I originally published this post in April 2014 on my first blog, Mother of Imperfection. I decided that it would be a fine introduction to who I am, although it doesn’t define me completely. I am an addict but I am also many other things. The one thing I am not…..a saint.
I wonder how far I’ve fallen by this time……Oh! I think I see the bottom. Yes, I’m sure I see the bottom. I shall hit the bottom, hit it very hard, and oh, how it will hurt.
It is a phrase so many who live with addiction, any addiction, are familiar with. It is the depth you must reach, the landing spot where you fall squarely on your ass and the pain in your body, your heart, and your soul requires you to do one of two things: live or die.
Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?
My bottom, my final bottom, was in a motel room. All alone. I remember very little of the day or events that led up to this moment. I have scraps I can piece together that are probably very inaccurate from the reality. It began with a sad song and a bottle of scotch and the promise that I would only have one.
I stopped trying to put the pieces of the day together a long time ago. The details are not important and I learned the hard way that trying to make sense of it only frustrates me. I remember very well how it felt.
I also remember forming a plan of action. I was all alone. I had nothing left. In my stupor, I decided I would call a taxi in the morning, be taken to the nearest pharmacy where I would buy every sleeping pill they had on the shelves. I would come back to the disgusting hole I was in and I would wash them down with warm beer. Then I would sleep.
Ever the selfish addict and alcoholic, I simply wanted my own peace and found this to be my plan for salvation. For myself. It never occurred to me the pain I would be inflicting on others in order to make mine stop.
In the early morning of October 28, 1997 I picked up the phone. I called the taxi. I gave the driver an address and I walked up the drive to do the only thing I could to make the pain stop. I knew it was going to hurt just a while longer as I stepped into the arms of a friend who ran a halfway house.
I knew some of the other women here already and they knew me, welcomed me. The first few days were excruciating and it wasn’t the physical withdrawal, the night sweats, or the dreams that made it so. It was the palpable loneliness. Imagine being in a room full of people, bleeding and screaming at the top of your lungs, and no one hears you. No one sees you. Believe me when I tell you that mental and emotional pain can be felt physically. Bruises moving from the inside out. It was the knowing that I had no thing and no person left in my life that could help me.
There was just me. I had just found the bottom and yes, it hurt.
Painful as it is, the bottom can glorious. For if it is life that you choose, then you will stop the pity party that others in your life left long ago. You will stand up, and feel your way through. Yes, feel your way through. You read it right. Bottling the emotion is what an alcoholic and addict does and unless you are ready to feel it, accept it for what it is, and ultimately let it go, you will relapse. You will relapse. It just bears repeating.
Action is the answer. I did not stay sober by sitting around thinking about it. I literally left the girl I was behind. I said goodbye and wished her luck but I’m pretty sure she’s dead now. I stepped slowly forward just like others who had gone before me told me to. One day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. Until it didn’t hurt anymore.
I know it is customary to start a story at the beginning but this really isn’t even the end. Getting sober is a beginning but it doesn’t excuse you from the realities of life as an addict. It simply arms you with the means to fight. Often times, the fight will not just be for yourself since addiction is a stealthy opponent and if it can’t have you, it may turn its greedy, cunning wrath on someone you love.
This story has many, many twists, turns and truths. So, see this as you will: the beginning, the middle, or the end. It is, in fact, all three.
Photo credit: Dominik Martin/unsplash.com