We hear about it all the time, and if we’re in recovery, we ultimately experience it for ourselves: rock bottom. It’s that incident, or collection of events that leads to the painful and undignified realization that we need help. Rock bottom means different things for all of us; but it brings us all to the same destination. Eventually we realize that we’re no longer in control of our substance abuse, and that we need outside assistance to help us put our lives back together. What we choose to do, or are able to do, after experiencing rock bottom is also different for each and every one of us.
As we move further in our recovery, however, it’s not uncommon for us to want to distance ourselves from the memory of rock bottom. We’d prefer not to think of a time in which we were capable of such behavior, and for many of us, going back to those days in our mind can be downright sickening. We think that recalling the incidents that brought us to recovery does nothing more than needlessly rehash our failures and make us feel bad about ourselves. In reality, however, our memories of rock bottom can mean much more than that.
We have to remember that, despite everything else, our rock-bottom experiences are what ultimately lead us to seek treatment, and that they are a part of what informs each and every one of our recovery journeys. Even after years of continued sobriety, we’re still vulnerable to relapse, and one of the most direct paths to a setback is forgetting why we’re doing this in the first place. While thinking about the circumstances that brought us to recovery make us squirm a little bit, any embarrassment or shame we feel should be erased by the fact that we were able to recognize that we needed to change; and that we did it.