster mom. One time my older sister was throwing a party in her house and my foster mom didn’t want to let me go because she knew there would be a lot of older guys there. She and I got into it with each other for hours, screaming and cursing. It was like a wrestling match. My head was pounding, I was tired, and I was thinking about cutting myself, which I’d done a lot when I was younger. That way I could focus on the burn on my skin instead of the situation.

Instead I smoked, and I could literally feel the stress go away as if I was in a spa getting a massage. I was with my friend and we didn’t say one word to each other. She knew how I was feeling, and we were peaceful.

After we smoked I felt like a feather. Not a worry in the world about anyone. I thought about the argument and came to the conclusion that I was just going to ignore any of my foster mom’s comments about me.

I don’t think I’m addicted to weed; I’m just used to it. It’s like a routine. I can deal with the slowness. Before, when I smoked constantly I failed or barely passed my classes. Spring semester, after I cut back on smoking, I passed my classes with 75’s and 80’s.

I know there are different, healthier ways to cope with stress than weed. My friend Crystal doesn’t smoke and her grades are extremely high. She was put into Advanced Placement classes with 11th and 12th graders. She has a healthy relationship with the teachers and she’s in school every day. I, on the other hand, didn’t go to school every day and I most definitely did not have a healthy relationship with most teachers.

By smoking weed, I am seeking relief from my past and my present. Though I had a bad experience in therapy when I was 12, some therapists recently came to talk to us at Represent and made me feel differently about it. I thought to myself, “Maybe they can help me get all the mixed feelings out of me.”

I don’t want those feelings bottled up in my chest the way they are now. I don’t want to push everything away just to get through the day anymore. Weed helps me feel like the abuse and neglect from the past could stay in the past and not control me. But that only lasts for a while. Then I have to smoke again to continue to forget. I don’t want to rely on weed to feel OK.

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(FCYU-2011-10-20)

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