Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fit Shaced

"I drink to stay warm... and to kill selected memories... ."

-Conor Oberest

A little over a week ago I put a new poll on the sidebar of this journal, about the summer wave of celebrities behaving badly. LOL. You can read the original entry here. As you can see from the listed incidents, they are mostly things that while sometimes sad and possibly hurtful to the parties involved, some might be considered a bit humorous to you and I. I didn't choose behaviors which could be considered dangerous, with the possible exceptions of the incident regarding Colin Farrell's apparent stalker, approaching him on Jay Leno, the reckless driving of Haley Joel Osment, or the drunk driving charge given to Daniel Baldwin. I take the stalking incident a little more serious, then the others, especially since the death of the young star Rebecca Schaffer, who was shot and killed by a crazed fan. She was so young, and had such a promising future. Sigh. My poll was meant as a tongue a tongue-in-cheek look at the silliness that goes on in Hollywood, but something happened recently, that didn't have me chuckling one bit. Actually, it had me feeling a little sad. It was the incident involving Mel Gibson's DUI.

By now, most of you have more then likely heard all the sordid details of Gibson's arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, last weekend, and you also know about the anti-semitic statements he admits to making to a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy. You may have already read the TWO apologies, he has made regarding those remarks and his DUI, since last Friday. While I believe that apologies made in honesty should be forgiven, I am a little more reluctant to believe that, in this case, he really means it. Not because I believe he is trying to save his career, not because I think he is evil. I think it's a lie he is trying to tell himself because there is something so broken inside him, that it hurts him too much to least on his own.

I know a little about alcoholism, and how it affects the families, friends, co-workers and yes, even fans, of the afflicted. Mel Gibson has made an outward appeal for forgiveness, his agent says that he has checked himself into a rehab facility, in an effort to once again, regain control of a disease that has plagued him for at least 20 years. He seems to be really making an effort to make amends. But see, once you are an alcoholic, you are always in danger of falling back into a bottle when something hurts you bad enough, that you to want to hide from the pain. Alcohol is a depressant. It takes someone who is already in pain, and guides them further into the darkness of depression. What a liar. There you are feeling tipsy, warm, and maybe on top of the world, until you begin to come down, and what you are left with are feelings of extreme sadness...and mind bending pain. Those who love you are helpless to ease that pain, all we can do is hope when you do land, it will be a safe one. All we can do is HOPE.

"This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have."

-Mel Gibson

The thing that strikes me about that statement is the underlying honesty. He isn't saying that he isn't anti-semitic, he is saying that one must take responsibility for the hurtful things which may be said, when under the influence of alcohol. Most people don't like the idea of saying hurtful things for the sheer joy of hurting a particular someone or a group, but that isn't always true. In this case, it seems to me that perhaps he is more sorry that he spoke his true feelings in such a despicable manner. Or possibly he is embarrassed because he does indeed know that, that type of cruelty is simply unacceptable, not just in Hollywood, but in most communities. Maybe both are true. If he really does have some anti-semitic idealology deep down, maybe his wishes on some level that he didn't. He claims that it would go against his religious beliefs to be bigoted in any way. It is an unfortunate fact, that being religious, even deeply religious, doesn't stop us from forming less then traditional religious attitudes.

It happens. Sorry, but it does. Even devote believers will tap into that all to humanness of ours, and sometimes a deep conflict will take place. The world can be a very harsh place, even for someone who seems to have it all. Talent, looks, money, love, respect, drive, courage. It is my opinion that depression is the most human thing that can happen to someone. It has many causes, grief, unresolved grief, disappointment in work or relationships, even chemical imbalances within the blood. Sometimes we simply don't know why we are depressed...we just know we are. I was diagnosed with Manic-depression in the early 1980's. I knew something was really wrong, but had no idea what it could have been. I was up for a couple weeks at a time, then I would crash to the lowest of lows. When I was up, there was no drug that could compare to the high.

The fall was the scary part. I wanted to be dead. Thank goodness I sought help. A few years of therapy, and some medication to stabilize my moods, and I got it under control. Eventually, I didn't have to take the medication any more, and I haven't had a recurrence in a number of years. Alan knew me when, and he knows what to watch for, because it can be a sneaky thing to deal with. I was also diagnosed with Clinical Depression, which is something completely different. That occurred after a singular isolated incident, and is always present to a degree, although I keep it in check by attending therapy once a week, if for no other reason, then to simply check in and say that life is good. We live in a wacky world, so there is always a little something to work on. LOL. I prefer to work on things when they are little, rather then wait till they become big and scary.

