Can we really say that weed is the gateway drug? People continue to try to draw correlations between weed use and all the other drugs. Has anyone every thought about what the gateway was to getting to weed?
Everyone’s route is different since no one has been lead to or from weed the same way.
This is my story.
Started Smoking Cigarettes at a Young Age
Back in the day I remember my mom smoking cigarettes like there was no tomorrow. Since the 90s and for a good majority of the early 2000s it was pretty typical for people to smoke.
As a kid I thought it was some thing that adults do and it looked SO COOL.
My mom would sit on the first floor bathroom toilet while filing out crossword puzzles or reading a book and practically chain smoking.
Those were the days, am I right? (gross, lol)
There was a time I got in trouble because I snuck a cigarette from my mom and went upstairs in the bathroom to smoke it.
My stupid move was bringing that cigarette upstairs to smoke it. No one smoke upstairs. I got caught and was in trouble for a day. (my family didn’t know what grounding was)
At that moment I figured out that smoking cigarettes wasn’t for me. They were gross and I couldn’t inhale them in. I wish I learned my lesson a little stronger than that.
Smoking & Drinking is a Part of our Culture
I do have to admit, Slovakia is getting a better understanding of the dangers of smoking with their grotesque images on cigarette packs warning of the dangers of smoking. Yet it is still very common to encounter smokers than it is in the states.
With the many times that we would go and visit back “home” to Slovakia, every single time it was filled with constant cigarette smoke and weekly bonfire “BBQ” parties.
Those were the good ol’ days.
The simple times.
I still remember my sister playing the 90s Euro dance pop tape cassettes. We would play them in the cars during the day and bring the casettes in and dance to them at night. The cheesy dance music that you could never find in the states.
There were crowds of friends that would come and visit my sisters after coming back to their hometown. It felt like it was always a party. It was always a good time.
It’s not “illegal” for kids to drink. It’s also not “pushed” on kids. It’s literally a part of our culture.
There was a time that I had a stomach ache and my mom was by the river under the mountains hanging out with her friends. They turned to me and offered some moonshine in order to settle my stomach.
That was the worst!
The End of the Good Times
We would have to come home to America to my father who didn’t trust my mother or her family. And it was getting to him.
It’s not shocking to believe after learning about my father having a difficult childhood his parents, where they didn’t show him any love or affection. Thus my father didn’t know how to trust anyone.
A shorter refresh, when my father was growing up he would often hear his parents and his siblings talking about him as if he was not in the room. Talking negatively talking about him in ways that he was insufficient. It all took a toll on him mentally.
His story that he shared with my mom and one of his best friends was that one year when my father had gathered Chirstmas presents for his family members, he didn’t get anything in return. Not even a simple pack of cigarettes.
This behavior hurt him.
Perhaps my destiny was already created here, at this moment in time, way before I was even physically created.
Perhaps if weed wasn’t considered as a gateway drug, which is something that my parents were lead to believe in their youth as well, my father could have found relief from the cannabis plant.
Difficult Family Members
My mother‘s family lives of a similar nature. Just not caring for one another. No love.
It’s not an uncommon thing in families I’m learning. There’s so many recent stories of grandparents that I’m learning that they cared for others more than they cared for their own families.
I though it must be that my parents are immigrants from Czech and Slovakia, the Eastern Bloc type countries.
Because when they were growing up it was communist times in post Second World War/Cold War times.
Love and affection was a rare thing to share.
People would judge you so hard.
Both my parents are the kind people that would cut off their arm to save anyone else’s.
Now as I grow up in this modern society that is more accepting of this mental toughness that can’t always be endured even I have a hard time quieting down the negative voices.
The voices in my father’s head would reappear only during the times that he would drink excessively. He showed so many signs to us and no one took advantage of that to help him. He just didn’t know where to direct the energy except those people that were around him.
They Felt like Disgraces to their Families
My mother had a similar story where she had twins out of wedlock and my grandparents treated her like garbage and her twins.
