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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

Pensive change.jpeg

Getting over Mary Jane

The journey of change

It has been 27 days since I told Mary Jane I was done with her, and it has been a grueling month. Change is hard. Healing is hard. But that is why it’s so rewarding.

Some people can handle a girl like Mary Jane in their lives and be just fine (and some people like to excuse Mary Jane by saying that her friend Lexi Hall is worse), but the humbling lesson I have had to learn is that I can’t. 

Time has shown me that I simply liked her too much. I was obsessed with her. She was always on my mind when I wasn’t with her, and she even made me think that I needed her to be my best self.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Mary Jane had a unique way of sneaking into parts of my life and taking over everything. 

That first summer that she moved in with me, I liked nothing better than to hike up to Goat Hill Overlook near my house with my two pups and Mary Jane, enjoying the vibes of it all. Looking over the Delaware River, it felt like I was looking at a massive, real-life painting.

But soon Mary Jane would insist that I leave the dogs behind — they were too much work to handle, and they took away from our special moment. And soon, she convinced me not to bother with the hike at all. I could enjoy her company from the comforts of my home balcony.

She also convinced me that, without her, I couldn’t possibly be creative. This is probably just a product of how she made me feel when I was with her: the excited racing thoughts which I would record in my notebooks while hanging out with her contrasting with the feeling of lonely despair leaving me shriveled up in bed when I was left alone.

Soon my career aspirations began to fade into a small collection of ideas which might allow me to indulge in my relationship with her. I went from wanting to change the world as an energetic freshman to wondering how I would ever move out of my parent's house.

I began, even, to regret coming to Notre Dame. It was all too hard to juggle. Mary Jane had me thinking that an educated life was probably not for me.

When I realized I was hanging out with her too much, which was probably sometime in the spring of last year, I began making rules for myself. 

What if I only see her on weekends? It sounded like a good plan at the time, but eventually the weekends began to include Thursdays. And soon enough, I needed to see her on a Tuesday night when I turned in a late essay, simply to reward myself for completing it.

Moderation of Mary Jane, for me, simply wouldn’t work. It always ended up in a desperate descent into daily indulgence. And excuses to get back together with her were just that — excuses. 

That is something I only learned 27 days ago.

Repercussions of Mary Jane

Had it not been for the backlash of seeing her so much, I don’t know if I would have ever stepped away from Mary Jane.

My parents were the first to tell me, very early on, that Mary Jane was bad news. My mom thought she smelled bad. My dad thought she was stealing my ambition. They never liked seeing me with her, but I had become an adult, so there wasn’t much they could do about it.

The final straw was my University.

Notre Dame doesn’t allow its students to have people of the opposite sex in their dorms after midnight on weekdays, but Mary Jane is an exception — she’s never allowed. And when the Conway Hall cleaning lady found her bag in my London flat, reporting it to the rector, Notre Dame treated the issue very seriously. 

If I was seen with her again, I was sure to be suspended, and I’m lucky I wasn’t on the first strike.

But even a run-in with the Office of Community Standards wasn’t enough to make me change. No: change must come from within.

After Mary Jane enticed me in moments of weakness back to her glass lips a few times too many, I finally blocked her completely. 

As I have said, it hasn’t been easy, and I am not writing so publicly to announce that my journey has reached its end — it never will. I don’t think I’ll ever forget Mary Jane.

The negative thoughts that arrive in my mind at the absence of her companionship have been overwhelming at times, leading me to think that perhaps it would just be easier to see her again. And I would be lying to deny that there have been many times I have strongly considered giving her a call in the past month.

I’m lucky to have extensive resources in my own journey, whether its the McWell Center for Student Well-Being and the University Counseling Center at Notre Dame, or simply my uncle who, because of his own divorce with Lexi Hall ten years ago, has helped advise me in my own process of change. 

When the cravings for Mary Jane get brutal, I go to Youtube to hear similar stories from others. I find that it helps me feel less alone. 

“Addiction,” one commenter said, “is giving up everything for one thing. Recovery is giving up one thing for everything.” 

The change had to come from within, but the help was critical.

Clichés like 'one day at a time' became my friend.

And one day at a time, I have begun to feel stronger, more hopeful and less desperate for Mary Jane’s electric charm.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.