Speaking of big and scary. I think there is something hurting Mr. Gibson...don't you? Are we, the fans, really the ones who should be passing out the forgiveness? Are we the ones who should be forgetting his bad behavior? Speaking solely for myself here, I don't happen to think it is all that shocking that a drunk guy said something repulsive to a cop who was arresting him. I believe the police officer, James Mee, when he says he considered it a routine arrest and that he, "didn't take seriously any comments that the actor made." Let's face it, he was arresting a drunk man, something I imagine he has done many times before, and has probably heard at least that bad or worse. When people drink, what they wouldn't say or do otherwise, tends to manifest. And they are ALWAYS sorry the next day.

It is natural to say, "it's ok, I forgive you," when someone apologizes to us. Sure, of course it is. Sometimes the deeper the slight, the more ready we are to forgive and move on. We want the pain to be gone, as bad as the person who hurts us does. The thing is, alcoholism is the symptom of something much deeper going on, and until that original pain or ache is truly dealt with, there is no real chance of healing. In my personal experience, saying, "it's ok," can become a form of enabling of the afflicted in their poor behavior, because we hand them a safe place to land after they have lost control. It hurts so bad to tell someone you love that, "'s not need to fix the real problem." Even in cases where one is predisposed to alcoholism, one still makes the decision to pick up the bottle.

Ultimatum's don't work. Threats don't work. Sometimes the person will accept help, and let you really be there for them, sometimes they are not ready to fix the pain because of how bad it hurts, sometimes nothing can be done. Sigh. have to say...goodbye. I hope someone will finally love him enough to say the words, and mean it, "You have to fix the real problem, the problem hurting you, causing you to pick up the bottle." The deaths that happen each year from drunk driving accidents never have to happen, but somehow that fact doesn't stop them from happening anyway, and by that time it's much too late for forgiveness.


Note: If you need help in dealing with someone close to you who is afflicted with alcoholism, consider contacting Alanon or check for support groups in your area.

Alanon web site

For another look at the recent celebrity mishaps, drop by my friend Patrick's blog.

"Celebrities Need Reality Checks...And So Do We!"

"About On Other Celebrity Caught Behaving Badly"


Patrick said...

It is my opinion that depression is the most human thing that can happen to someone.

Truer words have never been blogged.

Depression is definitely one of humanity's greatest equalizers.

You make so many good points here, especially about the underlying issues that must undoubtedly be plaguging Gibson. Until he wants to change, no one will be able to make that happen for him.

I've had a couple of alcoholics in the family, and you're right when you say that they're always sorry the day after. The first time I encountered an uncle of mine whose alcoholism had previously been hidden from me, I must have been about eight or so. He called me into the kitchen where he was sitting, and through slurred words, told me all sorts of things. Fortunately, he seemed fairly laid back and in a good mood, which I understand was not always the case.

He told me, "I like your style." I didn't really know what that meant -- how much "style" can an eight-year-old even have?? -- but I took it as a complement. And the next day, I had to walk into his backyard so he could apologize for his "condition" the last time I'd seen him. He had a hard time making eye contact, and was obviously ashamed. I don't know who those moments were more uncomfortable for...him or me.

Anyway, I hope that what you've said will sound familiar enough for someone out there that they'll get the help they need!

Dave said...

I agree with all you've said, Carly! Someone has to truly understand the concept of an addiction...I've never been addicted to substances, but I've struggled with a different type of addiction, and I know how difficult it is to break. There's an even stronger dichotomy when it occurs to an expressly "religious" person, which emphasizes the huge chasm that lies between the appearances religion and the true depth of spirituality.

From my counseling career, I have learned this: a person can go through many treatment programs, but he/she will not stop abusing the substance until he/she truly wants to. I wonder where that desire comes from? From within us, or perhaps from above?

Have a wonderful week, Carly!

DesLily said...

excellent post Carly..

my X was an alcholic.. i think some call it a "working alcholic" because it never made him miss work, bill were always paid, but the drinking never stopped until years after we divorced.

In mel's case (an in others) one will lash out for many reasons.. some because they are ashamed they were caught, some because they just have to take a "hatred feeling" out on someone..anyone! And from that his remarks could be aimed because he was caught and had to hurt someone "back" from his hurting.. he may well not be
anti-semitic, but that's something we will never know for sure now that doubt has been put into the minds of those who like him.

IndigoSunMoon said...

Folks who are drunk are usually painfully honest. Mel showed his true colors. Shame on him.

Suzanne R said...

What you have written makes me wonder if I have been enabling a family member by ignoring his drinking habit. I haven't known how to deal with it and we've never been close, so I have pretty much ignored it. His wife wrote a couple of years ago and told me about it and I recommended Alanon. I don't know if she and her daughter ever went or not. I hope so, because they certainly needed support and help, even if he wasn't ready to ask for it. He also confided some personal problems in my sister at one point when he had been drinking, so this really rings some bells. It's not just the celebrities that have difficulties; they just get more attention.

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Well, this is excellent, as others have said. To be honest, I've been avoiding the whole story, but you've given me a fresh perspective on it. Thanks.