At Rock Bottom is Grace

It is my experience that you don’t truly transform, until you hit rock bottom.

Or until your heart cracks wide open and you are finally no longer able to keep change from coming in. 

I absolutely remember my rock bottom and when my heart cracked open for good--it was loud and painful. I was in the midst of several big life changes, a new and (stressful to me) job, my youngest child growing up and fighting to do things his way, and a search for a greater meaning and purpose to my life.

I was alone in the house sobbing uncontrollably on a Friday night after a long and stress-filled week. I felt helpless, hopeless, and so far from myself I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Everything felt off. Wrong.

A mixture of shame, guilt, frustration, anger and all the other lower energies took control of me. The sobs came from deep within, the kind that leave a trail of snot and spittle on your shirt and sweat pits under your arms. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, and my heart hurt.  I remember being really scared I would not be able to summon the strength to pull myself back together again, to get myself under control if I let it all out. But keeping it in was no longer an option. My gut was burning.

What I see now looking back is that the breaking of my heart on that day in November of 2012 was not a falling apart to render me helpless, but a cracking open to heal. It was an answer to my prayers for wishing to live happier and freer. It was a letting go of the bottled up negativity that had held me hostage for way too long.

Lying on the basement floor, feeling broken and exhausted, I opened my eyes to the sound of another human being asking me what was the matter. It was the person who I might at the time have been the most worried about, most scared for and certainly the one I was feeling the most disconnected from. It was my youngest son Mitch.

At the time he was struggling with his own set of life issues, his having more to do with the friends he chose to hang out with and the choices he was making about his future. Mine revolved around my need to stay in control, to do things perfectly and to keep my Type A, control freak death grip on life in place. It was no longer working the way I was used to, and I was lost. I had fallen into a deep well of self-doubt and I couldn't find a way out.

His concern, his gentle words and the tender way he touched me, lifted me up and gave me courage to let it all out. I opened my eyes and out spilled all my regret over how I hadn't been the mom I had always wanted to be, how I had tried too hard to keep he and his brother safe and maybe in the process suffocated them and how everyone and everything was falling apart around me. Worst of all I was a mess and I considered myself a failure.  From my low place all I could see was what I had done wrong in my life.

There was no doubt I had gotten lost from my true self somewhere in the busy years of being a mom, wife and working woman. Yet beneath the controlling, judgmental, hypocrite I had become, Mitch still saw hints of the real me underneath the layers of pretend.

And with grace greater than I ever expected from him (or thought I deserved), he said the words I needed to hear. That I was not a parenting failure, that I was not a complete failure as a human being, that he, in fact, wanted to be more like me. Didn't I know that he wanted the kind of marriage, family and life his dad and I had for himself someday?

I looked out through my swollen eyes in disbelief and wonder, and I probably cried harder at that point, but the tears that streamed out were somehow softer, cleansing maybe, and I felt the tightness in my belly and chest begin to loosen. I believe now that this brief exchange at my rock bottom moment created a small space in my heart for the real healing to begin.

As Glennon Melton author of Carry On , Warrior so eloquently said: the call from God doesn’t just come once, if you missed it the first time (or the second or the third) he will find a way to reach you. To offer you that door again to see if you are ready.

I was clearly ready.

Up until that point in my life change had never my friend. Since the same old hadn't worked for me in years, it was time to try something new. When you hit rock bottom the only way to go is up. Changes began in me and around me from that point forward. I won't say the changes were always easy, I experienced many things I never thought I would, and yet I found myself dealing with them in much healthier ways. 

Slowly but surely the broken pieces of me fit back into place --- putting me together in a way I had never been before. Or at least in a way that I did not ever remember being. Creating a better version of me. A more authentic, stronger, happier me.

There is no doubt grace finds a way in through the actions of others, through unexpected acts of kindness and sometimes even through what seems to be a hopeless situation.

For most of my life I feared rock bottom. Now I see it was the solid ground I needed to get to before beginning my ascent.