Years ago when the TV show “Intervention” was in pre-production I was given the opportunity to view it. I was being considered for technical advisor position and they wanted my feedback. I was excited by the potential of a TV show like that. The half hour time slot is in reality a 22 minute endeavor so needless to say I had the time. As I watched I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the solution portion of the show. It finally showed up at about the 19 minute mark. For me it’s the solution that counts, but the crisis, the depravity and the bottom is what Hollywood is looking for these days; addiction sells. I said thanks but no thanks and moved on. The show meanwhile moved on to being a TV staple and to this day I have no regrets. A recent movie called Shame landed on me the same way, lots of the problem and not enough solution. At the end of the day I’m more of the Twenty-Eight Days and Days of Wine and Roses kind of a guy where someone actually gets well. I’m a sucker for this kind of a “happy ending,” art imitating life!
Imagine yourself in the lobby of a downtown high rise office building waiting for the elevator to take you to the 5th floor. If we stop the doors from opening for just a second to think this through you’ll get to see the point of it all. You can be very confident that as the doors open no one will be in there ready to offer you a line of coke on a mirror with a rolled up hundred dollar bill in hand. That’s not going to happen. No one will be handing you a Bud or a gin and tonic or even a piece of cheesecake and all this is good especially if you’re a recovering drug addict, alcoholic or food addict, but as the doors open you may be a wink and a smile away from a relapse. You just can’t get away from it, sex addiction will jump in your cup and when it does you better have a strong solution. My little vignette leads me to the real topic of this week’s Blog. I went to see the new movie still in theaters that is focused on sex addiction called “Thanks for Sharing,” written and directed by Stuart Blumberg and staring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, Gwyneth Paltrow and the rad rock star Pink in her first movie role. This movie elegantly portrayed both the problem and the solution, with rigor and honesty. Going into it, that was my biggest concern. The movie hit the mark.
On a technical level there were some liberties taken but overall it was very well done. The movie shows three major characters who attend SAA meetings in Manhattan. It looks, feels, tastes and smells very authentic. It successfully runs the gambit from yuk to hope. Dr. Carnes’s two books “Out of the Shadows” and the “Gentle Path through the Twelve Steps” were both prominently displayed. The author/director did his homework. The language and the culture of the Sex Addicts Anonymous recovery community were very well portrayed. The Tim Robbins character has 15 years in Alcoholics Anonymous plus 10 in Sex Addicts Anonymous and is the pillar of the “S” community. He sponsors Mark Ruffalo’s person who has just past five years of sexual sobriety as a single non-dating man and he in turn is sponsoring the Josh Gad persona who is new and is only going through the motions in order to get a court slip signed. The recovery time arc of the three men creates a great window as to what the trajectory of recovery can look and sound like. The need to be forever vigilant is a running theme as the story unfolds. As Mark’s character starts to date Gwyneth Paltrow’s character he does give disclosure, though a little late, about being in recovery for sex addiction. Her comment is “I thought that was something guys say when they get caught cheating.” It’s a great peek as to how John Q Normie and his wife Suzie Q see this issue. Driving home the vigilant theme, the Tim Robbins guy says about the difficulty trying to get and stay in sexual sobriety: “sex addiction is like trying to quit crack when the pipe is attached to your body.” As everyone in the theater laughed, I sat there saying that they got it right!
Now before everyone in sexual recovery runs out to see it I must take the time for my passionate disclaimer, so here goes. This movie is a dark comedy that portrays the problem very, very clearly. The trailer shows Paltrow in a bra, panties and garter belt scene and that’s where that scene begins! It and other scenes will be triggering for many in sexual recovery, and that scene was not the most licentious spot in the film. So Beware! This movie will be difficult to watch for anyone struggling from sex addiction or who has been partnered with a sex addict. My own feelings check-in leaving the movie were: sad, angry, grateful and blessed. Nowhere in the movie does anyone go to seek professional help either with a coach type or at an in-patient treatment facility and they needed it and that made me angry. The depths of the depravity, the pain, hurt and despair this illness inflicts on people also left me angry, but that is not a new emotion for me, I hate this dis/ease with a passion. When their sponsors become unavailable at a moment of crisis they are left un-aided and vulnerable and finally when the Mark Ruffalo character started to date he could have really used a men’s group and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and that made me sad. But like I said in the beginning I loved the movie and I am grateful and blessed to be connected to men who are working overtime to get and stay well. An amazing fact for me was that by the end of the movie every character in the movie ended up likable. As I always say here at No More Secrets we don’t take bad people and make them good, we try to take ill people and get them well.