Where’s Sean

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Well, well, well. It’s been a minute since I’ve posted over here. How the heck are you? It occurred to me this week when this site got new subscribers and tons of new views (thanks for that, btw) that I never gave notice here that I relocated. Many apologies. Since last summer, new writings by me can be found at seanologues.com.

Hope to see you there!

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Sobriety?

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“You use humor to hide your pain”

– a person with no sense of humor

I should take things more seriously. Things like bills and responsibilities. And….? Um. And relationships? To some degree, I suppose but if I don’t have a sense of humor when dealing with people, I’ll end up in a sanitarium. I’d say world events and news but please see the previous note about the funny farm. I certainly take my sobriety seriously yet there’s quite a bit of laughing going on in the rooms of recovery, especially for a group of people who were all slowly trying to murder themselves. 

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I’ve always been a smartass and fast with a one liner so when I first heard people share in meetings about serious shit but with a sense of humor, I exhaled. This I could do. Sure, there was some crying going on in meetings but there was a lot of laughing too. This was fantastic because I desperately need a laugh back then. A few paramount meetings in the early days filled with funny, raunchy tales and uproarious laughter let me know it was okay to talk however I wanted to as long as it was the truth. After all, pain and laughter have long gone hand in hand in my own life.

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The clown, weirdo, diversion creator of the family was a role I was born into and one I played well into my thirties. Being funny was a way, as the person with no sense of humor said, to mask my pain. But in recovery it was different. There was a little of that going on for sure but in order to stay sober it couldn’t just be one-liners. I also had to share about the truth. Well, once my sense of humor met my new friend honesty, it was on. I verbally vomited whenever I could, sometimes met with laughter, sometimes met with tears.  What was happening is I was getting better and not letting things live inside my head. Soon what people thought of what I said didn’t fucking matter. It was my truth and that by itself was a revelation. The truth that I was an alcoholic, that being honest was the only way I could stay sober and that I could still have a sense of humor smacked me upside the head.

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Now, for the most part, humor and truth go hand in hand. But if there’s pain in there too than so be it. After all, using humor to talk about pain and humor to mask pain are two different things. I found being funny sometimes opens doors for me to talk about more serious shit. If I can’t laugh at really messed up parts of my life, than I am beyond screwed. Turns out, other people sometimes like laughing at it too. I’ve even been asked to speak at meetings specifically because I’m “funny”. I guess this should irk me that I’m not being asked based on my wisdom or brilliant insights but I’m an attention whore so it doesn’t bother me. Plus if I can in any way return the favor of laughter so freely given to me in my early days, I’ll gladly do so.827937719-1

And finally getting around to the title question, what’s so funny about sobriety? Nothing and everything. Life in and of itself is absurd and ridiculous. This includes getting sober. I can laugh at it and be in on the joke or I can feel like its out to get me and be miserable. I’ll take door number one, Monty. This is all on my mind today I guess because I’m celebrating 7 years (in a row!!) of sobriety. None of these years have been a walk in the park but I can guarantee you they would have been worse had I not been able to laugh. So thank you for making me laugh, for listening, for making me lighten the hell up and for being there.

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older.

Today I am 43 years old. And Billy Idol is 60. And Mark Twain would have been 180. And David Mamet is 68.And Clay Aiken is 37. And the point is people get older. Myself included. And big deal. Entering my “Fuck It Forties” meant the neurosis around birthdays– the planning, the freaking out, the taking people hostage and making them celebrate ME, ME, ME!!!!! for days on end– has vanished. Today, I’m happy with a cupcake, a movie and a day off. Like I said, fuck it.

