Our Stories Matter
In our previous article on shame, we discussed an important, yet not often addressed, topic among cannabis users. Within typical American cannabis culture, it’s not uncommon to find an underlying sense of resentment, anger, and dissatisfaction with how cannabis is perceived by the average person. As users pass a joint, it is almost a cliché to begin hearing about the conspiracy against cannabis by big pharma or how crazy it is that cigarettes are legal, but cannabis isn’t.
If we were to reiterate these arguments here, we probably wouldn’t be telling you anything you don’t already believe. Rather, our intent with this article is to dig underneath the surface of these common frustrations and negative emotions among cannabis users.
We believe that, deep down, many cannabis users are struggling with being shamed for their cannabis use. And there is no better way to explore this idea than to hear some of these shame stories. Below is a story from one of our team members.
A Shame Story
I was in the office of an endocrinologist because a blood test (which turned out to be a false positive) suggested that my testosterone levels were abnormally low. One of the first questions that this doctor asked me was whether or not I was a cannabis user. I responded that I was. She immediately told me that research shows that using cannabis disrupts the function of the pituitary gland and inhibits testosterone production. This really surprised me — I had never even heard of this negative effect of cannabis, let alone that it was strongly supported by research. This doctor assured me that this negative effect of cannabis was well known among endocrinologists. (In fact, the research on this matter is far from conclusive).
Toward the end of our appointment, I reluctantly admitted to the doctor that I should probably stop using cannabis until the issue with my testosterone is fully resolved. She emphatically agreed and went even further: she told me that I should stop using cannabis to set a good moral example for my children. I immediately got a flood of negative emotions and an icy feeling in my stomach. I stumbled through the remainder of the appointment and drove home.
For the next few days, I replayed this conversation in my head over and over again. I thought of all the clever things I could have said in response to the doctor’s insinuation that I was a bad parent. I thought of all the things I do for my kids that unequivocally show that I am a GOOD parent. I wanted to call this doctor and tell her that she stepped way over the line and had no right to lecture me about morality during an endocrinology appointment. I felt angry, outraged, and insecure. My heart was pounding and I was restless.
Eventually the imaginary arguments in my head faded away, along with the negative emotions and physical sensations that I was feeling. But it wasn’t until I learned about shame that I was able to truly understand what had happened to me. To fully explain what I was experiencing, it wasn’t enough to say that I felt angry or frustrated. It wasn’t enough to just ignore what this doctor had said, dismissing her as yet another ignorant critic of cannabis. It also wasn’t enough to simply let time pass and forget about it. To truly understand, process, and, most importantly, HEAL from this experience, I needed to understand that I was shamed.
Healing from Shame
Does this story resonate with you? Your circumstances may have been different, but the experience may have felt quite similar; you may have been wrongfully shamed for being a cannabis user.
If you haven’t read our first article on cannabis shaming, here’s a quick refresher: psychologist Brené Brown explains shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.” Dr. Brown goes on to say that shame can be triggered by others labeling us with “unwanted identities.”
This helps explain what our team memb
er was struggling with. By being labeled as a bad parent for using cannabis, he surely felt flawed and unworthy. This was probably magnified by the power dynamic in that doctor’s office — he was just a patient, while the doctor was the one in charge and the authority on the science and research being discussed. Furthermore, our team member was forced to fend off the unwanted identity of “irresponsible stoner” who is failing as a parent.
Sharing Your Story
By recognizing the shame root of his experience and sharing his story with others, our team member was able to forgive the doctor and move on with his life. We invite you to do the same.
At Cream of the Crop we value community, and we believe that providing a safe place for cannabis users to share their shaming stories is a great way to foster this community and help people get the healing from shame that they need.
If you would like to honor us with hearing your shaming story, please click here to tell us about it.
Check in with us again for another edition of Shame Stories!