Oprah and Lindsay Lohan: “But you didn’t”

the wolfie voice. i watched an interview with Oprah and Lindsay Lohan. Oprah said something like “i personally have experience with addiction; i have an addiction to food.”  She went on to say, “Lindsay, i know alcoholism is a disease, but you’ve been to rehab 6 times, what is the dis-ease in you that makes you drink?”

i haven’t paraphrased this correctly, Oprah phrased it even worse than this, but that’s the gist of it.

Let me tell you, i got all agitated watching the show. I had an answer ready for Oprah that Lindsay left unspoken. I watched Oprah be moderately condescending, and then trying to be sympathetic. But she didn’t get it.

I wanted to be Lindsay sitting in that chair, and I wanted to say this:

Whether alcoholism is a disease or not, i couldn’t say. Really, that would be like asking if depression or anxiety are diseases.

I know I drank because it made me feel better. And then it didn’t.

I never wanted to quit drinking because i thought it was helping me with my depression and my anxiety. I never realized that it was actually making me feel worse. I thought booze was my friend. But booze lied to me.

And Oprah, would you ask the same question to someone addicted to cocaine? wouldn’t you recognize that while the person using the drug probably has something they’re trying to self-medicate, sure, but that the drug itself takes over pretty quickly and demands more. the drug makes you crave more drugs.

You see Oprah, I don’t have a ‘dis-ease’ that makes me drink and drive. Booze itself does that. I don’t have a dis-ease that makes me drink in public and act idiotic and get in trouble and look like a ruined child star while people are watching and taking pictures of me to sell to the press. Booze does that.

And if i remove the booze, most of my problems go away.

Sure, I might still be attention seeking, i’m in show biz. I might have 10% narcissistic in me, but i’m a beautiful model and I like people to look at me. That’s normal. You might think i’m a bit OCD about how i like my clothes folded, but a lot of very successful people are more than a little OCD about their lives. it’s how we (attempt) to manage our very public lives. we find comfort in how our clothes are folded.

But you know what? if i remove the booze, most of my big, in the press, legal, emotional, financial, and relationship problems will go away.

Sure, i might still be depressed, or anxious to some extent. But nothing like when i was drinking.

And yes, i have work to do and things to fix, but frankly removing the booze itself will dramatically improve my life. Hands down. Without the booze i’m in a much better place to be able to deal with the rest of my life.

It’s a fair question, Oprah, to ask why the first 5 trips to rehab didn’t work and why this last time i think it has. See, Oprah, you’re not in my head. And i’d have to question if you really have an ‘addiction’ as you say. Because if you did, you’d sympathize that the wolfie voice tells us we’re not worthy, that we’re a fuck up, that we’ve failed and will continue to fail. You’d know that was the booze talking, and not really us. But you’d also know that it takes a while to learn to differentiate between wolfie and our true selves.

If you really knew what i was talking about, Oprah, you would have sympathized with an anecdote like “i know what you mean Lindsay, i decide to give up sugar for one day and i’m doing well and then at 8:30 pm i drink a glass of tonic that’s put in front of me, and suddenly realize that i’ve blown my goal because there’s sugar in tonic. So then i eat cookies, because, you know, wolfie says ‘you’ve blown it now, might as well begin again tomorrow, you can’t even do one day, cookies cookies cookies’.”

If you’d said that, Oprah, i would have nodded and agreed and would have felt relieved that you really understood.

But you didn’t.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I think the whole TV show thing is plain mean. Especially if the host acts as if they are slightly better than the guest…. in a very subtle but cutting way.
    You’re spot on when it’s the real truth people want to hear, the real vulnerable, honest parts that we can relate to. Then we connect and life just feels a tiny bit more meaningful and warm.

  • My heart breaks for Lindsay. I can’t emagine going through everything in the public eye. That would fuel my wolfie. I would want to hide in my room and drink to numb it all. Her lifestyle must make it a thousand times harder for her. If she could remember who she was when she was under age. Before adults started shoving drinks and drugs at her, assaulting her innocence. And then having to go on TV for more abuse?! What a dagger in the heart! Where are the people loving and protecting her. Guess they are all under wolfies control at some level. Wolfie loves a sacrifice!!!
    This is all so fucked up!!

