They call it a spiritual awakening. The moment of clarity when you realize you’re fucked. They never tell you when it’s going to happen. Apparently, the gig’s on you.
My wake-up call happened on June 3, 2013. I’m usually good at predicting this kind of shit, so when it happened, I was taken aback, floored and really pissed off. You’re right Ethan, reality does suck.
It was my first night at Malibu Summer Camp and I was hungry for a girl that just watched her luggage get molested. I walked down the steep hill from my dormitory to the main house where dinner was being served. There was a long line of people with plates in hand, ready to replace drugs with sugar.
It was a pretty good-looking crowd for a bunch of addicts. But who said addicts couldn’t be pretty? This is Malibu honey. Most of the guests were on the young side and still hopeful about life, I presume. I filled my plate and took a place at one of the communal tables trying hard to smile between reality bites (this joke never gets old).
One of the counselors came by and asked me if I was going to the meeting tonight.
“What kind of meeting?” I asked the counselor who looked like anorexia was not his problem.
“Um, AA meeting,” he said as if I should know this already.
I shrugged my shoulders thinking of how much fun that sounded. The truth was, AA was not foreign to me. In fact, I had been married to an alcoholic and had been to plenty of AA meetings as a supporter, a wife. I used to feel awkward going; all those freaks of nature staring at me, waiting for me to admit I was more than just a fan. Usually, I would go to a meeting after a few glasses of wine. It was a fucked up thing to do but my ex claimed he didn’t mind. Come to find out, most alcoholics are compulsive liars.
After two more tries from the happy-go-lucky-counselor, I finally agreed to go to the meeting. Damn you peer pressure.
So I boarded the mental mobile and went right to the last row. Brandy, new to Malibu Summer Camp, sat next to me and appeared friendly. She had to be no more than 20 years old and her tattoos all over arms were quite decorative. But instead of the usual get-to-know-you banter, Brandy started having an anxiety attack due to claustrophobia.
“I have to get out of here,” Brandy said between huffs practically taking out my rib trying to get around me.
Brandy climbed to the front of the bus leaving me alone with time to stare at the ocean as we drove down PCH. My trepidation to attend “the” meeting started brewing with each passing wave. But here’s the real ass-kicker, I don’t belong here. I am not an alcoholic and according to several doctors, I just have a bad case of Catherine Zeta Jones (clinically regarded as bi-polar 2).
There have been a few moments in my life where I have felt utter despair and loneliness. This Kodak moment was topping the charts. All I could do was hope for a funny AA meeting given most recovering drunks are hilarious. They’ll make me laugh and we can all pretend to be fucked up for fun.
The mental mobile pulled up to the meeting parking lot and all I could see was a herd of smokers bonding over addiction. I pulled out my smokes and puffed in unison. Well, when in rehab.
There was no hiding as folks could see my anxiety right through the smoke cloud. Brandy, apparently all better now, tried giving me a hug, which was weird because we never officially met. Brandy was dressed out of Madonna’s Like a Virgin video and told me four separate stories in three minutes all starting and stopping and picking back up where the last one left off – with an admittance of ADD somewhere in the middle.
It was time to go in. I followed the herd and decided to sit next to Lydia – also from camp. Her cute face reminded me of my sister and I was immediately drawn to her. She was on suicide watch and was so drugged up I feared she would channel Jim Morrison. Her hair was really short and her 19-year-old frame held way too much weight. She was a cutter and I would learn later that cutting is a form of pleasure. I couldn’t relate and recalled the last time I cut my knee shaving my legs. You would have thought I sliced an artery the way I carried on.
“Anyone here sober in their first 24 hours?” the meeting officer asked to start the meeting, confident she would find a winner.
My camp buddies gave me the go-up-there-and-get-your-fucking-chip look. Feeling peer pressure again, I slowly walked to the table and accepted my silver 24-hour chip. The chip chick hugged me and then they all stared. I knew what they wanted to hear.
At a decibel only a mouse’s infant could only hear, I said “Hi, I’m Crazy Bitch and I’m an alcoooohoooolic.”
“Hi Crazy Bitch,” the room said in unison like we were in kindergarten.
I went back to my seat and my chest felt heavy, tears pouring out of me faster than I could catch. This is bullshit. I just admitted something that is entirely not true. Sure, I fucking drank myself to the brink here and there, and true, I blacked out a few times and slept with what’s his face…but, I am not an alcoholic. And If I were an alcoholic, then what does that say about my friends? My neighbors? Ireland?
With my eyes welling with tears, I ran outside and found a stone to rock myself back to sanity. Why did this admittance hurt so badly? It was just a bullshit line to get a chip and to ultimately appease my camp brothers and sisters. Why did it feel like a dagger in my stomach?
Brandy, coming out of nowhere, tried hugging me but Oscar yelled at her to leave me alone. Oscar was our very tall, strong Native American (no, really) spiritual leader standing guard at the mental mobile ready to punt any of us back into the meeting. He also looked like Steven Segal’s love child.
My head was filling with water fast and I needed someone to rescue me. I got up and ran to Oscar.
“Excuse me, can I talk you to for a minute?” I asked, clutching my chest. Oscar motioned the others to leave us alone.
“Sure, what’s up?” he asked.
“I think there’s been a mistake. I don’t belong here. I am not an alcoholic,” I said with such certainty. Oscar took a second to gather his thoughts, clasped his hands behind his back and stared at me with deep, intense black eyes.
“When was the last time you were drunk?” he asked so matter of fact.
“Yesterday,” I admitted. But, c’mon, I knew I was going to be in the slammer for 30 days, so it was just poetic to have a bottle of Malibu Chardonnay as a send-off.
“And the time before that?” Oscar asked.
“Ummm, Friday,” I said. “Which, for the record, I paid for nicely on Saturday.”
“And the time before that?” Oscar asked like a Stepford wife at a shooting range. I had to think.
“Wednesday,” I said.
“And the time before that?” Oscar asked, even faster this time.
“Fucking Monday, alright! I was drunk fucking Monday. Are you happy?” I screamed loudly through my tears.
Everyone around smoking stopped for a second to stare but they knew, all too well, what was happening. The air was so still I could hear my heart beating. Oscar took a long breath and took a step closer to me.
“It’s hard to admit the obvious, isn’t it?” Oscar asked with such gentility before walking away, his hands still tight behind his back.
I stood there, under the Malibu moonlight, stunned. That moment they talked about, it was happening. But Oscar’s questions were so simple. Not sure you needed a degree to even ask them. I am sure I had heard them before.
His insight was so obvious and so was my denial.
xoxo Crazy Bitch
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ABOUT CRAZY BITCH
I’m a crazy bitch. And chances are, so are you. Why? Because millions of women suffer from a range of diseases (yes, diseases) ranging from anxiety and depression to eating disorders, bi-polar, alcoholism and a gluttonous consumption of prescription pills. You probably don’t have the whole list. Maybe you just have a little anxiety and you do a damn good job of eating right to keep in check. Or, perhaps, you self-medicate with Chardonnay – like I did.
I tried everything to help my anxiety and depression. And while food and yoga did help, I needed something more extreme. I needed 33 days of just me, a focus on what got me to where I am and where I need to be headed. Since the journey was deep, crazy and full of fucking hilarious memories that are dear to me, I decided to share the trip with you. Free therapy for all!