It is a fact that in 2019 a study by Stats Canada found that the number of men who used cannabis was 43 per cent higher than women. The study did not provide information for other genders.
When I was in my early 20s, the woman who I was closest to for my entire life passed of a heart attack. I remember spending time with my grandmother while growing up. Nearly every weekend at my grandmothers as my mother had a passion for a type of self-comforting that didn’t include her children. My grandmother showed me many real tools of life. Compassion, communication, nurturing, power, love, and an authentically honest love for family.
When she passed, I was at a stage in emotional development where - as a Man - I was well into the art of shutting down, resisting uncomfortable emotions by pushing them deep into myself. An avoidance tactic that worked well. This assured that I would not be affected or show any 'weakness' while executing my obligations. No heavy emotions could pass through this Man!
So, when she passed, I was so good at blocking emotion I couldn’t process the loss in a naturally healthy way. As hard as it was, the loss gave me a gift – a gift of having too much backed up emotion. I found myself painfully lost. I was in a very dark place – all this new emotion piled into this old container of emotion. My emotional container was now completely full, and the container began stretching and swelling with all these heavy feelings. The pain became unbearable. Emotional constipation! I had no idea what to do or what was really happening. What came next was a year of cannabis. I had already been using alcohol to cope, but now I added a heavy smoky sedative blanket of escape to the mix.
It worked! It helped me manage and have breaks. It allowed me to survive and adjust to the constipation and darkness. But what it never allowed me, was to live from my truth. My spark was now hidden.
The belief systems about how men are to not show emotions are from stories I learned growing up. All genders share these stories, but from the stats and what I’ve experienced, Men are at the top of this avoidant list. These stories created a wall of struggle and limitation throughout my life. The biggest truth lies in the fact that there is nobody to blame. It was the way of culture and after looking at the stats, sadly it still is. And although I say this, I don’t ever negate my role. The responsibility to live in an integral space of power and personal freedom is completely mine.
I am fortunate to have had enough strength and positive stories to not drop deeper into the tunnel of darkness. I emerged from this place with compassion for all people, not only men. The need to blanket heavy emotions affects all genders indiscriminately and for many more traumatic reasons than what I’ve spoken about here.
My way out of struggle came when I decided to let go of the blanket, and just fall. Letting go of the container, gave me the freedom to find my courage. From there, I moved into a deeper self-awareness that basically became the Windex for my window of true self. When the window started to let in some light, inspiration flooded in. That inspiration landed with willingness to jump deeper. A willingness to step into and share the most secret and uncomfortable parts of myself. It just kept building and growing and after a while, the window started to take on a life of its own. It is like the cleaner the window became, the more the light illuminated the limiting stories.
The light allows us to quit hiding emotions and to start replacing old limiting belief systems with new powerful belief systems that ignite our passion. Light comes in many ways. It might be a friend with an honest conversation. Or an illuminated story through drama or conflict. It might come from overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop. It could show up in a meme. One never knows the magical power of energy once we become open to transformation.
Emotion is energy and as any energy it wants to move and explore. So, let yourself experience emotion. Find the courage to give up safe control. Dance, Swim, Scream, Sing, Love, Cry, Pout, Hug, and push into the shadows – Whatever form it wants to be, just let it be free to its own journey. When we let emotion be what it wants to be and allow it to flow with untethered freedom, that freedom expands our awareness and gifts us the most valuable gift of all - liberation from struggle through grace – AKA PERSONAL FREEDOM.
The point I am making is this truth; comfort is the illusion of freedom. When we allow ourselves to move into a coping strategy, we surrender our freedom to the limiting story of that strategy. Medicine is medicine and can offer powerful therapeutic effects, but overusing can lead into an illusion of freedom and to a much longer road to recovery. It is also true that a long slow sedative use of any sedative substance – even social media - can dim one’s light just enough that the loss of passion can be just barely perceivable by self and others. Recovering to the core self might never happen in this case.
The blankets can provide a lifetime of illusionary comfort behind a smoky window filled with magical opportunity.