I love the movies, well, let me reshape that statement. I love hot buttered popcorn with pnut m&ms poured on top of it, ice cold coke, coupled with a dark theatre and a fantastic plot. It is my guilty pleasure. Recently one of my besties and I went to see “Flight” starring Denzel Washington. The opening scene was slightly off-putting, with an excess of nudity, alcohol, and the illusion of sex. However, as the story wove it’s web, I found myself on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, tears welling up. Shockingly to those who know me, and my not so happy about turbulence self, you might think it was the inverting of a massive passenger jet as it goes hurling to the ground, that had me up in arms. Such was not the case. While I had sweaty palms just imaging the horror of such a wretched plane ride, it was Denzel’s character that struck at my core. He was an alcoholic. Functioning. Had the movie never let us behind the scenes into the inner workings of his disease, one could have presumed him a heavy drinker, maybe even a problem drinker, but this was not the case.
I watched as he denied his way through his life. Losing relationships, friends, gainful employment, faith, and ultimately self-respect, he continued to pour the poison. I did not watch in judgement, but in remembrance, in awe, in gratitude.
Many years ago, I found myself at a bottom of my understanding. Lost in my own denial, driven by a 100 forms of fear, suffering from illusions of grandiosity coupled by paralyzing insecurity, I too poured the poison, promising myself tomorrow would be different. It never was. By the time I was 24 I was a daily drinker. The movie struck a deep chord. I was reminded of a place I never want to go again, an inner spiritual bottom, empty and lifeless.
As I sat working this afternoon my phone rang. A sweet young friend had left this earth far too early. Drinking, he’d passed out, unable to be resuscitated. The particulars were quiet gruesome & are actually irrelevant. What matters is he is gone & he didn’t have to go. Such a beautiful soul.
Flashes of my time with him flew across my mind. His smile & puffy cheeks. Messy hair and laughter, I could almost see. We had just laughed about how I wanted to eat all the whip cream he’d made up to put on the apple pies he was serving in his kitchen.
I can’t say why some make it and some don’t. I don’t understand alcoholism. I’m not sure anyone really does, at least not entirely. But what I can say is this, thanks to the gift of desperation, I learned early on to ask for help and to in turn, give help when asked.
It can be anything, alcohol, sex, drugs, phobias, codependency, abuse. What “it” is, isn’t the issue, these are symptoms. Underneath, are causes and conditions. We can recover from a “hopeless state of mind and body”. Whatever is breaking your spirit tonight, reach out, ask for help. Cry out. Call someone. Don’t think you can go it alone, know that you don’t have to. Support & hope are waiting!
—- Tyler Hayes
— sending you love wherever you are in the world