When will I smile again? This is the question that has been percolating in my mind. As the dust settles and the new normal of a child battling addiction (which is anything but normal) settles into its bumpy routine, I wonder, will I smile again? When?

Our daughter is settling into her first quasi treatment arrangement. As an adult, she can refuse to go to the full treatment center her doctors are recommending unless we “section”1 her, something we do not want to do and do not feel necessary at this point.

The compromise we agreed on was PHP, a partial hospitalization program, which involves living in a community home with rules, overseen by a house manager, and going to the clinic five days a week for at least five hours at a time.

If/when she is deemed safe to return home by the clinical team, we’ll allow her to return.

She was not happy from the get-go. As we are working on our codependency skills, we, too, are not happy. The program appears to have many flaws2 and holes; she is resisting and constantly wanting to know when she can come home.

“If you’re focused on when you’re leaving, then you’re not really there.” That is the message we are trying to convey, but it is difficult to say it full-heartedly when we ourselves are not sure if this is a good fit for her, and we too have doubts about parts of the program.

There is no guidebook, there is no one who can really answer all our questions. Each case is different, each child/client is different, each treatment center is different, and we’ve been doing the best we know how given the limited information we had and the very short time frame within which to make those decisions.

Watching her unhappiness, her continued struggle, and our uncertainty on top of it all, just seemed so overwhelming and more than one couple should have to bear.

When will I again feel the carefree spirit that was so familiar just a few weeks ago?

I know all the slogans.

One day at a time.

Let go and let G‑d.

Time takes time.

This is not happening to you, it is happening in front of you.

When you are down to nothing, G‑d is up to something.

And there are thousands more where those came from.

I believe them all. I know them to be true. But for once my pontifications are failing me. I am not inspired by my own words. I used to believe that “fake it till you make it” was a worthy enough slogan to actually be utilized as a life principle.

You don’t have to always feel what you believe for it to be true. Just because I don’t feel it at this moment doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I am aware of this as well.

Perhaps I’m grieving the relative peace that (I thought) I was once living. The truth is the unraveling had already begun long before. I was just unaware of it. Is ignorance truly bliss? Or is it a delay tactic? A bandaid on a gaping wound? Denial or not, I was living relatively calmly.

Now, the knot in my stomach never goes away. Even when I distract myself with worthy and some not-so-worthy projects, my kishkes are twisting. (I am not even beginning to address the ripple effect this stuff has on the rest of the family. That is a conversation unto itself.)

I know I need to let go and dig into my faith. Believe that all will be well - and I do in fact believe that; I’m just afraid I will have lost my soul before that time arrives.

I think at the core is the inability to have any control over my destiny, self- and outwardly-imposed.

They talk about surrender being at the epicenter of recovery. Only when someone hits “ego death” can they begin to rebuild.

Is this what it feels like? Is ego death the sense of loss of self? Is it only for the addict or does it apply to everyone? In all situations?

The analogy given is only when the seed in the ground is fully rotted and loses its identity entirely does it begin to sprout new life and growth. That is certainly true for some, but must it be true for all? Can you only heal when you’ve completely lost your identity?

What if I am only partially crushed? Is that enough for the healing and recovery to begin?

Is rock bottom the only place true rebounding can occur? Is there somewhere in the middle where we can meet and agree that enough lessons have been learned and enough growth has occurred?

It boils down to this, I believe: Bottom doesn’t mean that you are totally and utterly obliterated as a person. Bottom means realizing “I can’t do this on my own.”

For the addict, that usually means they have lost everything, possibly including their marriages, their health, their jobs, their sense of self-worth, and their whole identity, until they realize that they are powerless to do this on their own. Then they turn to G‑d.

Others, family and friends, or just ordinary strugglers of the world, need to merely (it is not so “merely”, it is a lot more than that) realize that what G‑d put on their shoulders (or plate if you wish) is more than they can manage on their own.

At that point you are at your bottom.

If it doesn’t propel you to change and live deeper, more humbly, more meaningfully, and more authentically, then most likely you haven’t reached your personal bottom. As long as there is a part of you that still thinks (somewhat cockily) “I got this on my own,” then there is likely still more work to be done. More ego death-ing to go through. More bottoming out.

When I have indeed reached my bottom, I realize that any growth or improvement that happens from here on is not something I do for myself. Is something that I do for G‑d.

And with G‑d’s help, I will succeed, not because I am strong or wise, but because He is, and He is in this along with me.

It is not about me. Then, only then, have I begun my journey to recovery.3

The author is a rabbi in North America. This is part of a series of articles chronicling his daughter’s ongoing struggle with addiction and mental illness.