My therapy

I have a confession: I am addicted to addiction-reality shows like Intervention and Celebrity Rehab. I watch them for more than voyeurism. I scrutinize every addict's behavior and judge their revelations. I take comfort in the fallout, whether the addict has a revelation about their abuse or continue living in selfish denial.

But here's the thing. I am the child of an addict. I can't know the feeling of addiction, but I know its consequences all too well -- the hurt of being left behind, of being not chosen, of watching someone constantly burn down our family until there seemed nothing left to rise from the ashes. And because I know only the toxic rain of addiction, watching one particular show has become a form of therapy because it showcases addicts trying to live without their crutches.

That show is Sober House, and this particular cast hits so close to home for me. I watch Heidi Fleiss rail against Tom Sizemore for beating her years ago in a drug-induced fury and I see my mother, still so angry with my father for his abuse -- both emotional and physical. I watch Tom cry in an alley and explode on Mike Starr and I see my father, screaming about having had his limit this past Christmas when my mom's constant, white-hot bitterness and my sister's refusal to tolerate his antics pushed him to his boiling point.

I watch Jennie Ketcham move silently but swiftly away from Tom's boiling rage to tuck herself under Seth Binzer's arm and I see my sisters and I, always on edge, always scurrying to find safe cover. I see Dennis Rodman kick back with his cigar and self-righteousness watching it all unfold as though he is above it all and I see the person I became after so many years of living on that high wire.

Something inside of me will always forgive and feel sorry for Tom. His emotions swing like a pendulum from one extreme to the other and I want to comfort him, stroke his brow, and convince him he can beat the stranglehold of addiction. Heidi stands on the balcony and smiles like a gleeful, hungry vulture preparing to rip the meat and sinew from Tom's carcass, and I want to scream at her that she is a hateful, bitter person.

That cuts to the heart of me. I should feel triumphant for her. I should be disgusted with his inability to control himself. I should see his anger explode and think, "If you're this angry now, how angry were you when you hit her?" But my heart doesn't go to that place. I don't know what this says about me, but as I watch, I start to unpack decades worth of feelings. I touch each one tenderly and try to give it the space it deserves. I examine them and wonder how to incorporate them into my life in a healthy way.

I doubt the show's producers created it for those of us out there still reeling from addiction's destructive power. I know it's about ratings and z-list celebrities hoping for a comeback. But for today, and every day that I sit down with it, Sober House is my therapist and ally. We work together to understand what my inner child still struggles with. And I'm only slightly embarrassed about it.


  • The Drama Mama

    Hmmm. I should check this out. I understand where you are coming from. My inner child is hiding lots of secrets too, that my child-self was denied. Hmmm. I love finding others that I have such commonalities with. It's like finding a long lost sister or something via the interwebs. I wish I had started blogging (well, blog hopping perhaps) a long time ago. I'm definitely hooked on the miller mix.

  • Kelly Miller

    Aw, you make my heart happy. Sometimes I think I overshare (okay, I know I overshare), but I carry no shame about my past or present. It makes me so happy to be honest about what's happening in my life and then get a comment like yours. Thank you!

  • Janine

    I know you think you 'overshare', or that you should have a different opinion maybe about the people on that show, but what I see in you is the gift of grace. That's a beautiful gift to have. If you are receiving healing in your life in a healthy way, I applaud your efforts. Not wanting to stay in an unhealthy state is, well, healthy! Your outpouring of grace will serve you well!

  • Anonymous

    Kelly, I am really grateful to you for writing this. I often wonder about some of the reality shows I see. While some of them seem frivolous, I appreciate your perspective on one in which meaning might exist underneath or maybe mixed up with the celebrities and the ratings pull. I don't think you should be embarrassed at all!

  • CaneWife

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. It definitely brings to light a lot of things that many people never consider.

    I, for one, appreciate it.

  • Kelly Miller

    @Kristen - So, I totally also think celebrities are ridiculous and that reality shows rarely capture true reality. And I've yet to have a revelation via The Bad Girls Club. ;)

    @CaneWife - Thanks you. I guess recovery is recovery is recovery. It's possible I over-analyze, but I'm glad to know people appreciate that "gift." :)

  • Cheryl

    People laugh at me, but I think there are definitely some TV shows (and even some movies) that can be therapeutic to watch. We all heal in different ways, and all that matters is that we heal.

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