IM Distress Signals
When I first began writing this advice column, back in the Paleolithic era, most correspondence came via snail mail. Those were the days, huh? Email replaced letters as the dominant means of communication about 8 years ago, and so it remains today. Lately, there’s been yet another innovation — the Instant Messenger. Never fear, Dr Dick stands at the ready to console and advise even at cyber speed.
Instant messenger technology allows me to do something I’ve never been able to do before, save the whole shebang as a single document. This, dear readers, will provide you, as you will see below, an intimate vantage point to a crisis as it is being reveled.
What follows is an abridged version of an exchange I recently had with a good friend. This is someone I deeply respect and admire. However, my friend has been through a terrible lot this past year and the signs of stress are beginning to show. His judgment, generally razor sharp, is now clouded and he is consumed with self-doubt.
William: Hey Dick, I have a question. Do you know the current social standards surrounding marijuana use?
DD: Are there current standards? I didn’t get the memo.
William: Smart ass!
Let me put it a different way, is daily, long-term use of pot a sign of an addiction?
DD: Probably. Certainly designates one as a heavy user.
There is a simple test. Can/will the user go 48hrs without?
William: Here’s the deal, a guy I hang with smokes every time we get together. He says it relaxes him after a hard day. I told him I thought that was a rationalization. I don’t drink daily; so I have to deal with life as it presents itself, rough edges and all.
DD: I guess you told him, huh?
William: I know I can’t drink every day without it becoming a problem for me, but am wondering if pot smokers think daily usage is different than what I think about daily drinking?
DD: See my comments above.
William: My friend’s paternal grandfather was an alcoholic; his dad never drank. My friend admits to doing 200 hits of acid in high school and crystal when first arriving in town 10 years ago. He claims he hasn’t done either for 7 years.
Trouble is my Dad was an angry alcoholic so this guy’s marijuana use triggers feelings of abandonment and flashbacks of abuse in me.
DD: Right about now you should be hearing yourself say out loud: “Whoops, where did I put my car keys? Gotta run! Call me when you get home from Betty Ford”
William: I confronted my friend about his pot consumption and he got all defensive. He countered with, “what am I supposed to do, not smoke while you’re around? He was already high when we had this exchange. He said I should have warned him about not smoking before he rolled the joint he just smoked.
DD: Wait a minute; he’s saying his drug “(ab)use” is now your issue? Why does this stink to high-heaven?
Here’s a tip; don’t be surprised when you confront a pot-head, while he’s ripped, about his habit and he gets, as you say, “all defensive”.
William, I’m pretty confident that was not a teachable moment, don’t you agree?
William: The problem is he’s generally stoned by the time we get together, so there’s no real good time to talk to him.
I even entertained the idea of smoking with him to get in the same mind set. Instead, I drank a half a bottle of wine. I realized later that both options were self-defeating.
DD: At least you’re clear on that. In this instance, sinking to the lowest common denominator is not a good idea.
William: Bottom line is I feel he needs to smoke to be around me.
DD: I suggest that he needs to smoke around everyone and everything, not just you.
William: I am thinking this is an indicator of his low-self esteem.
DD: You betcha! Aren’t all addictions?
William: Maybe I am projecting.
DD: What if you are? It doesn’t diminish the fact you called it right.
William: I also questioned what type of relationship we are forming if all our time together happens while he’s in an altered state.
DD: That’s easy, a codependent one!
William: I’ve been thinking, maybe he needs to smoke to have sex. Maybe that’s the only way he can cope with his guilt or shame. When he smokes he likes to top me. But when I top him, he’s a very passive. I told him what I like sexually, so he knows. But he doesn’t even try to please me. He doesn’t play with my nips when I top, which is the only way I can cum. When I bottom it’s simply out of desire for intimacy, it doesn’t do anything for me sexually.
DD: YIKES! Sounds like a match made in heaven.
Like my momma always used to say, “if it has four wheels or a dick you know you’re gonna have trouble with it.”
William: For example, when I realized I wasn’t going to get what I wanted sexually the other night, I shut down. I got him off and he fell asleep.
He knows me well enough to know when I’m pissed. So the next time we were together, he asked if he had done something wrong. He’s a fuckin’ genius! He asked if he had been too passive as a bottom. Unfortunately, he was pretty stoned at this point, so I thought any further discussion would be fruitless.
DD: Again, YIKES! Any more red flags and this would be a Chinese New Year Parade, for christ sake!
William: If I dump him, am I throwing the baby out with the bath water?
DD: Darlin’, there is no baby in the bath water! There’s just a fucked up stoner dude who is taking you for a ride. He’s welcome to live his life as he so chooses. You, on the other hand, need to find someone a less fucked up.
William: I like him, he is smart, affectionate and we have the same analytical way of thinking.
DD: When he’s not stoned, ya mean.
Here’s a suggestion, why not keep him as a friend. Have dinner together occasionally, enjoy his sparkling conversation and then, quick as you can, get back in your car and go home.
William: He takes care of my physical needs, except sexually. There is, after all, more to a relationship than sex.
DD: EXCEPT SEXUALLY????? That’s like saying he takes care of your nutrition needs, except for the protein and carbohydrates. Sheesh!
You’re right, there is more to a healthy relationship than sex. But given that you are an intensely sexual man, why would you start a relationship with a deficit like this?
William: This is triggering my deep-seeded feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, which I fully accept as my own shit. I want to please him, so I did not ask him to stop smoking around me. But I did tell him how “not present” he is to me when he smokes prior to sex.
DD: I am so amazed that you are bottoming for this dude. What’s up with that? You hate being a bottom. Listen darlin’, you are way too needy at this point to be looking to someone like this to even begin to meet your needs.
William: He said that he did not think his personality changed when he smokes. But yet he thinks people liked him better when he’s got a buzz on.
DD: Where did you find this guy? Does he live under a bridge?
William: Is this a glitch in a new relationship? Do you think I should hang in there during this adjustment period?
DD: This is scariest thing you’ve said up to this point.
GLITCH??? Are you serious? Does a stripped down, burnt out skeleton of a car on the side of the road, suggest to you that the owner is having a problem with his windshield wipers? Good lord, man, what can you be thinking?
What follows comes from the deepest recesses of my heart, William. I put this out there because you are my friend. The fellow you describe would be a handful for you if you were at your peak of your emotional and psychological powers. But even then, I’d suggest you avoid him like the plague.
But now, dear William, you are in crisis. You’ve had a terrible lot happen to you this past year. You are hanging on by a thread. I support and encourage all your efforts to find your balance in your life once again, because you are a good and resilient person.
I empathize with your desire to connect with someone who will love you, stand by you and care for you during this difficult time. This is decidedly not the time to be taking on dead weight.
Look to yourself, care for yourself, nurture yourself, love yourself, heal yourself. Come back to us refreshed and whole. Then, and only then, will you be able to take on a complete wreck of a project like this dude.
Count on me to walk through this with you. Thanks for letting me be part of your life. Remember, I’m only as far away as your Instant Messenger.
Over and Out!