BTS: My 2nd 🚢 #Ship30for30 Essay: “Rock Bottom” Is a Myth

Unpacking the essay that may have missed its mark but which has given me much to unpack.

Follow along my 🚢 #Ship30for30 journey on Typeshare!

What’s the Story BTS?

Let’s take a behind-the-scenes (aka BTS but not the K-Pop group) look at my humble beginnings on Typeshare with Ship30. I didn’t know what I was in for at this point.

My first essay had grabbed 52 views and 0 engagement. The second day, I wrote the above essay to much different reaction.

“‘Rock Bottom’ Is A Myth…” pulled in 231 views and more than 4% engagement—plus, a response!

It was the critical response I expected, too. My experience-informed beliefs about the addiction field and recovery “community” oppose tradition.

Agreeing? Or not?

What’s Really Going On Here?

I didn’t think he discounted my piece at all; I’d never written that “rock bottom” wasn’t a moving goal post. The only “rock bottom” goal post you can’t move is death. You can come back from any other “rock bottom” as long as you’re still breathing. I’ve seen addiction cause serious injury, stroke, coma, and even brain damage. But there’s still a way to go on, as long as one survives, though I’m sure none of us would consciously choose tougher lives like that.

Then, I felt bad for taking on such a deep topic like addiction in just a 250-word atomic essay. I hadn’t even mentioned how the ultimate “rock bottom” is death. That felt irresponsible. I shook it off the critique and moved on.

But it wasn’t over.

The homie!

Then my friend and colleague, Timothy Hankins, agreed with me. Not a surprise though, I know his thoughts on addiction as he’s tried to help addicts, too. He’s had a similar second-hand seat like I did in social work.

The Problem with Addiction in the United States

Addiction here is rampant and staggering. It’s out of control. But are you beginning to see the varying degree of opinions we all have about it? Typical America. Can’t agree on anything. From the days of Henry Anslinger, this hasn’t changed. To understand Anslinger, you may as well read “Chasing the Scream” and take the red pill.

I’m definitely more of a red-pilled believer:

  • Screw the Big Book, 12 Steps, and the AA cult (yes, it’s a cult)
  • I’m not sure addiction really *is* a disease as I didn’t get sober by being “treated” for it
  • When treatment doesn’t work 17 times in a row, it’s not the treatment that’s considered sub-par, it’s the addict who’s considered a failure. Now how is that OK?
  • There’s always another “rock bottom” until you’re dead, so why do we say people need to hit it first in order to change?
  • Everyone in the U.S. worships James Clear and Charles Duhigg for their best sellers on habits (self included) yet we prescribe draconian means (12 steps, religion) for addicts as we browbeat them for failing. (BTW, I’m also a Christian).
  • Finally, some background: I worked 4.5 years in the field as a para-social worker within a detox, recovery center, and the country jail. I’ve also been sober from alcohol since 2013 and drugs since 2001.

But There It Was Again!

The original response came again through a different person:

2/3 responses to this piece were this ⬆️

2/3 of the responses to this essay brought up the same thing: “rock bottom” is “constantly shifting.” Do we count Timothy’s response as he’s my friend? 😉

I continued to say to myself, “Heather, maybe you shouldn’t pick something so tense and complicated for atomic essays. You should stick to the crowd-pleasers like the others…” I felt it was my own mistake—I should stick to lighter fare for 🚢 Ship30…

Today, I Decided To Unpack It Instead

My only goal in writing the piece was to prove that “rock bottom” is a myth we need to stop perpetuating because it’s harmful to the addict and unhelpful to all. I felt, due to the responses I read, that I’d missed that mark.

The responses did intrigue me because my essay never said that “rock bottom” wasn’t a moving goal post—only that we needed to stop spreading the “rock bottom” myth.

No one disagreed with me about how change is always possible.

Why did two men feel the need to make that point, still one more agreed with me—yet not one single woman spoke up? Women!? Who are affected by addiction just like (if not more than) anyone else? Where are you?

While writing this essay, I was thinking of women as my target audience. The women I once was, who tried to help an ex or a family member or a child over and over as they meet a new rock bottom each time. The women whom I also once was—the ones who kidded themselves into more drinking because, “It’s just wine! I haven’t hit rock bottom! It’s fine!”

Ladies, this was geared toward you but the men gave me a better response.

Which makes me think I missed the mark again.

Is there anything wrong with this piece of writing? Not really. On its own, it’s fine. But I question whether it’s reaching someone it could truly help. Now I feel like I’m in social work all over again… 😔

This is What’s Great About 🚢 Ship30

The point of Ship30 is to stop writing into the void on blogs you pay to own—but no one reads. Ship30 puts you out there, makes you show up, and get out of your own echo chamber. (And to also get you away from that one Karen friend who disagrees with everyone you say just to be contrarian on Facebook). Built-in feedback is one of the reasons why Ship30 is different.

Did men respond because I bring in some “masculine” (read: assertive) energy rather than the soft, apologetic, and traditionally nurturing energy women “are supposed to have?” Am I scaring the women off with my boldness? Is any of this a bad thing? Or is it helping me find my niche?

I’m onto something. Perhaps I should give the above essay another attempt…

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