We get a lot of mail here at the Beams, but the following letter from our dear friend Moe is one of the best eye-openers we've seen in a long time. Moe's candid self-evaluation is remarkable. His courage in overcoming a nasty substance habit is an example for everyone. Moe is proof of what Rebbe Nachman says (Likutei Moharan II:110) that free choice is simply desire - if you want to, you do! At any rate, Moe is our monthly hero here at the Beams. Let's pass him the microphone:
Dear Rabbi , I am a huge fan of your site, as I read it daily, and also a big fan of the Teshuva movement! Some things have been troubling me when reading some of your letters, especially the ones about substance abuse with Marijuana leading the pack.
I would like to sum up my history as quickly as possible. I am the youngest of a large family, and Hashem has blessed me with loving parents. We grew up in the conservative movement but with strong traditional values. Instead of having a childhood full of joy, I grew up in a house of sadness. My oldest sister passed away o.b.m. when I was only about 2, from an illness, and my parents and siblings grief was so overwhelming, understandably, and I had little attention. Well, years went by and all the siblings left home by the time I was 9. With both parents working, I became a latch key kid, spending many hours of solitude. By age 12, I was smoking Pot daily, drinking on the weekends and filling my void of companionship with music. Hashem blessed me with musical talent and started playing in Bands by the time I was 17. My drug use also increased, experimenting with Cocaine, LSD, and Opium while continuing To Smoke Pot daily. By the time I was in my twenties, I had seen friends pass away from Drug Overdoses. This got me to stop the hard stuff, but not the pot..It felt so good, it would relax me, get rid of the nausea I had from a chronic nervous stomach, and really let me get into my music. But the down side was, I was getting more and more introverted, a lot of sinus infections and sucked out a lot of money from my wallet.
My Father was a heavy Tobacco smoker and I visited him in the hospital after he had a third of his lung removed from smoking. Even after seeing him on a respirator, I still didn't get it! I went home and smoked more than ever. Anytime I ran into difficulty, my trusty best friend (my pot Pipe) was waiting for me. And it sure relieved my problems, at least pushed them aside for a while. But what I didn't realize was that my problems didn't get resolved, just put on the back burner. Do you know what happens when you put food on to simmer on the back burner on low...eventually it burns into a charred mess! Well, even with my monkey on my back, Hashem blessed me with a wife and 2 beautiful Kids! I still couldn't kick my Pot habit and after 3 years of marriage, I came home to find my wife and children gone. I realized that I had hit bottom and I still continued my 28 year old pot habit.
Finally, with the help of yourself, (you had told me that if I wanted true peace, I would have to come out of the fog that I was living in, that the pot was preventing Hashem's Divine Light from entering me, and that I could not get close to Hashem if I was living behind a thick fog), And I was forced to change, I went through legal troubles to be able to see my kids and the lawyer told me that now I would have to give up the weed! I cried for weeks, not only was I missing my kids, but the fear of giving up my best friend (the Pot) was overwhelming!! To my astonishment my life dramatically changed..(by the way I forgot to say that the last 6 months I smoked, I really wasn't enjoying it..I was feeling paranoid and lethargic as well as a lot of anxiety, and my creativity (especially with my music) was suffering, but with habit some things are hard to break. It was like eating fast-food and feeling nauseous when you are done but you still go back the next day and order the same thing! With a lot of prayer and starting to put only Kosher food in my system ( non- Kosher food also puts a coating on the body, not allowing Divine Light to seep through), I quit Pot cold turkey...it was hard for the first 2 weeks, mentally harsh and physically ill... Chronic Pot users go through flu- like withdrawal symptoms when quitting! (And they sat Pot is not physically addictive-yea, right!) but then it got easier! I also went through a year off old suppressed feelings coming to the surface!
I have to tell you, this made me want to pick up the pipe again, but my love for my children and my children's love for me was stronger than my cravings! To my astonishment my life dramatically changed..There was no more barrier between myself and my kids! What an overwhelming feeling! My interpersonal relationships grew stronger, and my ability to handle stress went up 1000%. I am now living a Torah observant lifestyle and Hashem has now blessed me with a new wife, I am very involved in my Kid's lives and my music career is stronger and more creative than ever! I have now been weed free for over 2 years! I Thank Hashem for giving me such inner strength and for people like you, who genuinely reach out to help others. I just want to tell those who battle substances, that Hashem took us out of slavery a long time ago, and we do not need to be slaves anymore..Life is so much better without the Monkey on your back..It's all about trust and faith..real EMUNA, and the treasure chest is waiting for you without a locked lid! Thank You, Thank You Rabbi. With much Love, Moe from the U.S.A.