Though, my mom was a fighter.
She was alone for a good portion of her life and probably felt lonely for a good part of it too.
My mom tried to create a better life for her two twin children.
She came to America in the hopes of finding a husband and she did!
She fell in love with my father, but my father never believed her because he was an overweight person and all the things that he heard from his past constantly haunted him.
Lies Start Eating Away at Your Soul
At this point of my life I was in my mid teens.
My dad was let out on parole within two years of being jailed because he had managed to convince the therapist that he was a good citizen. Meaning we had to “lay low” in case he could find us.
It was weird because I was not grasping the whole seriousness of the situation.
My family thought my father could eventually come back and look for me so we changed our last name so that we couldn’t be found.
There were times that I found the courage to go visit my dad. I would go with my mom or alone and we would meet at a public place like a restaurant or a mall. You best believe we parked far away and walked around so that he couldn’t trace us.
I felt like I had to lie about every part of my life at this point.
I was sad and lonely. And I really didn’t know how to express myself to my family with the feelings I was feeling.
So just like every adult in my life, I covered it up and shut it out.
New Place, New Town, New School and New Friends
After moving into the new apartment that we so graciously were able to receive as a part of Section 8, I almost instantly made a new friend that moved into town.
Before I moved into this apartment, I was already going to the new middle school and I just couldn’t find my place to fit in.
The kids there were kind but they all had their groups of friends already.
I tried all different types of groups or cliques, but nothing actually clicked with us. Friendships are like finding a partner to date, you have to have that spark or it just feels so fake.
Practically everyday I would have a breakdown and cry. I thought I was so weird and that I wouldn’t find anyone to get along with as my friend.
Maybe it was my PTSD kicking in or maybe it was because I was isolated for 4 years prior and not really understanding how to socialize.
That’s when she came in my life.
And my life changed.
These Moments Changed My Life Projection
For privacy, we’ll call her Kay.
Kay wasn’t a part of the Section 8 program like I was.
She was coming out of living a middle class life being forced to downsize into a two-bedroom apartment with her parents.
They came from Wisconsin and within no time Kay told me “she hated it” here.
I have to say I thought she was much cooler than all the other kids at the school. I never knew to speak my own mind before this. I guess this was the moment I grew up from a little kid to a mid sized kid.
Because to tell you the truth, I HATED IT HERE TOO!
We got along together because we just hated things and felt like no one else understood us. All those kids that looked so happy and did all the after school sports and joined teams.
Time to Grow Up Kid
We all had that one person in our lives that influenced us to transition from one period of our lives to another.
That was this period for me.
To me Kay was a superstar and I couldn’t get enough of her.
She wore black clothes and listened to some aggressive music like me. We loved Q101 and would blast Eminem and sing all the lyrics with him. And she smoked cigarettes. She was like the coolest, baddest chic ever and I got to call her my best friend.
Even though I had tried in the past and didn’t like it, I decided I wanted to change that.
Dummy me asked her to teach me how to smoke.
I remember how she taught me, “take an inhale of the cigarette and take another breath right away as if your mom just caught you!” (and you don’t want to give yourself away)
Roaming the Streets of Our Neighborhood
Weather it was a sunny day or a cloudy rainy day, we’d often get out of the apartments to go for a walk to smoke cigarettes without getting caught.
Eventually that made us known as the “bad ass girls” that didn’t give a fuck and did what we wanted.
One day Kay got her belly button pierced. And then we eventually both got our tongues pierced.
Hell no! My mom didn’t allow it. Yet, I was clever enough to make my own note and signed her name as if she did. That’s all they needed from me.
Those notes also helped me in the future to get me out of my high school days all the time. You know, since my mom couldn’t speak English, the secretary would say, “Just have your mom write a note.” OK lady. I’ll write the note that my mom can’t read so that she signs it for me. Let’s just say I can write my mom’s signature better than her.
