Rock-Bottom: Unexpected Safety Zone

I am deeply grateful to Ruth Friddle, a fellow permaculturist and fellow member of Transformative Adventures, for allowing me to run this gem as a “copy-paste guest post.” Thanks and much love to you Ruth! And, dear readers, I hope you enjoy this post as much as I do!

“Recently I listened to someone share their utter despair of the life they were experiencing: life-threatening illness, break-up of 20+years relationship. Another person shared their debilitating addiction to prescription meds and alcohol and the trickle-down effects those were having on their life. Someone else talked about the depth of loneliness and despair they were feeling from all the isolation and distancing they’ve been enduring for the past year and a half. They all said they were at rock bottom.

“The dreaded rock bottom, where all seems lost, all options gone, where everything seems to teeter on the edge of life and death. Physical pain. Mental and emotional anguish. Spiritual hell. I suspect we’ve all been to those places in varying degrees of intensity at different times in our lives. I certainly have.

“Hitting rock bottom sucks. There is no pleasure or joy in that fall, no moon-beams or unicorns as a booby prize once we’ve arrived. There is just this endless unknown that, more often than not, we fill with every worst-case scenario our thoughts can dredge up. Sometimes those scenarios playout. Sometimes they don’t. No guarantees.

“I’m not sure there are any answers, but lately, I’ve been wondering if maybe befriending the rock bottom we keep hitting might hold the relief we seek. Rocks have a lot to teach us: to listen, to be still, to wait in silence, to trust the solidity and strength the rock offers when we’re lying there, on our back, with no where to look but up.

“While hitting rock bottom is a terrifying and miserable fall, maybe rock bottom itself, is the safest place to be. Maybe being on that rock solid foundation makes everything else just clouds in the sky, coming and going. Clouds that may demand our attention but can only be wisely dealt with from the position of rock bottom. Everything is much clearer when you’re at rock bottom. You’re not lost in the clouds of thoughts, trying to figure it all out. You’re resting on that unchangeable place that allows for complete surrender because there’s no where else to go.

“However horrifying it might be to sometimes suddenly find ourselves there, I wonder….could it be that the dreaded rock bottom, once we’re there, is actually the best seat in the house?”

And my comment: Yes Ruth. My experience concurs with your observations. I hit an extreme rock bottom some years back that further turned out to be a trap-door to a cascading series of rock-bottoms. At one point when I really thought I was well and truly done for, I took a deep breath and decided to try to befriend it, and the relief came almost immediately — and always thereafter when I was willing to befriend it and learn from the rocks. It has ended up bringing me so many riches. I now know how to surf or navigate the rocks, so when it hits again as I am sure it will, I will be ready. This is one example of anti-fragility. Thank you Ruth for this deeply insightful and beautifully written post.