  • This is one of my favorite blog posts. I have it saved in my “top Belle” folder. Wolfie can be LOUD. My Wolfie was fortunately tamable. He lingered for a few months but then I was able to lock the cage for good. He tries to poke his head out every once in a while but then I shove things down his throat like these killer blog posts and podcasts.

  • It’s a very good response. I’m thinking that if Oprah had gastric bypass surgery, like I did, that she might find out about alcoholism. Mine started when I could no longer satisfy my food addiction after surgery. I would be willing to bet that Oprah has had that cookie moment alone in her kitchen. Now that I don’t drink anymore…almost 8 months!…that cookie thing kicks in way more than I would like it too. Addictive personalities usually have something they need to relieve the whatever it is. My therapist tells me to feel the ‘whole’ not the ‘hole’.

  • Chris: I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE this! And the part where you talk about woflie telling us we’re a fuck up, etc so we continue to do the same thing. So so true and I’m so glad to not have to listen to that voice all the time anymore – still pops up occasionally, but nowhere near the volume it used to be and no longer ALWAYS on my mind. 🙂

  • There is a song by Chris Cabb, I’ve downloaded to my running playlist. It’s called , “Liar, Liar.” When I hear it, I imagine the liar is wine & the even bigger liar is The Enemy. I’m choosing to listen to the voice of Truth.

  • Belle, once again, you restore my faith in the plain love and compassion of regular folks and our ability to band together and be consistently helpful, non-judgmental and actually having successes to celebrate. I feel for Lindsey, Oprah could have done a LOT better-I’m surprised at her behavior in light of her own addiction issues-and I really hope that LL is on the mend for good this time. New coping methods may be her salvation.

    Oh do drop her an email, Belle, you may be just what she needs to get her thru that first 100 days when all she can do is Think About Drinking. I bet she Tired of it too.

  • Belle, the compassion and common sense you’d use talking to Lindsay? These are the ‘new approach’ to alcoholism treatment. It’s time to get rid of the old censorious, ‘you must have a major moral weakness’ approach. It’s time to understand that drinking to excess is almost always a form of self-medication. More people need to see that treating the underlying causes of feeling the need to drink: the depression, the anxiety, the convictions of inadequacy- with kindness and encouragement rather than confrontations and blame-calling interventions- the is the way to wholeness for those of us who have mistakenly thought alcohol was our salvation!!

  • From Ruby:
    “Right on Belle! Well said. So true. So simple. So honest. No complicated theoretical or rhetorical bullshit.”

  • From Soberp82:
    “Even after her years’ of experience you’d think Operah would have better understood! I think it completely reflects that society just doesn’t “get it”. The person brave enough to say they have a problem with alcohol are made to feel like they’re at fault/weak. I used to be one of those people who thought non-drinkers were a bit odd & boring. Jeez, how my life has changed! :-D”

  • From Janet:
    “I really liked this post. i think it’s really hard for someone who doesn’t get it to get it – despite how many interviews Oprah has done. i think she means well – but like you said, just doesn’t get it. As a therapist myself, it’s hard to watch those interviews sometimes – because i’m used to allowing people to actually answer questions instead of getting interrupted all the time. if we really allowed lindsay to tell her truth, we might find she has something valuable to say.”

  • From Lucie:
    I wish you could have telepathically sent your Belle thoughts and wise words to Miss Lohan while she was in the hot seat on Oprah aka God.

  • Lulu sends this:
    “I too feel sorry for Lindsay, she’s obviously in pain. She had a horrible childhood– I totally understand that because I did too. I grew up in LA, went to parties in Hollywood, had drug available at all times, went to all the clubs, drove drunk, acted like an idiot, etc. but unlike Lindsay I was a fu@k up all in private. It’s awful that she has to do it all publicly. She seems like a sweet girl and I wish her nothing but the best. Sending you good vibes Lindsay…”

  • T. sent me this comment:
    “Have to say I take issue with comparing Alcoholism to anxiety and depression. You don’t go to a store and buy anxiety and depression, you don’t ingest them…You don’t kick back and take a drink of depression. I know what you’re trying to say…I just don’t think Alcoholism and depression can’t be compared.”

