I stole my lover's pot while he was sleeping

Oh my God, why did I do that? Do I have to confess?

By Cary Tennis

Published November 21, 2008 11:10AM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I did something terrible. On Sunday morning, as I was leaving my lover's home very, very early in the morning, I reached into his stash and stole some of his pot. It seemed fine then, but by the afternoon I was having some serious anxiety and remorse about it all.

But I've been smoking the pot!

He and I have been seeing each other, on and off, for almost a year. We see each other once a week, as friends and lovers, not necessarily exclusive. I deeply care for him and value our friendship.

I am hoping he won't realize what I've done (I also feel terrible for perhaps taking too much!), and then if and when I see him next week, I can replace it. I feel like an awful person, but most of all, I would hate to hurt him. Why didn't I ask for it? Obviously I took it while he slept. Therefore I am a thief and hate myself for it accordingly.

How do I make amends? And please, tell me that I don't have to tell him!

Disgusted with Self

Dear Disgusted,

Yes, you are a thief. I, too, am a thief.

I took things that were not mine many times in my life -- including money, drugs, food, objects, things from stores. I also borrowed things that weren't mine and used them without permission and lied about it. I have been a liar and a thief. I have done my best to pay people back and I do things differently today. But I went through a period of being a thief and a liar.

One thing we are saying when we steal is that our needs are greater than the needs of others. Below this delusion is some truth: Our needs are greater than we can say. We cannot explain our needs. We cannot ask for what we want. To ask for what we want is to risk admitting how truly great is our need. Instead, in an instant we snatch at something; it is as though we were not conscious. Why did I take this? What is this doing in my hand? Have I been asleep?

Yes, sort of: asleep to need.

To see the world as it is brings pain. You may not be happy; you may not be getting enough. If you are not getting enough, then you may feel entitled to take what you need. So you take something. You take what you think you deserve, what you think he ought to give you.

It is not really about the pot. Underneath it is the truth that you want more. You are unhappy. Underneath this may also be older hurts, older losses, a former self from the past who even more desperately wants and did not get and so feels entitled to take.

So while you must make amends to your friend, and we will get to that, you must also make amends to that former person, that former you. You must recognize that person. You must go back in time and see where you have been unkind and selfish to yourself, where you have not given yourself what you needed. Perhaps what you needed in this former time was a gift, a kindness, some generosity, some peace. It may be the kind of peace that you feel when you smoke pot. That warmth, that heightened awareness that you feel as the pot goes into your lungs and into your brain: That may be a replica of some state you dearly miss, a replica of some feeling.

I know it is painful to go back to this time. You may find yourself crying as you imagine this. That is OK. That pain, if it comes up, that is the pain you have been carrying all this time; that is the pain that is just beyond the curtain of lies. So it will do you good to feel this. You may feel sad for days or weeks as you contemplate this. But it will make you better. If you find that there is a person in your past, a former self, whom you have cheated, a person you have not provided for, a person who has not gotten what she needed, then you can provide for that person today. You can give her what she needed all that time.

So spend some time with this person of your past, this former you, this child. Sit quietly with this person and summon your courage and love for this person. As you summon love and courage for this person and you feel the power of giving to her, you will feel the power of being able to give. You will feel larger. There will be enough. You will not fear not having enough. You will know that you can provide. You will not have to steal.

You will not have to steal because you will be able to ask: Can I have some of your pot? Can I? Will you give me some?

How does it feel to ask for something you want? Is it frightening?

What other kinds of exchanges are you making? You are visiting your friend and lover once a week and sleeping with him. This is an exchange. It is a physical exchange, and an exchange of time and energy and perhaps also an exchange of money and other goods -- food, pot, little gifts, movies and music. Perhaps you offer kindness and solace. That is an exchange. It is an exchange and it is sacred and you do not want to sully it by sneaking around taking things. There is more joy in the conscious exchange than in the sneaky theft. Here, this is for you. Here, may I have some of this? I want some of that.

Try this: Order Ethiopian takeout. Eat with your fingers. Use the dough for a spoon. Ask for some of this and some of that. Feed your lover some of this and some of that. Share. Exchange. Ask for what looks good.

We are many-layered creatures.

Oddly, this pain that rolls over us as we contemplate what we need, this pain, is full of life. It is not the medicated, trancelike state that we have been longing to attain with marijuana. It is more alive than that. It is tingly and human and hot; the tears are hot as they stream down the face; the skin is hot with grief; our voice, as we speak through the pain, feels raspy and true in its pain; it is a raspy, throaty thing that has been held down in dress shirts and fluorescent meetings. We have been faking our voice, saying we need nothing, and then the hot pain of need comes back and our voice changes; it is richer, stronger, full of nuance and overtones. This we are not faking. We go to the source of our want and we find the pain there, and the pain enlivens us. It does not deaden us unless we turn away from it. It enlivens us with its sting.

We may cry like babies when we encounter what we have been missing. We may cry like babies cry when Daddy leaves.

All this in a chance petty theft among friends and lovers?

Yes. All this and more. So go to your friend and say, I am a lover and I am a thief. I took this. I give this back. Let us exchange our gifts.

Thinking about pot? Thinking about theft? Try pp. 47, 127, 251 ...

Signed first editions on sale now.

What? You want more advice?


Cary Tennis

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