“Rock Bottom” and the Great Disappointment

It’ll be different this time…

Suddenly, that familiar yet historically painful thought surfaced, “Just one more time, what’s the worst that could happen?” This was followed, in rapid succession, by a firm commitment to acting on it.

I was standing in the middle of my parents’ garage helping them reorganize it.

I remember feeling moderately puzzled at how I’d justified a thought I knew, internally, to be unreasonable and irresponsible.

It was like playing with a torch with an absolute certainty it was going to hurt, badly.

How could I have arrived at a conclusion where I was not only giving it serious consideration, but now, also, calculating the extent of the undeniable fallout; almost like expressing concern for an imminent nuclear strike with no thought to the radioactive aftermath.

Ultimately, my internal checks and balances system accompanied by a plethora of rare historical data and selective recall, in which moments of disaster that had odds lower that 50%, would provide me with enough empirical data to determine that “this time it would be different.”

Approximately 45 days prior to this, I was convinced I had hit rock bottom.

I had, willingly, boarded a plane bound for Mexico to attend treatment, which was a miracle in and of itself.

Why Mexico you ask?

After I had discharged myself, against medical advice, from the same detox twice in the same week and passed out narcotic medication to the other clients on the way out it was concluded that I was so fucking erratic and unpredictable that a U.S. based treatment was not only an unsafe bet but also inconsequential as the likelihood of a successful admission in my current mental and physical state was low, optimistically.

Regardless, even if I was admitted it was an absolute certainty that, in a manic state, I would surely depart.

I was such a hazard to myself and others that a facility out of the country was unquestionably paramount for any hope of sustainable success. I had agreed with this sentiment after a moment of clarity that came following a consecutive 120+ days of rampant and unstoppable intravenous cocaine and heroin use which resulted in numerous life-threatening emergencies, countless E.R. visits, and an average of 16 hours of sleep a week.

I was convinced that, when I boarded that plane, I had finally hit “rock bottom.”

I would like to take a moment to say, “God bless the 3 of you,” the power trio that owned, operated, and staffed that place during my thrilling and eventful stay. I was, as John described, “The worst client in his 20+ years in the treatment industry and a total pain in his ass.”

The Mexico sabbatical began when the heroin wore off and leading to a realization that my resolve was going to be short lived.

I began to regret making such an important decision, like saving my life, while under the influence.

Had I been clean, I would’ve surely rejected this offer. This thought was followed, a few days later, with a disagreement on medication doses and qualifying myself, again, as a pharmacologist, obviously.

After concluding that I wasn’t going to get my way, I decided that I wanted to go home, in typical fashion.

What I hadn’t considered before making this commitment was that it was, in fact, a real commitment. This was, primarily, the motivation behind my father and his friend suggesting it. You see, in the U.S., if you want to leave, you can, it’s a free country; but in Mexico, if you want to discharge against clinical advice, they aren’t required by law to return your wallet, phone or any other helpful resources to you.

They are free and entitled to respond with a resounding, “Go fuck yourself!”

We aren’t in Kansas anymore.

I bluffed anyway, thinking that a threat to leave and stroll through the streets of Mexico was more dangerous than flying me home, and out of fear for my life, they’d eventually submit.

After a 2+ mile trek in the blazing Mexico heat in conjunction with the relentless agony of my opiate detox, I realized that this wasn’t my best plan. I realized that throwing a tantrum backed with baseless threats wasn’t going to work this time.

I realized that I was, for once, not “in control” and out of my depth.

I realized that I had hit an all-time low and this is what it had come to. I realized that I was going to have to get a lot more creative if I wanted to pull off a successful extraction from this place. I’m not a quitter.

Let me tell you about my, “Fruit Punch Strategy.”

After several trips to various Mexican hospitals and medical clinics, it was mutually agreed upon that we had exhausted all of the available resources in Mexico to uncover the source of the sudden and constant nausea that had me regurgitating blood several times a day.

After thousands of dollars in medical bills it was decided that I would return to the U.S. for 2 days, so I could be treated at a hospital in Orange County.

I was going to be on full lockdown and my every movement was to be monitored with an escort at all times, including the plane, to ensure safety from myself.

This had all been arranged as a direct result of a brilliant plan to drink fruit punch, forcefully regurgitate it, and act like I was in pain; which was easy because I was in pain from the opiate withdrawal.