    • and my reply: I agree with you entirely. you don’t ingest anxiety. but I think that anxiety and depression contribute to alcohol overuse. and no one ever asks depressed people if they think their condition is a disease. It’s like oprah said to Lindsay, “I know you have a disease but why can’t you control it…” (as Wanda put it, above). To me, that would be like saying “why can’t you control your depression?” I was using a&d as a point of comparison only because most people have experienced one or the other, but they haven’t experienced addictive behaviour …

      • “Why can’t you control your Arthritis, Asthma, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Genital Herpes (yes, I wrote that), Gonorrhea (wrote that too), Heart Disease, Meningitis…”

        Lifestyle contributes to most diseases, but they are not as glamorous as alcohol because other diseases don’t make people show their underpants in public.

        A lot of people drink because they are in emotional pain (anxiety and depression). Then they have the emotional pain plus the pain from alcohol.

  • Oh wow. I see great compassion and understanding in your words. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not a total fuck up shit for my cravings. Oprah should read this.

  • Hi Belle and your community. I am in the UK and we are just a few shows in . Having seen the first few episodes I was struck by how vulnerable Lindsay is. She is in the early stages of recovery. What on earth was Oprah thinking? If she genuinely wanted to help Lindsay, surely she could have done so quietly and in the background without a rolling camera and all the publicity? I have always liked Oprah and loved what she stands for. But really, I think this is very poor judgment from a lady who people look up too. Shame on you Oprah.

  • I hate the whole “disease” thing. I hate to hear someone telling Lindsay she has a “disease” – as in “I understand you have a disease so why can’t you control it?” puleez… I am not a fan of the disease angle.

    Why did Oprah ask these questions? Ratings = $$$$

    I have never seen any of Lindsay’s films, yet I know who she is from the merciless press coverage given to all her problems; I have always felt sorry for her because of it.

    s Kerry said – how many times has Oprah lost the battle with her own admitted addiction? I know its hard to stop drinking and I know all sorts of things can become addictions, psychological and physical. Yes, I know.

    Too bad the poor girl can’t have you as her sober coach, Belle. You can bet that the people invested in her “recovery” are inve$ted big time.

  • Maybe if you think about it as if you are in a relationship with booze, Oprah, you could begin to understand. You know he’s no good for you, but he’s charming. He can make you feel better, sparkly and relaxed at the same time. He is there for you when you need him. And you need him every night.
    When I try to leave him, he gets in my head….and Oh, Oprah, he always knows just what to say.

  • you put into words what i was feeling watching that interview..i felt a large part of lindsay had been somehow dismissed and diminished..which is something that happens often when others truly can’t comprehend addiction..it’s personal for many of us going through it..you nailed it

  • Enlighting <3 INEEDOFGRACE , btw Oprah is still using. Maybe after she is sucessful @ maintaining some sobriety for an extended period of time ( like Us) she will see Addiction thru Clear eyes for what is really is and how it really controls you, Us!!!!

  • Why the offense to the word dis-ease … most or all of us are “not at ease”, when we crave a substance (whatever it is, healthy food, portion controlled, and exercise included in substances). If we were comfy in our own skin, “at ease” … we would be content in the moment and have no desire to change how we feel.

  • got this from Mia, with permission to share:

    “Just read the Lindsay Lohan bit. Cried. So true. So true.

    One of my little sisters went to rehab at least 6 times. Detox countless times. Jail. The ICU. She was resuscitated 3 times the last round. She was unbelievably beautiful and so very kind and funny.

    She should be dead. But, she’s not. She’s been sober for 8 years. We talk almost every day. She’s one of my dearest friends.

    The world can see some of her scars, and I know she is often judged. But you’ll not meet a more compassionate creature. And, she is still so very fragile.

    No, Oprah doesn’t understand. And I’m pretty sure Lindsay doesn’t need anyone else to make her feel bad about herself or like a failure or the butt of yet another joke. She probably manages all of that just fine on her own. My sister sure did.

    Maybe her wolfie (and my sister’s) are a particularly nasty wicked beast. Maybe that’s why the battle is so much harder for some. Maybe they got some real motherfuckers.

    Which, from my perspective, makes my sister a real badass. Maybe Lindsay is one too. Because they’re still here.

    Sounds like Oprah picked the wrong angle. Hard to see some things when we prop ourselves up a little too high.”

