Swimming in the Depths of Alcoholic Tendencies

Reflecting on life during a swim.

Patty McMahon, M.Ed
6 min readMay 15, 2022


Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

This is a personal essay. The advice is imbedded in the story. Search for your meaning as you read.

After quitting drinking, you have this energy that you feel compelled to utilize. Some people clean their house like Martha Stewart. Well, maybe not like her for real because she has other people clean for her. But, they bust out the gloves and go to town.

You may find exercise to be your refuge. Yoga, running, weightlifting all can help you do something with this energy. But it can unlock emotions trapped inside your body. And that is ok. It’s normal.

I have cried after a yoga practice, teared up during a hike, and came home feeling like I needed to scream after a long walk. It was during a swim that I realized, I have only touched the tip of healing myself from years and years of drinking.

Every Saturday, my family goes for a swim. While one kid has lessons, my husband stays with the other and I hit the lap lane. I have been just getting used to the routine. Swim a few laps. Rest. Swim some more. Pretty leisurely stuff while cautiously watching the time making sure that I am out when my son’s swim lessons are over.

This particular Saturday, I asked the life-guard, “How many laps is a mile?”

The late teenager looked at me and slowly said thiiiiiiiiirrrrty-siiiiiix??? He wasn’t exactly sure. But I was shocked. I wasn’t nearly close to hitting that in my 28 minute swim.

Just knowing the target lit something in me. “36. Thirty-six. Can I do 36? How long would it take to do 36? How do I feel about doing 36?

I got in and got moving.

I swam hard. Fast. Ok ninja. You’re going to have to slow down if you want to swim 36. I steadied the pace. So, I am going for it.

Around 6 laps I realized that I was going to need to keep a tracking system. I started repeating the numbers.

9. Stroke. 9. Stroke. Turn. 10. Stroke. 10.

Turn. 11. Stroke. 11. 11. 11.

Turn. 12. What was I like at 12? 12. 12.



Patty McMahon, M.Ed

Mother. Wife. Lover. Writing about alcohol free living and other daily insights on life as it happens. https://linktr.ee/pmacinsights


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