the bottom

Be aware, every bottom has a trap door.

After the midnight hours,
two policemen sat me in the backseat of a police car and transferred me from the first precinct, where I instigated and underwent a mild beating, and then they took me to the holding facility in Hempstead.
The policemen escorted me to the rear passenger side door, and as one of the officers opened the door, the other placed his hand on top of my head, ducking me into the car, and then the two climbed in the front seats.

On the way, the officers drove through my town and all was quiet. The streets were empty and there were no lights brightened in any of the windows.
My town was sleeping peacefully, which seemed almost eerie to me.

They chose a route that was significant to my childhood, and with my hands cuffed behind my back, I saw this as an illustration to my loss of innocence.
But this was not my bottom

When I arrived in Hempstead, I sat on a bench with my left wrist cuffed to a handrail.  I was told they were going to take my shoes from me, but when I asked, “Why?”
The correctional officer replied, “So you don’t hang yourself.”

I remember walking through the door. The cells were to my right, and the wall was at my left. The corridor smelled from bodies and bathroom functions.
The overhead light hummed and the outside light brightly glowed through the frosted window.
The light was synthetic; the air was stale and remanufactured. When the guard shut the cell door, I heard the sound of steel hinges and locks turning into place. I heard the echo of the door shutting….and then I heard nothing.

And still, this was not my bottom.

Oddly, I felt relieved. It was safe to say that I did not have to repeat my sickness another day (at least not then.)
Safe to say, my backstabbing friends would no longer steal the blood from my spine, and it was also safe to say that I would be faced with changes.
But no, this was not my bottom

My moment of clarity did not come until four months into my controlled sobriety; and by controlled….I mean there was no other choice.
The moment came while sitting in the corner of a hospital room, hoping The Old Man would pull through ………but he didn’t.

While serving my time in a rehabilitation center, I received a letter from my mother, and inside was another letter from a friend named Kenny.
Kenny worked for my family but like me, he struggled with addiction, so parents had to let him go.
In his letter, Kenny was sober. He was living in a therapeutic community and the New York Court System decided to be kind.
Kenny wrote, “Tell Benny I think he’s doing a good thing. Tell him he’s a good kid and that he deserves better.
Tell him my hair is short now. It hasn’t been this short since I was a little kid. But most important; tell him it took me dying to find out how important it is to be alive.”

Kenny contracted the AIDS virus from the needle….he died not long after he sent that letter.

My bottom was a combination of events.
After the fog in my head began to lift, I became aware of the things I had done. I was able to see my sin as well as the damages I caused. I lost my childhood. I lost my relationship with my father, and I missed out on the rites of passage that come in a young man’s life.
However, my bottom had a trap door, and when I fell through, I fell hard.

No one stops anything without suffering a loss. Otherwise, there is no reason to stop. Fortunately, however, I finally hit bottom hard enough to stop rather than ride the spiral to the grave.

I decided I lost enough.  I said, “When,” so to speak.
But until you come to this point; until you say, “When,” there is nothing I can tell you that will make you stop….


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