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The Dragon Inside
Weed helped me avoid my anger, but not deal with it
Desmin B.
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The first time I was introduced to weed I was 7. My older brothers would smoke in my grandmother’s house when she went out. They acted so calm and cool, laughing and having a good time, so relaxed that they’d sink into their chairs like quicksand.

I didn’t smoke weed myself until I was 12. One day my brothers Shine and Syn called me into their room, where they were sitting with a cloud of smoke above their heads. Syn pulled out a blunt and sparked it. He took some pulls, Shine took some pulls, and then he handed the blunt to me.

Syn told me to inhale, wait for a couple seconds, then blow out all the smoke. I took his instruction, placed the blunt toward my lips, and inhaled. The weed entered my lungs. I felt like a dragon blowing fire, but only smoke came out. I was moving slow and felt wild nice and mellow. Like a new person, calm and laid-back.

Before long, smoking weed became a habit. I noticed that getting high kept my anger from getting control of me. My anger was a big problem. I’d get stressed out a lot at home by my aunt and grandmother, who were on my case about school because my grades weren’t good.

I carried all that stress with me to school, and then, when someone pissed me off, I blacked out, meaning I’d be quick to tell anybody f-ck you, kiss my ass—no remorse. It often happened when people tried to assault me with offensive words. I noticed that when I was high, I wasn’t so quick to react. It kept me from getting in trouble.

But when I was high I’d forget to do things and it was affecting my schoolwork. The weed was making me unmotivated to do work and I’d daydream and fall asleep. I started failing every class and getting far behind. It also pushed away a girl I liked. I felt bad about that, but I still couldn’t stop.

Wake-Up Call

One day I got high before I went to school. I knew it was dumb, but in my school I was always up and live, loud in the hallways. Smoking made my days quicker and kept me from having problems with the teacher. I could be high and just go to sleep in class till it was over.

As the bell rang after 4th period, my guidance counselor called me to her office. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Instead of mellowing me, being high this time had made me stupid, nervous, and paranoid.

“Desmin, is there a problem? You’re not acting yourself today.”

We were in each other’s faces. I was stressed, because I knew I needed to be focused and I didn’t want her to find out I was dumb high.

“Nothing wrong, just trying not to get in trouble.”

“You look tired in your eyes. Were you smoking weed before you came to school?”

“No.”

My heart started beating real fast and I was getting real nervous because I knew it was a lie. Then she asked to smell my hands and smelled the bud on my fingertips. She asked me why I had smoked.

“I don’t know, school be stressful.”

“I understand. You’re calm and you don’t act up while you’re high, I know. But you need to come to school with a clear head and sober.”

It made me feel guilty: I should’ve known not to come to school high. She told me if I kept it up it was going to affect me. She said it would make me lazy and tired and that I was going to have a hard time remembering what I’d learned.

Later I thought about what she’d said. That talk with the guidance counselor eventually made me stop coming to school high because I was afraid she’d call my house and tell my family. She was cool so I respected her authority, and in her eyes she looked hurt to see me high. But I still wasn’t ready to stop smoking.

image by Freddy Bruce

Shamed by Grandma

Then, one night last year, I came home wild late and high. It was a school night. My eyes were bloodshot and I was seeing things blurry. I opened the door and my grandmother was sitting there with a grumpy stare.

My grandmother hates it when I smoke. I’d come inside smelling like wild bud, then eat just about everything in the house. She’d get so mad that I’d spent the money she gave me on weed instead of food.

As I walked past her, she said, “Why your eyes red like you smoking and your clothes smell like you been all around it?” I didn’t respond, but she followed me to my room and continued.

“You shouldn’t be smoking, it’s bad for your brain. Your clothes smell like a weed forest.”

“So what?”

“You should stop while you ahead or I won’t give you money for school. It’s nothing for you to be toying with.”

In the moment I didn’t care, because I was high. But this was the point when I started to break the habit. My grandmother means so much to me. I wanted to keep her happy. I felt bad that my own grandmother had to confront me about smoking weed. I didn’t want her think I was following in my brothers’ footsteps by disrespecting her like they did. I thought I would never be like my brothers, because she’s taken care of me and I love her too much.

Slowing Down the Habit

After I stopped smoking so much, I was finally able to notice that I’d become addicted to weed. I woke up to the fact that I’d been spending all my money on bud and couldn’t remember things. I couldn’t even wake up in the morning. Girls didn’t want to talk to me if I was high. My grandmother had stopped giving me money. I knew I had to break this cycle, or at least slow down with it.

It wasn’t easy to stop with all the stress I felt from school and home, hearing everyone criticize me about my bad behavior and my disrespect for authority figures. I needed some way to relieve my stress so I wouldn’t beat someone up. Getting high let me be in my own world where nobody knew how I felt. But at the same time, I felt bad about myself. I knew I couldn’t face my problems head on if I was smoking. It was an escape from reality instead of me dealing with my problems.

I stopped smoking by spending my money on things that I needed, like lunch or dinner and on buying hats and other things. And whenever someone asked me about bud, I’d be like, “I spent all my money.” Without money, I couldn’t smoke. This was becoming a new cycle that I could get used to.

The only time I smoke now is at nighttime, if my homey lights it. That only happens about once a week. I started to stay away from people who are daily smokers. I didn’t want to get back into the habit or be peer-pressured into smoking heavy again. It started working for me: I was becoming less of a pothead.

I try to smoke only after I’ve handled my schoolwork, or when I complete a day of good deeds like chores and homework. I thought it was impossible to break a habit that you like, and it felt good overcoming it.

The Power to Choose

At one time, I thought I couldn’t get through the day without weed. Now I realize that my body has gotten used to not having it. When I have stress, I’ll go talk to a girl I’m close to and tell her my problem. Her understanding makes it better, and keeps it from becoming a bigger problem.

At school I’ve started to learn and to feel better about myself. I notice being high doesn’t keep me calm as much as minding my own business, avoiding conflict, and worrying about myself does. I have more self-control.

I’m not saying things are perfect. Not being high causes me to black out on people more often at school. Without the weed, it’s harder to avoid my anger. But in the end, I know avoiding my anger isn’t the same as dealing with it.

Realizing that I have the power to choose when I smoke is a start. It makes more room for me to go after my goals, like doing music and attending school. I want to graduate from high school, so I have to keep up with my schoolwork and force myself to get up in the morning. For my music, I need to read more books to build my vocabulary so I can write better lyrics and continue freestyling. Weed is still a struggle for me, but I no longer let it control me.

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(FCYU-2011-04-23)

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