The Truth About Rock Bottom

It’s the everyday things that will get you. It’s the sudden reminders of what is happening to you. It’s that looming, slimy, beastlike thing that lurks in every room. Waiting to re-open every wound, waiting to pull at your teeth with its fingers, tear at your nose with its breath. You will catch a whiff of reality in the vaguest of sentences and it will bring you to the floor and keep you there, holding you down until you give up and appreciate it. It lets you pretend, it does. You might be numb to it at first. Cry a little, try to move on. A good amount of the time, you are allowed to be the “fine, just fine” that you want to be, but for the nature of healthiness, for the justice of fairness, you have to feel something. And when you finally do, what you feel will be much much worse. You aren’t bottling it up, you aren’t pushing anything away. You have accepted it, you just don’t want to dwell. But that thing wants to surprise you. Shatter you. Wants to kidnap you from the world and tie you up and force you to sit stationary in the abandoned warehouse that is all of your flaming fears and sickening anger and dark, damp sadness. You want to throw up. You want to scream. You clench up your neck and shut tight your eyes and you flex your stomach muscles. You brace yourself for its impact. It wants to push you over the edge and bring you down, down, down to the damn rock bottom.

But you’ve been lied to your whole entire life.

There is no such thing as rock bottom. Rock bottom is just a metaphor. Rock bottom doesn’t really exist. Your whole entire life, as you’re being lied to about this Rock Bottom, you are balancing, tiptoed, on the ledge of some deep hole.

Suddenly, there’s some jolt and all of the balance is altered.  Someone dies.  The universe shivers.  There you go, falling.
The hard part is the falling.

But it’s more like falling down the stairs. The kind of falling where you trip right on your bum and kind of bounce down the steps. More often than not, you slide down half way and friction stops you, but sometimes: Sometimes you go hard, all the way to the bottom. Even then, it’s not really the bottom. It’s just the floor. It’s more cushioned than you think, carpet, really. You could go farther. You could collapse into the crumbling ground, right to the melting core. Even then, it’s not the bottom. You could keep going, right out to the other side, drifting into deep outer space.

The hard part is just standing back up, nursing your wounds, walking sore back to the top of the stairs. Climbing outside of the hole.

That thing doesn’t keep you. It has no key to the chains that confine you. It can’t make you stay forever. That thing may come in waves, may knock at you, may leave you broken and blinded and bleeding but may never stay long enough.

Our lives are just a bunch of cracked little pieces held together by trusty bungee cords. Things are always trying to undo us. We are always trying to fall apart, and sometimes we do, just hanging there, broken and limp but still somehow connected. Eventually we get a new jolt that bounces all of our pieces back together.

And that thing that you once thought confined you will shrink. You will flick it into that hole you climbed out of, never to be seen again, but only occasionally heard. Just a whimper of a tragedy or a problem or a death that you listen for once and a while. No chains. No flaming fears, or sickening anger, or dark, damp sadness. Just a pained whisper of the mess you once were. TC mark

image – Rachel Kramer

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