Reaching the Bottom
On September 23, 2007, I was told I had an opportunity to reach my bottom. This didn't seem like something to strive for and I wasn't amused by my current situation. I hadn't lived under a bridge, spent time in prison, or put a needle in my arm so, it seemed like I was more in the middle then at the bottom. There was still plenty of opportunity in front of me and all I had to do was take advantage of it. However, this had been the case for the last 5 years and I had repeatedly fallen short. As intelligent as I may have been, I was unable to think myself out of addiction. The roller coaster was going downhill. The lows got lower and the highs weren't what they used to be. Many things I thought I would never do were beginning to pile up. The house of cards was falling and I had no choice but, to accept help or go forth on my own. An easy decision for the sane was turned into a difficult decision for the irrational. 60 days in treatment as an 18-year-old sounded like a life sentence. Not only because of the time but also, for how it would label me moving forward. What would that make me? None of my friends had been given this ultimatum and some of them were in deeper than me. Every reason not to go was firmly planted in front of my mind. The debate ensued inside my head every day that I was in treatment. I threatened to leave twice, only to be thwarted by my own inability to function. I told my parents to "@$%& off" and I refused to do any assignments after the second week. My operating manual didn't change and it gave me similar results. The last week in treatment was a special one. Everyone was given the opportunity to spend 4 days and nights in the wilderness with themselves. We would be checked secretly and there would be no communication. I was thrilled to take a break from the constant barrage of group work and feelings talk. My resistance had drained me and this was going to be the perfect opportunity to relax. It turned out to be my worst nightmare and the very thing that would help set me free. On the second day, I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping and sunlight creeping up onto my sleeping bag. The serenity was interrupted by a deep unrest. I got up to walk around and warm up because it had been a very cold night. My sleeping bag zipper was broken and it was getting down to around freezing. As I paced around my camping area, my mind began to desperately reach for anything I could do to stop this gut-wrenching anxiety. It was too deep to even understand exactly where it was coming from. I dove into my food bag and ate about half of the ration they had given me for the 4 days. 2 pounds of peanut butter, granola, and cheese did the trick. I calmly drifted back to sleep under the shimmering of the sun through the trees. When I awoke, it must have been about noon. I felt groggy and my stomach was twisted in knots. There was no way I was going to get away from it this time. The unavoidable pain had come knocking and there was nowhere to hide. My attempt to sacrifice my body to avoid my mind had only made the presence grow. This is the moment that many addicted people refer to as "hitting bottom". It's interesting that this moment was postponed for the first 8 weeks. I used every trick in the book to dodge it, even without drugs. A part of me knew that something big was happening. My diaphragm began to seize uncontrollably and my eyes began to water. I felt like I was being crushed in a trash compactor and I curled up into a ball under a giant oak tree and began to cry. I was transported back to adolescence as I sobbed and drooled all over myself. I wanted to run away but, I was paralyzed. Just as I hit the crescendo of my sadness, bits of inspiration came filtering in. I didn't mean for things to be like this but, this is where I was. I wanted to say sorry to everyone I hurt. I wanted to have a better life and make other people's lives better too. As my crying slowed just enough to hear my breath, a message began to appear in my mind. "Everything will be OK if I don't give up". This was the only message I needed to find and I found it underneath an oak tree somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the first time in treatment, I felt I wanted to be there. It wasn't that I was excited about it but, I wanted to get better. The next few days were still a struggle and it got easier. That was my bottom because I was given the space to face reality that day. I didn't get to choose the time, the place, or the terms and that's OK. My parents were courageous enough to set the ship in motion, professionals fostered patience and understanding, and the silence of the mountains created space for me to feel. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to hit MY bottom. Today it is a beautiful thing to look back on. I've made so many amazing friends who share similar stories, I've been able to help clients and families struggling with addiction, I'm closer than ever with my family, and I even traveled around the world because I could. Every year has been better than the last in this journey. It is an honor to be able to share this with more and more people. Tune in because the story is still being written. It's never too late to be healthy, feel inspired, and be you. It's also, never too early.
2/15/2017 07:20:09 pm
This is real and raw and inspirational. Thank you for your words and your wisdom at such a young age. You're right it's never too late or too soon.
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