My husband and I had a conversation a few days ago about “what it takes” to make a BIG change in life. I shared with him that for me my biggest changes occurred when I felt like I had hit “rock bottom”. In my early 20s I was living near NY City and I was addicted to heroin and losing my grip fast. I was about to lose my apartment and just barely got myself to work each day. I saw what Methadone programs were doing to others — creating greater addiction and dependence and there was no way I would take that path. I did not feel I could turn to my parents nor did I want to. They had their own “rock bottom” at the time and my shame was too deep. I had to face the truth. I was an addict. I couldn’t get clean alone.
Through allowing myself to surrender to “rock bottom” and then the grace of the Divine, I found another way. Removing myself completely from my environment, giving up my job and apartment, packing up my VW bug and heading a couple hundred miles away to a friend who had offered help, I quit, “cold turkey”, and got the monkey off my back, never to return.
I realize today that this is a theme in life, at least in my life, that sometimes I need to hit “rock bottom” in order to surrender, ask for help, let go, let God. From somewhere in that place of humility I find the strength to go on.
I could write a book just about my experience of “hitting rock bottom”. But I’ll stop with two more stories.
My first “real” Adirondack Mountain hike that I took was when I was in my late 40s. I was overweight, out of shape, and had lousy hiking boots. As I struggled to make it to the top and back again, in true tortoise fashion (and covered with mud — head to boot), I engaged in self-deprecating dialogue: I hated myself for being so unfit, I hated hiking, I hated my boots, I hated the boyfriend who took me on this slog, and I vowed I would NEVER hike again. It was October and it looked like I was safe from an invitation until the following year. I threw away my hiking boots in the nearest trash can and started thinking of excuses.
That was a “rock bottom” place for me. I felt defeated and weak. Something shifted over that Winter that I can’t even recall consciously. By Spring I was shopping for new boots and had begun to work out to strengthen my legs and core, improve my balance and increase my aerobic capacity. Over the next year or so of frequent hiking, I was able to work up to a high peak experience for my 50th birthday! All from hitting “rock bottom” and surrendering to the truth; I was pathetically out of shape and I needed help.
Fast forward to today. As you know from reading my blog I am in a treatment protocol to cure me of hepatitis C infection I picked up as an IV drug user all those many years ago. Being transparent, no longer hiding both the “truth” of my addiction and my decision to go for treatment, took hitting “rock bottom”. In order to “thrive” during my treatment, I knew that I needed help from the divine, my angels, all the powers of the universe. I reached out and asked for support and the prayers of friends, to have the strength to face treatment each day. I pray for strength. All from experiencing “rock bottom”.
Now at about 11 weeks in, at moments I feel that I’ve hit “rock bottom” again. I need more rest than I did even when pregnant or sick. I need to practice impeccable self-care more than ever. That self-care changes on a daily basis, because my needs seem to change on a daily basis. I never know what to expect. Being fluid, surrendering and “going with the flow” and making constant adjustments has been an extraordinary lesson. I’ve been forced by “rock bottom” to give up hiking and my usual training routine. My body just won’t let me.
I have grown so much in just these few short weeks. I relish in leisurely walks with time to explore my surroundings. My husband and I bought our first canoe (having sold our kayaks a few years ago because we preferred hiking). We’ve been getting outdoors while the weather still allows us to “paddle”. What a treat! I’ve never really “loved” paddling until “rock bottom”. I feel like a little kid again, noticing all that nature has to offer along the shore, in the water and air.
I love naps. I’ve learned that I really CAN live without caffeine. I appreciate the support of my friends more than ever. I love my life, with all its challenges, and am grateful that I can have this treatment that may be a cure.
I look forward to the days of getting my muscular self back in shape. I believe that I’ll be even stronger because the virus that has been there to offer an extra challenge to everything I do will be gone. I have a VISION of a healthier-than-ever ME. I have a GOAL of hiking with ease a year from now. Both my vision and goal fuel me on the path to full recovery. I can picture myself scrambling over the ROCKS of BOTTOM. Nothing can stop me.
Do you need to hit “rock bottom” in order to make a change?
Have you created a new VISION and GOAL to inspire your journey? I would love to hear all about it.