11 Things I Learned From Hitting Rock Bottom And How It Saved My Life

 Noah Kalina
Noah Kalina

We are all so used to being mediocre. We work 9-5, pay the cable, Netflix, smartphone, electric, house, car, insurance and bills. We eat like shit and don’t sleep enough. We bitch about our lives, bitch about our friends and family and all their shortcomings.

But when it comes to inspecting ourselves, we are our own worst enemy. We think everyone else has it better than we do. We think “if only I could have xyz I would finally be happy.” For me personally, xyz is having my own house/space and a buying newish car (I currently drive 1995 Geo Prizm).

Do I really absolutely need those things?


Will having them make my life better?

Maybe for a while. But the shiny newness of it all wears off like cheap faux silver spray paint. It always does.

I had it all. And I still wasn’t happy.

Less than five years ago I had a husband, a house, a brand new car, a storefront, a booming online business, two dogs, and more money than my 23-year-old self knew what to do with.

Today? I’m three years out of a bankruptcy, divorce, eviction, repossession and I work at a warehouse.

I live blessed life! And I mean that 100%. I wouldn’t trade my hardships for anything in the world.

On the day I hit rock bottom I was drinking Busch Light in a cemetery, crying hysterically in front of the tombstone of a stranger – I was literally asking a random dead guy for life advice. My tears watered the flowers that other strangers planted there. As I lay there sobbing, drunk, clawing at the ground like a maniac, I realized something.

I had something going for me that my dead therapist didn’t – at least I was alive. At least I had the chance to try again.

It wasn’t an overnight healing session. I’d have wine for breakfast and go to my job half drunk. At night I still visited local cemeteries and chatted with long gone Smiths, Joneses and John Does. Maybe I should have seen a real therapist? But I like to think – maybe the dead are the best listeners.

Months later I somehow got up and sobered up long enough to rebuild my shattered life. I got a decent full-time job, I worked my ass off and now, three years later, I have some semblance of a “stable” life. I don’t live paycheck to paycheck anymore. I can buy steaks if I want, or eat at Applebee’s if I want to splurge. I can even afford to buy Xmas gifts again.

Climbing up from rock bottom takes time. I’m barely three years out the fall and I am JUST coming to ground level from digging out of the hole.

Those hardships have made me wiser, they’ve made me see things differently.

1. Why worry? Worrying never helps, it only hinders.

2. Material things are temporal – you can’t take them with you when you go, and the people you leave them to will squander them.

3. It’s okay to be flawed. Besides, perfection is fiction.

4. Be kind most times, and when you can’t, be apathetic instead. Apathy (and its sister, tolerance) are under-appreciated tools for keeping a level head in a very judgmental and cruel world.

5. Work fucking hard – the world owes you nothing, you have to fight for your own happiness and well-being.

6. Don’t assume anything, or expect anything. When you stop assuming that people can read your mind/emotions the world is suddenly much less stressful.

7. Don’t plan too far ahead, it’s a way to get your hopes up and to be disappointed.

8. Laugh at everything. I mean it. That flower that is droopy and looks like a limp dick is fucking hilarious, and I WILL point it out in public.

9. Be unapologetically yourself, even if it means pissing people off. There will always be haters – let them hate. Meanwhile keep smiling and tell them their hair is fabulous. Teddy Roosevelt turned haters into allies by saying thank you and flashing his token pearly whites.

10. Let the little things go. Is it really worth fighting over which fucking way the toilet paper roll goes? Dwelling on the little things is just a way to dodge bigger issues (like infidelity, depression, money problems, etc). LET IT GO. Get to the core issue.

11. Live for yourself, never seek permission and always do what makes you happy. When someone is wicked to you just remind yourself they aren’t really mad at you – they are judging you based on themselves and their own problems. Just because someone says you walk slow doesn’t mean you need to walk faster. It just means you need to move over so they can walk around. Everyone has their own measure, and you don’t have to live up to it if you don’t want to.

If there is one thing I hope you take from this post, it’s this: when you are at your darkness moments, like drinking piss flavored beer at a stranger’s grave, remember one thing – at least you are ten feet above ground and you can give life another go.

Rock bottom isn’t the end, in fact, it’s only the beginning. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Emily West is a country girl with a hipster soul. She loves gardening, vintage clothing, paleo cooking and not wearing shoes.

Keep up with Emily on emilyjwest.com

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