Some days, it feels like creativity runs through my veins. Other days, it feels like I’m all dried up. This weekend, it’s been the latter. I’ve been feeling creatively “flat,” so I decided to see the movie ‘Trainwreck’- for laughs and in hopes that it might inspire something for me to write about today.
I definitely got both.
Comedienne Amy Schumer plays a heavy-drinking, promiscuous journalist who decides to review her life and concludes that, perhaps, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes. I can relate. I’m in the same boat- but sitting in the less promiscuous section.
As I drove away from the theater, cheeks sore from laughing, I thought about Hollywood- based actors and actresses and my experience living in Los Angeles. I recalled one surreal moment. I was driving home from work, sitting at a stoplight on Wilshire Boulevard, when four paparazzi popped out of the cars next to me. They swarmed around actress Jennifer Garner and her daughter as they exited a nondescript nail salon. Jennifer held her daughter’s hand and smiled sweetly as bright lights flashed around her. I felt like I had entered an alternate universe.
Then the stoplight turned green, and I emerged from the land of the surreal. I remember driving away, shuddering and thinking to myself: Good thing I’m not famous. That shit would drive me to drink.
It got me thinking about alcoholism and addiction in the entertainment industry. It’s no wonder why so many actors find themselves on this slippery slope. For many of them, it’s the perfect storm: intense competition for roles…immense pressure to perform, once those roles have been secured…an abundance of cash…constant public scrutiny of their appearance and relationship status…intrusive behavior from paparazzi…being (often falsely) negatively portrayed in tabloids…
I would want to escape as well.
When I first decided to get sober, I created a list of celebrities, authors and other public figures who are in recovery from addiction. Then, I made myself a cheesy little book of inspiration that included the sober celebrities’ photos and a personal quote. I kept it in my glove compartment so I could look through it when I was tempted to stop at a liquor store. Or bar. Or grocery store. Or 7-11.
I had forgotten about my little book and decided to flip through it today. I smiled, reading a few of my favorites:
“I don’t drink these days. I’m allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs.”- Robert Downey Jr., Actor
“We stuffed scary feelings down and they made us insane. I think it is pretty universal, all this repression leading to violence and fundamentalism and self-loathing and addiction. All I know is that after 10 years of being sober, with huge support to express my pain and anger and shadow, the grief and tears didn’t wash me away. They gave me my life back! They cleansed me, baptized me, hydrated the earth at my feet. They brought me home, to me, to the truth of me.” – Anne Lamott, Author
“I don’t drink or do drugs anymore; being sober helps a great deal. I remember looking at my life, my apartment, my dogs (when I was still using) and thought, ‘What’s happening??”- Bradley Cooper, Actor
“Even as a junkie, I stayed true to vegetarianism- ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”- Russell Brand, Comedian
“I’m proud of people who have the determination and the fearlessness to actually go and face their demons and get better. This is a life or death situation.”- Eva Mendes, Actress
Reminding myself of the many, many famous folks who have chosen sobriety and are committed to their recovery helps me put things in perspective: if they can stay sober while under the spotlight, then I can do so while living life far from Tinseltown.
And I will do so. I really don’t want to be a trainwreck.