A little background for you – I grew up in a healthy family environment, I always had friends and there was no real “trauma” I endured in my younger years. With such a normal upbringing, how did I end up addicted to drugs and alcohol by the time I was 18? I struggled to understand this for a long time and honestly did not even think I had a problem until I was checked in to a residential treatment center in my mid-twenties. Without going into too much detail, for about 10 years of my life, there was many wrecked cars, ruined relationships and looking at the clock not knowing if it was AM or PM.
In a few weeks I will have 7 years sober from drugs and alcohol. For someone wired the way I am, that is a pretty big deal. I have done a lot of work to get where I am today, but a lot of grace has been sent my way as well. My life looks much different today than it did 7 years ago.
Now to the fun stuff! I have been kayak fishing for about 12 years now. I have always loved to fish, but back then it was as much about getting hammered drunk in the kayak as it was about catching fish. Staying out after dark with no light or other safety gear was par for the course. Today I go out prepared on all fronts and get to enjoy each trip safely.
I didn’t have much to my name newly sober, but my cousin gave me a Pescador to jump back into the game with. I can still remember the first time back out on the water sober. A wave of emotion came over me as I realized I could really dive into my passion now that I was unencumbered by addiction. I started taking trips with my cousin and friends to West Bay in Galveston. Soon it became every other weekend to some salty destination on the Texas Coast. I was still single at this time, so taking this many trips was no big deal. I really learned a lot during this time about myself and all that I had been missing out on. I started taking solo trips as well, where I could practice being “ok” sober. Being out on a kayak all by yourself on the water really allows one to reflect on the past and plan for the future. In early recovery, my kayak was one of my biggest tools for wellness.
Today I am still very much in the game. I am on the ACK and Hobie Fishing Team, I am married, I have a great job and lots of friends. Kayak Fishing has introduced me to so many amazing people. Some have similar backgrounds, and some are completely different. The best part about that is that none of it matters out on the water. We share the same passion for catching fish and being out in mother nature. I have had the opportunity to take people out on the water with similar stories as mine. It is so stinkin’ cool to watch people experience the same healing I have. Who would have thought a floating piece of plastic and a fishing pole could provide so much peace and joy in my life.
I share this story because I want to share a message of hope. Back in the day I was hopeless. I didn’t think I had much to live for and I didn’t think my situation could change. I’m here to tell you whatever you are going through, you can not only survive it, but come out the other side stronger. The things I used to dream about don’t compare to the things I have in my life today. I don’t hide from drugs or alcohol today, because I don’t have to. I have a full bar in my house and make drinks for my wife and friends regularly. I buy people drinks all the time and not much is different except today I know I can’t partake myself. What a cool life being on the other side of what used to hold me hostage.
If you are struggling reach out. A kayak is a great place to do that. Some of my favorite conversations I have ever had are out on the water. I am very thankful for what kayak fishing has done for my well-being and hope anyone struggling has the same opportunity I did to heal. Some of my information is below, please feel free to contact me regarding a struggle or if you just want to catch some fish!
Cheers is to kayaking, fishing and beating the bad stuff!
ACK and Hobie Fishing Team
YT: The Sober Fisherman