Rock bottoms

I’ve had occasion recently to reexamine my thoughts about rock bottoms, because I suspect I’m heading toward one myself.

Not just for addicts

It seems a lot of people think rock bottom is a concept that only comes into play for alcoholics and addicts when they hit their proverbial rock bottom and their situation is so bad they are open to getting help – like it’s a magic window of opportunity.

I believe this to be true, but I will argue till the cows come home that rock bottom happens in all aspects of life, not just in addiction.

I think hitting rock bottom in any situation is often the impetus for change. Your significant other cheats on you one too many times, your abusive boss upsets the hell out of you for the last time, you aren’t able to pay your credit card because you’ve gone on another shopping spree. You hit the point where things are so bad you can’t stand it any more, so you get your butt in gear and start figuring out how to dig yourself out of the hole.

Big ones and little ones

I view rock bottoms as the low spots between beautiful scenic mountains – really low spots. Sometimes we roll down the mountainside so slowly that we don’t realize we rolled right down to a rock bottom. Sometimes we go over a cliff and go splat all over the rocks.

I know what splats are like. My splats were growing up with a narcissistic mother and losing my only child. They are the rock bottoms that are so bad it takes a while to recover enough to begin our long, slow crawl out of them.

The slow rolls are more gradual, have warning signs, and don’t hurt as much when we hit, but can be almost as hard to climb back out of.

Approaching one of moderate size

Right now I haven’t quite settled at the bottom, kind of like a marble you roll down the side of a bowl. It rolls to the bottom and starts to roll up the other side only to lose momentum and roll back to the bottom and back up in the wrong direction, only to repeat itself over and over again. There are good days and bad with no real decided direction.

I’ve been really bad about relationships since I lost my son and have finally reached a level of isolation that I find untenable. So after sitting on my butt and doing nothing about it and allowing it to get worse and worse I am unhappy enough to do something. At least I hope I am. Like I said — the marble keeps rolling back and forth. And I know it has to start with baby steps.


Non-addiction rock bottoms share another attribute with addictive ones, or maybe all rock bottoms result from our inability to let go of something we know full well isn’t good for us. In that sense, maybe all problems are about some level of addiction, but some of us focus on legal and less life destroying ones.

I know from personal experience the really bad rock bottoms left me in a period of recovery where I had to remain ever vigilant to not slide back down into the bottom from either internal or external forces. When I finally shook off the training by my narcissist mother she was none too happy with the change and worked until the day she died to try to change me back to the person she wanted me to be. I had to be ever vigilant for her attacks and still was blind-sided on occasion.

When I started crawling out of the abyss after losing my son I had to make myself get out and do things, because in my heart I wanted to figuratively (and maybe literally) stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. Maybe I wasn’t vigilant enough on that one and that why I have now slid back down to the bottom and need to get myself out again.

Rock bottoms, the “splat on the rocks” variety, really are the abyss. No matter what the cause, there is grieving and mourning and no one can know or understand the pain you’re in. Counselors can help — but no one knows the pain.  The journey out of the abyss is one you have to make alone and you won’t do it until you’re good and ready. And it’s really, really hard work — maybe the hardest work you will ever do in your life. I, again, am speaking from experience.

I need to get myself ready — or maybe life is doing that for me. As long as you’re still breathing there is always hope.