The term rock bottom to me conjures up a lot of unpleasant images. Sometimes when you hit rock bottom there can be an opportunity present itself for amazing growth you otherwise would not have been capable of. Think of it as a momentary lowering of your guard in which a whole new you can grow from.
The most significant image which comes to my mind when the words rock bottom are mentions is the time I have to write a eulogy for a departed cousin. I used the term “rock bottom” in reference to a major life event of his that affected all of us. The outrage inside the church when I raised it was almost visible in the air; the tension was that thick. The sad part to me was that he hit his rock bottom but then he bounced back and it shaped his future and mine, why shouldn’t I talk about it? Why the taboo?
Unfortunately I have found myself at rock bottom more than I care to recollect here.
The hardest to recover from I found was divorce. The reason was that of assistance and ceremony. When I was facing divorce I instantly lost the support of friends and family who for some reason felt they had to take a side. All the women stuck together because that’s their default position. All my married male friends found the reality of my situation and their situations far too confronting and preferred to bury their heads further in the sand.
In this article I plan to open up the conversation that everyone seems to want to run away from. If we don’t pass on our experiences to those less experienced we are destined to watch younger generations struggle in the same way we did. A lot of men are separated from their sons/daughters and passing down this type of knowledge cannot be achieved no matter how hard we try. Hopefully the internet can provide a means of communication previously not there.
Face your demons head on
One analogy I would like to share which helped me a lot.
This is what some old bloke told me once in a pub
“Imagine your struggles are like being bitten by a dog. It has got your hand firm in it’s sharp teeth clamping down hard and it hurts like hell. If you pull back in fear it is going to tear you to shreds. If you take a deep breath, lean forward and shove your hand hard down into that dogs throat you can beat it. It will still hurt hell but you can beat it.”
This is a story that stuck with me because I am a visual person and pictures stick with me.
This grieving process is fairly similar for everyone and it is documented in the Kubler-Ross model of dealing with Grief. In a nutshell these are the stages.
Our discussion on rock bottom start and ends smack bang between the depression and the acceptance. The good news is with this model you can focus on progressing through the stages and getting out the other end.
I always found the path forward was a lot harder to find than getting down that path once I was I was on it.
When you can breath again you will find that all your paradigms, rules, misconceptions, trivialities and belief systems have been shed.
This is a gift, this is the moment of clarity from which you can start to rebuild your life. Your journey of post traumatic personal growth is about to begin. Hold on this stuff is what makes life worth living for.
For me once my brain stopped processing all the repressed or fragmented memories and then made some sort of sense of them, I could start extending my model of reality beyond the past, and beyond myself and to the outside world.
The need for internalising ends the desire to externalise starts
Now you have a whole new view of the world. A new awakening (or rebirth) gives you the starting point to rebuild your entire model of the world and yourself in it. What was important in the past may not be important to you anymore.
The important thing now is that you have found your true sense of self through this grief and everything you do now to bring the outside world into your inner realm will make it less you. Tread carefully and thoughtfully. These opportunities come and go far too quickly and take a lot of tragedy to reproduce.
If you look back on history to some of the most brilliant minds, poets, painters or inventors their brilliance was all born out of tragedy. But don’t go and cut your ear off please.
The ceremony of burying someone, whilst being heartbreaking, brings with it closure. Ceremonies exist to bring communities together and guide someone in need onto their path through life, allowing them to then go away and walk it.
If you think back to ancient or medieval times they have ceremony for almost everything and for good reason. The ancient ceremony is what lets us tap into a larger thing, sometimes nature, sometimes the stars, but always for the purpose of letting you know you are not alone and the world doesn’t revolve around you, you are just one little tiny piece in a very large cosmos.
Divorce brings with it no ceremony……… yet. But the rate in which people are better divorced nowadays the need for it is bigger than ever, I am starting to see a trend already starting to build moment. I don’t know which trend is going to win though, the divorce after party ceremony or the “I am never going to get married in the first place,” ceremony. Where do you stand?
Is it necessary to feel so much grief ?
In a word no. We do it to ourselves. We grieve over things we should have said. We grieve over things we should have done. We grieve over our lost opportunities or our unrealised futures. Or in my case we grieve to piece together memories and events long ago purposefully buried in the back of your psyche. Notice one common theme? The grief doesn’t seem to be about the poor person in the ground.
The Buddhists of rural Thailand do not grieve for their dead. They are at peace with their mortality each day and live each day for the now; so they don’t know the feeling of grief.
Their emotional state must be at peace each and every day. They must live and breathe this moment of clarity we have to work so hard for.
Take some time out now to reflect on the last time you can honestly say you were free from all those made up
- rules (e.g. dinner time is at 6.30 sharp)
- beliefs (e.g. all men are ………)
- paradigms (e.g. women can do anything)
- ideologies (e.g. marriage will make you instantly happy for ever)
- bad memories of the past
- unrealistic expectations for the future, and
- “things you do just because other people expect you to”.
You don’t have to hit your rock bottom to be able to free yourself up in this way. Let it go. Let other people meet their own expectations.
Living in denial will only mask the real you and postpone your appearance until that final moment of clarity a few minutes before the metaphoric plane goes down and your life flashes before your eyes.
Lastly, you can’t change the past or the future. You can only change the now. But what you do now will create your future one moment after the next.
Help is everywhere. How do you feel about your rock bottom now?