May 20th, 2020

Taking Responsibility for My Life Choices

Actor Eddie McClintock Discusses Sobriety
Real Stories
2 MIN READ
 

Life gave me an interesting punch in the face a few weeks ago. This particular punch was sharper than the everyday-ordinary punch I usually absorb, so I thought I’d write it down and send it out into the universe.
 
As many of you know, I’ve been working as an actor for the last quarter century. The fact that I’ve been able to do so is baffling, considering that before the age of 27, the closest I’d ever gotten to the “stage” was designing the cover of the playbill for “Li’l Abner,” in high school. 
 
I’ve been clean and sober for 19 years. No pills, powders, plants or liquids that affect me from the neck up, for 6,962 days. For me, that’s a miracle, because for many years I’d made those things the core of my “circle of friends.” Somehow, I found it possible to scrounge up enough self-worth to forgive myself for whatever perceived wrongs I’d committed and take control of my life. I’m proud of it, as I’ve watched too many friends destroy their lives, several of whom are no longer with us as a result. I’ve experienced many wonderful things because of both my acting career and my sobriety. I do believe, however, that without the sobriety, there never would have been an acting career, or any career at all for that matter. Warehouse 13, in particular, opened my world up beyond anything I had known before. I traveled. Vacationed. Purchased homes and cars, and things I’d always wanted. I got married. Had kids. People started asking for my autograph. Life was pretty good, and through it all I never fell back into my old ways of drugs and alcohol. It just wasn’t an option. Again, this was a source of pride, as in the past I would use any excuse to drink or use. Happy: drink and use. Sad: drink and use. Bored: drink and use. My life was either a celebration or a pity-party. You get the picture.
 
Above and beyond all the great jobs I’d gotten throughout my career, Warehouse 13, in particular, was a source of great pride for me. A large group of people had given me a great responsibility to be the leader of a television show that cost about three million dollars an episode to make. Careers were on the line. People’s livelihoods depended on me showing up every day and doing my best work so that the series could be a success and everyone could continue to feed their families. I was so honored. I was so humbled. After all the shit I’d put myself and those around me through for so many years, Warehouse 13 was my great redemption. I stood tall.
 
Then, after six years and five seasons, the show was done. The cancellation hit me hard. It was a deep sadness for me, and a great excuse to again slip back into my old ways. But I never did. The following years were incredibly humbling. The source of much of my personal pride was no more. I was back at home, hoping a new job would come along, but it never did. We had to sell our home. We took our boys out of private school. The fancy cars had to go. And frankly, the material stuff began not to matter anymore. But I had my family. I had my boys. I had love in my life.
 
Since Warehouse 13, my career had a few blips of life. Three years ago I had a great run on a show called Shooter and then was lucky enough to work with some great people on a Netflix series that unfortunately was cancelled. This past year, however, was grim. I didn’t record a single day of work. Audition after audition, after audition, failed to go my way. That’s the business. I get it. I don’t like it. But I get it.
 
Our savings was dwindling, big time. I started thinking about the need to walk away from a career that was, after 25 years, no longer sustaining my ability to provide for my family. And that’s all I really care about: making my sons proud of their father and providing for my family. But what was I going to do? What was I qualified to do? Who was going to hire a 52-year-old man who’d never had a job in the “real world?” I told Lynn, “I just want the boys to be proud of me. I want you to be proud of me. I want my dad and my sister to be proud of me,” but most of all, I wanted to be proud of myself.
 
So, after many sleepless nights staring at the ceiling, I decided to apply for the LAPD. At 52 years of age, I was going to walk away from the only thing, other than sports, that I’d ever been successful at, and become a police officer. It was a terrifying revelation, but I just wanted to help people. I wanted to be of service to my community and my fellow man, and this was the only thing that made any sense to me. So I signed up and went to the preliminary orientation qualifier. I found myself sitting in a room of 130 other potential officer candidates, and the only difference between them and me was our age. I was 52, and their average age was 20. That day, I took the physical fitness qualifier, which I kicked ass on (although my 1.5 mile run and 300 meter sprint could have been better), and I took the written personality qualifier, which I scored a 95% on. I can tell you this, I felt damn proud walking back to my car that day. I was on my way to becoming a “team guy” again: Something I really hadn’t experienced since my days playing sports.
 
Next came the preliminary background review. In it, I gave references, family history, job history, credit history, places I lived and lastly, history regarding personal responsibility. I knew this was coming. I knew they were going to ask me questions about my past. Had I ever done drugs. Had I ever been arrested. I knew they were going to ask hard questions, and I was prepared to answer them directly and honestly. After all, I’ve been sober for over 19 years. So that’s what I did. I was very clear about my past. I was neither evasive nor withholding. I was crystalline in my honesty. About a week later, a letter arrived from the LAPD Review Board. They had made the decision to disqualify me. I was done. My profile on the LAPD Candidate website was completely erased. 
I was embarrassed. 
I was disappointed. 
And I was angry.
“How short-sighted can they be?”, I thought. “They disqualified me for things, many of which I’d done 25 years ago!” “I was honest!” “I’m sober!” “Fuck those assholes!”

———

Then I got to thinking. I was honest? So what!
I’m 19+ years sober? Big deal! 
Do I deserve a ribbon for being honest and a cake for being sober? No. Do I need to live with and accept the consequences of my choices as a young man? Yes. Nobody owes me nuthin’. And if I decide to stay sober and be honest in my life, then that’s on me. None of that “deserves” a congratulations. The LAPD has the prerogative to be subjective, and the results of that subjectivity didn’t qualify me for candidacy. So perhaps them bouncing me from the program is less of a “fuck those assholes,” and more of a “Hey Eddie, don’t be an asshole.” That’s something I’ve gotta live with. I can either throw myself a pity party or take responsibility for my life choices and thank them for the opportunity. So I did a little of both. I moped around for a few days and I ate a bunch of candy. But then I got back to working out, started smiling more around the house, started running (to improve that 1.5 mile time) again. Right now I’m in the best shape I’ve been in in years. So thank you LAPD, for keeping me humble and reminding me that I don’t deserve an award for “being a good boy” and not destroying my life with drugs and alcohol. And when this quarantine is over, I’m testing for a new show at Disney.
 
So maybe, just maybe, my career ain’t over and everything will work out, or maybe it won’t. Either way, as long as I stay clean and sober, there’s a chance.