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  • Kid, you’d better look around
    How long you think that you can run that body down
    How many nights you think that you can do what you been doing
    Who, now who are you foolin’?
    Paul Simon
    So, I took the honorable discharge option. It was so unexpected, and such a breath of fresh air - freedom! I really hadn't seen it coming, and couldn't have been more delighted.

    I decided that I would head back east first, wrap things up back there, visit my friends in Connecticut, visit the folks in New Jersey, go back to see some of my Navy friends in Norfolk, Virginia, and then head back out to California to start my post-Navy life out there.

    I didn’t have a lot of specifics to my plan, but I had gotten used to “winging” it in the previous few months, and just figured that I would wind up in a good place. I had grown lots of big ideas and spacious dreams in my freewheeling travels. I was filled with hope for the future, as I embraced my impending newfound freedom. However, things didn’t quite work out as planned. The dreams were good, but the werewithal to convert them to reality just was not there.

    It didn’t take long, really, and there was almost an inevitability to it. I could almost feel myself slipping down that long slide that led to a deep depression within a mere couple of months. As much as I had come to hate the Navy, and convinced myself that the Navy was far too regimented and “structured” for me, it was that very structure that had provided the underpinning to whatever stability I’d had in my life, for at least the previous couple of years. I couldn't see that at the time, of course. But, without it, and left to my own devices, the growing active addiction I was unknowingly caught in the grip of soon dragged me down into the deepest caverns of despair. There was nothing I could do about it at the time. It really had me.

    In later years, in 12 step programs, I'd hear so many talk of "bottoms". "Yes, that's when I hit my bottom and found the program, by the Grace of God". With all due respect and my deepest apologies if I offend anyone's program sensibilities, as it is not my intent to do so, I never really understood that idea or terminology.

    What I learned over the next six months was that hell has no bottom. No matter how far down you may think you are, there's plenty of down below that point. You may think you've just hit the bottom, and it's safe to come up for air, when - "Boom!" Just like that, the floor falls out from under you and there's more down below. You can just keep going...I did, and at no point, did I feel like I had landed on some safe "bottom". It just kept going down...
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