Updated on Jan. 17, 2022

My One-Eighty

image-Essentrics™ class with seniors and beginners participants

Genevieve - Essentrics™ instructor, doing a self-hug routine

I smoked weed and cigarettes every day for most of my life. I’m looking back to uncover how I changed. I’m writing this, for myself and for others who might be feeling fed up with addiction and “self-medication” or more accurately, self-destruction.

I’d known that for a long time that I wanted to break free of my addiction, but it was strong. For a long time, I was afraid that my secret would be found out by people outside my circle of friends - most of whom also had the addiction. I would have to quit before I was outed.

I always felt that I was a slave to it. That I couldn’t be, or feel okay without it, and if there was a time when I couldn’t get it or couldn’t afford it, I would panic. I hated that feeling. I wanted to be free. Even now I feel so sad and scared writing about it because it brings back those feelings of anxiety. When I would smoke, it would sedate me and I would forget about wanting to be free of the addiction. Then I would feel ashamed and guilty that I had given in to it. It was a vicious cycle in which I was trapped.

It’s painful to admit that my addiction had control of my life for over thirty years. Sometimes I wonder where I would be – more successful, have a family and a house – if I hadn’t had the addiction. From the time I was thirteen until about forty-five or forty-six, I smoked weed every day. Since my twenties, it was the first thing I would do in the morning. I would wake up and roll a joint and have it with my coffee. That’s how I started every day. Wake and bake! It was actually something I was proud of for a long time, until I couldn’t stop.

In my thirties I was sober for about two years. After visiting my father in the hospital for complications brought on by his own addiction. It made me examine my life and I found myself at a low point. I was really depressed. I came across Buddhism and it helped me get clean. Then I fell back into my old lifestyle when I got back together with an ex-boyfriend who was also immersed in his own full-blown addiction (we tend to surround ourselves with others who will reinforce our own addictions).

It would be another fifteen years before I could free myself of the addiction. I had a lot of work to do which included mental, emotional, physical and spiritual growth to feel that I was good enough just as I am. That I don’t need to numb the pain from my childhood anymore. It wasn’t easy, but I knew in my soul that I deserved better. It’s been an amazing journey that I am so grateful to myself for taking. How did I do it? I worked hard, I started doing kung fu, I asked for help from my spiritual guides, I prayed – literally – and I wrote. Most of all I trusted myself.

I know this piece seems like a divergence from my Essentrics™ journey, but I honestly feel that Essentrics™ found me when I was ready for it. I wouldn’t have connected with it when I was caught up in my addiction. That’s what addiction does to people. You don’t care about anything else, especially not yourself.