Beyond Rock Bottom
Patty Smith and Grayson Smith
CreateSpace Independent Publishing (2017)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (02/18)
Interview by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/18)
Grayson Smith lives in Salt Lake City, with his dog, Lady, where he works construction. He is attending school and is pursuing a civil engineering degree from the University of Utah. He stays busy climbing, skiing and is active in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Patty Smith lives in South Carolina with her husband, Buddy Smith. She is involved in Al-Anon and other 12-step groups. Patty embraces holistic health, which emphasizes the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life. She received health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and then earned a Master’s Degree in health coaching from International Health Coach University. Her “been there, done that” experience helps clients find their own way to lasting health and wellness.
Welcome Patty and Grayson, and thank you for being with us today! Why don’t you start by telling our readers what Beyond Rock Bottom is all about?
Patty: Beyond Rock Bottom is a story of addiction, codependency and recovery. It is a mother and son writing about their journey through addiction.
Grayson: Beyond Rock Bottom is about my addiction and how I dealt with it. It is also about the struggles of my mother, being codependent and wanting to “fix” a lot of the things that were wrong in our family.
What inspired you to write this story?
Patty: I was compelled to write about my journey as a mother of an addict. I had to write about how I learned to take care of myself and respect my son’s struggle with addiction. I needed to write about how I found peace and joy, regardless of my circumstances.
Grayson: My mother called me one day to ask if she could write about me. I said she could write whatever she wanted. She called back a few minutes later and asked if I wanted to write it with her, and I said sure, not really knowing what a project it would be.
How important was it for you to get your message onto paper and out into to the world?
Patty: It is important to me to share my experience through heartache in order to help others find this same hope for themselves. I want to help others who struggle with their child’s addiction - not knowing if they will ever get better. Sharing how I learned to be okay, when those around me are not okay.
Grayson: It was fun to do and I got a lot of freedom from sharing my story with people. I did not start out with a mission or a goal to get my message out. It is a very similar story to anyone who is a recovering addict. I don’t think the message of the book is especially unique.
What was the hardest part about writing Beyond Rock Bottom?
Patty: For me, the hardest part of writing this book was reading what my son wrote. He shared some stories of his addiction that I did not know about. I did not know the extent of his pain until now and learning of his childhood trauma through writing the book was hard.
Grayson: Picking a title!
It’s a great title! What is it you most hope readers take away from the message in Beyond Rock Bottom?
Patty: My hope for readers is to learn that they are not alone in heartache, and to realize the importance of community. To learn how to be okay, even when those around you are not okay, and how to experience joy and peace, regardless of your circumstances.
Grayson: Anyone can recover from addiction. No one is too far gone.
What kind of feedback have you received so far?
Patty: The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. People are so glad we had the courage to write our story. People can relate to our struggle and heartache, and are finding hope for themselves when they read our book.
Grayson: I have had a few comments about the language I use and how graphic some of the details are around drug use. I take that feedback as a compliment. Most of the feedback I have received is that the book offers hope. A lot of people have reached out to me saying that they can relate, either through themselves or a family member.
What are you doing to get the word out about Beyond Rock Bottom and spreading your message?
Patty: We have done a few book signings and speaking engagements. We really want to spread the word of hope to those who still suffer. We did a podcast about family recovery with Bryce Bauer: Raising the Bottom. One treatment center promotes our book, Beyond Rock Bottom, and we’d really like to see make more centers aware of our book.
Grayson: It is hard for me to promote my own book. I often think, “Who really wants to read this, anyway?” My mother is a natural born promoter, handing out our cards to anyone who will take one.
What have you learned/how have you grown or changed from your experience, and what has had the most impact on your life?
Patty: I have learned how to take care of myself and respect the struggle of others. The overwhelming response of others who are struggling with addiction has had the most impact on me. It is an epidemic.
Grayson: The biggest thing I have learned is how powerful sharing our stories with one another is. I think this is the foundation for recovery from anything.
How has your relationship with each other changed since recovery and writing Beyond Rock Bottom?
Patty: My son and I are closer after writing this book together. Through our vulnerability we experience greater connection. Little did we know of the other’s pain. We hang out together and have fun together.
Grayson: That is hard a question for me to answer. There certainly aren’t any more secrets. I think it has brought us closer together, to share in such an accomplishment. It also reaffirms what we each have been through and found a way out. It is very exciting.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received – about recovery or writing or life in general?
Patty: As far as writing - write, write, write. As far as recovery - go to meetings, it’s all about community and surrender.
Grayson: The best piece of writing advice – I’m not sure if I read it somewhere or someone told me, but I remember it very well, “If it doesn't hurt to write, then you should not publish it”. I thought about this often when I was going back and forth about including painful events. The best recovery advice? Do things for other people.
What advice would you give to people seeking help?
Patty: Reach out for help! It’s all about community and surrender. “Let go and Let God”. Find an AA or Alanon meeting.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your book, Beyond Rock Bottom, and connect with you on social media?
Our website is www.beyondrockbottom.com. We also have a Facebook page @beyondrockbottomthebook.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
You’re not alone. There is hope.