Unlike Billy Idol, my life has been a far cry from a rebel yell as of late. Much of my October was spent recovering from pneumonia. If you haven’t had that glamourous condition, I wouldn’t reccomend it. If you gave your worst cold cancer and then pushed it down a flight of stairs, that’d be pneumonia. After feeling like I was dying in slow motion for weeks and then suddenly not being able to breathe, I was carted off to the hospital in the world’s most expensive taxi ($700 for 6 blocks but who’s counting?) and put up in the hospital for 4 days. 4 Days of bad hospital food. 4 days of Judge Judy. 4 days of interns with clipboards marching in smiling and asking me the same question the other interns who just left did. 4 days of poking, prodding and fluid taking. Since you’re sort of held captive in these situations, you play along. You sort of don’t have a choice. If getting sober has taught me anything it’s the more I fight it, the worse things get. Like a good patient, I leaned in. Eventually. Not that I had much leverage to act like a diva in this situation, mind you. My ego got leveled over and over in that hospital room. From repeatedly pissing myself to sharting the bed to having strangers stick things in all of my orifices, I pretty much tasted the rainbow of what could be considered humiliating expericenes. Thankfully, getting sober as also taught me to table my ego and just get help. These people with the clipboards have seen a jillion pissing, sharting souls and to them I’m just another one. So lying there in the hospital bed somewhere around day 2, I realized I didn’t have the information these nice folks did and couldn’t magically cure myself on my own. I let them do their job, trusted the process and low and behold I got better.

The other thing that happened is I turned it all over.(This where the post gets all spiritual and if that makes you wanna barf, quit reading.) But yeah in those moments feeling like death and scared out of my mind, I had to do something. Giving it all to something bigger than myself and praying my face off was the only thing I could think off. My discussions with my Higher Power were ongoing and ranging from, “Please help me” to “Thank you.”Kinda like when I first got sober. And without force feeding you a Hallelujah moment, I’ll just say it worked. It was my spirtual “Fuck it” and I’m glad I had it. I got the hell out of there and was actually grateful for the help I received.

Another humbling revelation was how I am still not that great at taking care of myself. Let me first say ,that most people who yammer on and on about how humbled they are are like the least humble people on the planet and maybe I’ve now joined their ranks. But after getting sick I realized that 20 years of treating my body like a toxic waste dump hasn’t exactly gone away. I still eat crap. I still hate exercise and I still resist medications, doctors, yoga, anything that might help me. And for once I wasn’t okay with this. For nearly 7 years clean, I’ve sort of had this attitude like I’m not doing drugs or drinking so i should do whatever I want. Aren’t entitled to that? But the reality is I’m also person also with HIV who needs to be good to their body if they wanna stick around on this planet. Pneumonia helped me finally receive this message. It was humbling to see that regardless of how sober I am or how much I think I have my shit together, I still need help. Like all of the time.

And so at a year older, what I know for sure is this: I don’t know. I don’t know how my life is going to turn out. I don’t know what’s best for other people. I don’t know how the universe works. I don’t know. And it’s beautiful place to be. Thanks for being there with me.

 

It’s not really that dramatic

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m pretty dramatic.Joan_Crawford_in_Mildred_Pierce_trailer

Oh. You already knew that? Yeah. I’ve always done a crappy job of hiding it. Good thing I’m a playwright, huh? The onslaught of big news events, both good and bad–from Caitlyn Jenner and marriage equality to South Carolina and beyond– have caused a firestorm of online conversations. And I’ve happily engaged in them especially on Facebook. I am a talker, a big conversation haver, a shit-starter. Always have been. So when the opinions are flying fast and loose, in a consequence free zone, my big mouth, admittedly likes to put his two cents in. Which is fine. Considering the fights I used to start back when I was drinking, a little online drama isn’t that big of a deal. Only problem? It started to make me feel really crappy.

Actress Greta Garbo Holding Shot Glass ca. 1930s

Actress Greta Garbo Holding Shot Glass ca. 1930s

One of the lovely things about being sober for a few years is that when now a behavior feels toxic or unmanageable or toxic or just icky, I recognize it fairly quickly. Please note that I said “recognize it” and not “change it”. Knowing I have gnarly, pig-like behavior and changing that behavior are two totally different things. Look, I knew for YEARS my drug using and drinking were out of control but didn’t change it until I was in total hell and forced to do so. Luckily, hitting bottoms in sobriety aren’t nearly as painful today. Last week, when I found myself checking Facebook and chiming in on every topic whenever I had a free moment, it stopped being fun and I started to feel like social media’s bitch. I started to not feel present in my life and like I was looking for something to check out with. And that fucking scares me. horror_movie_scream

Now would be the right time for me to mention that I know this isn’t Facebook’s fault. Facebook’s gonna be Facebook. And I’m always going to be an addict. You could bet me that I couldn’t get addicted to dryer sheets but that’s a bet you would 100% lose. I often joke that end I only ended up in AA because “Everything-Aholics” doesn’t exist. The fact is I can exhibit addict, un-sober behavior while still being physically sober. Hello. Go to an old-timers meeting and chances are you might bump into  some folks who’ve been doing that for a few decades. So something had to be done about it, I knew that. But what? this_is_theSanguemineiro.4_original

Like all moments of rock bottom in my life, it started with a decision. I made a decision to take 60 days off Facebook. Starting today. Last year, a sponsee and I took a 10 day break and it was eye-opening. We both found a freedom and a surplus of time to do more fun, real-life stuff. So big deal: I’m getting off Facebook for a while. What do I want a parade?412

No. Actually. As little fanfare around this is probably a good antidote for the addiction to drama. But I did thinking sharing it was a good idea. Why? I don’t know. Mainly because people taught me early in recovery that if I open my mouth and say what’s bothering me, my chances of recovering and not drinking have increased. I’m only as sick as my secrets and a Facebook addiction is a secret I really don’t want. Plus, without hours devoted to Facebook everyday, I’ll have time to put the drama where it belongs: in a new script.

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Our Beyonces, Ourselves

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If you’re wondering where I’ve been (and I know you spend hours worrying about such matters), I’m sad to report that I haven’t been hanging out in very nice places. It shames me to admit that my wit and candor can be largely seen in the comments sections of pop culture blogs these days. I know, I know. The internet’s equivalent of a roach-infested dive bar. Lately, all I can muster up, creatively is a one-liner and comments sections or Twitter are easy places for them to live.  One-liners about James Franco, one-liners about Nicki Minaj, one liners about anything really. One-liners, zingers or terrible puns are how I express myself. I’ve always been “funny”, “sassy”, a “smartass”, what have you. However, the psychological community at large tells me this is a defense mechanism. This need to make jokes about everything is a leftover from old childhood behavior to simultaneously diffuse tension while seeking attention and in general is a way to conceal hurt or anger. I’d  like to tell the psychological community that while I agree, sometimes I just really want to make fun of Beyoncé.

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In my defense, Beyoncé is really easy to make fun of.  I mean…

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Plus, I think people with dead-eyes and no sense of humor are actually hilarious and ripe for satire. From the lyrics of Irreplaceable and her performance in Dreamgirls to that elevator thing and her Pretty Hurts video, I just think she’s comedy gold masquerading as a pop music icon. But then again, I saw Tina Turner in concert at a young age so perhaps Beyoncé’s powers would have never worked on me.

Of course, none of this is actually about Beyoncé. Or Kimye or Nicki Minaj’s ass. It’s about me. Truth? I’ve been kind of depressed lately. Depression is one of the many colors I represent in my mental illness rainbow. Lucky me. For my first five years of sobriety though, the bitch hasn’t really been an issue. Turns out, she was just sitting in the corner sipping her tea, waiting to pounce.

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Thankfully, I am now aware enough to take action when she shows up and wants to knock me out. While I’m not on medication (and don’t have any issues with folks who are) I do take certain physical and spiritual measures when depression becomes a problem.  For me, I know depression is a chemical thing because the honest to God’s truth of my life is that it’s pretty terrific. The evidence is staggering that despite minor glitches and little areas for growth, all things in Seanland are undoubtedly fabulous which makes depression’s appearance all the more baffling. But when things get rough or my thinking is off, getting sober has taught me to ask myself,”So whaddya gonna do about it?” (Because when I ask myself questions I sound like a pawn shop employee from New Jersey.) Part of that answer is “Write more!” My second sponsor, in her infinite wisdom, once told me that, “Self-esteem is built through esteemable acts.” As we’ve discussed, writing makes me feel good so why not write more and write thru whatever I’m feeling and maybe, gee I don’t know, feel better as a result?!?

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But let’s not get overly excited here. I’m stopping being a smartass anytime soon. It’s kinda who I am. I would argue that making jokes about the Kardashians or Chris Brown has at least kept my creative juices flowing. And as readers of this blog, I laugh just as much at myself as I do at Beyoncé. My sarcasm is all-inclusive and equality opportunity.Plus, making people laugh is a tiny way I can be of service. So just for today, I’ll aim to be a more productive, more spiritually fit clown and not a sadsack, comment section clown like this guy.

