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Hi Tim

Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.


Unhappy 4/20

Marijuana

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and “unusual” social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,

I’m a man, 30, in the financial field with a great career, wife and two children. Life is good. I have a very minor dilemma, and I was hoping you could give me a fresh perspective. My little sister, a hipster, recently gave me an unusual 30th birthday gift; a bag of marijuana. Judging from her description, it is “primo” and I should expect to be high as a kite for hours at a time. In fact, she shared with me that I’m too uptight and need to loosen up. Instead of simply gifting me a membership to yoga or a massage or something, she chose to place in my possession a substance that’s still quite illegal in our state, even for medicinal purposes. That’s enough reason for me, but I can also cite personal experience to support my choice. During a phase of poor choices as a teen, I tried smoking pot in high school a couple of times, thoroughly hated it, and came to my senses. Now, presented with this gift, I’ve come to reflect on the reasons for my displeasure in receiving it. The legal/ethical part is easy; Pot isn’t legal here, and is strictly forbidden by my employer. Morally, how could I possibly lie around and get high, and then expect my children to make good choices about their own lives? So what to do with this gift? Try it again just to be polite? Give it to someone else so they can make bad choices? Throw it away? Give it back and make my case? Please advise and thanks.

- Nonsmoker

Hi Nonsmoker,

We may never know how your sister possibly latched onto the kooky idea that you are somehow uptight; life is full of little mysteries. But I will admit I saved your letter from last week just because the column falls on the week of 4/20, if you can admit that maybe you are a wee tiny bit uptight? I agree that being illegal is enough reason to not use weed. If it is legal in the area, spark up and enjoy but if not then suck it up and abstain and write your congressional representatives or move. Getting baked is not worth getting burned.

However, you do not like it and you never did! I can honestly say I have tried sushi about a dozen times, each time convincing myself that I did not try hard enough and I need to put more effort into liking sushi. It tasted awful every time. But you know what? I should have stopped at around attempt one or two. Whatever I was trying to prove was not worth the abuse my taste buds suffered. If you say you don’t like cannabis that is good enough for me.

You did not mention a medical condition. Whether they drug test or not at your place of employment, policy is policy and so are your local laws so there is one ding on the dank. You say you’re repelled by reefer? I believe you. Strike two for THC. Will it cause your kids to make bad choices? Maybe not, but breaking the law, at least in front of them, meets criteria for setting a bad example; point taken. One should go on vacation to Denver or wherever in order to legally smoke. So, strike three means the ganja is a goner and is not worth obsessing over.

According to your own ethical code, you should never have accepted the gift at all because you now are in possession of an illegal drug. I have rightfully been called out for being insensitive about addressing unwanted gifts, so my default is now to say a clear and resonating, “No, thank you,” when someone gives you a gift you do not want. Plus, pot is not exactly a good fit for re-gifting. Returning it to your sister puts it back in her possession, she assumes the risk and you can reiterate that you would rather get a massage or attend a yoga class together than for her to become your dealer.

Foolish Old Wrinkle

Hi Tim,

I am a woman, 68, widowed over 20 years ago and too soon, and I responded by putting all my energy into my work, advancing my career. I did very well, thanks in large part to my two sons, and finally retired last year. I was determined to finally relax and start enjoying my life, doing something for myself. Instead, I was swept off my feet by a charming man in his 50’s who romanced me, convinced me to travel with him and spend a great part of my savings, then moved on to another woman and left me heartbroken. I do not have the heart to tell my kids that the relationship is over, he even charmed them too. They will be so angry and want to defend me, but I just want the whole experience to end. I wake up every day and try to piece my life back together, but just end up crying and unable to get out of bed for hours, cursing myself for being so stupid. I have never been so stupid in my life; there is no excuse and I have only myself to blame, but when I think of how I was so easily duped I get so angry at myself. I am too ashamed to show my face anywhere and tell people what happened. I am avoiding everyone. How does someone ever get out of a hole like this and live again?

- Foolish Old, Old Wrinkle

Hi Foolish,

If not for the occasional folly we may forget how much of life there is to be enjoyed.  You loved and lost, and despite the emotional and financial damage that is undeniable, you remain a person who is willing to open her heart to another person. That is what we should all aspire to be, not defensive, shut away from the world and bitter.

No one is stupid because they have the capacity to love. If you are a human being who is willing and able to honestly share your heart with another, you will always represent the best of us. If you are a human being who is insincere and pretends to share your heart in order to deceive or use another for selfish reasons, then you are among the worst.

It is easy to call ourselves foolish when someone we love does not treat us well, but you have well passed this mark. You are picking on yourself for your appearance, age, feelings, and probably more you did not mention because you stay so angry and, alternately, depressed. You need help to get through this terrible period of disappointment. Counseling is a great start, but a support group may be helpful too. Go places with those people you are avoiding, no matter how you feel. Going out to dinner or coffee gets you out of the house and into the world again, where you belong. If people ask you uncomfortable questions, change the subject. Let them figure it out on their own; you do not owe explanations. Encourage them to talk about themselves at length, and you can nod or stare ahead silently but you will be trying and you will feel better in time. Remember, a broken heart means you have one. Let good friends and family fill it up again instead of beating yourself up over one bad person.

Pinched Prose

Hi Tim,

I’m a girl, 20, in college and I was with the guy I fell in love with for 2 years. He wrote me poetry, wrote songs on his guitar for me and we fell mutually in love; it was magic. Then, he turned into an evil prick and became a selfish man-baby and my image of him was shattered. We have not spoken in a few months, it is truly over and he moved on with someone else. I remind myself every few days after a shorter cry. So, my roommate’s girlfriend who is the editor of a literary zine was over one night, wine flowed freely, and I decided to share the asshole’s poetry, expecting that we would all make fun of him and hate him together and have a great time. Instead, we all realized he is really talented. This editor wants to print his poetry. I agree with you about plagiarism, I would never take credit. She says she can print it anonymously. But is that ethical? Shouldn’t I be able to take something away from this relationship, and wouldn’t putting his love for me in print sort of move it from the personal to the public and allow me to close the book on him?

- Pinched Prose

Hi Pinched Prose,

Using the tender tale of a lost love, full of passion, you have crafted a compelling ode… to B.S. I do not even think you believe it. If you connect yourself in any way to this man’s intellectual property, sure it is plagiarism but worse, on a more intimate level you are reconnecting with him. Your feelings about this fellow, positive or negative, are strong enough that you are still moved to tears. Maybe you have anger that needs to be worked out, perhaps even in counseling, but my best guess is that you were healing and not looking as much as this opportunity sort of fell in your lap and you are possibly interested in maybe not turning it down. Do yourself a favor and pass on the publication, save the writings if they give you comfort and help you remember good times, but do not make new connections with someone you describe as an “evil prick,” even if it is only a paper-thin link.


Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author’s alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.

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