Beyond Rock Bottom Excerpts
Introduction: Written by Patty
Our journey. The addict and the co-addict.
He is my son and I am his mother. This is our separate journey to a world of health and freedom. We will each tell of our account of what it was like, what happened for us to want to change and what life is like now.
Grayson started drinking cough medicine at 14-years-old and by the time he was 15 he was taking pills, drinking, and smoking pot. I was at my wits’ end trying to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it. His drug use increased rapidly and I’ll never forget his phone call after what could have been a fatal car wreck.
We tried all kinds of things to help him: therapy, changing schools, self-help books, and stricter rules, but things only got worse. I got worse, consumed by awful thoughts of “what ifs.”
We sent him to rehab and then watched him move out West at 20. I began to let go of him as my attention shifted to the needs of our middle son, also battling addiction. Our family was falling apart and I learned I was powerless over addiction.
In my desperate search for answers, I began to see what recovery for me would take. I walked back in on myself and took control of my life, and in time, began to heal. Grayson, in his own journey and desperation, eventually found recovery for himself. Be assured that writing this paragraph of sixty-six words, however, doesn’t begin to convey the heartache, frustration, and struggle.
Our lives became unmanageable and at different points we surrendered to God and applied the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Today, we both enjoy the freedom that recovery brings. I live my life and recovery and he lives his life and recovery. Separately, we pursue physical, emotional and spiritual health. We do this one day at a time.
Written by Grayson
Taking Account Of Things
Ever since I can remember, I didn’t fit in. Something was missing inside me. It was not obvious so I never thought I should mention it to anyone. Or maybe it was because my family didn’t talk about emotions or show a lot of affection toward each other. For whatever reason, I was broken and it was up to me to fix it.
The first time I got drunk, my problems were fixed. I could talk to girls and joke around with other guys. I was a better athlete and felt much more fit when I was drunk or high. My hair looked better. Drugs and alcohol were the solutions to my problems. They put the color into my black and white world. I continued to search for better answers until I was a textbook heroin junky. I got really good at doing things I didn’t want to do. Being dope sick was a normal part of my life.
At some point, my greatest asset turned against me. I was in a lot of debt, sick and smoked pot like other people smoke cigarettes. I drank all day. I was a nervous wreck. I had tried everything and nothing seemed to work. I had a solid 6 mg of Xanax dependency on top of countless other addictions. That one scared me the most. I knew withdrawals could kill me, especially combined with the alcohol withdrawals. I wanted to stop, but at this point it was far too late for me to accomplish that feat on my own.
I lost all the jobs I cared about. Somehow I managed to get hired on ski patrol in Mammoth Lakes, California. I also worked a few outdoor education contracts for a school in Santa Monica. During these trips, I was responsible for the safety and well being of a dozen high school kids in the wilderness. The truth is, the only thing I was responsible for was making sure I picked up enough heroin and cocaine to last me through those trips. No one had a clue. I’m sure they thought I drank too much at times, but cocaine and heroin? That is crazy. I was crazy and so full of shit.
I hung on to heroin and cocaine as long as I possibly could. While in college, I started to grow and sell pot to have a way to support such an expensive habit. It usually took about $100 a day on and off for five years. When I ran out of heroin, I would try to shoot up Benadryl, vodka, or that black crumb that sort of smells like heroin. I was addicted to the needle.
I got arrested for selling a couple grams of hash to an undercover agent. That was it for me. I was doped up at the time and didn’t think too much of it. My girlfriend leaving me, getting kicked out of my house, and my dog dying had really raised my tolerance for emotional pain.
When it finally registered in my drug-addled brain what was about to happen—prison for three years—I was ready to take other people’s advice. Maybe I didn’t know everything. It became clear to me then that all these problems were of my own making and I needed help. I wanted treatment. I wanted to go now! I was desperate and I would do anything.
There was something about me that was different from everyone else. I was gross. I was slow. I was awkward. Deep inside, I always knew this. I tried my best to forget it and at times I was really close to forgetting the darkest moments in my life. No matter how much I drank or used, I could not completely wipe my memory clean of the filth that was imbedded in who I was.
