Monthly Archives: November 2013
i’ve been asked to be the feature speaker at the largest English speaking meeting here in Yeaman, which is the kind of big you see in movies set in Queens. i’m looking forward to it in the same way you look forward to having a kidney stone removed if you have to do it yourself.
So why? i don’t have to do it–the person who asked said many people outright refuse because it is a little daunting–but i thought i’d go for it because
- i believe in service to Alcoholics Anonymous and don’t feel i have the right to say ‘No’. When i think about all the program has done for me, i need to be looking for more ways to give back.
- i’m feeling braver about speaking. i’m still sure my voice will crack and i’ll turn all red, but my sponsor and i have been working on this thing where i share at every meeting i attend for the express purpose of getting over my shyness, and it’s working.
- Something i saw on Facebook: Everything you want is on the other side of fear. i need to learn to be brave.
- Something i thought of myself: Instead of looking for ways to get out of tasks, i need to be looking for ways to get into them.
- Something else i thought of myself: That which doesn’t kill me makes me more sober.
Wish me luck!
Photograph by Kyle Thompson.
Earlier i mentioned how Daniel Radcliffe got recovery advice from Gary Oldman. But who did Goldman get advice from? Sir Anthony Hopkins. So, in keeping with my “6 Degrees of Celebriety” theme, here’s a post about Tony Hopkins.
Anthony Hopkins had his last drink on Monday, December 29, 1975. His second wife (Jenni Lynton) left him on Christmas and returned to England. He hit the bottle hard as soon as she was gone, only to call her drunk and sobbing while she told him he needed to get help. Then, when he drank so much at a party that he blacked out, a Hollywood agent gave Hopkins a card for Alcoholics Anonymous. He had a last drink the following Monday morning, called AA, and has been sober since.
What it was like
I wasn’t popular as a child. I never played with any of the other kids, and I didn’t have any friends. I wanted to be left alone all through my school years. I’ve felt like an outsider all my life.
I hated the Sixties. For most of it I was drinking myself into oblivion. I was in a coma for most of it, so I missed the whole decade, including the Beatles, completely. I would drink about eight pints a night – I remember being in Liverpool on those drizzly evenings in the pub, getting the last drop in.
I had some bizarre nights with Peter when we made The Lion In Winter, but to be honest I don’t remember them. He enjoyed his drink – and I did, too. We weren’t close friends or anything but we got drunk very quickly and there was always amusement and laughter. I love drunks; they are terrific – except when they throw up on you.
I would show up on movie sets after drinking and not sleeping. I made a terrible film called The Looking Glass War in 1968. I had a scene with Ralph Richardson in the back of a car that I don’t even remember doing because I was so drunk.
I was in a bit of trouble, becoming awkward to work with. [Sir Laurent] Olivier recommended I go see a psychiatrist friend of his. I did for one session. He said my behavior was due to “creative exhaustion,” or some crap like that. The problem was, I was drinking too much! So that was the end of my psychiatric therapy.
It was like being possessed by a demon, an addiction, and I couldn’t stop. And millions of people around like that. I could not stop.
Her actions [Jenni Lynton, his second wife, left him] saved my life. Suddenly, I realised she wasn’t going to help me anymore. She’d tolerated me longer than most. Other people simply wouldn’t put up with my crap. I was a real loner. I threw friends away through hostility.
I drank a lot, but I wouldn’t have missed it. I look back on it as sort of dreary enjoyment, because I don’t have to be there anymore.
When you look at what a poor, tired mess John Barrymore was at the end of his life, and what a catastrophe that was, it’s just so sad. To go insane and either drink yourself to death, or blow your brains out, like Hemingway, it’s very sad. Let’s just say I don’t recommend it.
What made me stop drinking was not remembering where I’d been the night before.
One day I just thought, “I’ve had enough of this.” It was simple. I didn’t want to go on feeling bad.
For me, giving it up was finding the airlock, the escape hatch. It all happened one Monday morning in 1975. It was as if a voice said, “Ready! Go!” It was that clear, the voice of gold. The best part of myself, my subconscious, came to rescue me.
And then that Monday: Boom. And it was over. It was like a great pilot light was lit. No explanation except, I guess, I was open, willing and ready.
As God as my witness, an enormous powerful voice came into my mind. It said, “It’s all over now, you can start living. What’s happened has been for a purpose, don’t forget a moment of it.” Suddenly the craving to drink was taken from me.
I don’t know how. I had no religious connection or a connection to what I thought was God. When I look back I think I was so lucky to get out of that one.
I was hell bent on destruction. And I just asked for a little bit of help, and suddenly, pow.
But I now realise I am the problem with my life. I am the killer of myself, I am a self destructive force.
My only demon that I had was that I drank too much. I was very insecure and frightened, but I wouldn’t have missed it because I have no choice! It happened. I look back on it as a valuable time in my life. Alcohol gave me a great amount of courage and energy and anger, all things I never would have had the nerve to do. So I’m very grateful to that period in my life, which launched me, in a way. But finally, that kind of fuel rips you to pieces, so I said “enough of this.” But now I feel relatively peaceful, relatively happy.
I’m glad I’m an alcoholic…Obviously, I’m sorry for the hurt I caused people – but being an alcoholic was an amazing and powerful experience. God, how I loved tequila, such wonderful stuff. It used to give me strange hallucinations and occasionally it would provide strange spiritual awakenings, which is ridiculous for an atheist like me. There were some days when I’d drink a bottle of tequila and I didn’t care if I died. I was so washed up, so empty. [Shared as feature speaker during an AA conference]
Yes, I really am glad I’m an alcoholic. I’m not trying to be cool. It may not feel like it at times, but we are rich people. The scar tissue I have built up over the years is now my strength and power.
I have wasted too many years being angry, resentful and hostile. Now I realise I don’t want this anymore. I need to be a productive member of AA and give something back.
My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.
Ah, the addiction to chaos! The addiction to drama! Never. I never want to go back to that life again.
I don’t feel that awful kind of angst – like I was on the wrong planet – that I felt for years. I feel now I belong somewhere. I belong in my own skin.
I don’t miss drinking, not at all. I don’t want to ever go back there. Now I just love English tea and digestive biscuits or Hobnobs.
Sources for the quotes:
- The Daily Mail
- The Guardian
- The Telegraph
- Anthony Hopkins Movies
- Christian Post
- The Free Library
- The Hollywood Interview
In my Celebriety post about Daniel Radcliffe, I referenced a conversation Radcliffe had with his Harry Potter costar Gary Oldman about drinking too much. As Gary Oldman has gone from getting arrested for drunk driving with Keifer Sutherland to getting sober in 1995 and going so far as to meet his (now ex) wife in Alcoholics Anonymous, it seemed appropriate to do a six degrees of sobriety exposé on him.