Archives for posts with tag: Addiction

Easter 2022 Portugal

Last night I made Indian food at home for friends. A convivial evening. The weather has been spectacular this week. The religious parades a little lacklustre, they don’t compare with the magisterial opulence of the spanish equivalent. Yet, even though I don’t believe in christianity, I bow my head before those who do.

This morning the apartment is scented with cassia, cardamom, coriander…

Last week the rains were gratefully upon us.

The sky is dove gray, the cloud ombréd into anthracite onto the horizon. Spring storms are coming. Gulls wheeling over the Rio Gilao. The swifts are no longer screaming, they are hiding in their mud and saliva nests under the eves. The deluge comes, polishing the cobbles. Parasols flap and drip onto miserable tourists. An inescapable torrent. I may have left the window open.

I am unpacking my unhealthy, enmeshed relationship with women. I am the one… I have consistently had unhealthy relationships with women. I am the one. Ending in dismay, disloyalty, disappointment. I could make a million excuses but I am the one. Whether it is George or Samia, rich or poor, bright or not… they open the door to their misery and like a fool, I rush in.

I wanted to save my mother. I couldn’t. I was powerless. I wasn’t enough. I lay in bed listening to the screams. I couldn’t save her. I was just a boy! What could I do? In my teens I ended up resenting her because she couldn’t save herself. Nor us. I know my brothers were terribly wounded. They sabotaged their father’s funeral.

Truth never picks a side.

A famous friend is crying hard about the pressure of fame, success. She is crying because she hates talk shows, she hates the publicity grind. She is bleating and moaning, the hard rain is falling. It is difficult to listen, knowing just how they reaped the rewards of the entertainment industry. I am full of judgement until I admit I’ve been there myself, equally indulgent. I’ve written about it, the loneliness of success.

If I believe my creative gifts are god given, yet… when the universe delivers I wonder: am I deserving? ‘No, you are not.‘ I hear the voice in my head so clearly, speaking to me using my voice. ‘You are an imposter, you’ll always be an imposter.’

Remember that night? The night in question, that night, that great night… leaving the theatre deafened by applause, even though I had many who would have congratulated me I had no one to call. I was completely alone, enduring the discomfort of the moment, so fearful, I wanted to call my mother but that door was closed to me. I felt so fragile, it was impossible to enjoy my success. The intensity of the moment was nothing I had experienced before. It was so overwhelming I ran away, I fought it off. I am only deserving of punishment. I have stripped myself of every opportunity presented me. I have sabotaged each and every gift. I have behaved like a lunatic.

Ana, Samia, Donna, Eleanor, Georgina, Hilary. A longer list exists… I am sure. Women I wanted to save, save from husbands, boredom, grief, family, loneliness. When will I ever learn? Maybe this is the moment? I am the one? It always ends up the same way, even when I have set the boundaries, considered my motives, written the contract. The outcome is always the same: RESENTMENT.

Ana calls me her husband, George wants to marry me, Donna is furious when I tell her friends I am gay. Samia meets me in Paris for what? She woefully reminds me how old she is. What became of them?

Drawn to their helplessness, tiny Ana lost on her huge sofa, penniless. Donna consumed by her hoard, piss and shit saved in plastic bags, Samia shamed by her menopause. Georgina’s body wrecked by Parkinson’s, her bank accounts raped by her daughter. I have learned, just now. This day. Unless those who have becomes victims to circumstance take hold of their own lives no one can help them. What could I do? I was just a boy! I can momentarily drag her out of poverty, over the shingle to the restaurant in the wheelchair… but I cannot will them to live, to stop making the same mistakes.

By consorting with a woman and her shame, I can only fail. Those who saw me wrecked by grief must never lay eyes on me ever again. When ‘saved’ what do we need with our saviour? If incapable of saving, we slip into the oily, cold water of failure. Like Jack from Rose.

Men I know sharing how they drank and used drugs like heroes: they drank like Travis Bickle, snorted like Scarface, loved like Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Their cinematic memories, their euphoric recall is so often vulgar and self-aggrandising. If I drank like a character in a movie? I am Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Baby Jane Hudson. King baby. Writing a letter to daddy. Knocking back the bourbon, controlling the outcome, taking hostages.

