A reader writes:
I'm in the marijuana closet. 42-year-old father of three, youth football coach (actually coordinator for the league), homeowner, wife is treasurer for the Brownies, master's degree, worked for the same company for 15 years. And on Saturday nights, I like to get high down in my basement, after everyone's in bed, and surf the Web or play video games. It is indeed the only law I break. But I can never come out of the closet because I'd lose my job. A lot of people are in that position, I believe - not only functioning members of society but high functioning members, who would be deemed dysfunctional by their employers, maybe by society itself, simply because they enjoy the occasional bong hit.
Only my wife, close friends, other users, and now you know of my regular use. In my work and especially at the level I am at, I would be able to keep my job if I were to "come out" as a homosexual. I can not say the same regarding marijuana!
Several months ago my ex-wife (divorced 7 years ago) decided she wanted to modify our child-custody arrangement. She had no basis whatseover to do this. For seven years, I have exercised joint custody responsibly. (More responsibly than she has, I might add.) I have met all my obligations. I am a solid citizen. I adore my children and they love me back. Her lawyers had a plan, however.
They concocted a phony tale (that I threatened her) in order to get me into Court. I came to court without a lawyer because their story was so outrageous that I knew the charges would be thrown out. When I got to Court, they served me with "new" papers which alleged drug abuse and the need for a drug-court intervention. I was summarily sent for a drug test. I tested negative for the real drugs (meth, coke, opiates, etc) but the test revealed traces of marijuana.
I stepped back into court only minutes later to greet a hostile judge who stripped me of all parental rights. As I write this, I have not seen my children in almost three months. Of course I will win back my children eventually, but this has been a bloodbath for the entire family. I was outed by my ex-wife in her efforts to gain a legal advantage and it has worked.
I also know that she did this to hurt me, but something strange has occurred. I suddenly feel the benefits of being out of the closet. It feels good. It feels right. It feels like me. Funny thing about stigma. Stigma is only real if you think it is. Of course, I haven't smoked pot in several months because I have been faced with a choice between my children and my meds. Since New York lacks a medical marijuana statute, I go without the meds. I sleep a couple of hours at a time, usually on the couch. It is after 4:15 AM as I write this. Insomnia anyone?