The other day a song called “Behind Me Now” by the talented Amos Lee popped up on shuffle and the stark first lines left me thinking.
All my best days are behind me now.
If you had told me three years ago, before i got sober, that my best days were over, i would have gotten angry and disagreed with all the logic and fear at my disposal.
“Sure,” i would have said, “things aren’t that great for me and my past is full of glories and greater times but to say my best days are behind me,” i would have argued, “is basically telling me i might as well kill myself.”
With my drinking, however, that’s exactly what i was doing. Until i tried to commit suicide the fast way. One of the reasons for that fiasco was that, on some level, i did suspect that all my best days were behind me.
If you came to me today and told me all me best days were behind me now, i wouldn’t argue with you. i wouldn’t become nervous and search for words to justify my lifestyle and choices. i wouldn’t need to because i know that today is better than yesterday, and yesterday was pretty damn good.
That’s why i intend on staying straight ahead.
Last year, news that Bradley Cooper is a recovering alcoholic hit the stands in The Hollywood Reporter and took many people by surprise. It’s not difficult to see why, as the references to his being sober since 2004 are hard to find before the THR interview.
Here’s what i was able to scrape together.
I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day. I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head.
His Downward Spiral
Part of me believed [my friends' warnings], and part of me didn’t. But the proof was in the pudding: I’d always gotten up at the crack of dawn, and that was out the window. I remember looking at my life, my apartment, my dogs, and I thought, ‘What’s happening?’
I was at a Christmas party, dancing to Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People,’ and thought it’d be a cool idea to show how I’m able to bash my head against the concrete floor. I did it, came up, blood went down my face, I laughed, and did it again. Yeah, I had a couple of drinks in me, for sure.
I deliberately bashed my head on the concrete floor — like, ‘Hey, look how tough I am!’ I spent the night at St. Vincent’s Hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up.
I realized I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life; I’m really gonna ruin it.’
I haven’t had a drink in five years [a 2009 interview]. And I loved to drink. But then I had to give it up, goddamn it. I mean, unfortunately, those days are over.
I don’t drink or do drugs at all anymore. Being sober helps a great deal.
[This rare exchange is from a pre-2012 interview]
Do you take Advil?
I don’t take anything. Can you believe that?
What happens if you get a headache?
I drink a lot of water.
What about alcohol?
And they cast you in The Hangover?
Uh-huh [laughs]. I didn’t say I’ve never done that, but I don’t do that now. Fortunately, my life is much better without it.
Sources for the quotes:
Thanks to Mrs D who requested a Celebriety about Coop!
As a kid, i always felt like i never fit in. While i was often at the center in my circle of friends, i never felt like a part of them, like i was included in them.
Alcohol was the key. Booze was the key that opened the doors to a sense of belonging. Drinking came as a package that included a circle of friends and the courage necessary to talk to them.
As we say in recovery, that worked until it didn’t.
My drinking buddies were my closest friends and, as luck would have it, many of the people i work with are heavy drinkers so i soon felt i was a part of that inner circle i’d always been looking for.
Unfortunately, when i got sober, i found myself once again on the outside.
Oh, they’ll never tell me i’m not welcome and at the beginning of my sobriety i was invited to a few events and i declined to go because i didn’t feel like being surrounded by alcohol and my friends will tell you how proud they are of me and how much better off i seem. Now, however, i only hear about parties the day after and conversation means nothing more than exchanging pleasantries in the corridor.
But you know what? i found a different group of friends. People i can count on, people who accept me for who (and what!) i am and who know exactly what i’m going through because they’re going through the same things.
i’ve found the kind of kinship i’ve been looking for my entire life here on line with y’all and in the rooms of AA. Thank god i’m an alcoholic, else i might never have found this.
You know me, there’s a lot of stuff i don’t know. Like i always thought Robin Williams was a cokehead but i did not know he was also an alcoholic. i also didn’t know he went into recovery for both in 1983, when his first child was born. And who knew he stayed sober for 20 years? Not i, said the blind man.
i also didn’t know he serves as a cautionary tale, because even after 20 years sober, he relapsed in 2003 while making a movie (Big White) in Alaska.
I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.
One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice—I call it the ‘lower power’—goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.
It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’
On Staying Out of Recovery
After his relapse, Williams remained active in his alcoholism for 3 years.
You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated.
It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump.’ The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.
For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.
On Fixing Yourself
You can’t. That’s the bottom line. You really think you can, then you realize, ‘I need help,’ and that’s the word.
On His Weekly AA Meetings
Have to. It’s good to go.
Sources for the quotes:
The easiest hardest thing you’ll ever do is get sober.
The hardest thing an alcoholic will ever do is put down the drink, because recovery means pulling weeds that are deeply rooted in our soul.
Fortunately, it’s the easiest thing we’ll ever do because we just have to
Oh, and also, my sponsor tattooed my brain with one simple thought when we had our fist sit down.
“I don’t drink no matter what!”
i’d been an alcoholic for over 2 decades before i first heard the expression “Liquid Courage”, but after i did i couldn’t believe i’d never heard it before. Let’s just say i didn’t need subtitles to understand what it meant.
Lately things have been improving concerning that and here’s why.
- i learned early on that i had to give up my life to my Higher Power because when i was driving the bus, i drove it straight to Hell and got lost there. Giving the wheel to my Higher Power means i have nothing to fear because the HP is in charge. (For agnostics, just remember “The future is none of your business“. )
- On my sponsor’s instructions, i share at every AA meeting i go to (3 a week, usually). The more i share in front of a group of people, the less tense i am about it.
- i’m able to recognize the symptoms of fear and when i do i’m getting better at consciously telling myself to chill. Breathing deep is a big help when it comes to this.
The reason i’m going on about this is that i’ve only just learned these lessons and only have made significant progress with them in the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, because i think the girl i have a crush on has been avoiding my regular meetings because she had a crush on me too, but when i didn’t make a move she assumed i didn’t feel the same way so she’s given up. Which is sad but not tragic. i keep reminding myself that i can’t lose something i never had, and that sometimes rejection is God’s protection.
Still, i do wish i’d been braver sooner, and hope that the universe has some second chances left in its deep pockets.
The latest celebrity i didn’t know had troubles with alcohol is Lana del Rey.
That’s really why I got sent to boarding school aged 14 — to get sober.
I was a big drinker at the time. I would drink every day. I would drink alone. I thought the whole concept was so fucking cool.
My parents were worried, I was worried. I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else. I was like, I’m fucked. I am totally fucked. Like, at first it’s fine and you think you have a dark side – it’s exciting – and then you realize the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it.
A great deal of what I wrote on Born To Die is about these wilderness years.
It’s been nine years since my last drink.
I feel like my work’s important, but I don’t always feel like I get respect for it…when I feel like people don’t like [my] music and that the 10 years I spent making what I made was not for a good reason, that makes me want to drink again.
A lot of the time when I write about the person that I love, I feel like I’m writing about New York. And when I write about the thing that I’ve lost I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life. Sure, there have been people, but it’s really alcohol.
And when I write about the thing that I’ve lost I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life.
Sorces for the quotes: