The grass was wet, and prickly, poking through the skin on my arms and neck like thin little icicles. There was an ominous silence to the night, and the sky was clear as I lay there in my shorts and tank top, freshly purchased in the country of Thailand. I could see my own breath as I gazed up at the nights stars and I thought to myself, “I probably shouldn’t be out here like this, I’m going to get myself sick.” However, that thought was swiftly followed by a chug from the bottle of Jameson in my left hand. Problem solved, that’s how I solved all my problems.
I had a lot on my mind that night. I had just returned from 3 beautiful months in SE Asia, where I truly had the time of my life. I had seen so many new and amazing places, and met so many gorgeous people. I had partied so hard it was ridiculous, and the girls, man the girls were life changing. I felt like I was on top of the world, and I was. In less then 24 hours I would get into my fully packed 2004 Ford Explorer and head towards Park City, Utah. Where I had accepted a job at a really nice restaurant, with it’s own farm and bakery, and a lot of potential for moving up in the ranks. In Park City none the less! Snowboarding is my absolute favorite adrenaline based sport, I love it more then anything else, and here I was about to be riding daily in one of the more premier locations on the planet. It was a strange time in my life, finding myself this happy, after what had been years of depression. I couldn’t be more excited, but also, simultaneously, I couldn’t be more discontent.
Something was seriously wrong. There was the obvious… I was in the worst physical shape of my life, and anytime I approached sobriety I just fell asleep. In fact I couldn’t maintain basic motor functions for more then a couple hours after my last drink. I was in a constant state of withdrawal from alcohol, and the only reasonable course of action was to continue drinking. I had to much to do, there was to much beautiful shit going on, I couldn’t afford to be hungover for the next week. I had been thinking like this for the past 2 ½ months or so, and it was finally starting to take its toll. Then there was the not so obvious… the fact that I had been beating myself up about this since its beginning. Or the fact that I had just gone through this huge spiritual awakening not 6 months earlier, snapping me out of a REALLY dark place. Why was I still drinking like this? The question would haunt every ounce of my existence for the next 24 hours.
I didn’t really sleep to well that night, I had just consumed an entire 5th to myself, and kind of just sat there staring blankly at the wall for hours on end. The next day unfolded rather similarly, my car was already packed, and I wasn’t to leave until around 4pm. It was maybe 6:30 or 7 when my mother finally asked why I hadn’t left yet.
“Ah shit mom, I don’t know I gotta go!” Realizing as I jumped off the couch. “But first, we should have a drink”.
There was a pint of Jack Daniels in the kitchen, and as my mother mixed us up two cocktails she warned, begged rather, that I didn’t finish that bottle.
Ten minutes later the bottle was empty, and I was out the door. First stop, Liquor store.
The highway was strangely empty that night, and as I crossed the Aurora bridge, looking down on the beautiful city of Seattle, I began to cry. Like really cry, and I had no idea why. I concluded that I needed to ‘sober up’, and after a couple hour nap in an attempt at doing such, I would find myself in this moment. The single most significant moment of my entire life, a moment that honestly, transcends life itself.
I was experiencing withdrawls, like bad, ‘sobering up’ was not a possibility. I had recently purchased two bottles of Jameson, and as I sat there finishing the first, my entire life was flashing through my mind. The confusion as a kid, the pain as a young adult, the mask I had developed and had been wearing for years. Everything that I was, revolved around alcohol. I was the party guy, I was a drunk, I was the one you could count on for the “fun”. I knew I had a drinking problem, but I couldn’t just simply let go of my identity, could I? Who would I be without the booze? Nothing, no one, if I gave up the bottle I gave up everything. The very essence of what defined me, is the exact thing that was killing me. If I made it to Park City I would be fine, yes, and things would wind up okay. I could taper myself off the booze, and get myself back to a ‘normal’ state in a couple weeks. The job and the mountains would be amazing, I would do great there! And I wouldn’t have to give up who I was, I liked who I was, generally, or so I had myself convinced.
“Okay, just drink some more whiskey and get yourself there. Everything is all setup, the rest will sort itself out”, I thought to myself.
