Lena Dunham is finding that the world is a more magical place now that’s sober. The Girls creator sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss how her priorities have changed and what she’s discovered.
She signed on to emcee a Friendly House benefit over the weekend, and she says the organization has been key to her recovery: “Snark and blinding wit can be fun, but who has time at the moment? So this was an opportunity to open up about what sobriety means to me at almost three years clean and what Friendly House has meant on that journey and on a larger scale the impact of the current mental health crisis and how diligent we have to be in battling it. Living in Los Angeles, the homeless population is growing visibly every day; we can't ignore it. This is deeply tied to issues of mental health and substance misuse disorder. The support just isn't there, which is why Friendly House remains such a rare organization — no woman is ever turned away for financial reasons.”
Friendly House’s open-mindedness is key to its success, she believes: “I love that Friendly House uses many modalities — talk therapy, transcendental meditation, creative arts, more classic 12-step — to help women find a center of peace without drugs and alcohol. They're always on the lookout for new ways of bringing calm and hope to their patients. They remain open to every aspect of healing, and I really believe we don't heal without a huge arsenal of tools. I sure didn't.”
She says that sobriety has transformed her life: “Becoming sober is quite simply the best choice I've ever made for myself. It has given me a level of steady focus and presence of mind that I never had even before I knew what drugs and alcohol were, when I was just an anxious kid, because getting sober forces you to face so much of your inner life and how you really are programmed, and to get comfortable with who you are on a base level.”
Dunham says that working through it during the pandemic has been a positive: “I actually like myself, which is a pretty surprising discovery for a chubby Jewish writer with OCD and chronic illness. The pandemic has brought a whole new layer of anxiety, and also a whole new mode of needing to sit with myself. It's like hitting a new level in a video game and having to battle different goblins, but it's proved possible, and on some days even lovely. Being a writer, I am pretty accustomed to long stretches of time with just my dog and my thoughts and the clacking of computer keys, and I feel very blessed doing that with only the buzz of coffee.”
Dunham adds that she sees more than she ever did: So many magical things have occurred, in work, in travel, in health. Maybe they're miracles, maybe I just didn't notice this stuff before. But the very best thing is how so many of my relationships have strengthened themselves, even certain ones that seemed beyond repair for whatever reason. I've been able to show up as an adult to these dynamics, and they've been able to see me show up, and the love just flows.”