Looking in the mirror. Crying. Drowning in self pity.

Thank God I cast myself in another movie. The movie I am living right now. Am I happy because of the therapy or the anti depressants? I am luxuriating in the moment. I love my things. The temperature is perfect. I do not wish to shut the door on my past but, thank god, I am not my story. My story, the story of casual violence and hopelessness merely gave me excuses to behave badly. ‘If you had my story you too would be a monster’, that is the lie we tell ourselves. Without my story I have no excuse. I am the one.

My mother ended up saving herself. She has the life she wants. I respect and accept that. It has taken decades of reflection to own my part. It was a process aided by the voices of so many willing to share their truth. Faith overcomes fear. I know, no matter what, I will be ok.

For that, this Easter day, I am very thankful.

My friend Bryan asks  me to lead the huge Monday night meeting held at the cream colored, concrete church or Rodeo Drive.

I agreed to address the cult.  You know how I feel about LA AA.

I spent the larger part of the day at home, packing.   I bought a coat from RRL.   A beautiful navy pea coat with brass buttons and a dramatic pleat in the back.

At lunch time I have a conversation with a financier and discuss tax credits.

Before the AA event I nip into Venice where I meet an actress.  We drink hot chocolate and discuss the script.   She has good ideas.

She has good casting ideas.

She is generous and interesting and interested.  She doesn’t get recognized.

I drive with the Little Dog to Beverly Hills.  Outside the church I notice people I know from the past… smoking.  People with small amounts of recovery.  Limited time in AA.  People who can’t stay sober for longer than a few months.

Leading the meeting means that I have to direct the format of the meeting as written then tell my story.  The story divided into three parts: Experience, Strength and Hope.   How it was and how it is now.

Well, you are meant to have a great story.  I don’t have a great story.  Not this year.

Inside the hall my mouth dries, I can see the bloated face of a gay film producer who just cannot stay sober and will die drunk.  His equally incompetent sober friends will mourn his death.  They will say things like, ‘Peter struggled so hard to stay sober’.

They will cry for the duration of the memorial then they will scamper like hairy children to another miserable dying addict who can’t stay clean or sober.

The same people are found laughing at the back of meetings.  Unable to take anyone seriously other than themselves.

Peter has four pitiful months.  He mocks my struggle or the struggles of people like me because he has never had more than a few months clean.  He will never know what it is like not to drink for a decade or more or what tribulations that incurs.

I didn’t tow the party line. I told them what was going on.  A public flaying.

I flayed myself.

What am I doing here? I thought.  What am I doing here telling these people my secrets?  What the hell do I do this for?  I sipped at my bottle of water.  I wore my new spectacles.

On the way back to Malibu I listened to NPR.  They were playing Bridge when I got home.  Eating marzipan mice.

The speaker of the Ugandan parliament has promised she will pass the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill in the next two weeks — she called it a “Christmas gift” for the Ugandan people. 

How will she achieve that?   There’s one born every minute.

I just put my AA ‘Big Book’ in the trash.

Does this mean I will die? Well yes, eventually.

Does this mean I will drink again? Maybe, but not immediately.

Does this mean that I’ll stop believing in god? Definitely not.

“Like any cult, religion or philosophy, AA leans heavily on the good will and participation of its members. I like the saying “if you like everybody you meet in AA, you aren’t going to enough meetings“. People should not be accountable for ideas, only for their actions. I have never had high expectations of AA, and so they are usually exceeded by the results.

“Faith without works is dead.  The book is overrated, Duncan, everybody knows that. But the Love in AA is palpable.”

Dan my friend wrote the above. Men like him initially convinced me AA was good. I was attracted to the nuanced reasoning, the warmth of the members, their ‘spirituality’. I was not wrong, people like Dan were the reason I kept going back.

Explaining AA to the uninitiated is like teaching a baboon how to knit.

Writing this, even now, I can convince myself to haul the AA Big Book out of the trash…that things weren’t that bad, that I should look at ‘my part’, that if only I had worked the 12 steps just a little bit harder.  The reason I moved to LA?  The reason I uprooted my home, my life…myself? Alcoholics Anonymous.

The comfy Palisade stag meetings, the jolly Rodeo social, the stoic recovery center.  I loved UTA owner Jeremy Zimmer’s Saturday morning industry meeting where the producers, writers, actors and directors came to flay themselves before the UTA grandee.

I was rapt by the harrowing story of child sex abuse and violence therapist Sean McFarlane dramatically told when ever he was asked to testify.  I watched ‘Big’ Robert gather his flock of new comers/sponsees at the 7am Bank meeting and take them diligently through the twelve steps.

It took five years to see through each of these scam merchants.

Jeremy Zimmer uses his meeting to ensnare and compromise celebrities in trouble. Fellow alcoholic industry folk, realizing that Jeremy is a sick man do not risk leaving the meeting, nor do directors and actors who want his patronage. Jeremy Zimmer is a sadist. Laughing and joking as men cry pitifully about their ‘rock bottom’.  The only men he has compassion for are men that mean nothing to him professionally.

Sean McFarlane, perhaps the worst scam artist in the AA SAA organization, effectively getting rich men to pay to sponsor them.  Sponsorship is a service supposedly supplied ‘for fun and for free’ from elder AAers to the new comer, helping them understand the 12 steps, helping them understand the Big Book of AA…a sort of bible written by Bill Wilson the founder of AA.

Sean thinks nothing of taking huge amounts of money from naive new comers for his sponsorship services.  Sean (pronounced seen) McFarlane, provides counseling as a sex therapist but I have no proof that he has any formal training nor counseling himself, nor support, even a sponsor? If anyone has proof that this monster has any training… please provide it.

Sean oversees the fate of cheating celebrities who routinely fall from grace and into his Wednesday morning SAA meeting… needing their family back, their reputation saved, their need to disguise their pedophile peccadillos… putting humpty dumpty back together again.

Sean thinks he is a very big deal, a super hero, leaping over imagined cars to save his clients from tranny hookers bent on destroying his clients.

As for Big Robert, the multimillionaire ex basketball player…well it turns out that this self-proclaimed AA guru is in fact a compulsive liar who, whilst banging his sponsees heads with the big book bible… is in fact gorging on un-prescribed prescription meds. He routinely tells his group of sycophantic male followers that AA does not ‘shoot its wounded’… which is patently untrue.

I thought, when I moved to LA that finally… I had come home.

It is evident from the 2006/7 blogs that I loved it and it loved me. A family of men and women who could always forgive, would always forgive.  Well, that was the first of my mistakes. I was wrong about them. Perhaps when I moved here AA was different, I was different?

AA is a cult. Like scientology it trades on the secret lives of its members. Like scientology it requires devotion. Blind devotion. Like scientology there is a vile abuse of power. Those who want to wrestle the leadership, become gurus, lie and steal… all in the name of recovery.

Most so-called addicts and alcoholics are mental patients with no mental hospital to go to.  Look at the beautiful man at the top of this post. His name was Evan Landry. He was a friend of mine. An AA friend. Wow, I was bowled over with Evan, his aggressive, sexy ways… his vulnerability. He served in Iraq, he was an MMA fighter, I saw him fight.

He had a sexy girlfriend he shared with Mike Tyson but wasn’t above going to… how shall we say… the dark side.  Well, last night Evan Landry killed himself. Another AA tragedy. Today his friends think it is ‘sad but not unexpected’. They have buried so many friends, their indifference is as unexpected as Evan’s OD.

People like Sean McFarlane will remember him, use his death as evidence that we must never, ever leave AA.  His PTSD unaddressed, all he needed (according to his AA friends) was the 12 steps.

Like prescribing leaches for terminal cancer.

In the USA there are a hundred treatment centers where addiction can be fought with the ubiquitous 12 steps… if you have the money. In my experience getting help with any other mental condition is almost impossible.  Evan Landry put his faith in AA like so many of us did… but our problems were complicated by AA and sadly may have killed dear Evan and many men and women like him.

I don’t go to AA funerals because they are a sick joke. I might, however, go to this one. Just to laugh at the hypocrites who killed Evan with their medieval prescription for a better life.