It’s Just Pot, Right? Origin of Mar-Anon

The winter of 2015-2016 was the worst of the abuse.  My qualifier, my spouse, became increasingly abusive towards me and my children, both verbally and physically.  Yet…I was clueless he had an addiction.  It’s just pot, right? He would smoke first thing in the morning, in his car when he got to work, in the bathroom at work, in his car on lunch break, in the car when he got back to work, again in the bathroom, on the drive home. He would rage at me and the family when he came in from the garage, then upstairs to smoke, then emerge happy not understanding why everyone was so on-edge. He would leave us while he went up to smoke for the rest of the night, falling asleep in his chair and then waking himself up to smoke before he went to bed.  He’d smoke with the kids in the car.  I didn’t know he had an addiction.  It’s just pot, right? 

My life was confusing, terrifying. I was living with Jekyll and Hyde. Then one day he had a moment where he admitted he had a problem.  He went sober in April of 2016 and began attending MA meetings. 

I started attending Al-Anon.  I was hesitant that they wouldn’t accept me or take me seriously because my qualifier was addicted to marijuana.  I would speak of my experience but tried to blend-in by not mentioning my qualifier wasn’t an alcoholic. Eventually, it would come up and although I felt supported, there was just something missing. You see, addiction-related behavior has commonalities, but each has its own unique characteristics.  There are pieces of the experience with a marijuana-addicted qualifier that just aren’t found in Al-Anon.

I reached out to MA, Marijuana Anonymous. Is there a Mar-Anon? Are there meetings? They’d only heard of a group of women in California many years prior that started a meeting and it died on the vine.  However they did create a logo… “Here you go, maybe you can use it. Oh, and here is a person who reached out that might be interested in Mar-Anon. And…”

My father taught me to “pick from the cherry tree of life.”  I figured, why not?  I’ll try to start up Mar-Anon.  I built the website, created an outreach email, took calls from hurting souls who just needed someone to listen and finally understand, ran a weekly chat meeting, set up a Google forum, and co-ran a weekly email meeting.  I meshed together MA and Al-Anon’s 12 steps and got them approved by Al-Anon.  I attended the MA convention in Seattle that winter, made flyers and a real in-person meeting.  I initially had someone help although it was making their healing and situation more challenging.  So, they graciously stepped down.

Over time, it became too much for me.  There was enthusiasm, but not much participation.  I desired to make it go farther but I didn’t have the bandwidth to help it spread its wings.  I knew deep down that the potential was out there.  I had to step away.

Then, during Covid, I heard from Bart who offered to help. I was burdened by some crazy life stuff. He was persistent and kept reaching out (thank goodness)!  Now, he and others have taken Mar-Anon and spread its wings.  It is beautiful and I am full of gratitude. 

From the moment I had the idea to reboot Mar-Anon, my biggest hope was that it would take off and that I would fade into the shadows.  The fact that it lives and breathes is what matters, not who started it.  If my actions have helped one, single person, then it has all been worth it.

-Brooke P.