Rock the Bottom When You Fall (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 317)
“Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.”
— Richard Bach
Every once in a while, we will find ourselves at the bottom. At the bottom of our careers. At the bottom of our education. At the bottom of our hopes. At the bottom of our experiences. At the bottom of our lives. In any situation, being at the bottom is never a good feeling, but it could be one of the best things we ever go through.
We don’t like hitting the bottom of anything because it often means we are no longer in control. At least of that situation, at that very moment, in that specific time and place. It’s damp and dark down there. The light above us is a slight glimmer before it eventually goes out. Down at the bottom, we can hear ourselves breathe and if and when we speak, our voice including our whispers echo around the room.
This space at the bottom is filled with uncertainty and we don’t like to be in the dark. We don’t like the feeling of not knowing — not knowing where we are, not knowing what we need to do, not knowing how to get out. In short, having a little hope is better than having none at all. We’ll hold on to a little lamp even if it is just a flicker. A little trust even if we knew it would all be gone tomorrow.
Sometimes we end up at the bottom because we put ourselves there. We make decisions and choices that are not beneficial. We say things that are harmful and do things that do not have anyone’s best interest at heart, not even our own. We whine, we complain, we blame others. In essence, we hurt, hold back, and hinder ourselves long before we realize we can be our own best friend or worst enemy.
At other times, environment, past upbringing, and people do play a role in how we land at the bottom of our lives. Still, however, we allow external factors to determine what our reality will be. We put our lives in the hands of another and even if we were children when this happened, now that we are grown, past choices of others may influence us but they do not determine anything about us.
Still, there are times that we fall to the bottom because there is something at the bottom for us. We could not obtain it or gain it any other way. Maybe it is a lesson — in patience, in forgiveness, in perseverance, in courage, in love. Perhaps it is because of preparation — for work, for family, for transitions, for death, for life. Or possibly, it is because we need to think, to plan, to focus.
But most times what we do when we hit the bottom of our lives is we try to climb out as quickly as we can. When we experience pain or suffering of any kind, our first instinct is to alleviate or eliminate it immediately. If we find ourselves in a mental, spiritual, or psychological prison, we aim to post bail almost as soon as we get in. It is human nature to be more susceptible to positivity and good feelings than anything else. We can live in the sunshine; it’s the storm that we can’t stand.
It doesn’t really matter what bottom we hit — financial, material, relational, mental, emotional — we desire to climb out almost as soon as we get in. What we really need to do is rock that bottom. Much of our problems are a result of us trying to throw away all our problems and pains instead of embracing them. We turn up the stuff in our lives — the food, the noise, the busyness, the gadgets, the power, the money, even the people — so we don’t have to sit in the quietness of our pain.
And that’s the scariest part of being at the bottom for many people. It is dark, dim, damp, and eerily quiet. When you have nothing left, when you are emotionally spent and mentally drained, and you are at the end of your rope wondering whether to hold on a bit longer or jump, that silence is deafening. So deafening that it will knock you back into reality and help you begin to think clearly about your predicament.
Some of us fear being alone so much that we fight against that distinct place at the bottom. We run but we never actually evade the inevitabilities of life such as heartbreak, pain, and even death. What we need to do instead of running away and trying to climb our way out so quickly is rock that space at the bottom. Be open to the lessons, the preparation, and the opportunities that exist only in that space.
Embrace the moments when you are out of power, out of gas, out of energy, out of breath. Sit still in that space, yes, that damp, dark, and dim space. Let peace overwhelm you and freedom overtake you. Because when you’re at the bottom, there is not much else you can do. Except try to escape, but this place has plenty of room for you to stay there a while. Some lessons we will never learn and some blessings we will never gain until we spend some time on the back side of the desert, in the belly of a whale, or nailed to a cross.
Sometimes we fall because there is something at the bottom for us. We need to be willing to rock the bottom. Sit there, cry there, hurt there, and lean in to the discomfort. And once the storm is over, it won’t matter so much that you didn’t get out sooner, or that you can’t quite remember how you actually survived down there. The one thing that is certain is that you won’t be the same person who hit the bottom after you come out.
“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”
— Shannon L. Alder