But then, for the first time in my life I also had this thought, “Ya, and then what?” Would I slowly fall back to this state? Would I ever actually get out of it? What if I didn’t… Was I to be a drunk for the rest of my days? This was way too much to think about, I couldn’t handle it.
“Drink some more and just get yourself to Park City!”, this little voice inside my head screamed again.
I chugged that first bottle to its end, reached over to grab the second, and then something truly profound happened. As I sat there grasping the bottle in both hands, staring out into the nothingness, this very strange energy encompassed my existence. As I twisted the lid off that bottle, I could suddenly see the entirety of my life in one image. Everything that had ever happened, and was going to happen… and I realized that I was staring my death in its eye. As if the Grim Reaper himself was sitting there, right in front of me, looking from me to the bottle and back again. He had this look on his face that said, “Go ahead kid, I’ll see you soon”. There was no conscious thought at this point, nothing I am capable of articulating. I rather simply found myself presented with a choice.
On one hand I could drink out of this bottle, continue on this journey, get to Park City, and go through with the plan. A path that, it now felt obvious, led me straight to my death. Or, on the other hand, I could choose a different path. A path that possessed not one single certainty. I would be lost, I would be confused, I would be alone, and I would have to let go of everything that defined me. I wouldn’t know who I was, I might not have any friends along this path, I would be unemployed for sure, and where this path would take me I could not possibly comprehend. But I did know this, it would not take me to my death, at least not yet.
I chose Life.
I put that bottle down without a sip and got myself back to my parents house. Like a dog with its tail between its legs, I asked them to take me to the hospital. After about 24 hours, and now finally in a sober state of mind, I chose to check myself in to rehab.
As I look back on this moment in my life, a lot of very confusing things start to become quite clear. I knew I had a drinking problem, for years prior to this moment, but I could never let myself give it up. Why was it so difficult to just not drink that much? Well, for me, it was a couple things. Firstly, alcohol was my one and only vice. I used it to celebrate, everything! I used it when I was bored, I used it when I was sad, I used it when I was mad. It was a very intricate part of every single emotion I had ever experienced. As a result, it was also, a very intricate part of how I chose to define myself. I had built this egoic shell, intended to protect me from the outside world, and had fortified its walls with millions of empty bottles.
The ego is a funny thing. I’ve realized that it will do absolutely anything it can to maintain its power, and that it’s a cunning little fuck! It will feed you ideas and ‘logic’, presented as if it’s you that has come up with them. My ego has always thought of itself as superior, and has always convinced me that I was right there with it. Anytime I failed to meet this standard, it would then convince me that it was only because I didn’t care that much, because I was having “more fun”. It would convince me to continue with this fun, to drink more. Not because it in anyway cared about my well being. No, it knew that I was weaker when drunk and/or hungover, and that if it kept me here it could maintain its hold, it could maintain its power over me.
This moment I have just described to you guys, was for me, the most critical turning point of my entire life. Up until this point my ego had kept me ‘comfortable’. I was familiar with my way of living, and although I had experienced some real rough times, I was doing better then most. (The ego loves to compare itself to others). It had me convinced that I couldn’t live without it, that it was the provider of my strength and courage. I realized in this moment how completely full of shit it was. I realized how selfish it was, and that it didn’t actually give a damn about me. I finally understood that all it cared about, was it’s continued existence.
Upon this realization, I decided “Screw the little bastard”. Where I currently sat, may have been a reasonably okay existence, but in my soul I knew I was destined for something more. And I now knew that this egoistic friend of mine was only slowing me down. I realized that everything I had made myself out to be was just a front, that it wasn’t actually me, it was just my ego presenting itself. I had spent my entire life pretending to be something I wasn’t, just for the comfort of fitting in.
I had no idea where my life may go outside the comfort of this shell. The thought of looking in the mirror terrified me, without knowing what I would look like. How others might perceive me, once the mask had been taken off? There was nothing to find strength within, I knew nothing! Still yet, I wrangled my ego up by it’s throat and body slammed the little bitch. I stared down on it, and with some strangely new found sense of confidence, told it to go hide in the fucking corner. I didn’t know where I was going, and I certainly had no idea how I was going to get there, but god damn, I was finally on my way!