GUEST COLUMN: Finding rock bottom in the Montcalm County Jail

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:29 am on Monday, July 16, 2012

Editor’s Note: This is the second of four first-person accounts written by a woman who is participating in Adult Drug Court of Ionia and Montcalm counties. The woman’s identity won’t be revealed, but her life of addiction and recovery is an important story to tell in her own voice.

Anyone interested in becoming involved with adult drug court or a court mentoring program may contact Kristi Jeffrey via e-mail at for more information.

Somewhere in the history of addiction, the phrase “rock bottom” was coined. This is the point we reach in our battle where we have lost everything, jobs, spouses, children, material possessions. Most importantly, we have lost our souls, the very core of what makes us who we are, our morals, our ethics, our dignity, self respect, pride and self worth. The understanding that something needs to change strikes us with such intensity we are forced to open our eyes to the harshness of our reality. Many of us entertain that idea while we are using, but we don’t reach rock bottom until the realization that we need to change couples with the desire.

I found my rock bottom in the visiting cell of Montcalm County Jail, looking through bulletproof glass at my children. I looked at their beautiful faces, looked into eyes that reflected my own, and was filled with such immense shame I found it difficult to speak, to even breathe. It was then that desire met need, and I understood.

I say I found my rock bottom because subconsciously I had been searching for it, my reason, my escape, my strength to break away. Looking at my children that day, knowing they were seeing their mother at her lowest point in life, dressed in a green jail uniform, behind glass, not allowed to touch them, hold them, or go home with them, and knowing that it hurt them, disappointed them, broke their little hearts, gave me what I’d been missing. I was their mother, the one who tucked them into bed at night, who kissed their owies, the one they looked to for comfort, for praise, for love, and I wasn’t there. Once I felt both desire and need, I was overcome with gratitude and relief, that finally, finally, I didn’t have to live that life anymore, that I could change.

Rock bottom is not a comfortable place to be. It is also the point that we take the blinders off and survey all the destruction we left in our wake. We are confronted with all that we have lost, and all the pain, the mistrust we have caused. It seems overwhelming, and completely impossible to repair , to replace, or to remove. We think of all the lies we have told, all the disappointment we’ve caused. We think of how selfish we were, and how much we’ve hurt the ones we love. We think of money, of jobs, homes, cars. We feel a crushing grief, and the shame is a staggering blow.

In this moment, we are given a choice. We can either stay here, in the misery, and continue on the way we have been, or we can choose to free ourselves of the demons and take the road that will lead us home. Some of us, including myself, choose freedom.This is the harder path, because of all the devastation we created, but also because our biggest enemy is going to be ourselves. I chose this because I began to feel, something I had not allowed myself to do for a very long time. But through the shame, the grief, the utter despair, I felt something more powerful. I felt stronger, I felt determined, and for the first time in years, I felt hope. I felt a whisper of the woman I had been begin to emerge from the shell of what I’d become.

With newfound strength, hope and a glimmer of self pride, and with my children waiting for me on the other side, I took the path  less traveled and began my journey home.

July 9: “People don’t understand what addiction is”
Today: “Finding rock bottom in the Montcalm County Jail”
July 23: “Addicts need motivation to keep fighting”
July 30: “Sober, proud and lucky, but the journey is far from over”

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