Smoking weed was a way to feel close to my parents.

I remember when I first saw my father smoking weed.

I was in second grade on a trip in Aruba.

I walked out on the balcony where he and my mother were talking, and he quickly dropped his hand from his mouth to his side.

That's when I knew.

The smell. The tendrils of smoke rising up from his hand. I didn't know WHAT it was, I just knew it was "bad" since he quickly went to hide it.

I went to sleep that night with my heart racing, feeling shame around what I'd seen.

That feeling didn't discourage me forever, though, and I eventually started stealing from his stash.

When my parents went on trips, my friends knew if they came over, there’d be weed to smoke for free.

It wasn't an addiction right away, though. That started my senior year of college.

It was New Years 2010, and I was feeling off. It was withdrawal effects from stopping birth control and Adderall, and before going out to a party, I expressed how I was feeling to my mother.

Her suggestion?

“Just smoke some of your father's joint."

That was the first time I consciously smoked to "feel better." And I did "feel better." And I thought "Wow, this is great!" So I KEPT using it to "feel better."

From there, I vehemently defended weed for a decade.

Subconsciously, it was a way to defend my father’s drug use and to defend my mother’s enabling of it.

It was a way to “feel close” to them. To show that I was “on their side." That I was okay with “hiding things,” too.

Because if I rejected weed, then I'd be rejecting my parents.

Then I'd have to admit that, despite what the outside world saw and wanted to believe, they were actually neglectful.

I'd have to admit that it was wrong to have a father who'd rather get stoned than spend time with his family.

And that it was wrong to have a mother, an at-home daycare provider, who'd rather point me to a drug than talk to me about my feelings.

Which is exactly what happened when I DID finally reject weed.

I started admitting what was wrong. And I rejected my parents.

Though as it turns out, that's exactly what I needed to set myself free.

I needed to face the truth, admit we were NEVER a close, happy family, and break the toxic bonds – and my addiction to weed – for good.

– Malana