A Star is Born
I saw A Star is Born recently. I didn’t really know what to expect – all I knew walking into the theatre was what I had heard:
“It was sad, bring tissues.”
“I have never cried so much in a movie.”
“Lady Gaga deserves an Oscar.”
“But so doesn’t Bradley Cooper.”
“God, it was so sad.”
What no one told me was that it’s about love, addiction and death. An all too familiar story for me because it was, actually, it is, my life, and I’m certainly not alone; it’s actually become a very common AMERICAN story. THAT is why it is SO sad, because it is SO real for so many of us. Yes, Lady Gaga deserves every award possible for playing that role with such heart and conviction, but something in her eyes tells me that it was only partially a role for her. Part of that pain was real.
So, I cried. For a moment, I felt as if I was watching my life unfold as if I didn’t know how it ended. And when it did end, I sat in awe. The raw feelings of losing a loved one, my son’s father with a troubled soul, to addiction came flooding back. Thankfully, I was next to one of my best friends who also knows this story too well, so I didn’t have to say much, which made me more thankful because I couldn’t say anything at all.
I hadn’t cried over him in some time. I think for a while, I’ve just been moving, trying to just push through. When he died, I was a month and a half away from getting married and even though I was not ok, I had to pretend I was for my soon-to-be-husband. But, as I exited the movie theater in downtown Boston tonight, ironically where I now live and the last place he was seen alive, I cried and got the overwhelming urge to run (I dislike running, which is another irony because I just committed to a marathon). I listened to what I needed, and prepared to run. Right before I started, an interlude to an album I had been listening to came on:
I think I'm fearful of things like traveling
I'm fearful of failure
I'm fearful of being embarrassed
Things like that, I think hinder me from doing the best that I can sometimes
But I think that if I learn to be less fearful
I would get further
I feel like I'm not always in the correct direction
Even though I know I'm on the right path
I'm like "I'm on the right path"
But am I walking the right way, or should I be turning around?
Like little things like that that I go back and forth about in my head
And I think it's always nice to have reassurance
I think it's really nice to see how far being a genuine person can get you
For me at least, like I think that's the reason that I am where I am
I think that I am a big mix of all the people around me
And I'm just happy
I can't complain about anything
I immediately missed him even more. I understood those words so deeply, as I’m sure you do too. But, can we get comfortable with uttering them into existence, let alone share those intimate thoughts with another person? I would tell him. It’s rare to let another person see you the way I let him see me, and, I think, that he let me see him. There was never jealousy or envy, insecurities or moments when we didn’t talk. Yes, he would fuck up and I would get angry, but I loved him too much to stay angry. I watched him overdose once – I will never forget it; I was so mad and scared – yet when he woke up I couldn’t do anything but love him.
As I ran, all I could think of was him and how I now needed to work harder to be better. To take the time to see people and let them feel heard and loved. To stop spending time on the things that don’t fill me up. To really follow my dreams. To love myself a little harder and forgive myself a little more because things have been messy since he left me. To embrace the hard stuff (running) because it’s in the middle of the hard, messy stuff you find parts of you that you didn’t realize existed.
He was loyal, loving and genuine. He taught me to never judge someone because you don’t know their story and he truly lived that way. Everyone was his friend; everyone knew him and loved him. He loved his family and was proud to be from Boston. He found passion in things like boxing, baseball, music and sneakers. He needed nothing and found pleasure in the little things. He was messy, but man was he beautiful. I think, ultimately though, he was afraid. Afraid of failure and being embarrassed, knowing if he was on the right path like they say in Salem’s Interlude, and I get it.
He was just like you and me. With hobbies and passions, with a family and friends. He was no different than us. The only difference was one day someone introduced him to a drug that would change his path forever. It’s that small of a moment … “here try this,” and nothing is ever the same again. You’ve done it right? Made a split-second decision? To have another drink, to get behind the wheel after a night out, to trust someone you barely know? It’s life. We trust, we live, we party, we love and some of us have the misfortune of being born into difficult situations and not knowing anything different.
So, what if we judged a little less, loved a bit harder, and realized that it could be us, our brother or sister, husband, girlfriend, uncle, or our best friend that is fighting addiction. The truth is, we have no idea how they got to where they are, but we can help. Tell them they’re not alone, that you understand this world may have just been a little colder to them.
After I wrote this, I struggled with whether or not to share this blog entry. It’s too personal, too … open and I didn’t know if I was ready to feel so vulnerable. But, so many times since seeing the movie, I realized that there are so many little parts of him in me, his good parts, and I have to be better about letting the world see them. I have to stop being fearful and be a star for both of us. Life is too short to live scared or halfway. Failure is our biggest teacher and mistakes are just lessons. None of us truly know what the right path is. I just ask that as you work to find your true path, you know you can change directions as often as you need; that there is help out there and people who will believe in you. That if you’re in the middle of a shit storm as we speak, you’re not alone and it is not too late.
Here are a few resources if you’re in need of help:
SAMSHA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 1-800-662-HELP