Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leary about Leary

There was a photo in the New York Times on Sunday of an attractive blonde woman in a big beautiful bed, tapping away on her laptop with her adorable dog lounging beside her. Looked like a pretty charmed life to me.

Turns out the woman is Ann Leary - the novelist and wife of actor, Denis Leary.

Mr. Leary immediately makes me think of drinking because of his long-running series Rescue Me where his character Tommy Gavin fights addiction to the demon drink almost non-stop.  Rehab didn't work. The 12 Steps didn't work (all the time). Even his teenage daughter follows suit and ends up in A.A. herself. Though not before Tommy nearly drowns her in a baptismal font full of booze to try to get her to lose the taste for it. Now that's tough love.

I always thought alcoholism played such a big part in the show because it was based on the New York City Fire Department, bringing to light the problem of substance abuse in the wake of 9/11. (In the years following the attack - which killed 343 FDNY members - more than 1 in 10 firefighters were at serious risk of alcohol dependency and 17% were in the 'moderate risk' category. Though 71% showed no risk at all.)

But maybe the true muse is much closer to home. Because Mr. Leary's wife admitted to being an alcoholic herself. In the Times article, the 50-year-old said she has not had a drink in 6 years. Since there was no mention of  A.A. or other treatment programs, it seemed Ms. Leary quit on her own (as 70% of problem drinkers do).

But I was struck with her tone when it came to drinking. Some days she'd finish a bottle and a half of wine by herself and have a riot doing it, she said. Drinking alone can really be fun when you're addicted. In fact, it's probably your only fun since there's nobody around to nag you about being drunk. So she admitted to missing it very much.

But Ms. Leary also said that she was a very mean drunk and that the morning after a bender, everybody would be angry at her. Naturally, she had no memory of what had happened the night before and this is what finally forced her to quit. She said she's certain that if she didn't suffer from bad blackouts, she'd still be drinking.

(Vicious blackout drunks were why I had to get a handle on my drinking too. Only I didn't go the permanent abstinence route, instead handling the problem with regular cleansing. I believe this works because it reverses the depression caused by non-stop alcohol use. Because when you're addicted, you're always depressed. And drinking - the one thing that eased the blues in the old days - only makes depression worse. At that point drinking is a lose-lose situation. In fact, everything in life feels that way. I'm so glad those days are behind me!!!)

I talked to the hubs about the article last night. Being a fan of Mr. Leary - and with our own alcohol troubles - I thought he'd be interested. I mentioned that Ann Leary commented on the fact she really missed drinking a lot. And this is what he said:

"Sounds like an A.W.T.H."

"A what?"

"An accident waiting to happen."

"Oooooh." Who knows? Those damn pleasure receptors that love alcohol so much don't actually go away when you quit drinking. Which is, of course, why Ms. Leary still misses it so much.

(btw, I picture those pleasure receptors as constantly hungry, angry little birds with pointy beaks, wiry necks and mangy feathers, always lifting their empty mouths to the sky, crying, crying, crying to be fed ... which is why I continue to feed the bastards. So my pleasure receptors are actually happy, fluffy, fat little yellow chicks like the kind you see on Easter cards.)

Anyway, Ms. Leary has just published her third book, The Good House, a novel about an alcoholic real estate agent who loves drinking alone. They say write about what you know, right? The book's already hit the New York Times bestseller list and I'm looking forward to picking it up. For more info, here's the original Sunday Times article.

And here's Denis Leary ranting about alcohol, drugs and rehab. btw, this clip comes with a super-strong-unbelievably-coarse-but-pretty-hilarious-anyway-language-warning. ;)

And if you're not into Denis Leary F-bombing, here's 7 YouTube minutes of a cute farm boy unloading a box of fluffy yellow chicks. :) 

For more information about the stresses faced by New York's heroic firefighters, here's the source article about the FDNY and alcohol abuse.