I’m here to tell you everything is going to be okay.
Maybe not today.
Maybe not next week.
Hell, maybe not even next year, but one day.
Because, one day, you’re going to realize the sun does still shine, even when it’s cloudy. One day, you’ll realize the pain isn’t as excruciating anymore and you can take a full, deep breath again—something that you haven’t been able to do in a long time.
One day, you’ll look around to see that everything has changed—even you—and that it feels okay.
We all have our rock bottom—whether it’s a diagnosis, an overdose, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job that defined us, a spouse cheating. Whatever it is, we know how deep, long, and harrowing the tunnel gets. How everything is stripped away until all we are left with is ourselves.
We look in the mirror and don’t fully recognize who we are anymore because everything we once knew is now gone. We push away those closest to us because they can’t possibly know what it’s like to live inside our heads, feel the same hurt, or cope with the same excruciating pain.
I know rock bottom.
I was in a tragic car accident at the age of 15 in which my best friend died.
I was the one driving.
I was in the hospital for 17 days with 11 fractured bones and internal bleeding.
I was broken, inside and out.
Sadly, some of us hit rock bottom more than once. Sometimes, it takes a few life-changing events for us to get the bigger picture—that this world is not about us. That we get complacent, fall back into old patterns, or build up walls for protection.
Rock bottom is always there.
My brother also died in a car accident when I was just 19 years old.
My mom was diagnosed with an 11-millimeter primary brain tumor 10 years later.
No one pain is harder than the other.
No one rock bottom is worse than the other.
But, one day, you realize that picking up the pieces isn’t as scary as the last time, because you’ve been here before.
Being here before doesn’t make it easier, but it means your legs have grown sturdier from past stormy waters.
I have created a brokenly beautiful life from picking up the pieces and weaving in new ones, and this is what I’ve learned:
1. Time doesn’t heal everything, but it makes it clearer.
Grief comes in waves. Some are small and manageable; others are massive and knock you over when you least expect it. Even though it’s been 14 years since I lost my brother, a song, the smell of his cologne, or a bittersweet memory can bring me right back to my knees—to a place where I would give anything for a laugh or a smile from him.
Yet, after enough time has passed and I have healed a lot of my hurt, I can clearly see how his death has inspired me to live and love more freely and openly with those around me.
2. Rock bottom is the best place to be.
Really, it is. Because when we’re at rock bottom, broken, and cracked wide open, the only place to go is up. If we’re truly at rock bottom, we’ll commit to making a change and for the better. We’ll know that life is meant for more than just misery and we’ll take inspired action. We’ll know it’s going to be hard and painful and, at times, we’ll want to give up, but we’ll keep persisting because the memory of what that bathroom floor, jail cell, or deep depression felt like never truly goes away.
3. Show up.
It’s only after hitting rock bottom, that we show up as our authentic selves. This is when we learn who we truly are, when we stop wearing all the masks we’ve been hiding under for so long. We will lose friends. Our family will question if they ever knew us. Quite frankly, it’s a lonely, cold climb up from rock bottom. Yet, day after day, we show up. And that is more than enough because we are more than enough—completely raw and vulnerable, showing our true selves.
Half of the battle is showing up; the rest tends to fall into place after that.
4. Love, unconditionally.
When we’ve experienced hitting rock bottom, we know what it’s like to lose everything. Sometimes, we tend to build a wall around our hearts so we don’t feel like that ever again, but if, like me, you have hit rock bottom more than once, you know that walls never help.
Cracking open and loving unconditionally is the hardest, bravest thing we’ll ever do. Because when we love, we give a piece of ourselves to others without expecting anything in return.
We know heartbreak is inevitable, yet we continue to love, because a life without love hurts worse than a life with heartbreak.
Author: Kathryn Vigness
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Copy Editor: Leah Sugerman
Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen