Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Charlie Sheen, Dr. Seuss, and Me

The last few days I have been thinking that it was easier to write this blog a month ago when I was the only one reading it. Although receiving a comment on one of my posts is my abolute greatest joy these days, I do find, as I see the reader stats climb, that I am somewhat more hesitant about writing my truth here. Maybe it's because I know some of the people who are reading this blog, but don't know them really well, and I am afraid that one of them (you) will find out something about me you don't wish to know. Perhaps I am worried that you will judge me.

What I believe with all of my heart and head is that I can't be scared to "be me," and "be honest," at the same time. So I need to just get over myself, and take the very good advice of Dr. Seuss (thanks Best Friend, for reminding me of this quote).

As Dr. Seuss says:

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

So here is what I want to say today. I kind of "get" what is going on with Charlie Sheen. He is a suffering addict, as much as he denies it. Twenty some years ago, I surrendered to the fact that I was an addict. I didn't come into recovery at the "height" of my craziest using, the crazy days for me were years earlier, before I had my girls. But I didn't have to be using like a crazy person in order to hit a bottom. When I stopped using drugs in 1989, it was because I believed with every ounce of my being that I had had enough. More than enough. I wanted a new reality, to find a new way to live. For my daughters, and for me. Charlie isn't there yet.

For the past 22 years, I have worked a program of recovery. My recovery run was interrupted with insanity just once, in 2000. For a couple of days, I took prescription narcotics to deal with some overwhelming grief that I just didn't think I could bear. I chose not to bear it, I guess. I took the narcotics as prescribed, unfortunately they were prescribed to my mother, who had just died. I did not, at that time, consider taking those pills a relapse. When I realized four years later that what happened in 2000 was indeed a relapse, I changed my recovery clean date and starting "counting" clean time again. I am okay with claiming 10 years clean and 22 years of recovery.

Today, I am struggling (in part) with that same overwhelming grief that I have been trying to hide from (drug-free) for nearly 11 years. I found every which way not to feel or process the grief, believe me. I thought that I was doing okay, for almost all of the last decade. Without going into more detail (yet), the truth is that there are various other grief and and loss issues messing me up right now, and those issues have been exacerbated by years of overwork and undercare. I wouldn't say that I am grieving the loss of my colon, but I know now that I haven't dealt with losing it to cancer nearly six years ago.

Not dealing with deep emotional, physical and spiritual issues can have very serious consequences for people like Charlie Sheen and I. We can keep on using drugs, or maybe start using drugs again. Charlie thinks he has beat addiction, and I wish only the best for him, but I'm not betting on his success in the short term. I think he will use drugs again. Soon.

I am not going to start using drugs. I have no desire to, whatsoever. But the result of my not dealing with some major life traumas in my life over the past nearly 11 years has landed me in a pretty uncomfortable place, too. I am not manic, like Charlie. But a few weeks ago it became very clear to me, my family, my physician and my friends, that not taking care of myself has resulted in a seemingly swift and serious deterioration of my health, both mental and physical. As I blogged about at the time, it felt like it happened all at once, but it had actually been a very long time coming. I was diagnosed with extreme anxiety and mild depression just two weeks ago, and I swing between those two realities on a daily basis. The depression is more prevalent than the anxiety, over the last week. Some days I am lucky and land smack dab in the middle, and that feels pretty damned good. I am trying to rest (a lot like Charlie though, I can't slow down easily). I am writing, seeing an excellent therapist, doing accupuncture, massage. I am feeling my emotions, which is the most time consuming task of them all, and the most debilitating. I am not taking drugs for my condition at the present time, but I have no judgment whatsoever of people who find medication is a good solution for them. I'm trying it my way, for now.

I don't know why I felt compelled today to put all of this out there. It's me, writing my truth and breaking through the fear of some of you finding out more information about me than you may care or need to know. So many of you have already been so kind, whether by leaving a comment or telling me in other ways. I appreciate the support, with all of my being.

I am not a broken person, not a failure or a loser. I am not weak, or crazy, or defective. I am just a human being, who is still sometimes uncertain about whether I am worthy of taking the time I need to heal from the life I have been leading. I have been very productive this past decade, don't get me wrong. It's been a wild ride with a lot of great things, I've just been going at too high a speed. I have not, like Charlie Sheen admits to, been "banging seven gram rocks." But I have very, very often worked 70 hour work weeks (I am paid to work 35). I know that my drug this past four years has been my work, and I have come close to overdosing on it. On the very rare occasion when I ran out of work, I found every other which way under the sun to busy myself.

I'm tired of doing. I want to "be" more, and "do" less, to live in the moment, to make the most of every moment. Twenty two years ago I wanted a better life for my daughters and I, and I sure have built a better life. I have more amazing people in my life than ever before, including my Soul Mate, who has watched my insanity for so long (two decades) that he thinks that I really am just wired to work that much. We have wonderful kids, and grandkids. I have great parents-in-law, and a beloved Dad. They matter.

I want to be here for another twenty years at least. Taking care of my health is the only chance I have of staying.

Well, that was me, being honest. I hope that Dr. Seuss is right.


  1. I SO relate to what you are saying! Though never an alcoholic, there are so many other areas of life or things I HAVE become addicted to. When in College studying addictions I was told there was no such thing as an addictive personality. I beg to differ!! Keep writing. Best Wishes.

  2. That was such a nice post, Dawn! You make me happy when skies are grey...
    Love V

  3. Thanks for this thoughtful post. I think I'm going to hang the Seuss quote above my computer!

  4. Thank you for this post. It is very easy to laugh at people like Charlie Sheen, and judge, and be glad we're not him. But he is only human, and we're not all that different from eachother. I am your newest follower.

  5. Thanks, everybody. Thanks especially to Val, for reminding me about the Dr. Seuss quote, as well as for being my best friend for the past 35 years. And thanks for the encouragement, Jennifer, Sheila, and Elizabeth. One of the best parts of receiving comments for me, is checking out commenter blogs! I'm following all three of you now. Val - I'll follow you too, when you get that blog up and running.

  6. Your honesty, vulnerability and surrender demonstrate a "fierce grace" that is so beautiful to witness. Thank you for sharing your journey. Piper

  7. Dawn - beautifully written (as always).

  8. I really related to this:

    I am not a broken person, not a failure or a loser. I am not weak, or crazy, or defective. I am just a human being, who is still sometimes uncertain about whether I am worthy of taking the time I need to heal from the life I have been leading.

    I'm working on this too - trying to allow the "space in between" to do some healing. Thank you for writing.

  9. Thank you Dawn. This is beautiful and meaningful. don't stop.