We were in the car today, going over the Sepulveda Pass, gossiping about a friend of ours who is about to lose his girlfriend, even though he doesn’t know it yet. He still has time to make a play, do something drastic, but there seems to be one answer: she has to break up with him so that he can “bottom out” and then actually get his life together.
The whole “bottoming” phrase is common in AA, meaning the time at which drunks realized they could go no further and had to seek help. For me it had nothing to do with alcohol, it meant the times when things got so obviously bad that a revolution within my own heart was going to be the only salvation.
But I had a question: do we really need to actually “bottom out” in order to save ourselves? Can’t we see the bottom coming, or even sense its vague possibility, and decide right then and there we are going to start over? Or are human beings so drunk by their own circumstances to actually create change without any immediate threat?
Our friend could walk into his girlfriend’s room tomorrow and say: “I’ve got a new plan, I’m spending eight hours a day on this, three nights on that, and here’s how things are going to change around here” and in a month’s time, their relationship will likely be saved. But he probably won’t do it. He needs to hit bottom, like my sister Michelle says during each teen movie: “skid row…” and only then will he have the wherewithal to make a comeback.
How much time would we save if we decided that “today will be our bottom” and just started anew? How much suffering, how many four-hour phone conversations can we avoid? How many months would we get back, the ones that were ticking away while we wait to get married, or have a kid, or decide what our Life was going to be?
So today’s CODE WORD is simply: when did you hit bottom? Did you actually need to hit bottom? Or, if you want to answer anonymously, are you on your way?