That random dictionary that pops up when you type a word in defines glee as “great pleasure or delight.” I don’t know if the Google dictionary can be trusted but I do know it was hard to feel great pleasure or delight today in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the news of Cory Monteith’s death. Admittedly, I don’t follow the news so I wasn’t invested in the Zimmerman trial. For me, obsessively following trials and the news falls under the category of “serenity killers.” I also didn’t really watch Glee but as an addict, this story really bummed me out.
The 31-year-old Montieth reportedly struggled with drugs and alcohol since his teen years. Most recently, he left rehab for “substance abuse” problems back in May. While Glee might be a modern but happy-shiny teen show, Montieth recent life seems like it was pretty dark. There’s an autopsy coming but what does it matter. The results won’t be released and we won’t ever really have this conversation we so desperately need to have. The teens who watched Montieth and followed his rise to fame aren’t likely to hear the truth from publicists about his struggle with the disease of addiction.
Perhaps I’m negatively projecting here. But if Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and Amy Winehouse have taught us anything, it’s that we no longer like to tell the public that drugs and alcohol killed our icons. When I was a kid and Belushi died, I remember seeing a magazine cover saying, “Drugs killed John Belushi.” You would never see a headline like that today. I’ve griped about this before and-spoiler alert- I’ll continue to do so. If one of these celebrities was killed by cancer or AIDS,we’d know about it. We’d say “Weren’t they strong for battling that disease?” But when it comes to addiction and alcoholism, we tend to revert to shame and misunderstanding. We either blindly idolize them, no questions asked. Or act like they were long time losers who had it coming. Yet the big thing we’re missing out on by withholding, in my opinion, is the collective admitting that”Yes, drugs and alcohol will still kill you” and a chance to talk about it. Of course the media has to wait until autopsies are complete and naturally loved ones of the deceased have every right to privacy. But some acknowledgement of the epidemic could maybe save lives.
But maybe I’m wrong. Just two weeks ago, People magazine featured a story of how Matthew Perry’s life has changed since getting sober. So maybe our attitude is changing. Who knows. This post, as always, is about my attitude. Shocker, I know. But its hard for me not to feel upset when I hear about someone who lost their fight with addiction. Perhaps it freaks me out to realize that could have been me. Or maybe it makes me angry that they never got help or weren’t able to grasp recovery. Probably a little of both.
What I do know is: great pleasure or delight exists for me today. It doesn’t come in a bottle or box or from a sketchy guy in a Datsun at 4am. It comes from being sober. As my husband and I worked on our next creative venture on the couch and nibbled pizza as we bounced ideas off each other this afternoon, I felt real happiness. I also felt it yesterday when I walked down the street and watch gray clouds dot a pink and orange sunset. I feel it when I have ridiculous conversations with my cat. Its because I’m free. I don’t hate myself or my life so much I need to check out. After decades of being miserable I’m finally free. And I guess after years of pain, Cory Montieth is now too. Still, you can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t an easier way out.