There are few things in life as pure and powerful as my love for Oprah Winfrey. I have often referred to Oprah as my higher power in recovery and that no longer garners laughs in my meetings anymore because now people are leery (and damn straight) to do so, lest they incur The Wrath of The Crazy Drunken Trainwreck Obsessed with The Divine Ms. O. And truly, if people can make doorknobs and ceiling fans their higher powers, THEN SHUT IT. I would consider Dolly Parton as a back-up if need be, but for now, Oprah serves me well.
Oprah surrounds herself with smart people, and she listens and learns. She’s spent a lifetime doing this and then she in turn, shares what she’s learned. One of these mentors was the incredible and amazing Maya Angelou, whom I had the privilege of hearing speak at an engagement years ago. Quite simply, it was a momentous evening. Maya Angelou was/is an earthly treasure and I thank Oprah for bringing her message to many that may not have heard her otherwise. One of Ms. Angelou’s most famous quotes reads;
In a last ditch effort this weekend to avoid reality and escape into ANYTHING else than a bottle of SKYY vodka, I went to see “A Wrinkle in Time” at the movies. Don’t even get me started on how much ass Oprah kicked, but here’s the real kicker, I have never read the book nor seen the original movie. Now, it IS a Disney movie so there wasn’t any hypodermic drug use or anal sex or anything so in that regard it WAS a snooze fest, but what really struck me as how now, more than ever, it’s a perfect tale for our current times. Good vs Evil. Light against Darkness. Love vs Hate. Believing in yourself. Authenticity. Speaking your truth. Trusting the Universe. Love is love is love.
As I left the theatre in the drizzling cold rain, I couldn’t help but grin. A few years ago, I thought I knew better. I thought I had all the answers, I really did. If you were to ask me, I’d have sworn up and down that I possessed an open and somewhat awakened mind. I knew who my authentic self was, and I was unapologetic about her. I’m like Cilantro; you either love me or hate me – and back then, I didn’t really care which.
And then, in the summer of 2015, I woke up at ground zero of my alcoholism and my whole world exploded and imploded, simultaneously. Not to be overly dramatic here but unless this type of thing has happened to you in some capacity, there’s nothing I can write on this page to give you an accurate glimpse into that harsh and unforgiving reality.
Have you ever had to question everything you thought you knew? Have you ever looked into your own reflection in a mirror and not recognized the person staring back at you? There was no light, no brightness of being left in me. Who had I become?
In four months I will celebrate 3 years of sobriety. And I’d like to thank Oprah for setting the stage for me. You wanna know how I did it? I surrounded myself with smart people and I listened to them. I listened to their experiences as they shared what worked, and sometimes, more importantly, what didn’t. I marveled at their strength and nodded along in sympathy at their weaknesses. When they extended their hands out to help me, I grabbed their fingers in a death grip, and truly, that’s exactly what it was; I was fighting for my life.
And now, I know better. Instead of running to the liquor store, I just go for a run. When I need to escape reality, I know I can pick up a book, not a bottle. When I feel stressed out and anxious, I focus on my breathing. I’m learning to meditate and listen to myself, and the Universe. This didn’t happen overnight, of course – you have to want it, and you have to work at it – because your life depends on it. Like they say, the only thing that has to change is everything, and naturally, that’s terrifying. I’m still new in this journey but I can promise you, if you start it, you’ll be amazed at what’s revealed to you along the way, and that’s not just some ex-drunken existential bar-talk bullshit.
I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to have the answers, and you certainly don’t have to go it alone. We’re here to help each other, at least I think so. So, while I don’t have all of the answers, I know where to go when I need help. And maybe that’s Oprah’s greatest gift to me – letting me know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that we can heal together, in community.
Now, I know better, and guess what? I’m doing better. A LOT better.
I’m going to leave you with another quote. This one is directly from Oprah, so you can assume it’s pretty much the gospel truth.
I don’t know about you, but I think that this is Oprah’s way of saying, “one day at a time“.