I love it when friends call me on my shit. Especially when the shit I’ve been meaning to talk about is fucking awesome. So when the subject of this story called me out on my very public (Facebook) post of , “you just know I’m gonna blog about this”, I was nudged, ever so lovingly, do to so.
It’s been a few days (fine, weeks) since this thing happened, but c’mon. When have I ever let time stop me from laying it on you? I’m writing a goddammed book about shit I lived through in the 80s and 90s, for fucks sake. What’s a handful of weeks, compared to the decades of soul-searching it’s taken me to find my balls, and actually write about it?
But this isn’t about my story. It’s not even related to me, except that it serves as a reminder and inspiration to stand up, walk the walk, and not take anyone’s shit. As much as the (recovering) narcissist in me would love this to be about me – it isn’t. It’s universal, so pull up a chair.
This has been swirling in my brain for a while, and as I was playing with my laptop keys, The World had other plans. There was a catastrophic hurricane affecting my friends (and millions of strangers), then a nail-biting presidential election that caused me to fall into a vortex of Twittergasms, not to mention inhale an entire box of Mac and Cheese. When that dust began to level, my birthday weekend quickly came, and I headed out-of-town. And on the actual day of my birthday, I learned my recent mammogram result was abnormal, so I had an ultrasound on Monday, and meet with the biopsy bitches today. Talk about a blog-buzzkill.
But fuck it. Today, before getting felt up, I’m making the time, and inducing this little fucker of a story. My posting contractions are less than a minute apart, and this baby is coming. “It’s a Blog” balloons are blanketing the Interweb as we speak.
Every now and then it happens. You witness something that reminds you of the person you want to be. Or maybe forgot you could be. Or are. The person inside yourself, who perhaps you knew as a kid, but somewhere between learning to tie your shoelaces, and nailing how to parallel park without bending your dads fender, it got lost in the convolution of tightrope walking between wanting to fit in – and standing up for yourself.
I met Kristen Johnston after reading her hilarious and evoking memoir, Guts (that link takes you to my review, so check it out). I’m not name-dropping here. I’d be writing this post about Kristen if she were a postal carrier, grocery checker, or mall security guard. She’s so much more than the “name”; her celebrity status makes her to be. She’s a real person, with real feelings, and because of her profession, happens to be in the public eye.
Now, can I get on with it, please?
When it comes to people I adore, my Compassion Meter is always dialed in. If they’re pissed off, I’m in their corner with an open ear and my proverbial Got Your Back sign. A few years back, when my friend Becky screamed on the phone at Cable Dude for something obviously out of his control, I sat on her couch, listening, shaking my head with that “fucking unbelievable” look, feeling her frustration. Don’t get me wrong, when shit flies off the crazy-Richter scale, I step in and help keep a sister grounded, but for the most part, letting your loved ones vent is harmless and totally justifiable.
When I read a tweet from Kristen about how pissed off she was after reading an article (about her, during a night she was being honored for her charity work), I already knew I’d be pissed. And after reading the piece, I was. This wasn’t just Twitter ranting about some helpless cable guy, it was serious. This bullshit piece of journalism questioned her sobriety and carried weight, which challenged Johnston’s word, and livelihood.
I’m not spilling all the deets about what this woman said about Kristen. There’s no point, because it was written through such a tainted lens of envy and projection. But I will say, she reminded me of a type. You know those bitches in high school in desperate need of a tampon, then you save their ass in the lady’s room, but back “in public” they shine you, like nothing happened? This writer reminded me of that. Especially since Kristen spent a great deal of time chatting with her on the very night she later wrote about – bashing her.
Details aside, Kristen will be the first to tell you (and she will, just follow her on Facebook and Twitter), it takes a lot to piss her off. She’s been working her ass off, staying sober for nearly six years now, and when someone calls her hard-earned sobriety in to question? Fan. Shit. Everywhere. And rightly so.
Then it happened. A direct letter. Not only did Kristen stand up, she looked this person square in the eyes, called her out, and demanded a retraction – all without breaking a nail (take note, Jersey Shore Ladies).
With Kristen’s blessing – here is the letter she wrote and publicly posted to the writer:
Dear Name-less Hack,
This is Kristen Johnston. I’m the actress who spoke to you at length at the NYClass Gala. I’ve had false shit written about me for years. I’m used to it, and usually laugh it off. But for someone to so casually allude to me being drunk, when I spoke at length with you about my book GUTS, which is about my sobriety, I will not stand for it.
To refresh your memory, you wrote “Ms. Johnston’s boozy proclamations made Pamela Anderson seem tame.”
I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in almost 6 years. I wouldn’t expect this to matter to someone who writes on her timeline that “Getting drunk in the daytime is so much more satisfying than after dark inebriation.”
I know I’m sober, and that’s all that matters. However, because my memoir is about how & why I got sober, and is inspiring others to do the same, your silly comment could negatively impact my livelihood, not to mention my reputation.
I won’t stand for it. I demand a retraction, and an apology. Or you’ll be hearing from my lawyers.
What Kristen wrote was nothing short of brilliant. Not only was it heartfelt, honest, and real, she stood up for herself in a way I’ve never seen. There are people who argue, fight and swing, because they get pissed. Then you have people like Kristen, who find a way to fight back without…fighting. What a reminder to us all that true dignity lives inside the breaths we take. The space between losing our shit, and remembering that we are worth the levity in which we hold ourselves accountable.
The result of Kristen standing up for herself? The article was taken down from the site, a personal apology from the magazine’s editor-in-chief was issued, and a retraction was included in a revised post you can read HERE.
I absolutely love this story.
What a reminder for us all to stand up for ourselves, because when what we fight for and believe in is questioned, it’s not only our right to stand up for ourselves, it’s Mama Nature’s test in how we handle this kind of shit.
Having the brain of an addict and/or alcoholic is anything but fun. I can’t imagine how things like false accusations and reputation bashing would trigger me to want to escape by using. Especially if I lived a life where walking my fucking dog was considered TMZ worthy. Kudos to Kjo for riding the wave. And, although she has an awesome posse in her corner, ultimately, it’s her own self who must act as a life raft in a sea of sharks.
Bring it on, Universe. When it comes to fucking with Kristen, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
For more on Kristen’s book, visit her website. She’s extremely interactive and personable, and welcomes all feedback, even constructive criticism. The videos she’s posted on her site are also hilarious, so enjoy.
So here’s the part where you tell me: Have you ever stood up for yourself? Please leave this story in the comments, and inspire us to do the same!