I can't stop watching your Letterman appearance. You were so funny and charming, and it made me so happy to see you that way. I could tell that you felt the love from Dave. And I could tell that you felt his concern.
I've seen Martha Stewart and Oprah make these same overtures to you, trying to show stern parental concern. But Dave seemed to get through in a way that touched my heart. I love Letterman, and I love you. It was a beautiful match.
I want to tell you something that is only my experience so you can just ignore it or tell me I'm dumb or not read it at all (most likely the latter), but I'm telling it to you because I think you are a hilarious, talented, badass woman. Yes, you are physically beautiful, but I think that your wild spirit and fearlessness and toughness make you most beautiful of all.
So here's my experience. The one you can ignore, but I feel compelled to tell you.
I love getting fucked up.
There is nothing like it. Everything is high, liquid, amazing and none of the stuff that hurts is present. It's a fucking party, and it's a hardcore fucking party. The high of cocaine and the sweet haze of an alcohol buzz feels like this awesome, perfect escape. I don't remember things or people that have hurt me when I'm fucked up, and I really like that.
I also am afraid that people who have to say they are addicted to something can seem pathetic. Weak and lame and losers. No one likes you when you're the girl who won't drink or party. It's fucking square and boring.
We live in fucked up times so why not get fucked up. My parents are fucked up so why not get fucked up. People who I have slept with and loved are fucked up so why not get fucked up. Why does anyone who doesn't know me or know what I've been through have any fucking right to tell me a goddamn thing about how I should live my life or what is right or wrong, or even dare to judge me.
I don't like it when people try to force me to say I'm addicted to things or that I have a problem with anything. Really? Look in the mirror, asshole. You have a million things wrong with you that I could point out, so maybe get to work on that, and leave me the fuck alone. AA is a dumb earnest cult filled with people who are addicted to fucking self-help, and they can go fuck themselves, too.
I say all these things, and I mean all these things.
And I am sober, and I am an alcoholic.
I'll tell you why.
One night, after snorting some awesome euphoria-inducing lines of coke and being so fucked up I didn't even know what I was doing or where I was or who I was or who I was with or if I was safe (which can be exciting, but this time just felt really naked and raw and exposed, like wounds opening up and getting cut over and over again), I tried to think of what I should do next.
Usually the answer to next would be to get incredibly fucking high. And to get lost in a new story that was always hilarious and sexy and absolutely above and beyond what anyone who wasn't living it could ever know or experience without being me, so shut the fuck up.
You don't know me.
This time, though, I couldn't get out of bed because the sadness I felt was incapacitating. All the crap and bullshit that I didn't feel when I was really fucking high was pressing in on me and choking me. Which of course made me want to get high again.
For some reason, though, this time, I got angry.
I thought about all the people who had made jokes about me as being a party girl or a slut or embarrassing or a trainwreck or hopeless or beyond help, and I saw it as a challenge that I had never seen it as before.
Is that what you think about me?
And I felt a glimmer of strength and hope in me that made me want to show all of them -- every single fucking one -- how little they knew me.
Because no one fucking knows me who isn't me.
And yes, I certainly do not know you.
So I played with something I had never played with before. I played with the idea that maybe everything that I was so disgusted by -- the grossness of having to say "I'm Mandy and I'm an alcoholic" (FUUUUUUCK THAT) and having to give anyone the satisfaction of feeling superiority or judgment or like they were better than me -- I could use it like a weapon instead.
What if none of those words or labels mattered? What if I could win and beat everyone by not being afraid what anyone thought of me, and fighting back with the words that I was so afraid of?
What if by OWNING my many faults, I could beat anyone -- anyone who dared to try to beat me down?
What if by owning that label -- what if by owning that I was an alcoholic and an addict -- I could suddenly stop fighting the terror of being found out and having to pretend to be so many different versions of myself and wondering what people thought of me and wishing I could be someone different and wishing the pain would go away?
What if I could use it like a fucking superhero?
And not in a way where I would then use it as an excuse -- "Oh yeah, I got fucked up and did that, well I'm an alcoholic, so sorry, nothing I can do" -- but instead as a shield of armor.
I'm an alcoholic, and so I'm not going to take what I know is my kryptonite, because instead I want to be fucking Superman.
We all have our kryptonite.
Every single one of us.
I felt fear, though. Because partying and getting high or even just having one drink or even just one sip, it felt more comfortable. It felt more glamorous. It felt more exciting to be high and fucked up. I knew that. I was certain of that. PEOPLE LIKED ME THAT WAY.
PEOPLE TOLD ME THEY LIKED ME THAT WAY.
You're not as fun when you don't drink. I miss the old you. Twelve step shit is for LOSERS.
But I was trying my experiment.
Superman can't have a sip of kryptonite. And I decided to abide by that rule, too, goddamnit.
My experiment in letting myself feel the anxiety of perhaps deserving to live a life where I was kicking fucking ass (and not in a trainwreck way) was the boldest experiment I had ever tried.
But I wasn't sure.
I told some AA person that I really didn't always fuck up when I was fucked up. And that person responded to me, maddeningly (because I knew exactly what she meant, and I hate being called out): Well, I didn't always get in trouble when I was drinking, but whenever I got in trouble, I was drinking.
And I didn't like that. I didn't like the idea that I could be put in the same group as a homeless fucking shit-smeared bum wino near death nasty guy clutching a bottle on the street. That person was an alcoholic. Not me. I was beautiful. I was glamorous. My job was awesome. I had killer friends, killer clothes, killer parties. Anything you could dream of, I had it. An alcoholic? FUCK THAT.
But that sadness I felt when I woke up that one day I told you about, the sadness of not feeling that everyone was laughing at me -- but instead feeling like I was laughing and ridiculing myself, and hated myself more than I ever had before -- I also had that.
And I didn't want it.
When I decided to give stupid AA a chance, what I saw surprised me.
I have seen again and again the most successful, stunning people who are joy and love and beauty defined. The celebrities I ran into again and again looked more beautiful and glowing and happy than they ever had in their careers.
Alcoholics were not losers, I found out. They were superheroes.
"What if I think it's a cult and it's stupid and everyone here sucks," I said once, testing out a person I talked to in the program.
She smiled. "Then just say that." It didn't bother her. Very little bothered these people who were sober. I wanted that sense of security and confidence.
I wanted it so badly. I wanted it more than I wanted the feeling of being fucked up.
And I decided to get it.
And now, two-and-a-half years later, I do.
My life is even more exhilarating, sexy, wonderful, fantastic, thrilling than it ever was before when I was fucked up. Now when I have sex, I feel it all. Now when I am killing it and succeeding, I feel it all.
Yeah, I feel the shitty things too, which isn't fun and can be really really hard at times, because a lot of times you don't feel those bad or those sad things when you are fucked up, but in a weird way, it's made me stronger. I don't care what people say now.
You suck. I hate you. You should kill yourself. You're intolerable. Just die already.
People have said all these things to me.
And when I was fucked up, it would have hurt really bad.
Being sober, I see how meaningless all that is, because I know who I am.
I'm an alcoholic. And it's fucking amazing.
I love you very much, Lindsay. So many people love you very much.
If you want to do it, you can do it.
I know you can.
Now all you need to do is know you can, too.
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.