At first glance, it may have appeared easy to judge Jonathan Rhys Meyers as he staggered drunk around an airport.
It may also seem simple to dismiss him with an irritated tut and shrug, ‘just another well-paid actor overdoing it’. Onlookers snapped photos, sent them to the media and reportedly described him as “disheveled” and “intoxicated” just after 10am.
Look again. Look harder. Think again.
Beyond those shaky footsteps being escorted by police officers is a heartbroken man.
He and wife Mara Lane welcomed their first child, a son named Wolf, last December.
After the photos of Rhys Meyers, 40, staggering in Dublin airport were splashed all over the media this weekend, Mara took to Instagram to do what she never should have had to. She explained his relapse to the judgemental haters and folk with eagerly wagging fingers who poured scorn at him.
No, he is not a “bad dad”. As she explained, they suffered a miscarriage with their second child.
She wrote, “With much sadness, we open our hearts to share that J and I lost our second child, who was baking in the oven. Child was very very much wanted (right now especially by J, so he took the news particularly not so well) and we are still working with coping skills over here… when life throws you curve balls such as these. Depression is a real concern from past abuse as well as alcoholism which he was born with. He has been able to turn any ugliness and hurt in his life into art and is the strongest person I know.”
There is so much to understand in her words.
When you peel back the layers and begin to understand addiction you often find an ocean of pain underneath. Irish actor Rhys Meyers has had a well-publicised battle with alcohol addiction and spent time in several rehabs, trying to address his problems.
“I was wild, I was as wild as you can get,” he said in 2013. “When you are on the front of newspapers for stupidity, getting drunk at airports, fighting with cops and stuff like that, you wake up the next day and you can hardly f***ing remember it. Responsibility gets diminished.”
Many think that physically quitting alcohol is the hardest thing for recovering alcoholics, its not.
The hardest thing is learning to feel.
Often alcoholics have used booze, as a coping mechanism. For years they have desensitised lows and celebrated triumphs in the same way. They have carefully found a path to tread somewhere in the middle.
Alcohol, or any substance, becomes a way of numbing feelings, quickly. The biggest, hardest tests are when, as his wife says, “life throws you curve balls”.
It’s hard to describe the instant raging panic that washes over you when you receive bad news in recovery. Self-doubt, drowning fear, sickening dread all show up in an instant.
I’ve been living sober for two years. Some days are harder than others. The hardest are when the waves of despair catch you by surprise and fiercely drag you down. Feelings are the biggest challenge for anyone in recovery.
Rhys Meyers’ relapse is just one story that shines a really important light on men struggling with their emotion. I wonder why we find that so difficult to acknowledge?
Abortion is another. Yes, that grief impacts your partner too.
Women need to truly believe that it doesn’t mean we’re betraying ourselves to be aware of men’s pain. It doesn’t mean we’re putting ourselves second – and it is certainly is not a competition.
What we go through in life affects those around us.
It affects our partners, friends, relatives and those who care, regardless of their gender. Underneath that, we are all human beings with hearts that can thud with torment.
I recently spoke to an abortion grief counselor who had saved the life of a teenage boy. He was engulfed in despair after he and his girlfriend lost their child and had no frame of reference for what he was feeling. He didn’t understand what he was feeling – or where to turn.
We must be aware.
We must try to understand.
We have to take an active interest in the trickle on effect that events may have on men too.
In her heartfelt Instagram post Mara added, “Life is life. Life is beautiful. Life is tough sometimes though so let’s try not looking down at someone unless we intend on helping them up.”
Importantly, may that apply to all human beings, equally.
LISTEN:What do you say to someone who’s lost a baby?
To read more from Corrine Barraclough, click here.
To read more about pregnancy loss, click here.