Everyone knows life isn’t fair. Most of us get that not all of us sharing the planet will live on the same page, and whatever the circumstance, sometimes shit doesn’t go our way.
From early on in our topsy-turvy lives, we’re taught the basics: share your crayons, raise your hand in class, be nice to the new kid in town. And no matter what faith you were born into – or not – the whole “do unto others” mantra rang true. Basically, don’t be an asshole.
The older we get, the more we fuck up, and hopefully those mistakes morph into lessons.
I’ve been an asshole more times than I can remember, especially when I was using (something about an all-night coke bender that really brings out the pretty). After getting clean, I began to realize that as tragic as I complained my life to be, I spewed the same amount of toxic energy into the world. This little epiphany, minus the yoga pants and burning incense, was all pretty Zen – after I finally got it.
You don’t need to be a recovering addict to learn lessons. But there’s something about our brood that seems to make us more susceptible to certain bruises that an otherwise “healthy” person would get (not that we aren’t healthy, our brains are just wired differently). There’s a certain type of vulnerability and compassion in the flavor of our hearts; we’ve tasted the poison of our own personal decay, and somehow managed to survive. With every fabric of our tattered souls, we are acutely aware – our being alive is a kaleidoscope tapestry of luck and purpose.
As a recovering pill-popping lush (her words) , actress, teacher, and author Kristen Johnston hilariously (and beautifully) illustrates in her New York Times best seller, GUTS, that she is well aware of her fate. Somewhere between her guts exploding (from years of drug and alcohol abuse), being alone in a foreign hospital for months and having the balls to ask for help, she realized that her story needed to be told – and that if in doing so, she could help anyone fighting their own poison – well, that’d be a huge plus.
Enter social media.
I met Kristen Johnston (Kjo) through Twitter. I caught an interview of her badass self on the local news, plugging her book. A long-time fan of her work (hello, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Sex and The City, scene stealer), I sent a quick “can’t wait to read” tweet, sharing I was a recovering addict myself, in the throes of writing her own story. Not only did Kjo reply herself (unlike many celebs who hire social media peeps), she opened up her heart and kind soul to me, as a genuine human being – and we’re both honored to call one another friends (even though she’ll say I have a bigger mouth than her). You’d think my story was unique, but that’s where you’d be off. I’ve met many amazing folks through the Twitterverse who’d say the same about their relationship with the brazen beauty.
I have no barometer when it comes to the whole Hollywood-friend thing. Other than serving speedo-wearing Tom Selleck a Michelob Lite (during a waitress stint in Hawaii) and shagging one of Madonna’s back-up dancers from Truth or Dare, my celebrity social circle is far from robust. But I will tell you the second you meet Kjo, all that red-carpet, Emmy award-winning shit flies out the window and you’re left with a real person.
Through Kristen’s book GUTS, she’s become an avid supporter of social media and its tools. Thanks to Twitter (and Facebook), Kjo has helped countless warriors in their battle to survive their stories, just by sharing hers. But there’s a delicate balance to having such influence.
With the success of GUTS, and her natural tendency to welcome people into her world, a certain pressure followed. In her brilliant article, I Ain’t No Miss Sobriety (www.thefix.com), she reminds us all that she’s not a Sobriety Super Hero with magic recovery dust falling out of her ass. She’s just another survivor trying to stay clean.
“If all these people are inspired to get sober because of me, what will happen to them if I relapse?” – Kristen Johnston
It’s no secret to us former users, getting high feels good. The escape from reality via one-way ticket to NUMB is beyond tempting. And knowing full-well we could die? Well that’s a pesky afterthought. Relapsing is rampant in the world of addiction, and to stay clean for even one year (let alone six, Happy Belated, Kjo) is more priceless than any Hollywood award. Our ability to keep fighting is the prize.
So why, after all the success and positive influence with Twitter, did Kristen suddenly delete her account? Because life isn’t fair. Sometimes it’s ugly, and thanks to Twitter, it can sometimes get to the point of blatant cruelty and ridiculous, ignorant, opinionated negativity (just ask Amanda Bynes).
But rather than hearing about it second hand, I’ll share what Kristen posted on her Facebook page:
I enjoy social media because it lets me connect w/y’all…sadly, it recently has become a bit toxic for me, and I decided to be twitter less for a bit.
When I first began tweeting, I made a big mistake: I automatically just assumed that everyone who read GUTS & reached out to me must be honest, good people seeking health.
Fortunately this is true for most people. Sadly, there have been 2 notable exceptions, and I recently had to end a friendship with someone I cared deeply about, because I found out it was based on lies & manipulation & obsession.
I know we all have stories like this, but I made the HUGE mistake of doing whatever I could to help her, I let her into my life, my heart, and my home.
I honestly thought she was a sweet, lost, truthful person who needed a friend.
Over the course of months, I slowly began to suspect that she was inventing horrible incidents just to get my attention. She began to demand more & more of my time, and when I lay down boundaries, she was furious and devastated.
When I blocked her, her love turned to hate. And presenting herself to people she met through me as a victim, and telling people absolute lies about what kind of person I am.
Because of this, despite blocking her, there have been a few toxic incidents that have really bothered me. The last straw was finding out that she’s tried to gain access to my twitter over 40 times in May alone.
So I shut it down. It’s not forever, but I always said I’ll keep doing twitter as long as the good outweighs the bad. Finally, the bad outweighed the good. And I need to put my happiness & sobriety first.
Not to mention, I needed a break from being “Miss Sobriety”
People tell me I need to be less open with people, but this is who I am. I can’t suddenly shut down my personality, or hire someone to write it for me like most celebs do. It’s just not my style.
Many of you have asked to meet for coffee, and this is why I must always say no, even if you’re the coolest person ever. (Not to mention I’m trying to have a bit of a personal life!)
Yes it sucks when people turn out to be shits…..but the great news is, most of you are AMAZING!
I just need to put my health above anything else, and it was becoming a bit toxic on there.
As for those who asked why this happens to me, my answer is:
It happens to EVERY celebrity. I’m just the only one who blabs about it.
I’m also fairly certain it happens to a lot of people.
Love u smarties!”
So, unlike myself with that little Zen moment from sobriety, some assholes don’t seem to get it.
Some will think she couldn’t handle criticism by temporarily going dark, but (and here’s the reason why I love her) she sees herself through her eyes – and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks.