It was my 21st birthday and I lay on my back on the cold concrete, barefoot and wearing only a black cocktail dress, crying for help. Just hours earlier I had been at my best friend’s house, getting ready and taking pictures before what I had hoped would be an awesome night to remember.
It certainly would be night that I would not forget, but for all the wrong reasons. Was this the worst thing that would happen to me? I had landed on my tailbone after falling about eight feet from my apartment window that I was trying to crawl into. It was a literal rock bottom, but not enough to wake me up. Not yet.
That was May of 2013. In June I grappled with a breakup and unemployment. But I wasn’t defeated yet. The next month found me taking risks that ended badly. By AugustI was in around $5,000 of credit card debt, as result of not once being paid for an entire month of work. Did I learn my lesson then? No.
The next thing I did after my return was to finally become a bartender. Which is something I it turns out I only thought I wanted to do. Although my income certainly increased, so did my likelihood of being sexually assaulted by a bar owner. I quit both attempts at bartending.
In November, I found two new avenues of income, aside from selling my possessions, which it was quickly becoming necessary to begin doing. Somehow I was still attending school full time, albeit entirely through online courses. So there was a lot of cheating and cutting corners involved.
One of my new jobs, being a promo model, made me about a grand over the course of a month. But the catch was I wouldn’t see the checks until a month after I began working, and come January the gigs would be over for a while.
The other employer was Golden Corral, where I worked for a week before getting fired on Thanksgiving. They actually made me come in so they could tell me in person as opposed to over the phone. As I sat crying in the parking lot outside, at a loss for what to even do, I was getting closer to my inevitable rock bottom. Closer, but not there yet.
At some point, I became desperate enough to fall for a CL scam, and lost $1,600 that wasn’t even mine to spend, thanks to a stolen check and my own naivete. As I said, I was desperate. Thus, finally, I began to scrape rock. As my step-grandmother berated me in a restaurant for traumatizing her by smoking weed, and making it quite clear without a degree I would be nothing, I was in the midst of reaching my lowest of points. That night I decided to quit school, again.
In January, I got a job at a temp agency. It would be the last time I would actively go to work for an employer. After two weeks, I quit my first assignment due to misery, and completely missed the interview for my second. The thought of going made me want to slit my wrists. Yeah, this was rock bottom.
That same month, my car was towed and I received a citation for driving without car insurance and a valid registration. Neither of which I could afford to pay. I almost got my car out of the lot, but the price was astronomical for me at that point, and I didn’t have anyone to help me out, that I trusted wouldn’t judge me.
This was the apex of my bottoming out. Where I would have to decide whether I was living for my self or for the version of myself that I thought would please others. This was the turning point, though. If I sacrificed even more of my sanity to chase this car, this literal heap of metal, I would lose myself in the process. I would be a slave to the possessions, to my grandmother’s claims, to my own sense of guilt. It was my chance to get out, or dig in even deeper.
So I let the car go. I let it stay in the lot, knowing what it would cost me in terms of money, knowing the reaction I was going to receive from everybody else. People don’t look kindly on others who cannot even afford their own mode of transportation. I was one of those down-lookers. Now, I was volunteering to be looked down on.
It took me weeks to build up the courage to ride my bike on the actual road, where people could see me making an ass out of myself. And do you know what I realized once I did so? No one paid me any attention. I used to be afraid everyone would laugh at me, then I sadly realized no one probably would.
As I began to open my eyes and take inventory of the real world around me, I started to notice just how closed off nearly everyone else was, so concerned over projecting the right image to people who are ultimately only interested in giving off the right look to others, and so on. I was beginning to see the way the world around me functioned.
Acknowledging that also meant I was really going to be an outsider. Standing on the outskirts of humanity, and looking in. Seeing others no longer as an aspiration of what I should want to be, but rather inspiration for finding what exactly it is I should be instead.
Since giving up my car, I have also had to relinquish my desire to possess more money than I need, having my own place, and even my cat, who I once swore I would never let away from me.
I have sacrificed my pride, humbly returning to my roots, and accepting my parents’ generous offer to return to my childhood home. I’ve let go of my desire to please others, and replaced it with a burning need to help them, instead. To help the ones who want to be helped, that is.
I had to learn acceptance. To accept not everyone will think like me, and that I cannot change that. To accept that I don’t think like others, and that is okay. To accept that rock bottom happens. And when it does, the only choice to be made is to dust yourself off and find something new.
Hitting your lowest point is a blessing in disguise, if you let it be. It isn’t just a cliche, it truly is darkest before the dawn. In these seemingly awful moments, we must decide to either continue on our route, seeing just how bleak things can get, or cut our losses and turn back.
The damage may have been great, and the road back to sanity treacherous. But the alternative, is much worse. It is best to remember that we are responsible for making our own light. Just as we led ourselves into the dark, the only one that can lead us out is one and the same. Changing direction takes guts, but it is the only thing worth doing.
Photo credit for the featured image goes to http://instagram.com/masettipf.