John Galliano famously self destructed two years ago when he drunkenly went on a vile anti-Semitic rant that then went viral.
He was fired from his job as chief designer at Dior and abandoned by many of his friends.
With nothing left to loose he had a moment of clarity and went into rehab. Newly sober, he has just done his first interview with Vanity Fair, which you can read here.
Clearly, John Galliano is an alcoholic whose drinking had become more and more self-destructive, resulting in his public melt down.
In the interview he discusses the vile rant and apologizes profusely, claiming he doesn’t even remember it, as he was in black out when it happened.
The next day he woke up and the true horror of his actions came home to him.
As an alcoholic I can relate to this horror.
The pounding of my heart as I desperately tried to rack my memory for some hint as to what I’d done the night before. Then the sinking feeling in my chest because I knew it wasn’t good.
I remember once going to on a hen night (bachelorette party) and creating a scene outside a nightclub we were meant to be going in to. The doormen barred me and therefore all my friends, ensuring the future brides night was ruined.
At the wedding the following week I tried to smile at several friends attending the wedding, they just looked at me in disgust.
A minor incident maybe, but no less shame inducing. I can’t imagine what it must be like, for the absolute worst part of yourself to be filmed, then sent around the world for everyone to see.
There is no end to my gratitude that my drinking and drugging years happened well before the advent of smart phones or Internet use. There are a few (well more than a few) pictures of me in various states, usually in bars with my arms thrown round whoever was near.
Thankfully, these pictures won’t ever be paraded across Facebook or Twitter as even after all those years of sobriety I’m still embarrassed at how I used to behave.
Being an alcoholic is hard enough without having to deal with your worst moments becoming publicized.
But this is what John Galliano is dealing with.
His absolute worst behavior will exist on-line forever, for everyone to see when ever they want. According to the Vanity Fair article he is beginning to make amends to everyone he hurt (of which there are many) and in particular the Jewish community.
He has clearly alienated a lot of people and a lot of people are finding what he said very hard to forget let alone forgive.
The reason for this, is the myth that when we are drunk we speak the truth. Which means when we say hateful things (or that we love someone) it’s how we have always really felt, we’ve just never expressed it before.
This is the reason people are finding it hard to forgive John Galliano, they believe he really meant what he said and no amount of apologising will change that.
I can’t speak for Galliano as I’ve never met him, I’ve not even had the fortune to wear any Dior (sigh).
However, I do know about alcoholism and I do know that when alcoholics are in the worst of their disease, their self-hatred is inescapable.
That’s part of why we drink the way we do, we hate ourselves, we hate being in our bodies we hate the voices in our heads and we are trying to do everything we can to block it all out.
It that state, constant use of alcohol and drugs makes sense.
My guess is that on that fateful night, when he unleashed his venomous hate, it was not because he is anti-Semitic and hates Jews or Asians. It was because he hated himself so much, that the final act of this self-hate, is to act so repulsively that the world will hate you back.
Thus, proving to yourself how hateful you are.
This is how alcoholism works, it wants you alone, isolated and hate filled because then there is only one thing for you to turn to; more alcohol.
As extraordinary as it sounds, what Galliano said wasn’t actually personal. Booze didn’t reveal how really felt about jewish people, it revealed how he really felt about himself.
It was a truthful revelation of his inner life.
As the most spiteful, meanest, repulsive thing his sub-conscious could dream up in order to achieve the end result of ultimate self-hatred.
It was an attack on himself, no-one else.
Our ‘outsides’ are just a reflection of our ‘insides’.
When you hate yourself that much, then the inevitable consequence of that, is to manifest in your life, something that equals your internal hatred.
This is what John Galliano did that night in the Paris bar.
It is only right he makes amends for what he said and then he needs to be forgiven.