Monday, November 18, 2013

Looking Up from Rock Bottom

Alice: How long is forever?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.
-Lewis Carrol

Have you every felt that way? Stuck in a moment that may only be a very small portion of time, but to you it feels as if it will last an eternity? The harsh reality in that is if you said yes, it was likely a painful moment, because the happy moments never seem to last long enough. If you're reading this maybe you're experiencing a time like that right now, let me assure you that you are not alone. I don't know what your pain is, but I know pain, and with the exception of a visit to the chiropractor or an aggressive massage therapist, it's not enjoyable. When life seems to have left you broken and empty handed, it's imperative to guard your thoughts. In fact, I believe the length of our pain and helplessness is directly related to our mindset. As always, let's take a look into the life of JFox for explanation...

My Fresh Wound: The conclusion of a 3 year relationship with someone I loved very deeply on a level I had never experienced, who was also my best friend, we'll call him Sam (to protect the innocent). The person I said good morning and good night to every day and who knew me better than anyone on the planet, simply because he was the first person I really let know me. Although the process of closure began slightly earlier for Sam than it did for me, I wasn't even close to being prepared to find out he was already involved with someone new, and that information hurt me far worse than I imagined it would. (Destructive self-talk alert! Am I really that easy to get over? Don't EVEN go there.) The worst part about it is I didn't know how to deal with this type of break-up. You see, regardless if I was the dumper or the dumpee, I've never had a relationship end where I didn't feel a sense of relief knowing that the guy was an asshole or a loser, or something of that nature. Nope not this scenario at all. Neither of us hated the other, quite the opposite in fact, we loved each other very much. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say our relationship was geographically-challenged and call it a day. So you see, I had no justification. It's so much easier to move on from an asshole than a Sam, let me tell you.

Recent Bumps and Bruises: Backstory: I don't have a lot of friends. (There's a backstory to that too, but let's just get through one back at a time). I have two that I'd consider my "best friends" besides Sam. Within the past several months my relationships with both of them were greatly lessened due to circumstances beyond my control. It's no one's fault, it's just life.

Now to many outsiders, this may not seem like a "Rock Bottom," but I assure you my life has plenty of other struggles that don't merit mentioning. However, it is the above mentioned recent occurrences that finally broke me. What's truly amazing about that is that I can specifically think of at least 3 other times in my life where I thought I was in a Rock Bottom state and they don't compare to how I felt just a few weeks ago.

I relied heavily on these three people to keep my head above water when I needed comfort, a laugh, or to feel loved and valued. (Co-dependent much?) The people that I had chosen to depend on in so many ways were no longer available to me as they had been before. In some ways I had never felt more alone. There were a few nights where I held my phone and just stared at it, waiting for who knows what and just let the tears fall. I wanted to call Sam and discuss my lack of communication with my friends, and I wanted to call my friends and grieve over my loss of Sam. Even as I type this I am instantly flooded with hurt because it is so easy to put myself back in those moments. Those forever second moments. Sleep was a constant struggle, because without those comfortable and familiar outlets I allowed myself to internalize everything. My mind was on overdrive and my thoughts affected my mood and attitude. The good news is, this wasn't abnormal behavior for me, and I recognized it pretty quickly. I spent one full day in pajamas forgetting to eat because I had no appetite. One full day of off and on tears and release. One full day of crying to anyone who would listen.
   "Jocelyn, pity party of one, your couch is now ready."
   "Thank you what are the specials tonight?"
   "Tonight the chef's specials are a grilled heart shish-ka-bob with a demi whine glaze and a generous portion of bruised ego. For dessert, a break-up √† flamb√© with a scoop of rocky road. Can I offer you drink while you wait?"
   "Sure, I'll have one of each."

So what changed? I didn't gorilla glue my heart back together over night, but I decided to stop the torture. You can read more about that specific process here, right now I want to explain the outcome. In short, I changed my mindset. I thought about every time I had every been hurt and how I always handled it improperly. I realized that for a forever long second I felt like everything had been taken from me, (which is an extreme exaggeration to say the least, but you know how pity parties go), and I gathered I had a few options... I could continue this pity party for awhile, been there done that, have a drawer full of t-shirts. I could attempt to stuff the pain down by finding a male replacement, old habits die hard. I could attempt to numb the pain in several different ways, which usually backfire and lead to drunken phone calls you don't remember having and texts messages you can't unsend. Or, I could accept it for exactly what it is, without an explanation or an acceptable and valid reason, I am in this moment. So I did just that. I stopped asking why, because frankly, I don't think the why exists yet. Sometimes we don't get our whys for a long time, (a forever second). But those un-known whys now, are life's "Ah HA!" moments later. I realized God or the universe (whatever higher power you choose to believe in), was trying to teach me something. I was supposed to feel alone simply because I wasn't comfortable with it. I knew right then, I had work to do.