We are as sick as our secrets. When I was about ten-years-old, a family friend molested me. He was 16-years-old and I thought he was so cool. He played football and had a lot of friends. He also paid attention to me and would hang out with me after school. It made me feel special that he wanted to hang out with me. I was fat and my peers made fun of me. Hanging out with someone who was so cool and did not make fun of me was exciting.
One day we were at the pool in our apartment complex around mid morning. We were in the laundry room within the pool complex. I do not remember the whole experience and that is probably a good thing. I have heard people say kids have an ability to not remember traumatizing events in their childhood; it is a defense mechanism. I think I used mine that morning. What I do remember is Sammy’s penis in my mouth. I remember being scared and confused. It felt wrong. I felt guilty. I did not want anyone to know what I had done.
It became true what everyone said about me. I was fat and clumsy. More than that, I was disgusted with myself. I shouldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t tell a soul about this experience until I was in my late 20’s. I lived most of my life with an overwhelming sense of guilt, shame, and disgust. I absolutely hated myself for letting someone take advantage of me like that. I hated the way I looked and I hated the way I sounded. I was awkward and fat. I was sure that people could tell what I had done just by looking at me.
Drugs and alcohol temporarily relieved me from the guilt and shame that only amplified when I sobered up. This created a vicious cycle of self-hate and mental torture. I did not know how to deal with the gravity of it all. I began to tell myself that it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I told myself that for years. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal and I began looking for other things to blame my shame and guilt on. It was a big deal. I was only ten-years-old. I did not know how to stand up for myself. Especially to my coolest friend Sammy. It was not my fault. I needed to be honest with someone. I wanted to tell someone.
When I was 26, I got a therapist. She was drop-dead gorgeous and I was attracted to her. How could I tell someone I was so attracted to? I couldn’t. I wanted to know if this traumatic event was causing a lot of my pain. I wanted some validation. I couldn’t tell her. I never told her. This was becoming unmanageable, and at the time when I was seeing a therapist my drug and alcohol use was a means to live. I absolutely needed it to stay alive. I felt like it helped me breathe. It was more than just taking a little too much. I needed to drown myself. I woke up everyday feeling like shit and dreading having to be alive one more day. I drank and used in the morning before breakfast. I didn’t have a choice anymore. That was a luxury long gone. I did it out of necessity. I did not even want to. The shame and guilt continued to build as I went against my word to myself, and I was trapped in a dark place with no way out.
Written by Patty
When I was a little girl, I idolized Julie Andrews. I wanted to be her. I owned her record albums, “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.” I would dance and sing all around the living room. The album covers were full of pictures relating to every song and I spent hours lost in make-believe. So, when I grew up and had kids of my own, naturally I believed they should be like the Von Trapp children or the Banks children. We would sing and dance our troubles away—Not! My vision of going on hikes through the meadow with a guitar in tow quickly evaporated in the world of reality. “I’m tired, I’m hungry,” replaced the jovial laughter of my fantasy kids.
I did not give up. We went to the park a lot, and I substituted McDonald’s playground for the Swiss Alps.
I bought lots of books just to quickly have them replaced by Game Boy. I put a lot of stock in being a Mary Poppins kind of mom, but I was losing.
Middle school took my kids away even further. They began experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Sneaking out of the house at the wee hours of the night was common.
This is not how it’s supposed to be. This is not according to plan.
Prayer and journaling became a common practice for me. Crying out to God, “ God help!” was often all I could express. Exasperated and weary, I plugged away. I learned a whole new skill set of administering drug tests in my kitchen. This is not normal, is it? What happened? Disney did not play out in my world.
Life was hard and I labored to breathe. My kids were going downhill fast. My sadness and heartache were unbearable. I remember walking into church after Grayson’s car wreck and panning the sanctuary, looking for someone to confide in — someone safe to tell all I was going through, someone who would understand. I finally found someone to talk to who was understanding, but the truth is they didn’t really understand.
I always felt lost and hurting right in the middle of church. I could hardly think straight and struggled to continue my daily duties. What in the world was I going to cook for dinner? I was often paralyzed. I was in pain with no one to comfort me. I learned years later, deep in my soul, that God would be that comfort, and I learned to be ok when those around me were not ok.