There comes a point in our lives, when we sink to the lowest of lows, we hit rock-bottom and that, according to me is among the best places to be! Be it a career, relationship, financial, behaviour or conduct related low and its consequent hardship; it’s a blessing, my heartiest congratulations to you!
Far too often, we put up with unfavourable situations in the hope that things will change or that we will become stronger. It could be fear, doubt, delusion or denial that keeps us from acting when things are not quite right. We lie to ourselves as a coping mechanism so often that the lie turns into truth for us. Then it happens, all of a sudden, we are not just sinking but crashing till we reach that torturous pit of agony. We can, should we choose to, remain there and lead a life of misery (secret or otherwise) but that is an unhealthy place to be.
Hitting rock bottom can and frequently does compel us to take a hard look at ourselves and our reality, reassess what we have going for us and then make the best of it. In order that we survive, we find another way – something that we never had the courage to try before or something we never ever imagined we would do.
When we hit a dead end in our career because we are jobless, or our business has failed; it’s the worst sort of hardship. Apart from feeling utterly incompetent and being in a constant mode of depression and anxiety, the subsequent dip in hard cash and the resultant desperation is well known to all. That’s when we can think of what to do, explore possibilities and discover that other occupation that ends up being the best thing ever. There are scores of stories of people who hit rock bottom, changed tracks in their career and achieved unimagined success.
I know someone who lost his job and try as he might, he just could not get another one. He sunk into the worst sort of depression, the sort that needed medication. Then, one day, he decided that he may as well spend his time gardening, something he loved but had never had time to do while he was chasing that next promotion or increment. His garden grew as he channelled more and more energy and attention towards it. Suddenly, an idea struck him, and he thought of finding a market for his flowers and it worked. Today he has a farm where he grows the most gorgeous flowers and has become a well-known florist. His despair and depression led him to live a fulfilling and successful life doing exactly what he loves to do.
Then there are things we put up with at home with our family. The child who has chosen to go down a self-destructive path, the parent who is too involved in the life of adult children, the spouse who we no longer love or respect, the morally, psychologically, socially unacceptable occurrences within the family that we pretend is okay. We tell ourselves that things will change for the better, pray for strength and a miracle or feel that love and time will turn things around someday or just accept it as a part of life. The facet of our familial life that is wrong keeps hitting lower lows, probably because it is unharnessed, and then, the crash happens, and we are at rock bottom. That is when we muster up the strength and courage to rectify what’s wrong, in a decisive and fruitful way. Rising from rock bottom in the familial scenario involves being cruel to be kind, something that requires strength. The benefit of rectifying what’s wrong: drawing lines for the undisciplined child or the overbearing parent, giving ultimatums to the spouse who is less than fair and kind to us or even walking out, will not only make our lives happier but send a message to the person who is doing something wrong. That may be the rock bottom they hit and eventually rise out of.
I have the privilege of knowing this person, she is to this day illiterate but has, in my eyes, accomplished a lot. She used to live in a city but was married off to a farmer in a rural part of India. The story of her marriage is an ‘unhappily’ ever after one, soon she had two kids and continued her unhappy life because of imagined pressures from society and her family. Then, she hit that breaking point when her husband came home with a second wife. She packed her bags, took her two kids and went right back to the city she grew up in. There, she found herself a job, got her son and daughter into the best school she could afford and proceeded to divorce her husband with the help of an organisation that helps women’s causes. Today, her children are grown up and in good jobs, she lives a happy life in a house she owns. I am sure you will agree that her ex-husband’s second marriage was the best thing that happened to her.
I state with deep conviction that it is better to speak up, wake up or even break away before a situation gets too alarming for words. Rare is the person who is completely oblivious to whatever is wrong in their lives and can tell when there are early signs of impending disaster. Why not take remedial steps then? This is specially recommended if we have faced hardship repeatedly, we can smell trouble from a mile away and should, for our own good, do something about it immediately. It requires strength and conviction, I know; however, bouncing back from devastating hardship requires a whole lot more.
A famous author once said something about everyone being face down in the gutter but some looking up at the stars from the gutter. I would add: Let’s not just look at the stars from the gutter but reach for them.