Expanding Our Awareness
The area that we lived in was where a lot of the kids from our middle school lived too. We’d meet up and eventually got down to drinking together because that’s what the bad kids do, right?
We made lots of friends that were inappropriate for us to be hanging out with looking back, but we were bad girls.
We were lucky those older guys weren’t pedos. Sometimes you have to live on the edge.
I remember that in order to get our illegal cigarettes and alcohol for us we would stand outside of the local kwik e mart and ask random people to buy us cigarettes.
Once we got them to go along for us, we would eventually start asking for alcohol too.
There were some local cooks that eventually became our friends and we would smoke and drink with them. I think I remember some other girls we got to know with them and they fell in love with these guys and probably even did things with them.
For me, they were just my homies that I really didn’t want to hang out for long. I just wanted to get my cigarettes and booze and leave. I guess it paid off to hang out with them because we would throw around some Spanish words and I eventually started picking up on Spanish.
Safe Part of Town
I never felt unsafe in this part of our community.
You wouldn’t be able to tell that a lot of the residents that were living there were from Caprini Green.
For me this was just my neighborhood.
There were rumors of murders and shootings however it was all hearsay. Nothing was ever proved and nothing happened to me.
Kay and I had a good time in that neighborhood being bored, dumb teenagers doing reckless things. But like most things, our time together came to an end.
Endings Create New Beginnings
Even though that we’re not friends she was my longest lasting friendship.
After we had went our separate ways I had stumbled around from friend group to friend group again still trying to figure myself out.
The more I started getting comfortable hanging out with guys more than girls.
I never understood girls that were emotional. They wanted to look pretty and spend mommy and daddys money to get all the boys to look at them.
That wasn’t me, then.
Then one of the guys from a group of my close guy friends started dating this girl. He would bring her around and she would bring a few of her girlfriends with her.
These girls had bad reputations too. A little bit further than what I was used to at the time.
One of the girls was known for throwing fits and even threw a chair at one of the teachers before.
Was This the Pivoting Point?
This group of girls were all similar in nature to me. They liked to party and bend the rules. Yet their nurturing, caring, well off parents didn’t fit the past of these trouble filled girls.
Realizing we liked the same things, we started hanging out.
Mainly the same things were weed, drinking and smoking cigarettes.
But because weed was in the same category as other party drugs like D.A.R.E. had taught us, we thought since we did so well with weed why not try these other things. They must be truly wrong about them too.
Kids and Their Experiments
We started experimenting with all types of drugs. The good and the bad.
In the beginning we were having fun and being safe.
Then towards the end of our high school lives and into our early 20s we had a huge prescription epidemic.
Narcotics became a thing to abuse heavily and so did antianxiety pills. I will have the balls to admit that I have taken these prescriptions for not just pain relief for anxiety relief but for fun. I wanted to see what everyone was going nuts for.
But when my friend started sharing stories with me about how they were taking increments of 5+ prescriptions at a time to show off to one another I just didn’t understand why.
In my mind I knew that this was not going to be a good situation and a good outcome.
Starting to Feel Grown Up
I remember always feeling like the mother of the group and having these serious conversations with kids my age. I didn’t really want to be the one to say it and they didn’t want hear it but I still continued to speak to them even though I didn’t really feel comfortable with their situations and their lifestyle choices.
I change my mind about being friends with them once it started getting really bad and they started taking drugs off of the street as a way to get high since they couldn’t get the prescriptions anymore. Those poor kids didn’t listen to me. Most of those kids ended up taking Heroin.
A lot of them got bad with their addictions.
Some even died.
Before anyone in my close group of friends starting going off into the deep end I knew that this was bad news. I knew had to separate myself before I was being associated with it or getting sucked into the lifestyle.
It made me so sad, it actually made me very depressed again. At the time I was so mad and I started believing the antidrug propaganda.
I also grouped weed into the same grouping of these prescription drugs and all the other drugs. I too was one of those that started to believe that weed was just as bad.
In the end that was one of my worst decisions.