Lindsay Lohan and I have a lot in common, even though she might not think so. We both have a problem with alcohol. Neither of us has meant to get drunk and screw up, but it just happened. Kind of a lot. Both of us have felt misunderstood. We've both wondered why we so often set out to have one glass of wine and end up having six. We've probably both used excuses like, "but the drinks were free and I lost track" or "I only had a couple but I forgot to eat first" or my favorite, "I wasn't even that drunk!" In fact, I'd say there really is only one main difference between us regarding our relationship with booze:
Today, I am celebrating four years of sobriety, and (at least according to recent media reports) Lindsay is not ready.
It's been four years since I had the moment of clarity and could see, really see, that alcohol was making my life unmanageable and always had. But I wasn't ready to quit until the moment I was -- and seeing as I only quit when I was 42 years old, that's a lot of years I wasn't ready. Lindsay isn't even 27.
Sure, from the outside looking in our drinking histories may seem pretty different: LoLo has received DUI's, crashed her Mercedes and been arrested on a possession of cocaine charge. Well, when I was in my twenties I also did quite a bit of drunk driving -- the only difference, mine was in a filthy yellow Mazda GLC with a rust hole straight through the driver's side floor. It wouldn't accelerate past 40 mph on the highway, which could be the reason I was never busted.
Lindsay has partied hard in VIP lounges from Manhattan to LA. I've gotten shitfaced at the Red Onion in Marina Del Rey, drunk half priced strawberry daiquiris on Ladies' Night and made out with men wearing parachute pants. So yeah, again I kind of relate.
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If you think I'm being flippant about Lindsay or myself or alcoholism I'm not. This is no joke. But when you aren't ready to quit, you're just not going to, no matter how many people may look at you and see a blinking neon sign saying "I have a drinking problem!"
Most people who suspect they have a drinking problem but don't want to admit it even to themselves spend an inordinate amount of time comparing their drinking to other people's drinking. We can almost always find a way to look better, more together, more functional. There is always something we haven't done yet.
A lot of us could die from the "yets."
So okay Lindsay's been in rehab a few times, crashed cars, spent time in the pokey (87 minutes), lost work opportunities, shamed herself publicly, scared her family, lied to police etc. but when she was recently interviewed by Piers Morgan and asked if she drinks a lot she answered, "Not really. I've never been a huge drinker. I've never woken up in the morning and had a drink." You see? She's not that bad. I so get that. I'd never have a drink in the morning either. At least never before brunch. And, yeah, sometimes brunch is at 9 am! Who are you to judge, Captain Harshy!
In retrospect I find it laughable that I spent so many years unconvinced I could possibly be an alcoholic, because of course there were many signs along the way. I just usually buzzed past them hoping they were just a phase. There were one or two times throughout my life that I did suspect I had a problem so much that I went to a 12 Step meeting. But I never stuck around because that was for people who really had a bad problem. You know, those morning drinkers. Not for someone like me who just liked to drink a little too much and needed to learn to control it better.
Lindsay knows that feeling too. She released a statement in 2007 where she said, "It is clear to me that my life has become completely unmanageable because I am addicted to alcohol and drugs." Obviously she backed off of that soon after.
Four years ago, I finally had a moment of clarity and realized that just because I hadn't crashed a car, gotten a DUI, cheated on my husband or been forced to rehab, it was time to quit. No one had to tell me or push me. I knew. And once you know, really really know, you can't un-know it.
When I have a glass of wine, a Vicodin, a shot of Patron, a Baileys and coffee…whatever…I can't be sure if I'll have one more or five more, and I can't take that chance. But it took an awful lot of glasses of wine and shots of tequila to convince me absolutely. It took doing things drunk that I would never ever do sober to realize that I'm just not someone who can drink.
Yesterday, May 22nd, I celebrated four years of sobriety and I'm happier than I ever thought possible. But when I blew out my four candles and made a wish, I wished for Lindsay Lohan and all the others just like her. Just like me.
- By Stefanie Wilder Taylor
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