Everyone starts out as an innocent child.

Everyone starts out as an innocent child.

I’m amazed at how few outlets are actually saying the word “addiction” in connection with Michael Jackson.

I’ve found only two online reports that front the issue that Jackson was a plain old addict. Everyone else either ignores the issue, or couches it in terms that either lead the reader to believe that his celebrity led him to buy drugs (i.e., without being an addict–“all celebrities take drugs, but he just made a bad mistake with these”), or that celebrity itself was the “cause” of his addiction (i.e., he had no choice). Either way, he’s “special.”

But not much distinguishes one addict from another. What has struck me about Jackson’s story is how similar it is to my own. Physically and emotionally abused by a cruel parent; unprotected by the other parent; isolated from peers. Opioids have a special attraction for anyone with deep pain, whether physical or psychic (the psychic often manifests as physical, anyhow: they’re linked).

Opioids helped me not-feel.

And Diprivan?—Jackson allegedly said he wanted to be made “unconscious” at night. That’s what a hypnotic does. It knocks you out, so you can forget. Until it wears off, and you need more.


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Michael Jackson’s plastic surgery compulsion also interests me. I think once he started messing with his face and skin, he made his isolation irrevocable. He essentially acted out his own self-hatred—the self-hatred that all people with addiction have—on his own body. He did it via drugs, and he did it through surgery. The drugs we can recover from; but we can’t put our faces back. He had to look at his destroyed face every day.

When I got sober, I had to look at my face, too. I have a wide nose and blotchy olive skin and a small gap between my front teeth that irritates me. I’ve come to accept and love these anomalies. If I’d fucked up my own face, though, it would be much harder to forgive myself. Not impossible, but much harder. … If I were still in active addiction, and looking at that face in the mirror, I’d be taking my resentment of my surgeon’s screwups out on the surgeon, trying to force him to get it right, and simply reinscribing another mess on top of the previous ones.

That’s how addiction works. Mess on top of mess.

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