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Next Life, NO Kids: October 2014

October 31, 2014

Kristen Johnston bursts your bubble... and her Guts - Book Review

When I first heard Kristen Johnston wrote a book about addiction called "Guts," I thought for sure it was going to be some boo hoo tale about all the balls it took to get clean in Hollywood with supermodels and America watching.

I don't usually write book reviews, because I don’t read. I haven’t considered myself "a reader" in over a decade because…well,  MOTHERHOOD. I don’t have as much time to escape into someone else’s reality as I’d like.

So, when my friend Rachel told me about Kristen's book and how much I would absolutely love it, I decided to put it on the list of books I’ll probably never read, but totally should. I told her I’d buy it, but other than look around while already in a bookstore, I didn't really put forth much effort.

Then one day I tweeted about my struggle to find the book after a conversation with Rachel, and Kristen replied with the suggestion I seek one out on Amazon. Honestly, I was a bit floored that she took the time to personally respond, so I followed her on twitter. I started to notice how often she was reaching out to other addicts, and actually trying to help them. 
BOOK REVIEW: Guts By Kristen Johnson #addiction #recovery #celebrity 

Okay, let’s be honest, Kristen Johnston is not the first celebrity to write a book about overcoming something miserable. Fair. But, she is the first one I’ve witnessed with a hand out, in a sincere attempt to help others.

Once I figured that "Guts" wasn’t just another, “LOOK AT ME!! LOOK AT ME!!” fallen celebrity story, I ordered the book. 

I was shocked to learn that the “Guts” title had very little to do with her courage. It was something else entirely, and I found myself loving how wrong I was; which is VERY rare. (Note: I do not typically enjoy being wrong). I appreciated the fact that no one had actually told me exactly what to expect from the book, so I will not spoil it for you.
As many of you know, I am the founder of and editor in chief at SoberMommies.com. Obviously, I am no stranger to gut-wrenching stories about active addiction. I feel, as a writer and recovering alcoholic, these testimonies are the most valuable tool in reaching out to someone who may be experiencing the struggle. Addiction is a liar, and wants nothing more than for whomever’s in its grip to feel alone and misunderstood.  

Someone recently told me they couldn’t think of anything more painful than someone living in denial of their addiction. While I totally respect that opinion, I also totally disagree.

Someone long ago once broke it down for me very simply:

D-E-N-I-A-L = Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying 

True denial isn’t painful. It’s fucking Denial! People who live there don’t know how completely fucked up they are.

I have, for very short periods in my life, experienced this beautiful state and sometimes - even fourteen years into sobriety - wish I could go back and seek refuge there...just for a minute. Denial was like a warm blanket or a mask I could feel safe behind. In some cases, it saved me.

Denial is awesome. It's awareness that sucks. 

I once heard a man say, “ I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” At the time, I was still vacationing in Denial, and had no idea what it meant.

Until I did.

That being said, the art of pretending and/or faking denial in regards to addiction – or anything as equally shitty and defeating - is the most painful place I have ever been. For me, the most horrifying tragedy in addiction - in anything really - is living in awareness of something terrible; trying to believe I can’t change it and that no one else can see it.

"Guts" invites us into Kristen's mind during her last ditch attempts at the “denial” phase of her addiction. She recalls knowing something wasn't quite right, and provides us a front row seat to the final act Narcotics played in her life before the curtain fell. Her writing is attractive, and flows like an exciting roller coaster ride you don’t ever want to end. I usually hate those types of rides, honestly, but I could not put this book down. I was locked in immediately after she had me both in tears AND maniacal laughter before I had finished the forward and introduction. I connected with her sarcastic sense of humor right away, and identified with her awkward childhood struggles and the adoption of "humor" as tool.  There were also times when Kristen let this guard down and gave us a peek at her loving spirit. For instance, I fell in love with the way she tells the story of how her message saved “Jay,” (grab some tissues). 

There aren’t many people who get “it.” The fact that there is no such thing as “normal,” and that we’ve all got our shit. Maybe you’ve never gotten drunk and woken up naked in a stranger’s bed. Perhaps you don’t have a box of Hostess cupcakes hiding under your bed in case of emergency. You might not obsess about the fact that the next scratch ticket might be the winner you’ve been waiting for.

But you’ve got something, I promise. We all do.

Kristen Johnston not only gets “it,” she writes about it in a way that doesn’t provoke the desire to punch her throat for daring to address it. She talks about experiencing the devastating effects of awareness with such detail that I caught myself jaw dropped, nodding my head in agreement.  I couldn’t help but identify with her feelings of complete defeat and self-hatred, the debilitating fear of being “found out;” of losing the respect of my friends and family. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, she dropped a bomb of hilarity and made me belly laugh.

It was awesome.

Kristen is very brave to speak up about her addiction, PERIOD. Not even just as a celebrity, because DUH, thanks to trash mags wallpapering the line at the grocery store, we all know who gets wasted and does fucked up shit. Anyone who speaks up about addiction, with the stigma attached, is a hero in my book. And she didn’t just write a book about her old battles with addiction and walk away. She’s probably tweeting some addiction resources, love, and support to someone right now

And THAT is the shit!

BOOK REVIEW: Guts by Kristen Johnston #celebrity #addiction #recovery
Maybe anyone can write a book about his or her journey into recovery and sell it; I don’t know. What I do know is not everyone - book or no book - celebrity or not, makes themselves available to share with and advocate for other struggling addicts. 

Kristen Johnston does. And that takes guts

P.S. I'm also a fan of Kristen's blog. Check out One Big Mouth and follow her on twitter @kjothesmartass to see her in action. 

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October 02, 2014

An Open Letter to the Vagina Cookie Lady

Dear Crazy,

I heard about what happened the other day, and I think we can all agree that bringing a plate of vagina cookies into a second grade classroom is an amazing idea. I can't believe that close-minded, hun of a teacher refused to serve them! I don't blame you for sending those nasty, condescending, faux-feminist messages wishing her physical harm. I'm almost certain the majority of actual feminists out there are super appreciative and proud of the example you set. 

Good for you. 

I for one would have been really impressed if my son had returned home that day and responded to, "What did you do at school today?" with, "I ate a vagina." You're totally right! I mean seriously, if he's not going to learn how to "please" a woman by second grade, when the hell will he? I found your expectations to be well within the boundaries of an elementary school education, and am simply flabbergasted to hear the administration has forbid you from stepping foot on school property. 

Do you do parties? I have a friend whose daughter is turning six soon, and I'm sure she would love the opportunity to encourage a little vagina pride in the form of delicious baked goods. 

Call me. 

**Disclaimer** Snopes has neither confirmed or denied that this event actually took place. Since I get all my "news" confirmed there, I am simply going with the assumption that there is actually someone out there crazy enough to do this. 

    original photo credit: Hoser Dude via photopin cc

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