“There’s a certain beauty in destruction. Hitting rock bottom sometimes feels like the only way to get your shit together.” – Dau Voire
I know I have been away… I thank you all for your comments and messages over the last year (closer to two, but still) and your words of encouragement. Something happened as I tried to build a platform here for the last five years and I had to let go of a lot of things to get to the point that I’m ready to pick it back up again in any capacity. I’m still processing how I want to tell the next story and whether that story is right for the audience I’ve built here, or best told elsewhere. I saw this quote today and it resonated with me so deeply, it was one of those moments that as a creative individual, you know you don’t just let slip by.
It got me thinking about what exactly rock bottom was to me…
I remember being 11 and wanting to die. I had lost my grandfather, a man whom I adored and was one of the only positive male role models in my life, and I didn’t want anything else but him back in my life. That was rock bottom for me at that age.
I remember being 15 and watching my mother’s body wheeled out of our house on a coroner’s gurney… heart disease had taken her at the young age of 43. I was thrust into a world of helping raise my brother and sister and deflect the abuse of a narcissistic father… that was rock bottom for me at that age.
I remember being 18 and calling my dad from a payphone at a homeless shelter and thinking this is the worst I’m going to allow my life to be… this was my rock bottom. I remember him vaguely skirting around the fact that his second-born child was in a homeless shelter and if I wasn’t going to grovel and ask for his help, he wasn’t going to offer it. Realizing that I would have to kiss ass, a concept I don’t typically do well with, I found my resolve and I got my shit together.
I remember being 22, married with two children under the age of 3, and realizing that my marriage was over and if we didn’t walk away one of us would end up dead or behind bars. My daughter screaming at us to stop hurting each other, and the tears in her eyes… that was my new rock bottom. It made me get my shit together.
I remember being 27 and realizing that the economy in Michigan had collapsed, I was losing my job, car, and home, and I was practically living on the couch of my ex-husband. I remember having to call my father and do what I hadn’t been able to do almost ten years previous, and swallow my pride and grovel to beg him to take me in. I remember moving back home to Illinois, 400 miles away from my kids, with nothing more than a box of my books and notebooks, and a suitcase of clothes… that was my new rock bottom.
I remember less than six months later, getting slapped with abandonment papers and the next 4 years of custody battles and debt over lawyers and court fees just to get 9 weeks a year spent with my kids… that was my new rock bottom. I thought this was my final rock bottom, but what I’ve learned in the last two years is that rock bottom comes in various forms. It comes in various ways that you don’t really anticipate because it isn’t always everything in your life hitting rock bottom.
The funny thing about rock bottom is that you don’t realize it’s rock bottom until after the fact. A year and a half ago, I’d just published my third novel, I’d written a fourth, I’d made People Magazine’s website and had seemingly gone viral for a post I wrote to Shonda Rimes for killing of McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. I had a good job, bills paid, I was managing being a full time single mom to two beautiful daughters and was getting regularly tagged online in memes because I was the resident crazy cat lady in training. I didn’t realize until about 11 months ago, that it was truly one of the lowest points in my life.
It was a low point because I was the most depressed I’d ever been. No amount of therapy or medications were helping, and I was also staring down the barrel of a potentially life-threatening surgery. Life was never going to be more than where I was at that moment because I’d accomplished everything that I’d believed I needed to find that unattainable happiness. I’d done everything I’d thought I was supposed to do but I was no better. I was still miserable, unaccepted, misunderstood, and alone. I was marking days off a calendar to get my girls through high school graduation and then out on their own so I could fade away into a distant memory of someone who used to exist. This was my every waking moment. Writing worlds that didn’t exist was my only escape but even it proved to be far too cynical to maintain.
Then something happened… in the words of J.K Rowling – Rock bottom became the foundation upon which I rebuilt my life on.
The problem was – I didn’t realize that it’s exactly what I’ve been doing over the last year. I had to let go of almost all of my preconceived notions, all of my so-called truths, and come to terms with a new reality. That new reality has been filled with moments of more joy than I thought I’d ever feel, and more heartache than I thought possible at the hands of people who claimed they only had my best interests in mind.
All of this has led to new beginnings and brighter futures. I am the only person that has ever truly been in the way of my own success – the sooner you realize that, I guarantee, the happier you will be. I quit letting people’s understanding and acceptance of me measure my success and my happiness and the best things came out of it. The ones who I felt couldn’t possibly accept me as broken as I was, without pointing out some flaw or defect in my being, became the very ones who were there for me at my lowest and have never given up on me. They love and support me without demanding anything in return or requiring that I conform to their ideas of who I should be.
So while I may have stepped away from writing for the last almost two years, I realize now that this was all just a reset if you will, not nearly the end… it’s only the beginning, and I’m just getting started.