  • I have to agree with everything you said in this post. As for Oprah, I don’t know why she continues interviewing addicts. I was on her show for a half hour segment with my mom after a DUI I got with my daughter in the car with me. It was humiliating enough, to say the least, but Oprah did everything opposite of trying to relate to me. I felt like a fool up there. I think she asks questions that her audience would want to ask. She appeals to a certain type of audience, and the lot of them are not addicts. They are mainstream American moms. Thank you for your post. This kind of interviewing annoys me. It’s not getting to the bottom of anything. It’s entertainment. That’s how I felt on Oprah’s stage – like I was thirty minute entertainment for millions of people being raped of my self-worth while Oprah’s pockets became fuller.

    • if she’s asking questions that her audience would want to ask, then she should be asking questions like “did you know you were drinking more than you wanted to? what worked for you in terms of trying to stop? did you find that all occasions revolved around booze? were you worried that it’s harder to quit than you thought it would be? what do you miss now that booze is out of your life. what are you grateful for?”

  • JoyGraceJoy sent me this:
    “I think your post today was the most compassionate and powerful post that I have read on your site to date. Amazing. Thank you for recognizing your gift at articulating the Wolfe voice and the addicted self.”

  • JI sent me a message:
    “I’ve always cheered for poor Lindsay to get her stuff together. I don’t get the impression that her support network is as awesome as ours.”

  • You nailed it Belle! Wow, the insight that you so eloquently share again and again continues to speak to me in wonderful ways. Still sober by the way. Holly

  • Yes. I didn’t hear her say it, but “dis-ease” is a good way–for me–to describe why I drink. To describe that state of my life, or LIFE in general! I had an acupuncturist who always said that word, disease, in two syllables–dis-ease. Lack of ease, which is what disease is. In a holistic healing sense of the word, it is used like that to distinguish and separate it from the Western idea of something is bad with you; in dis-ease, something is bad with the way you react to the world, making your body feel uneasy, or, in Western terminology, sick. What I want to scream at patronizing, loud Oprah is this: why the fuck are you having this poor girl–who IS narcissistic as much as she drinks alcoholically to deal with her fame, and her narcissism and her PAIN–on a reality TV show that is making her worse, feeding into her addiction problems??? I want to punch Oprah in the face. Well-said, wonderful, hilarious Belle.

  • While Oprah sitting there in the throws of her own addiction, condescending to another addict. Ugh! Like alcohol addiction , food addiction (and all addictions)shows up on the outside and people can “see” that you got it.

    How many times has Oprah lost and gained weight? And she still didn’t get it?
    I wonder why.

    • I don’t really want to attack Oprah (or Lindsay). I’m just sad about the misunderstandings that prevail… and the messages we continue to present about people who drink more than they should.

      • No, I didn’t mean this as an attack on Oprah. I just thought that she having gone thru so much with her addiction would be more understanding. I still think there is the social stigma of alcoholism.

  • Wow, Belle, your reply to Oprah (for Lindsey) is so spot on. I agree with you that one of the biggest problems with the —holic label and “recovery” establishment is the implication that we are broken people, both before and after, the booze took over our lives. I don’t believe that we are any more broken (human) than the general public, but that our drinking sure did mess up a lot of what we were or could have been WHILE WE WERE STILL DRINKING. So many things are recoverable once we see Wolfie for what he is and quit listening to him. Certainly one thing we should be able to recover is our self-respect instead of being continually told that we are dis-eased people. Hooray and thanks, Belle, for turning on the light. XOXO

  • I have all of those things: food, depression, anxiety, alcohol. Alcohol is the only physical addiction in my entirely subjective and non-medically-trained opinion, take that one away and all of the others get much more manageable. Food is a difficult one, because “treating” myself for not drinking is tending to revolve around food, which is not doing me any good: I need to work on that.

    I am convinced that the depression and anxiety were 85% caused by the alcohol I thought I was using to self-medicate against them: almost entirely self-perpetuating. The other 15% is probably just what normal people feel like: most people are bothered by something or other some of the time. Still doesn’t stop me thinking about bloody booze though!!

    I wonder where the line is between the physical addiction and psychological support born out of habit and familiarity? I keep on reading about “comfortable sobriety” and hoping to goodness I stop wondering when I can have a drink soon x

    • I agree and feel like you do completely.
      I realize that I can never add booze back into the mix because those other problems will just be amplified.
      Better to live happy and sober!

  • Bravo Bravo BRAVO. I could not have written this better if I had had a week to think about it. I agree 100 percent with every word. Thank you, Belle!
    Joan B.