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people like us

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There’s a line in recovery literature which says, “we are people who normally would not mix.” There’s also references to folks in recovery being like survivors of a disaster.

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From my experience, both statements happen to be true. I’ve been to meetings with high-powered attorneys, Hollywood stars, hipsters, homeless people, all gays, mixed and everything in between. I can’t be sure how this is possible but when all you want to do is stop trying drinking or using, all prejudices fly out the window. For the most part, considering they’ve all come back from the brink of death, this assorted group of nuts is usually a pretty happy and welcoming bunch no matter what meeting you go to. I’ve been thinking about the people I’ve fought this battle with lately.  And the book I juts finished reading 90 Days talks about the power of these people too. The people who I was lucky enough to have save my ass on several occasions and in a couple of different States (both mental and geographic). It took a village to lift my glitter covered self out of the gutter. By just showing up and saying, “Hey I feel like shit over here and I need some help” they helped me. Or by sharing that their life was really challenging and they felt like drinking and using. Or whenever I just heard someone say “I’m _______ and I’m an alcoholic.”  I felt less freakish and less alone. I felt like I had the support of these people who were nothing like me.  And I wanted to help them too.

End-ceremony-star-wars-a-new-hope-12500053-820-444These misfits, these people who I wouldn’t normally mix with are the people I like being around the most. They get me. We speak the same crazy language and have the same fucked-up thoughts. And we’ve fought the same battles. As a result of this recovery deal, my life has gotten amazing and wonderful and big. The odd thing is that sometimes this life makes it hard for me to get to meetings and spend time with my fellow warriors.This week was really busy and I only went to one meeting. Well, by today I was pretty much a complete lunatic. I think I actually floated to my meeting that’s much I needed to go there. As soon as I sat down and exhaled, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was home– again.

That’s what’s so incredible about this blog too. “My People” read this too and I read their blogs and so on and so on. This experience with UrtheInspiration has been so powerful and so much fun I figured why not make it even bigger? So I’m happy to announce that I am finally fast-tracking the book proposal for a book based on this blog and I’ll be featuring guest bloggers, this fall too. But more on that later. For now, thanks for being my people. I couldn’t do this without you.

even still, glee exists.

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.

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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.

love.

I write about writing over at Keep Writing! and thought I’d share this post with you kids. Once I get thru tech week for my new show, I’ll have LOTS to share about and can’t wait to do so! xo- s.

Keep Writing!

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I have no idea how love works or how it shows up or why it turns us into crazy people or better people but we are certain that it does. And we’re all glad it does its magic. The moments that I trust love to do its thing are always moments I’m glad for. I have been told by bigger and more  spiritual minds that we have two choices everyday, to live in love or to live in fear. This simple but not easy to practice philosophy works big time with writing. Fear can derail novels, knock down screenplays, erase pages of poems and wipe out entire projects. Fear is what keeps most of us from putting words on the page. Fear is that voice who reads our drafts and screams, “That’s horrible!” Thank goodness for love. Love does the exact opposite. Love lets us feel like our writing sings…

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I haven’t got time for the pain

My rule of thumb when it comes to headline grabbing, locally based tragedies is this: when people I went to high school with are posting their thoughts on everything from Jesus Christ to gun control on Facebook, I officially have nothing to add to the conversation. Seriously, what can I say? I barely know how to ask vegans what they like to eat for breakfast much less have a genius diatribe about peace and understanding ready at the drop of the hat. Instead, I tend to go inward. I look for answers in music. I know it sounds crazy but hello- no crazier than the shit that has went down over the last week. Usually this musical introspection takes me to the 1970’s.

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Trust me, I wanted to sit down and write a blog about the tragic shooting in Aurora and perhaps even tie in some Greek Mythology all the while having the entire post really be about me and how sensitive I am. This magical blog post would not only explain the messed up events for readers everywhere but it would inspire them to follow me on Twitter or send me fan mail. No such luck. Instead, all I want to talk about is Carly Simon.

