What is Rock Bottom? The Urban Dictionary defines it as: “A state of being wherein you feel as though you cannot sink any lower emotionally, psychologically or physically. My view from rock bottom was cream-colored linoleum with beige flecks in it. It was the floor in my bathroom and I was lying face down looking at it through swollen eyes. My view from rock bottom and how I was going to change it hadn’t presented itself yet.
When my hysterical crying finally stopped and I could take a breath I studied the floor very carefully. I remember feeling shocked at how ugly the floor was from this view. When I was able to stand I looked in the mirror at a complete stranger. Long tangled dark hair, matted in areas with mucous from the crying. Red eyes so swollen my view was distorted, pale blotchy skin and lips. I stared in horror at this version of myself and heard a deep voice speak directly into my spirit, “He is no longer your problem, you are free to leave.”
How I got here
I could not share this struggle with anyone, who could possibly understand my shame. We had a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and he never missed a day of work. Who would even believe me? Why was I complaining? I could not explain the “walking on eggshells” life to anyone, the constant fear of what might happen as a result of his drinking. Being unable to buy groceries because he hit the ATM at the bar and “forgot” to let me know we were broke until payday. Begging him to just come home after work instead of that damn bar.
Things had to change
I got sick of begging him to come home and was lulled into a sense of peace of sorts. If he wasn’t at home at least I didn’t have to put up with him drinking. The baby turned into a toddler and I knew things had to change, but to my shock, I discovered I was ten weeks pregnant. Leaving was no longer an option for me.
My husband had always said he wanted several children and was hopeful for a girl this time. Things got better for a while. Then when I was eight months pregnant the baby quit moving, when I called my doctor she sent me immediately to the hospital.
My husband was angry. He was going out with the guys. I drove myself to the hospital, spent the day there alone, and drove myself home, alone. I do not remember the excuses I made for him to the babysitter or medical team. But as usual, in my shame and fear, I had covered for him.
The baby was fine and after she was born I just survived. He was never home. He was either at work or at the bar. I would try to talk to him about this and he would get angry. Everything he did, he did for me so I could stay home with these kids! Why didn’t I understand that and stop stressing him out?
The end of the line
I learned to shut up, and I grew angry. Stuffing the anger inside caused constant stomach upset, diarrhea, shortness of breath and a never-ending feeling of doom that squeezed me like a bad fitting jacket. I would lay awake at night wondering if tonight was the night he would plow his truck into a minivan full of kids, or lose his job yet again, or simply a career ending DUI. Anxiety is crippling.
I was having a home inspection done to lower our insurance rates and was expecting a check in the mail. This check had to be deposited back into the escrow account. It did not come. When I mentioned it to my husband he told me he had not seen a check. My stomach immediately started to hurt! Something traceable, he would not lie about that. I ignored my stomach.
I went back and forth with the insurance company about the missing check for weeks. Eventually, they told me the check had been cashed and if I continued to insist a check be re-issued they would consider pressing charges against me for insurance fraud. When I continued to insist that the check had not been cashed they informed me that they had pulled the bank’s security footage of my husband cashing the check.
My blood ran cold. I went to his office to confront him in person and he looked at me with eyes as dead as a shark’s and told me he had never seen the check. I started screaming at him that they had video from the bank and he cashed the check weeks ago! They wanted to arrest ME! He told me to get the hell out of his office.
I don’t share this with you for sympathy, it was a long time ago, another life. But my new life did not start till these situations drove me down the bathroom floor. To rock bottom. To an anxiety attack that I thought was going to end my life.
And I listened to that voice and decided that I did not have to live like this, that I could do better and I would do better. The only way out was out and up! I did it and you can too.
Steps to change your view:
Get honest. I called a friend and told her everything. Bared my soul. To my shock, she told me with almost unbearable kindness that she had recognized years earlier that I was married to an alcoholic and she had been praying for me. The relief of no longer keeping this secret was my prison break.
Get Help. There was a group at church for family members of addicted persons. I went, I participated and I found resources for help there. Whatever situation brought you to rock bottom, gambling, shopping, overeating, substance abuse, your behavior or another’s, there is a group or online forum where you can reach out and find help. These are the places where you will not only find resources but hear stories from people who know exactly what you are going through and be there for you to help you get through it too.
Make a plan, this can involve legal help, medical help, and further counseling in a private setting. Whatever it is you need to make a plan to get it. For instance, colleges with psychology programs sometimes offer counseling done by students and overseen by professors at drastically reduced rates or even free.
Educate yourself. For me, it was learning about alcoholism as a disease and the dance of co-dependency I had stepped into. Learning helped me to form much more realistic expectations about behavior I could expect and set boundaries to protect myself.
take care of yourself, survival is not selfish! Make it a point to eat healthy meals, take breaks alone to go for a walk, get a massage. Care for yourself spiritually by learning to deep breathe, meditate or pray. Art and journaling can be effective methods to deal with toxic emotions safely.
Do not give up! Each step you take is a step in the right direction. Relapses or backsliding happen; you can keep trying. Forgive yourself and know that a step backward is not the end of your journey, and keep going forward.
My journey to rock bottom took years and I did not crawl out of it overnight. If you are on the bathroom floor or just have a sense that you are in trouble you can take these steps to get help now. You can conquer whatever is dragging you down and experience an amazing new life full of joy and fulfillment!