Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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In high school, I fell for a guy named Opie. That was not his given name but a nickname he had acquired along the way. I would have asked from where it had come, but I never found the necessary strength to even talk to him, let alone inquire about the particulars of his life. I was a 16-year-old magenta-haired dork who hung around the art studios both before and after school. I was in no position to start conversations with Kurt Cobain look-a-likes who rocked the same greasy locks and dresses that only the ’90s permitted without too many batted eyelashes.
Opie embodied that “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” mentality that I craved in a partner. I longed for a tortured soul, someone who was messed up enough that only drugs and alcohol seemed like the cure for the ailments in their world. In my naïve brain, I was the one who could save them, me and only me. From what I heard, after he left school, Opie got a girl pregnant and had his fair share of struggles with substance abuse. As for where he is now, I have no idea. Like I said, it was the ’90s, heroin chic was in the air and in the pages of Vogue, drug use was glamorized, and in all my sheltered cluelessness about the world, a death that resulted from substance abuse was a badge of a life lived to the extreme. I roll my eyes now at how both ridiculous and insulting that thought is to those who know the very dark side of drug and alcohol addiction, both personally and as an outsider looking in at a loved one. Keep reading »
I’m not exactly surprised that rag like The New York Post would send a reporter to loiter outside of a 12-step meeting like Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous, in hopes of scoring some exclusive “scoop” on the passing of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. But I am repulsed by it. In an article in yesterday’s paper — which I am not linking to — reporter Reuven Fenton wrote about how, prior to his overdose from heroin on Sunday, Hoffman was known to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at a location in the West Village in an effort to get and stay clean. But the Post also rather extensively quoted a man who met Hoffman in one of those meetings, who provided details about the actor’s participation in what is supposed to be an anonymous support group. Keep reading »
A quick note on anonymity. Support group meetings like these are anonymous. The stories told by others and their names are not to leave the room and therefore all references will be very vague and general, with only a specific focus on my takeaway as it pertains to my situation. I’m also not attempting to evangelize for the 12 Steps and, in fact, don’t even discuss the actual 12 steps in this essay. I’m simply sharing my thoughts on my experience with the group, which may or may not reflect others’ experiences with it.
I think the first 12 step meeting is probably a little awkward for everybody. It’s already some level of uncomfortable to talk in front of a group of strangers, but to do so about such personal issues? Really weird. But even if you’re used to talking about your problems and showing your emotions to others, be it friends or family or a therapist, a 12 step meeting is different, in that nobody responds. Nobody interrupts, nobody asks questions, nobody gives advice. They just sit and listen. Usually in life, when we share things about ourselves, we look for some kind of reaction or feedback, those remarks or gestures from others that ease the story along. During a 12 step meeting, one person shares at a time and everyone else just listens; when the share is over, its someone else’s turn and so on. The conversation happens through the interaction of those individual stories as they are heard, received and understood by everyone else in the room. Pause, and it’s quiet. Stays quiet, until you’re ready to continue or conclude. I’ve found those moments to be the most transformational.
I am not personally an addict. But other people’s addictions have been a constant presence in my life, in some way, since I was born. Yet, it wasn’t until a few months ago that I decided to attend my first 12 step meeting for family members and friends of addicts. Keep reading »
Yo, this Sunday, Mr. Walter White and his meth-addicted protege Jesse Pinkman are back for the season premiere of “Breaking Bad.” I am so excited that I’m hosting a small get together at my apartment, complete with blue raspberry rock candy (what the show uses for their meth) and a bell in memory of Hector Salamanca, may he rest in peace. If I could, I would cater the entire thing from Los Pollos Hermanos.
Now, everyone knows there’s nothing hot about drug addiction in real life, but TV and movies have done a good job finding hot dudes to play drug addicts. In honor of “Breaking Bad”‘s return, I present to you 10 hot drug addicts on TV and in film, starting with the show’s own Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul). I would so be his bitch.
“It’s not really a shock.” When a famous person dies from causes related to drug or alcohol addiction, this, or something similar, is one of the more common responses people have. While there are plenty of crueler things people can and do say, this bored and blase lack of surprise over the death of a human being tends to bother me the most.
That is because my father is an addict. He’s been an addict my entire life. And to not be shocked by someone’s death at the hands of addiction would mean I would have to have to reached some sort of placid acceptance that my dad will also inevitably suffer the same fate — that his getting “better” is out of the question. Keep reading »
“I still can’t escape the stigma [of a drug addict] for some reason. Even people like Kelly Osbourne feel free to f**k with me. A few nights ago, when she appeared on ‘Fashion Police with Joan Rivers,’ the bitch called me a crackhead. … This is a girl whose life I have saved twice, once with C.P.R. and another time with C.P.R. and violence — by which I mean I had to poke her furiously in certain places to wake her up from her coma. …She’s been sober for how long? Less than a year? Good for her! But it wasn’t that long ago when Kim Stewart was screaming, ‘Courtney, what are we going to do? Kelly Osbourne is blue on the floor!’ Kelly wasn’t doing that well back then. For some reason, Kim Stewart also called me when Paris Hilton got pulled over for her last D.U.I. And Lindsay Lohan called me after she was arrested. The judge presiding over her case was the same judge who presided over mine. He was a very sweet man. I think he was an ex-alcoholic himself. I told Lindsay to just get it together and trust the judge, and Lindsay’s father called me for advice every day. I’m not even that friendly with these girls. What am I, a junkie Auntie Mame?”
—Oh. My. God. This Courtney Love interview on The Fix, Salon.com’s new blog about addiction and recovery, is EPIC. There’s about 16 more excerpts that are priceless, including lots of Hollywood gossip about the drugs she’s done with Winona Ryder, Sting, and Andy Dick. And she talks some crazy smack about Kim Gordon, whom she calls a “cocktease” who was obsessed with Kurt Cobain. Yikes. Worth a read, definitely. [The Fix]
More from Courtney about that Kim/Kelly incident after the jump. Keep reading »