So, I changed my focus. For the past seven days every time I thought of Sam and felt that horrible feeling like someone is squeezing your insides (and appears to be getting stronger with each heart ache), I made myself think two positive thoughts immediately. Sounds like some sort of cheesy advice from a sitcom therapist, but that's what I did. I refused to allow myself to take a step back without taking two steps forward. Every time I wanted to cry over what I had lost, I made myself think about everything I still have. You want to know what else I did? I made myself mentally list all my strengths, gifts and things I like about myself. For some people, that is a task they do daily, (sometimes I'm amazed with how much people like themselves "bathroom mirror selfie"). For me, it's life's greatest challenge. I used to think I was just extremely humble and that's why it was so difficult for me to accept a compliment. I have discovered that was not the case, but that's a whole other blog entirely.

As my mindset began to change, so did things around me. I found I had people in my life supporting me and cheering me on that I didn't even realize cared so much. I thought about what I wanted my life to be, and what I really wanted to do. Over the past seven days I can't even begin to list everything beautiful that has happened to me, but I want to tell you about the first thing that happened that gave me peace and comfort in knowing I was going to be ok.

Last Sunday ranked pretty highly on my list of the most painful days of my life. However Sunday night, (or early Monday morning if you want to be technical), was when I started changing my mindset.  Backstory: I started this blog over a year ago when I realized I really had been through some shit, and survived. I knew I needed to share my story with people, because if I could help just one person then all my pain, struggles, and hurts weren't for nothing. I didn't yet realize what that meant for my life or how huge of a roll it would play. Monday morning a friend of mine that I had met about a year ago sent me a text. (The beautiful irony- we met because both of our significant others live in the same town. I knew his girlfriend and she asked if I would bring him with me the next time I visited. After several 10 hour round-trips you get to know a person pretty well, and he is a great person.) We hadn't seen or really even talked to each other in a very long time. He had no idea what had been progressing in my life that week or the previous few months. He simply texted me about a photo shoot. (Yes, yes, I'm a jack of all trades, master of none-for now). I was excited for the opportunity to do something positive that I enjoy, but the conversation didn't end there. He said several things that really woke me up and got my ass off of the pity party couch (I passed on dessert just FYI). He told me he had never met someone like me, that I was rare. He told me that he had learned a lot from me and that I helped him become a better version of himself.  I was floored. I looked up-I may have been flat on my face at Rock Bottom five minutes ago, but I was up to my knees now. He then told me that diamonds are made under intense pressure and are in turn, indestructible. That I am the way I am because of what I've been through, not despite it.

You see, he didn't know my pain. He didn't know he would say exactly what I needed to hear, but God did. The next 48 hours were incredible. My wheels began turning and I began to see with such clarity the path laid out before me. In fact, I had been casually walking that path already, I was just too blind to really see the full potential. For years I have had people tell me over and over, "You're one of the strongest people I know," and truthfully I thought it was complete crap. Not in the aspect of them not believing that to be true, but that they didn't know how often I broke down and cried. I didn't feel strong in the least, I just survived like everyone else, and that wasn't enough to make a difference to anyone. However, he said three words that really impacted my life, he said, "You helped me." There was power in that! Yes, I'm broken! Yes, I've failed repeatedly! Yes, my heart aches for a lost love! Yes, I've been dealt a few shitty hands! Yes, I make mistakes! Yes, I still struggle! But, by God I helped someone! Those words lit a fire that won't burn out. Like I said, I could not begin to list every other positive thing that has taken place since I received those texts from him, but I was consistently reaffirmed of two things; A: I was going to be ok. B: I was finally, (finaaaaaaaaallyyyyyyy), on the right track. I have the right people in my life that need to be here and I have everything I need to be happy already inside of me.

Basically it comes down to this, I had to be broken. It was necessary. I needed a mouth full of gravel from the bottom of all the Rock Bottoms to wake me up. Even as I sit here now it occurs to me, I didn't lose everything. Sam isn't gone, he isn't mine, but he never really was. The ways he changed my life are still relevant, hurt doesn't erase that. As for my friends, they are still my friends. Perhaps we don't talk every day, but maybe that's so I can hear my own thoughts more often. Sometimes when we hurt it's just easier to stay in that place. Growth is hard.
   "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." -Albert Einstein (It shouldn't take a genius to figure that out, but in this case....)
The only way we can overcome our struggles is by truly seeking what we are supposed to learn from them. Make your hurt have a purpose as I am doing. I could really have two very different attitudes right now. I could say, "that was the hardest, worst, and most painful week of my life to date," or "that was the best week for my future." You see Rock Bottom isn't a negative thing, not in the least! As I have begun to claw and climb my way back up it is so completely obvious that for me, I had to experience that feeling. I had to be desperate. I had to go through every single emotion I experienced, and feel that lowest low for a forever second. If I hadn't, how could I help those down there? I couldn't, not really, I wouldn't be able to completely understand your pain. Like I said, everyone has different situations that got them there, but the journey back up from the bottom isn't much different. Let's make the climb together shall we?

Check back soon for my next blog-The Three R's to a Better Life.
*Find me on Facebook, JFox Tales: Life in the Fox Hole*

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