When it is your time to get sober you will know. The trick is you have to trust it. That knowing. And that will feel very hard because the outside noise, the voices of the culture and even the voices of those close to you whom you love, will be very loud in your head, in your mind.
The noise of distracted distortion will reverberate against the walls of your veins and the corridors of your ribs and your brain. It will feel like you should have done this long ago and yet it will feel like maybe you could keep on with the lies a little longer. That maybe if you do it will just somehow get different, get better. That maybe you will discover that you were not correct. That the voices of the others did indeed know better than you and they said it would be fine and it was all normal and isn’t it just so silly how you worried your little head about nothing.
But you will know that you are not fine. And you will keep knowing it over and over when you keep getting sick and you keep hating yourself and you keep trying and trying to moderate and control and figure it out to no avail. Trying to be like the ones who don’t have a problem. Trying to not have the problem that you do not want to believe you have.
When you need to stop drinking you will know it. The trick is you need to trust that knowing. It isn’t some elusive ‘rock bottom’ that will change everything. It’s you. It can only be and will only ever be you. Your choice to trust what you know and act accordingly with self-compassion and not waste a single minute on justifying it to anyone else. That’s what changes everything. You choosing you over everything and everyone else.
And it could be today (today is the best day and I hope you choose it because today is as good a day as any other I promise because let’s be honest with drinking it’s all the same thing over and over and over anyway).
It could be in a week or a month or a year or two, if you want to be arrogant and assume you get all those hypothetical times ahead. And if you want to endure the pain of remaining separated from yourself for that long.
But it will never be some particularly catastrophic outside circumstance that fixes you. Circumstances do not change people. They are just events. Just facts. It is the person who chooses their next move. A future circumstance may trigger what is already inside of you now. It may be a very terrible thing. A monumental thing. Or it may be a very quiet private thing. It may be an accident or injury or it may be the way a single strand of light falls across your skin. But big or small, whatever the moment may be, what you will know then you already know now.
That this hurts. That you hurt. That you are scaring yourself. That you don’t want to be doing this. That you want to get better. That no matter what the others say or advise, or how they judge or dismiss or look at you, only you know what is true for you. And only you get to choose what your life will be. Any time. Every time. Now or later (if you are lucky enough to get a later).
What is it like at rock bottom? How will I know I am there? These are odd questions because you have already been to rock bottom many times. You think ‘rock bottom’ will be what changes everything for you but that’s not it. That’s not the whole story.
The whole story is that the only way anything changes is that you will need to choose. That is what you have been running from all along. Not the fact of your addiction but the fact of your having to choose what to do with it.
Every hangover was rock bottom. Every time you thought you were such a fucking fool. Every time your shame shredded your spirit into hellish desperation and jittery terror. Those were the rocks. You already know that jagged, cutting, crushing pain.
You already know what it is like to crawl along the bottom. No light. No air. The weight of it. The heavy, drenching, aching, throbbing weight of it. You have been there and it has not healed you. What will, though, is when you are in that wretched painful place and finally choose to acknowledge it instead of run from and deny it.
The bottom will always come down to you. You decide now or you decide later. You decide ‘never again’ or you decide ‘let’s keep this up.’
But one day, and I am rooting for you to get to it, when you are very solidly sober, just as you always dreamed and hoped and wanted with all the fibers of all of your precious worthy busted-up being, you will understand that when people ask you what your ‘rock bottom’ was, it is just another way of asking how far you had to fall to realize you would only ever keep reaching yourself.