“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”― J.K. Rowling
Rock bottom was never a place I even realized I had reached. When we think rock bottom, we tend to think of that point between survival and existence. Truth be told, our lives are not always that dramatic. Not everyone has a plot twist that equates to a bestselling novel or blockbuster hit. For many of us, it is something more subtle, yet still terribly difficult.
As much of a trial as we understand rock bottom to be – the phrase itself is problematic. It has a certain amount of inherent discord. What was rock bottom for me, might pale in comparison to someone else’s experience. On the other hand, I might not have the skills or knowledge to triumph over a different version of rock bottom.
Life prepares each of us for what we are going up against. Your experiences prepare you for the trials to come. If you aren’t feeling that, then chances are you’re not open to the lessons those moments are providing you with. If that’s the case, it’s time to wake up and pay attention. Get out of your own head for a bit and you will be surprised what’s waiting at your feet.
I was in a pretty normal place for me when I realized that the healing had begun. I wasn’t in terrible shape, but I wasn’t aware of making much progress either. I had been in counseling just shy of a year and I was facing some tough defeating behaviors and negative thinking. Progress was slow and I wasn’t happy that life didn’t seem to be cutting me any breaks.
In a complete rant about how defeated I felt, I started to get pretty pissed that things weren’t going my way. I remember saying how badly I just wanted to quit working towards something better. The next words slipped from my lips on their own. “I’ve overcome so much already that I know I can handle whatever comes next, even if I don’t like it.” In that moment, I knew I was over the proverbial hill. I had already overcome so much and even if I didn’t know what was coming next I knew, KNEW, that I could overcome that as well.
We all have survival skills. The problem is that for many of us that is all they are. We survive, but we do not grow or evolve. I had become complacent in my misery and was happy to continue upon that path, as long as things didn’t get worse. Obviously I knew something wasn’t right because I was there trying to work through it, but I can’t say I was completely invested in becoming a new me either.
Even in that small moment of awareness, I had no concept of the hole I was crawling out of. All I knew was that I was ready for tomorrow, the next step, a challenge. I had learned to be flexible in what life threw at me. I had become more adept at not losing my head (or emotions in most cases) when things didn’t go the way I planned. I had even found things to be joyful over once again. I found myself craving change and progress in an almost addictive kind of way. Though I still wasn’t ready to seek it out on my own.
Fast forward to a few months later and some radical life changing events were going on. I had completely reshaped a semi-destructive relationship I didn’t think I could ever live without, I had friends for the first time, I was jogging regularly, I was more productive, I was sleeping better, I was writing again, and most importantly I was taking time to truly figure out who I was on my own.
The first part of all these changes was rather scary. I wasn’t acting like myself at all, but at the same time I was finding myself all over again. Concerned people in my life were offering all sorts of feedback, advice, and opinions. For the most part, I managed to quiet the outside voices and listen to my own desires. It wasn’t easy and I made some mistakes, but they were mine and I was taking ownership of them.
More importantly, I was taking ownership of the good too. That was the biggest confidence builder for me. Despite the warnings or maybe as a former rebellious child maybe BECAUSE of the warnings I was starting to remember what courage felt like.
It took two sessions to convince my therapist that I wasn’t going off on some sort of manic or just stress induced spree of destructive behaviors masked as change. When she did come around to the solidity of it, she voiced the very thing I had been feeling for days. “It seems like everything in your life is starting to fall exactly into place.” I had felt confident before, but the validation of one of my biggest critics was again a huge push forward. It didn’t validate me, but it made me realize that I was right to trust myself and right to keep pushing.
Each choice and action were building me up out of that hole I had lived in for so long. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt the changes and knew it was only a matter of time before I stopped worrying about perfection. I was having fun and I was happy. I don’t quite know how far out of this hole I am or if I’m out of it altogether, but I feel like as long as I can hold on to this new sense of self, I’ll be just fine.