However, the escort component was unexpected and definitely going to be an issue for any attempt at escape from the hospital.

After all of this work, I hadn’t taken this scenario into account and it really started to dampen my mood, considering all of the work I had put in. Fortunately, I got a break.

A debate followed by a trusting, but critical error in judgement permitted me access to my cell phone, temporarily.

With no money, no transportation, no resources, and a semi-private 2-minute phone call in the Cabo airport, under lock and key watch, I managed to orchestrate a plan.

After landing in Orange County, I overdosed, intentionally, in the restroom of the hospital. “Bewildered,” would probably be the best word to describe all parties concerned for my well-being as well as those tasked with keeping a close eye on me.

It would also be the best word to describe my current state considering the disappointment that I felt in that moment of consciousness, realizing I was still alive.

The dosing request I had made was exact, down to the point, and yet again, I walked away.

I confessed that this was my all-time lowest point. A moment so dark that I believed it could be the firm foundation that I could build lasting recovery on.

This was my “rock bottom,” I thought. Never mind the last one.

I was very fortunate that the owners were willing to take a gamble on me, considering I had openly admitted the overdose was intentional in an attempt at suicide; the one thing you never want to say if you’re hope is to be admitted to a facility.

Following an extensive discussion and a detailed medical assessment validating enough mental and emotional stability to attend rehab (imagine that), I was back on a plane to Mexico minus shoelaces, as a precaution.

This time, I knew that it was the end.

After an experience like that, I had acquired a real sense of how senseless and insane I had become; that I was hopeless, and, with that knowledge, it would be impossible to rationalize a scenario where using again would be a feasible option.

A month later, I was successfully discharged from the center in Mexico and returned home, ready to take on the world and live my best life.

The opening story was 2 days after my arrival, when I was helping my parents clean the garage and the idea that I could handle it one more time arrived, once more followed by a rationalization that, effectively, lead to another whirlwind of drug induced destruction that tore through the lives of everyone I loved and cared for.

I witnessed, for the first time in my life, the hope that left my mother’s eyes as she prepared for me to die.

I would continue excavating the bottomless hole that I once considered my “rock bottom,” for some time before I understood that it was an infinite task without end, lest I quit digging or perish in the process.

I tell you these stories because I believe that “rock bottom” is a phrase that is commonly misrepresented to indicate a profound feeling subsequent to an incident or moment in time so shameful and destructive that it profoundly impacts us emotionally or mentally and upon which a firm resolution of abstinence can be used as a solid foundation.

I believe this to be the most harmful interpretation of “rock bottom” an addict can develop, considering feelings and emotions are only temporary and pass as hastily as they arrived.

In my opinion, “rock bottom” is nothing more than a metaphor to describe a moment in time where an admission of hopelessness and defeat occurs, followed by an adoption of new principles and ideas with a system of priority designed by someone other than ourselves, and finally, a commitment to a plan of action aimed to carry it out with a level of accountability.

If done properly, it will usually be a priority system that is completely counter intuitive to the one it’s replacing followed by the anxiety of taking actions we’re unaccustomed to.

“Rock bottom,” is nothing more than a metaphor for a moment in time where the willingness to endure the discomfort of contrary action outweighs the agony and familiarity of continuing as we were.

“Rock bottom arrives when you’re ready to put down the shovel and stop digging,” is the phrase I hear most often.

I believe this to be absolutely true. The hole you are digging in, tirelessly, is an endless abyss that ultimately leads to an inevitable fate, death.

The hole itself is not the one that concludes, you are, when your mind, body and soul finally perish from the arduous undertaking of a self-defeating, endless dig, in the exploration of an alternative to an admission of failure and submission followed by a cry for help.

Quite simply, in regard to addiction, “rock bottom” is nothing more than, just that, a metaphor to describe the completion of a life.

Either we pass away in recovery and at peace or we attempt to beat our fatal condition into compliance until we perish from the inevitability of a futile and treacherous mission; a fool’s errand. Waiting for a, temporary, emotional moment of “rock bottom” before acting is about the same, logically, as waiting for a nuke to hit before conclusively starting the build of a bomb shelter.

Get busy living or get busy dying, the choice is solely yours, and yours alone.

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