Keep Coming Back, Mike Tyson & Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are, Lamar Odom.

Not surprisingly, I’m not much of a sports person. Yet I’m a news and pop culture person so clearly I’ve seen the Mike Tyson story unfold like the rest of the planet. From unbeatable boxing champ to certified hot mess, Tyson’s story is a difficult one but really not that different from any we in recovery hear of or lived through ourselves. It is hard not to roll your eyes when the press sensationalize the adventures of celebrity drug addicts and drunks. Things like arrests, hospitalization, criminal charges and bar brawls are sort of the norm for non-famous addicts. But when celebrities do this things, it winds up on the front page. Over the weekend, Mike Tyson railroaded his own press conference to confess that he’s been lying about being sober.

The press called these “startling revelations” but really this another day at the office for your run of the mill alcoholics and addicts. This isn’t to minimize Tyson’s struggle however. Tyson, like the estimated 60% of people who enter drug and alcohol recovery programs, is a chronic relapser. And Tyson, like myself in my disease, is a bullshit artist and a liar. That’s just kind of how we roll.Yet just like me and the thousands of others who tried to get sober over and over and finally did, Tyson stands a chance. He seems pretty beat down and fucked up which are good signs, even if they don’t sound like it.  Near the end of the press conference Tyson told reporters, “I wanna change my life, I wanna live a different life now. I wanna live my sober life. I don’t wanna die.” From my experience, that’s an excellent place to start.

khloe-kardashian-lamar-odom_0

Also over the weekend, Lamar Odom was reported missing for three days. Tabloids reported that the NBA star had vanished and his family was concerned he was on a “Crack binge” (you know, as opposed to using crack in social setting like tea party or at an ice cream social). His family now says he wasn’t missing and brushed the whole thing off. Whether he was or wasn’t on this crack binge, this kind of behavior is also par for the course with addicts. In addition to relapsing and lying, we like to hide out and disappear. I bring all of this up today because the more I stay sober the more I realize it’s all the same. No matter who you are or where you go. Addiction and alcoholism doesn’t care what you do for a living or if you’re on a reality show. It just wants to kill you.

The real news, in my mind, isn’t that these things happen. The stories that save lives are the ones of survival are the afters, not the befores or durings. I’m inspired when I see famous addicts (Matthew Perry, Robert Downey Jr. Kristen Johnston) transcend the normal behavior and fight their demons head on. But as longtime media watcher and pop culture fan, I also know those kind of stories don’t sell as many magazines either.

The 12 Days of Blogmas: Josh Hamilton

As we continue to celebrate the The 12 Days of Blogmas, wherein I countdown my 12 favorite and most-noteworthy blogs of 2012, the wonders never cease. I wanted to see which blog posts were the most popular, had the most views, most tweets and most forwards. Thankfully  the stats tools on WordPress are super handy, easy to use and filled with that kind of information. The winner? A post about baseball superstar Josh Hamilton and his relapse. Wait– the most popular post was about sports?!? I know. Baffles the mind. Please enjoy a photo of me with a sparkly white Christmas tree and then we’ll try to make sense of all this.

384661_2969242950579_659029825_n

Maybe it’s because his relapse back in February was a huge story in the world of baseball. Maybe it’s because outside of my sparkly gay existence, people really care about sports. Who knows? What I do know is that post still garners views and it’s been almost a year! I’m thankful that this unconventional post introduced me to a slew of new readers. I’m thankful for the emails and comments I received regarding the subject of relapse because of it. And I’m thankful that an ability to play the tape through today keeps me from a relapse of my own.

The way the media handles relapses of celebrities like Hamilton drives me crazy. There’s so much judgement and such a lack of compassion about the disease. The topic is still a hot one and I shared about my own struggle with relapse to try to make sense of it:

“Now I know nothing about Hamilton and his character. In fact, having me blog about baseball is a little like having a vegan describe the menu at Outback Steakhouse. But I do know about relapse. In 2008, I really tried to stay sober all by myself. Without any support or asking for help, I limped along in a state of miserable dryness. After 70 days, “I thought I got this.” Recently, I found an old journal from that time and I feel sorry for that guy. He was doomed to relapse. He was dry but he wasn’t recovering. I read this passage from the journal that nearly made me cry:

‘I’m trying to dodge bullets, trying to breathe, trying to still love life, trying to meet my problems full on and all the while I’m trying to figure out ‘Now What?’ Drinking was an issue and addiction is an issue for me. I’m trying to take it easy but I fear I’m hiding out.'”

Ouch. That journal entry still puts a lump in my throat  For the rest of my relapse tale as well as more on Josh Hamilton, hop on over to the most popular post of 2012, “Staying Out of Josh Hamilton’s Relapse” and celebrate the 11th day of Blogmas!

Staying Out of Josh Hamilton’s Relapse

Just yesterday I was talking about Dolly Parton songs along side a picture of a glitter guitar and today I’m talking about the world of sports. Go figure. Granted I’m more drawn to the former than the latter but this story about Josh Hamilton riled me and got me thinking about my own relapse.

Josh Hamilton from ESPN Magazine

Hamilton is well-known for his incredible talent and his long battle with drugs and alcohol. The Texas Rangers outfielder was allegedly seen drinking at a Texas bar causing “respected” news sites to print stories entitled “Josh Hamilton reportedly has alcohol relapse.” All I could think of when I saw these headlines was, “Ouch.” Having a relapse judged and put under the media microscope sounds horrific indeed. My heart went out to the guy.

Now I know nothing about Hamilton and his character. In fact, having me blog about baseball is a little like having a vegan describe the menu at Outback Steakhouse. But I do know about relapse. In 2008, I really tried to stay sober all by myself. Without any support or asking for help, I limped along in a state of miserable dryness. After 70 days, “I thought I got this.” Recently, I found an old journal from that time and I feel sorry for that guy. He was doomed to relapse. He was dry but he wasn’t recovering. I read this passage from the journal that nearly made me cry:

“I’m trying to dodge bullets, trying to breathe, trying to still love life, trying to meet my problems full on and all the while I’m trying to figure out ‘Now What?’ Drinking was an issue and addiction is an issue for me. I’m trying to take it easy but I fear I’m hiding out.” 

And I was hiding. I didn’t want to drink but I didn’t want to face who I was. I was terrified and naturally I relapsed two months later with a journal entry that begins:

“So I had a stumbling moment this weekend. I had too much wine.”

I write about it not being a big deal and that I could go back to being sober but as I read it now, the writing was clearly on the wall. I couldn’t stay sober after that and six months later my life truly imploded. It was humiliating and difficult enough relapsing in front of my circle of friends. I can’t imagine doing that in front of the  entire world.

The Los Angeles Times says that Hamilton has been sober since 2005 but later in the article also notes “The only other time Hamilton broke his sobriety was in 2009 when he said he questioned his Christian faith and it led to a night of drinking at a bar in Tempe, Ariz.” Huh? Most recovery people I know would say Hamilton’s old 2005 sobriety date wouldn’t count after the Tempe incident. And maybe the media’s ignorance is part of the reason we don’t have compassion for those who do relapse.  But who cares and the whole point I’m getting at is when or if Hamilton or Lindsay or anybody else has relapsed, it’s none of  my business. Part of not drinking the haterade anymore for me is not judging anyone else’s sobriety. Or weight loss. Or weight gain. Or relationship status. It’s a tall freaking order. Especially when we live around these kinds of headlines. But ultimately, I’m better off when I take care of myself and shut the hell up. And oddly enough, staying out of others’ business helps me get further away from another drink or a relapse of my own.