Lessons I've Learned After Hitting Rock Bottom

After the most significant relationship of my life ended, I found myself clinging to a toilet bowl every hour as my body physically tried to deal with the trauma it had just been handed. It was one of the saddest, scariest moments of my life, and lonely was a more than common feeling in my days. During this time I contemplated suicide, drank too much, couldn’t take care of myself, and tried so hard to run from the shit show that was my life. I felt like I had lost everything, and I found myself at the bottom of a deep dark hole unable to move.

That hole was called Rock Bottom.

Let me tell you a bit about what the world considers "rock bottom" - it's hell on earth. It's like living outside of your own body. It's questioning what is reality, and what you thought you knew about yourself and the people around you. It's being scared and defeated. It's like having a gaping hole in your chest where your heart and lungs are supposed to be.

To this day, being at rock bottom was the worst thing to happen in my life and the healing from hitting the lowest point of my life is nonlinear. But, the bright side to hitting rock bottom is you have to go up first. You have to grow, you really have no other choice. In the past 8 months, I've learned a few lessons that I want to share:

The hardest lesson was first. Depression convinces us that were unable to do the things we need to survive. Just this weekend I was laying in bed as the sun rose feeling like everything I had planned for the day was going to shit because my brain had convinced my body that I wasn't moving from the comfort zone of being alone in my bed. I've had plenty of nights like this - plenty of mornings, too. As a person who has a lot on her plate, spending the day in bed doesn't help relieve anxiety or depression. Now I'm just anxious about my ever growing to do list, and depressed because I'm mad at myself for not just getting up to take a fucking shower. Thankfully, I've got some people now who remind me that bad self-talk hurts me in the long run, and taking baby steps can happen. They also remind me that even if I can't get off the floor of my bathroom, I'm still loved and supported. 8 months ago, I had a few people who helped me as much as they could, but the majority of the work was being done in my quiet, one bedroom apartment with my cats. It's the hardest thing in the world to try and tackle a list of things when you're depressed, but I do believe it's important to try. Even if trying is simply calling someone on the phone and asking for help. Healing from loss, or any of the plethoras of universal curveballs that get thrown our way, takes a shit load of dedication. You have to want to get out of the hole you're in. You have to want to put some work in. For me, that meant therapy, cutting people out of my life, working on my character, doing everything I could to try and restore my life. 

Being alone teaches you a lot about yourself. I've learned so many great, worthy, authentic things about myself. I've discovered my values, things I enjoy, my weaknesses, and more. Once I took the time to get to know myself I started to understand the importance of rooting myself within those qualities. For example, I'm strong-willed when it comes to my independence. I don't like myself when I feel suffocated. I don't like being told what to do. I'm not submissive in any sense of the word - don't believe me? Ask my mother. 15 year old me didn't listen to ANYTHING. Being alone allowed me to start letting people into my life slowly who understood me, accepted me, and didn't force me to change or become less of the independent woman that I am. Thankfully, now I have a group of amazing friends who support me, and a girlfriend who enjoys her independence just as much as I do. If there's ever a person who tries to tell me that the person I am is wrong, I keep my mantra in my head and I don't waiver from it: I am who I am, if you don't like it I don't care. 

I'll be honest, being secure within yourself requires a tremendous amount of strength. You're not always liked when you tailor your life to the things you love, the things you believe, the person you are. The strength to say no is a powerful thing, and I've learned that saying no is okay. Whether it be to a second date, a night out on a Wednesday, or agreeing to something that doesn't align with your values, the word no can be so freeing. Practice it. Learn it. Be okay with it. Because once you're able to say no, your life starts to clear out the inconsistencies, the dead weight, and the pain. 

The next lesson was a two-way street. I started to notice that hurt people hurt people. I don't believe there are genuinely bad people in the world. I believe there are good people who do bad things for a multitude of reasons, most of which pertain to pain. I'll use myself as an example. I'm a bitch to people when I'm feeling hurt. It's my strongest defense mechanism because it 100% pushes people away. It wasn't until I had been hurt so badly that I started to realize this - I had been hurting people around me because of pain that I didn't even know was there, and now when I encounter people who are hurting me, I try to remember that the good person behind the anger is still there even though they're projecting the hurt onto me. It is what has helped me forgive the people in my life who have hurt me the most.

The last, but most significant and important lesson learned here is how compassion shapes lives. Anger has always been at the forefront of my mind, especially for most of 2017. As time goes on, and I chip away at the walls that were built around me, I learn more and more how compassion can help on both the receiving and the giving end. Showing compassion for the people who need it most may not be the easiest thing for me to do, and some days it hurts me more than helps me, but am I really human if I'm not modeling compassion? Anger consumes you. It hurts you. It poisons your life and leaves you feeling more empty then the thing that actually caused you to be angry. Compassion seems harder to muster up, but take it from a woman who has been chewed up, spat out, lied to, torn down, kicked and beaten and pushed around - compassion keeps you alive. 
It's easy to hate. It is hard to love. 

Bonus lesson - pets are amazing therapy. Look at these sweet faces.