Marilyn Monroe was born and died in Los Angeles. She is an example of a woman who lived through intense experiences both as a child and as an adult. And like any one living with addiction, hers is the quintessential example of an extreme life. Sadly, the intensity of her adulthood, both personally and publically, ended in drug overdose and suicide.
And there’s no question that being addicted to alcohol or drugs is an intense experience for anyone. It’s as though the forces of life and death are pulling on you, and the addiction claims your soul. An addiction is the venue for experiencing the transcendent, the soulful, the wild, and expansive. Yet, at the same time, an addiction brings you into the depths of hell, utter destruction, and self-annihilation.
And it’s clear that Marilyn Monroe’s life held such intensity both in the fullness of her life as an actress, model, and star of the 1960’s, but also in the cycles of destruction she experienced. She was bon in the Los Angeles Country hospital as Norma Jeane Mortenson and later changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. As a child, she went from foster home to foster home after her mother Gladys Pearl Baker was deemed unfit to care for her. Gladys was mentally unstable and financially unprepared to care for her daughter. At one point, Monroe was declared a ward of the state until finally her best friend, Grace McKee became her guardian. But at some point that ended too and Monroe returned to living from home to home up until her first marriage to James Dougherty.
In her early adulthood, she began a modeling career, which drew attention and eventually landed her a screen test with 20th Century Fox. She later signed a contract with the movie company and starred in many of their films. In 1947, however, she was released from her contract and later signed a six-month contract with Columbia Pictures.
After many films, performances, marriages, and steadily becoming an icon and sex symbol, Monroe eventually began to deteriorate. She suffered from depression, anxiety, insomnia, and many health problems. Her health required a variety of medical drugs, which created a growing addiction. She also developed a dependence to alcohol and other drugs, and in 1959, those addictions started to affect her health. After her divorce from writer Arthur Miller in January 1961, she voluntarily entered the Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic (PWC). However, she called her experience there a nightmare and was eventually moved to another psychiatric facility.
There’s no question that Monroe’s early childhood, inner life and stressful career contributed to her growing addictions. Monroe’s biographers report that she likely suffered from sexual abuse as a child and that those unresolved issues contributed to an unhealthy inner life. Yet, she tried to support herself, to create change, and find the resources to heal. She attended therapy for many years with famous psychologists as Anna Freud, Marianne Rie Kris, and Ralph Greenson. The destructive cycles of addiction plagued her later life. Marilyn Monroe died in her Los Angeles home on August 5, 1962.
For anyone like Monroe who is struggling or has struggled with addiction, the continued choice to get drunk destroys the body, healthy thinking, and impairs the maturity of the adult. The choice for drinking or drugging is a self-abusive habit, and for Monroe, that self-abusive habit ended in suicide. Of course, the cycle of addiction doesn’t have to be destructive forever. The choice to find sober help at a womens sober living facility, to quit drinking, and to stop using drugs is a life-affirming choice.
As a woman, if you can relate to Marilyn Monroe’s life, her early wounding of sexual abuse, abandonment, and loss of self, you might also find the inspiration to not allow your life to end like hers. Seeking a womens sober living community, undergoing therapy, participating in the programs of a womens sober living home, and making the commitment to stay sober are all a part of making the great change from destroying your life to creating your life.
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