Brighter Things is Steven Jackson, an Alabama-based songwriter making music and words fit together so life might make more sense.  Music released here, free, weekly-ish. Sign up to get notifications of new songs & videos.

Drinking our way through the waves

Drinking our way through the waves

Ever tried to do the "tree pose"? In the sand? While completely shit-faced? It's kinda hard. And probably super funny to other beach-goers when you fall.

My failed Yoga happened on Laguna Beach, Fla., near dusk. I remember just enough to know that this futile exercise perfectly reflected the last few years of my life: barely balancing weakness, self-medicating-drinking, and all-out breakdown.

Looking back, it's comical how predictable my next move was. I was fed up. I had felt like a "victim" of my health and circumstance. I had thought life was unfair. But in that moment, my pitifulness graduated to pure anger. Trembling through that tree pose, trying to have control of something, I took the last gulp of my second bottle of wine and went in screaming and punching at the crashing waves. There was a red flag. And I was a drunken baby bull.

I imagine the other families on the beach we're expecing Sacha Baron Cohen, Johnny Knoxville or Ashton to to pop out from behind an umbrella at any moment.

I got my ass kicked. And it was perfect.

Unfortunately, this would not be my "rock bottom" with alcohol, depression and outright stupidity. (More about that later, I'm sure) This was more of a forgiving sandy "bottom" that was like "Look kid ... that was cute ... come back when you're stronger. And sober. It's not a fair fight." 

I crawled out looking like one of those 1960s evolution animations where the creature transitions from water to land, tail between its legs.

On the shore I saw Amy there with the kids and blueberries and jugs of water. Our sweet friends Erin and Brent were there too. Silently reminding me of all the reasons not to go back in.

I did lose my watch in the water. I like to think it means that these kind of transformative experiences literally take time. I lost my hat. It was an ugly hat so I'm unconcerned with any metaphor it might represent.

Sitting there on a soggy blanket, staring into my kids' little blueberry eyes, I finally understood: This was a lesson. I would not find my balance in a bottle. Unlike folks who can drink for fun, I was drinking in desperation – treating an illness – instead of getting to the root of the problem.

That day I went from being a drowner whose panicked thrashing was worsening his chance of survival - to finally being able to see myself from afar, needing help. I vowed to get to the bottom of my illness with patience, self-compassion and no alcohol to take me off course. 

It worked for me. But I don't suggest trying it at home.

Just believe me, we aren't stronger than the tide and we can't drink our way through the waves. We have to learn to float.

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