In 2008, I’d popped in to see a friend at a table read (that’s where the cast of a play, TV show, or film sits around a table and reads the entire script out loud) and was invited to sit in until the star of the show arrived. Moments later, an effervescent 16-year-old stunner strode into the conference room, wearing a black leather jacket and biker boots.
I didn’t know who they were then, but the moment they smiled and said hello, I felt the molecules in the room change.
The show was a Disney pilot called “Sonny With a Chance.” That star was Demi Lovato.
Four months after that table read, I would check myself into a drug and alcohol treatment center, with what I now understand was remarkably progressed alcoholism. I’d been drinking and using around the clock and found myself unable to be the mother that my kids deserved.
I’d tried everything ― just drinking and leaving pills alone, then taking pills without drinking. I tried different drugs (Ativan, Klonopin, Valium) and different drinks (beer, wine, vodka). I tried limiting my drinking to certain hours, but that only worked for a day or two. (“It must be five o’clock somewhere,” I’d reason.)
I swore on my children several times that I would only take pills at bedtime, but morning after morning, I would find myself drunk or high, wondering how it had happened again.
As Robin Williams once famously said, “I was violating my standards quicker than I could lower them.”
Thirty days later, I walked out of that treatment center, terrified, humiliated and sober. I still thought it was unfathomable that I would never again be able to have a glass of champagne at a friend’s wedding or accept a much-needed Xanax from a friend