- Mental Health
Choose a Bottom; Then Climb
Stop Where You Are
Twenty-six years ago, I was forced to see my addiction through the eyes of others. Confronted by the president of the college and several deans, I felt trapped, embarrassed and alone.
While I did not put up a fight or deny their accusations, I could not see any benefit to treatment but was too afraid of losing my job to object to their mandate. Each was clear in their objective; I would enter treatment that night, there was a bed waiting reserved for me, and they expected me to be successful in recovery.
When I arrived at the treatment center, I was asked if I'd hit a bottom. I did not understand what the nurse meant, other than a vague notion of how bad my situation was.
Realizing that I didn't understand the concept, she explained that how I felt at that moment and what I was thinking about myself and the situation was as bad as it had to get. That this moment was a turning point; that I could choose this as the worst and call it my bottom and begin the process of climbing out the pit of addiction.
Or I could throw away this opportunity and perhaps not have another chance.
How Far Down is a Bottom?
“Some people are at the top of the ladder, some are in the middle, still more are at the bottom, and a whole lot more don't even know there is a ladder.” - Robert H. Schuller
I was in treatment with over 80 other individuals; all coming to treatment because of a substance abuse problem, but not all experiencing the same intervention techniques or reality checks.
On my second day in treatment, I noticed a woman who resembled a young Elizabeth Taylor standing near the patient bulletin board. She was poised and cheerful. I am someone that to this day, can preen, fluff the hair and do all those beauty routines and five minutes after I am finished, still look like an unmade bed.
She smiled and asked if I needed help. I assumed she was on the staff and asked her what group I was supposed to attend next. She said, “I’m going to that group, just follow me.” I was stunned when she ended up being a patient. Here she was, beautiful, seemingly self-confident, assured, positive and helpful. I then decided that she must be almost finished with her month’s treatment to look and act so positive and vital. Wrong again.
As we talked in the group, she cried when she referenced her bottom; not being able to tuck her child into bed one night. Her five-year-old daughter had gone to her first spend the night party. As sometimes happens, she wanted to go home. My friend got a phone call about 10:30 to come and get her daughter.
With her daughter gone for the night, my friend started drinking earlier than usual and was too intoxicated to pick her up from the part. Her husband went instead.
Because she knew her daughter was upset, she waited for her in her room. When her father carried the half-sleeping child into the room and laid her on her bed, my friend leaned down to straighten the covers and promptly fell into the bed beside her daughter.
My friend entered treatment the next day. Her bottom placed her only slightly higher on her ladder than some others, yet still with room to grow.
Bottoms Are Just the Last Place We Land
Are you satisfied with your life right now? If you decide that your life is not good right now, is it because you are using too much and disappointing yourself and others. Then you have an excellent opportunity to choose this moment to be your bottom.
That's right; you can choose to label this as your bottom; your lowest moment; where you are no longer willing to sacrifice all to get and remain high.
“I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized, and I still had a daughter who I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” - J. K. Rowling
After Your Decision, Take Action
You have now decided that you are finished using.
- What can you expect?
- What should you do next?
You may need detox, which is a medical issue. Depending on the withdrawal or the threats from DT’s or seizures, it is always advisable to seek a professional evaluation of your decision to quit using and claim this as your bottom.
Actions Follow a Logical Plan
If you do not need detox, or you have finished your detox, how do you stay on track and remain in recovery? Options are varied and individual. Some you might consider are:
- In-patient treatment
- Out-patient treatment
- Recovery Support Meetings
- Faith-based recovery
Regardless of how you find support, guidance and encouragement for your recovery, know that it is easier to remain in recovery with the help, guidance, and support of others.
Many people try to recover, and many falter and relapse. If they do not die, they can hit yet another lower bottom because they keep trying unsuccessful methods for recovery. If this has happened to you, then this bottom can be the last if you do things differently.
It might be time to stop relying on methods that don't work for you and try something different.
Some Bottoms are Permanent
In this life, there will be individuals, young and old, beautiful, ugly, rich, poor, educated and ignorant who die from their addiction.
It is a permanent bottom and one that if you are reading this, does not have to be your story.
“Some of us can be examples about going ahead and growing, and some of us, unfortunately, don't make it there, and end up being examples because they had to die. I hit rock bottom, but thank God my bottom wasn't death.” -Stevie Ray Vaughan
What method helped you get and stay in recovery after your bottom?
Life is Looking Up
When you find the right support for you, your life takes on new meaning and purpose. Recovery taught me to view this life as a journey. Now, journey is a word I do not like. (Sorry, all for that personal bias; I am sure some of the negative association is with the band of the same name.)
However, like so many other things in this world of addiction, it is commonly used vernacular or lingo. Whether you call your recovery a journey, a found second chance, an opportunity to change, or the way up, embrace it, value it, and know that you do not have to experience another bottom again.
Even after twenty-six years, there are still rungs to climb
Climb Your Ladder
There is a metaphorical ladder for all of us. We climb out of our self-imposed prison of addiction one rung, one action, and one change at a time.
I struggled with this concept early in my recovery, falsely believing that I would have to reach a higher rung by dislodging someone else.
A wise man told me that the ladders are individual. They sit parallel and in a row so that I could see those above me as an encouragement that there was more that life had to offer. For those on a lower rung, I could encourage them, or see them as a visual reminder that addiction was always present.
His talk helped me use the ladder analogy and still feel compassionate, determined and know that my ladder could take me to heights I never attained in my use.
© 2013 Marilyn L Davis