Posted by: nancykenny | February 3, 2011

My Own Dam

The minute I read this post by my dear friend, Kris Joseph, I wanted to comment on it. The part that struck me the most was this one:

I’m not surprised that substance abuse is so prevalent in this line of work: this profession is bizarre. Our tools are our emotions; our product is catharsis (direct and indirect). Actors stir up mountainous levels of feeling as part of their daily work, and they have to climb off those mountains somehow. One terrific and easy way of making the descent every night is with a pint. And that’s what actors do.

Climbing down the mountain! What a beautiful metaphor. For years, I’ve tried to explain it and it’s all right there. That’s exactly what it feels like. It’s also typically why I drink so much more when I’m working on a show. Gosh, on tour it was pretty much: flyer, show, drink, repeat.

But I held back from commenting because what I’d have to say would be so inherently personal, so confrontational of my own inner demons; who’d want to even read this shit? Well, seeing as how a cutesy post on my accidental dating life was the biggest draw of the past couple of months, apparently, many of you do. So that was the good, here is the ugly.

To be honest, I’ve never considered myself an alcoholic. I’ve gotten stupid drunk (and by that I mean I’ve done stupid, unsafe things while drunk – most of which you know of MOM so stop worrying please, I love you kthxbai) a few times, but I’d like to think that I can handle myself well. I grew up in a family where a drink after work was the norm and social drinking at family occasions was always such fun (some of my favorite memories include going out with my cousins or drinking wine with my godmother). I come from the East Coast, which means I also know how to pound back my fair share, often more than the average man or woman before it really affects me. Then again, there was a bit running joke at the GCTC that you just had to stir some ice cubes and I would come running like Pavlov’s Dog, so who knows what other’s perception might be?

All this to say, I love a good drink with friends as a way to unwind, and I’m not usually very discriminatory in my poison of choice.

Funny word to use there: poison. Because that’s pretty much what I’ve been told it was today by my doctor. I’ve had digestive issues for years and, after a while, you just start to believe that that is just the way it always will be. But a doctor did some tests and I’ve been told I need to cut out yeast, wheat and keep the glutten to a minimum. This means, no more booze. For three weeks. When I have a show opening in less than a week…

I’m a grown-up and I know that I will be fine with this (especially since I was told that I would probably lose quite a bit of weight in the process, which let me tell you is an excellent motivator). Personally, I had already thought about cutting back for quite a few times now, but then someone would ask to go for drinks or offer me a beer or I’d have just a really hard day and my resolve went down with the cool crisp beverage that found its way into my hand. But I always wondered what I would do if I didn’t have my “feel-good crutch” – how would I cope? You mean I’d just have to deal with my rage, my depression, my fears and, yes, even my joy without being able to numb any of it down? All on my own? Can I do that?

Well, I guess I’m about to find out.

Little Martyrs runs from February 9 to 19 at Arts Court – Ottawa Dance Directive, Studio A, 2 Daly Ave. Click here for more details.

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