“You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard,” Pitt said in a recent interview.
Brad Pitt may be one of the most famous movie stars on the planet, but when he turned to an Alcoholics Anonymous group in a time of need, he found the compassion and anonymity that he was looking for.
“You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard,” Pitt told The New York Times about the 18 months that he spent attending AA meetings. “It was this safe space where there was little judgment, and therefore little judgment of yourself.”
Sharing in a Safe Space
Despite his celebrity, Pitt felt that he could open up in the meetings, without worrying about other people spreading his stories. That helped him heal, coming off his divorce from actress Angelina Jolie.
He said, “It was actually really freeing just to expose the ugly sides of yourself. There’s great value in that.”
Pitt and Jolie reportedly split after an argument about his drinking. In 2017, six months after he got sober, he told GQ, “I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something. I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know—things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much.”
When his drinking was at its worst, he could “drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good,” Pitt said.
He had to make a change, and decided to take control of it. “I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges,” he told the Times.
Going through his divorce and getting sober forced Pitt to take an honest inventory and face some long-time challenges that he had been avoiding.
“The fact is, we all carry pain, grief and loss,” he said. “We spend most of our time hiding it, but it’s there, it’s in you. So you open up those boxes.”
Part of that was realizing the impact that fame had on him.
He said, “In the ’90s, all that attention really threw me. It was really uncomfortable for me, the cacophony of expectations and judgments. I really became a bit of a hermit and just bonged myself into oblivion.”
Now, he has learned to deal with those anxieties in a healthier way, or to put them out of his head entirely.
“Those dubious thoughts, the mind chatter, the rat in the skull—that’s comedy,” he said. “It’s just ridiculous that we would beat ourselves up that way. It doesn’t matter. I spent too much of life wrestling with those thoughts, or being tethered to those thoughts, or caged by those thoughts.”