When I lived in San Francisco everyone I knew smoked weed. So I smoked weed. Or tried to. I didn’t understand the allure, doing something that made you slow, forgetful and hungry – I didn’t need help with any of those things – but I tried it. I never felt any different after smoking but I kept at it because if at first you don’t succeed, just smoke more weed.
Fast forward a few years (and other drugs) to New York and a happy, celebratory weekend with my San Francisco friends. Out came the stash and rolling papers and shortly thereafter everyone was grinning and eating. Except me. I was crouched in a corner bawling my eyes out.
It finally worked.
Everyone went to the backyard to enjoy the barbecue while my friend stayed with me in an upstairs bedroom. He laid on the bed coaching me through the extreme and immediate paranoia.
Me: “They’re all out there talking about me.”
Friend: “No they’re not.”
Me: “They are. Did you hear that? I just heard my name. Someone just said my name. They’re looking at me. THEY ARE LOOKING RIGHT AT ME.” <duck below window> <sob>
Me: (a few moments later) “God I am so embarrassed.”
Friend: “Don’t be, it’s no big deal.”
Me: “Wait. Did you just roll your eyes? Oh my God, I am ruining this whole day for you. YOU HATE ME.” <sob> “You do. You hate me. Oh God.”
And on and on and on for what felt like hours. I think a few people came in to check on me which made me feel worse, so it’s possible my friend just shooed them away at the door. My memory is a bit uh, hazy. What I do remember clearly though is my other friend striding in with every confidence in the world, grabbing me by the arm saying “You’re thinking about this too much. You need to get out of your head. You’re coming with me.” Then she dragged me downstairs and outside which was a good thing because I had already resigned myself to spending the night in that bedroom, weeping and alone.
My Marijuana Doula took control and though she could not stop the effects, she changed my environment. She took me out of my head. She presented me different choices on how to manage my situation. I was still totally nutso – for example, when sitting at the dinner table I feigned normalcy by asking what was in the salad bowl:
Someone: “That’s cheese.”
Me: “Oh. Cheese. Nice.”
BULLSHIT. That’s tofu motherfucker, don’t you think I know what tofu looks like? Why are you lying to me? You’re making fun of me! I KNOW you’re making fun of me.
Shortly after The Great Tofu Incident almost everyone went inside, probably because the mosquitos were coming out or that’s where the drinks were . . . but I knew otherwise.
Me: “But everyone is inside.”
Someone: “Not everyone.”
Me: “There are more people inside then there are outside. Don’t you see that? Why would that be? Something is going on inside and they don’t want me to know about it.”
*Sigh* Who is better than me? Yes, I am available to attend your next party.
Despite my ongoing lunacy, my friend, my Marijuana Doula, guided me from desperate and pitiful to angry and alert. I wasn’t sober but I could see it through the haze.
When I was in labor with Arlo, I was consumed by the pain. I was crouched in its corner bawling my eyes out. I was resigned to spending my life there, weeping and alone. A Doula cannot spare the pain, she cannot stop the pain, but she can look me in the eye, grab me by the arm and take me out of my head. I am scared about this labor and birth. Marijuana I’m able to swear off forever but I have chosen (and worked tirelessly) to have another child. I hope my Doula understands how much she means to me.
Thanks to anyone who chooses to serve as a Doula, in whatever situation (uh em) her help is required.