The other night I was making brownies (Baking relaxes me. It’s like Bikram yoga for junkies and drunks) I had the Linda Ronstadt Pandora station on. In addition to the ditties of La Ronstadt, the station features songs from “similar artists” who maybe aren’t so similar but were at least popular in the same era. Carly Simon was one of the artists chosen to accompany Linda and me on our musical baking adventure. In addition to learning that Carly was the daughter of Simon of famed publishing house Simon & Schuster (who knew?), I read that she was one of the era’s confessional singers like Carol King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens. The idea of Carly being confessional is one that appeals to me. I think that’s what always appealed to me about 1970s music and even film. The really good stuff (Daniel by Elton John, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, and You’re so Vain by Carly Simon) all felt like your were listening to someone’s diary or watching the real lives of people you knew. It told the truth and for a child of delusion and addiction, artists that could pull that off have always been my heroes. Anyway, Carly’s song “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain” came on as I poured my brownie batter into the pan. The words “Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive. Thought that’s just how much it cost to survive in this world” hit me like a ton of bricks. I can identify with mistaking living in calamity as actually living. I too needed pain or suffering to give me pulse or get me out of bed. That’s an intense realization to have, especially for an old soft rock song they now use on pain reliever commercials.  The power of being confessional, as Carly proved, is that sometimes your truth belongs to other people too.

When horrible fucked up shit like this used to happen, we would all meet at my favorite dive bar, play the jukebox and get really, really loaded. We’d do this when nothing fucked up happened too, by the way. Today, how do I deal? Well I have a cry. I bake something. I sing a long to songs from my childhood. But mainly, I have to stay out of the grudge match. I can’t battle with my opinion anymore or obsessively watch CNN in search of some answer when I know there isn’t an answer.

But maybe there is an answer. On a separate kitchen session in the same week with the same Pandora station, I heard Carly again. In her totally underrated song Coming Around Again from the film, Heartburn; Carly sings and almost chants, “I believe in love.” She sings it over and over again. I needed to hear this message on repeat. Because I do believe in it. I know that awful, hideous occurrences can only be healed with love. I know that it isn’t the easy path. I know that it frankly fucking sucks waiting for love to heal. But I know that it works. Yeah, I believe in love because, as Carly sings in the following line, “What else can I do?”

Escape from Drunk Bitch Mountain

Love or loathe Bravo’s hit reality television franchise The Real Housewives, there is no denying its impact on pop culture. If you’re unfamiliar (then you’re probably better off), the show focuses on the real lives of  pampered housewives. Much of the conflict on each version of the show- from New York to Beverly Hills- arises when the ladies get together for drinks and the claws inevitably come out after the chicks dust several bottles of white wine.  Now, cast member and former child star Kim Richards from the 90210 version has completed rehab and if I were her, I wouldn’t come back to reality TV.

 

The story of Kim Richards very public battle with alcoholism has been covered a lot by sobriety bloggers lately -most brilliantly by Psych Central, by the way. I think Kim’s story is one those of us who have been there can identify with, even if the rest of her life seems totally foreign. Kim starred in Disney hits in the 1970’s like Escape to Witch Mountain, has been married several times and is the aunt to Paris Hilton. Her day-to-day and growing up in front of cameras are things I can’t identify with. However when Richards is shown on television these days she’s slurring into the phone, missing planes, lying about why she’s late and erratically screaming at people. That’s a life I know all too well. Like Richards I had a group of people I partied with and drank with and hid things from. And like Kim I verbally attacked people when I was intoxicated, I had a bucket of excuses as to why I could never do what I promised and I had to eventually face the music. The word is that Bravo forced Richards into rehab so could hang onto her job. That never happened to me and I never went to rehab. I was told if I wanted a sliver of a chance at sobriety, I had to change my playground, my playmates and my playthings. As painful as it was, I had to leave my whole life in order to really give sobriety a shot. It seemed like I would never have friends again and the loneliness would kill  me faster than the drink ever could. After 20 years of daily drinking and using, I had to submerge myself into a new sober way of life because any semblance of my old drinking days would have trumped my new existence. Regardless of how hard it was, sobriety had to become my job. But that’s me. I’m not Kim Richards and I don’t know what it’s like to try to stay sober while being in the spotlight and under a microscope.

In an interview for the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion show, Richards is still holding grudges, still blaming others and still, from what it sounds like,living like she did before she went to rehab. Except she’s sober. And again, I get it. Recovery is no picnic. But all anybody, famous or not, needs to do to stay sober is honestly try. Hopefully, Richards will allow herself to do just that.