Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Remembering the Bottom

Every alcoholic or addict who finally reaches out for help has a "bottom".  A place or time or occurrence when they wake up, or look in the mirror, or look down at themselves say, "Enough of this shit...I'm done."

Thing is, that bottom is different for everyone.  It can be one occurrence or several.  It can come from within or be triggered by something as big as an intervention or as seemingly insignificant as an overheard comment.  There's no formula or rule just (thank God) happens when it happens and we start to get well.

My father's bottom was when he was hospitalized for cirrhosis of the liver in his sixties.  He was very close to death and, I guess, he figured that this time would have to be his time to either die or get sober.  He got sober. 
My sister still hasn't hit hers and likely never will. 
For me, it wasn't one particular thing that happened but a build up of many things.  The problem with that is those "things" pop into my head from time to time and...well...make me feel like shit.  So I come out here and write about them to get them out of my head and on to paper where I can then read them and, hopefully, begin to forgive myself.  To have faith that it will never happen again.  (See how I worked in the F word? See yesterday's post.)

Anyway, today's particular memory is about a time when my family left for the weekend to go home to Maryland and visit friends.  My son was still dating his first girlfriend and we would make the drive every once in awhile so they could visit.  However, because we have two dogs, one of the grown ups always had to stay behind.  I can't remember why, but this particular time it was me.  (It's likely that I arranged it this way so that I could drink.)

I started drinking before the weekend even began.  They left very early in the morning and I had been up most of the night drinking.  I had attempted to bake them some crescent rolls to take on the road and I fucked that all to hell and back.  I remember looking at them after a couple of hours of sleep and thinking, "Oh God!  They're going to know I was drunk when I made these!"  Yeah Sherry, because your family is basically stupid and didn't know you drank to excess every freaking night.

After they left I went about my day and stuck to the drinking before 5:00.  I remember being incredibly sad and depressed.  I thought it was because they were gone but looking back, I know it was because I hated myself so much then.  So to cheer myself up, I went to Target and walked around.  I love Target, just being in the store cheers me up.

And then I went home and drank...and drank...and drank.  I stayed up till all hours of the night and just got rip roaring stupid drunk.  No one was there to judge or "catch" me.  No one could look disapprovingly at me or look disgusted or start to cry because I was drunk.  It was just me and umpteen bottles of chardonnay.

Jesus fucking Christ.

I passed out downstairs on the couch every night they were gone, eventually waking a couple of hours later in that sweaty panic to make my way upstairs to bed...only to sleep fitfully the rest of the night until the dogs woke me in the morning to go out.

Then I would get up, pretend everything was normal and do it all over again.

It's funny - it's been over three years since any of this happened and I can remember it like it was yesterday (or bits and pieces anyway).  I've had a lot of drunken episodes over my drinking career and I don't remember shit...but those last few months before I FINALLY decided that enough was enough, are clearer than any of the others.

Thank you for that God.  Thank you for giving me a husband who put up with my crap, never judging, always loving, always caring.  He is my strength.  Thank you for giving me children who have forgiven me for all the crap and still love me.  Thank you for helping me to forgive and love myself a little more every day. 

And thank you for standing by me every day that I am sober because the alternative sucks ass more than I can say.


"Our lives are not determined by what happens to us but by how we react to what happens, not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst, a spark that creates extraordinary results."  ~Anonymous


  1. I know exactly what you mean. My bottom - if I've reached it, which I wonder sometimes - isn't one event but a series of smaller events. Nothing calamitous, though each one felt that way at the time. A gradual process of being sick to death of feeling those pits of shame and self disgust.

    Don't be too hard on yourself though. You were depressed not just because you hated yourself - though you may have in that moment - but because alcohol is a depressant.

    Congratulations on your journey out of that stinking pit hon.

  2. I can really relate to making the rolls drunk. I am a good cook sober, but drunk it is a different story. I remember one Thanksgiving I served my friend meat who had been a vegetarian for at least 15 years. I also forgot to season the food I was making and didn't drain the rice. It still had water in it. I had polished at least one bottle of wine by myself at that point.
    Anyways I got a laugh out of your drunken baking since I have done the same thing myself. A lot of things Ive done drunk I am horrified at. Cooking bad is something I can laugh at. Luckily the Thanksgiving dinner was just my hubby and a close friend of 20 years.
    I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. I have had those days when I can easily drink one or 2 bottles of wine. I have stopped drinking white wine just because I always drank more when drinking white verses red.
    Congratulations on staying sober for so long!

  3. Alcoholics should never engage in oneupmanship because the winner is the biggest loser. I think went so much further down the road than you my friend, and probably have a whole lot more night like the one you described and worse to be forgiven for. But you know what? We're winners now. That's what counts. No shame in that.

  4. I was at a meeting last night and heard a chair from a guy I've known for some years, we cross at meetings from time to time. There was so much in his story that was so like mine both in active alcoholism and in recovery. Like you say I was then thrown back into the last year of utter madness before I finally said "Ok I've had it with this crap!".

    In the end my end was frankly most bizarre in some ways. After a year trying to cut down/control my drinking I was frankly back to the same position as a year before only worse and feeling so utterly useless as I just couldn't fix it. Then into this depressed mindset my wife texted with some good news we had been waiting for. Her text ended "...tonight we can celebrate". I looked at that and thought "Celebrate what? My life is shit!" I went on a bender from 12 noon until about 7pm arriving home to find my wife had gone out and was angry with me... oh and the TV was broken. So I phoned a TV repair man, thinking if I fix this problem everything will be well... it wasn't! An hour later I was lying on the floor sobbing after a blazing row with my wife in which I finally hit the lowest point I ever want to reach. From then to now by the grace of God (or something I don't understand as I don't really get God in a conventional sense) I've not had to pick up a drink.

    Being reminded again though of how bad that was, how I felt, how I treated myself, my family, my friends, my colleagues, the world I know that whatever is happening the only answer that matters for me is to not take a drink.


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