Updated: Feb 4
Most of us have heard of the term: rock bottom. It’s usually associated with a drug addict in order to describe a time or event where they’ve reached the lowest point in their disease. To them, things could not get any worse.
I can certainly identify with that feeling because I’ve experienced it first hand on many occasions. There was a time in my life when I was definitely a drug addict and hitting a rock bottom was an undeniable part of my story. Even after facing that dreadful rock bottom, you know what I did? I continued to use. I decided to continue on a destructive path, broke through that bottom, and created an even lower rock bottom. I truly know what it feels like to be at the lowest of low points in your life as a result of drugs. What I didn’t understand then was that there are different types of rock bottoms. I experienced one type through the usage of drugs, but little did I know other forms were out there. And if you didn’t keep a close watch on your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual bodies, you could hit another one before you knew what was happening.
A very dark moment in my life had to occur for me to realize that I had hit another rock bottom while being clean from drugs. I thought everything was going smooth, but that all changed in an instant when life decided to happened on life’s terms. I don’t want to portray myself as an innocent bystander of life unfolding because I was, without a doubt, an active participant in the events that transpired. Basically, I chose to be selfish. There were moments in time when I had to make a decision, and each and every time, I picked my own wants, needs, and desires, while disregarding how my actions would make someone else feel.
It finally caught up to me and in early 2007, when everything came to a head, sh* hit the fan, and when the dust settled, I had hit a rock bottom of epic proportions. My emotional state was severely fractured and I was on the verge of spiritual bankruptcy. Instead of wallowing in self-pity for the damage I had done, instead of screaming “poor me” because of my self-sabotaging choices, I knew what I had to do. I had experience with rock bottoms, albeit with drugs, but at the very core, it was all about the feelings connected to it.
Within a day or two, I knew what I had to do. It was imperative that I work on myself and understand why I did what I did. It didn’t take long for me to grasp the reasons why I engaged in such hurtful behavior, towards myself and another individual. As I said before, I was selfish, but I was also becoming codependent, using another person as a crutch, as well as a proxy for my own spiritual growth. I learned early in recovery that you cannot recover through osmosis and the same goes for growth in any form. You have to put in the work to reap the benefits. I was under the impression that by “walking” the path with someone who was doing the work that I would receive the same benefits as them. I learned the hard way that that was not how self-growth, self-evolution, and overall self-discovery occurs.
Nothing that is truly worth it comes easy. There are no shortcuts, no compromises, and certainly no negotiations that can take place along this journey to self. I made it quite apparent to myself that I had to change my ways. I had to hold myself 100% accountable for my actions moving forward and constantly check in with myself to make sure my motives were aligned with my goals for growth and evolution.
The first thing that I did was sign myself up for a 10-Day Vipassana silent meditation course, which is heavily focused on bringing yourself closer to yourself through shedding of the ego and letting go of any and all attachments. I always describe this experience as a “beautiful struggle” because it was, without a doubt, a struggle, but the process I went through was absolutely beautiful. After it was all said and done, I had a very different perspective on my life, how I wanted to live it, and what was important to me moving forward.
One of those “non-negotiables”, as I like to phrase it, is not so much a need, but my wanting to travel. The importance of traveling on a consistent basis was something I knew to be sacred to me, but I failed to follow through because of the walls I constructed around me, which kept me stuck. No matter what, I always found an excuse not to book that trip even though my heart was yearning to explore the world. I finally realized that all of these so called “reasons” were fear-based and I allowed myself to rationalize and justify my decisions that, at the end of the day, were not beneficial to my growth.
I made a promise to myself, somewhat of a contract that was never to be breached or violated. I was going to travel. I was going to make time to travel because that was one thing that fed my soul. And to deny myself something of that magnitude wasn’t any way to spend my time on Earth, this very short time that each and every one of us is afforded.
So, that’s what I did. I started to travel in the summer of 2017. I started off with an amazing 112-mile trek through the mountains of Corsica, which I went into with a particular mix of bravado and ignorance. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but at the same time, I knew that this opportunity arose for a reason and instead of allowing my fears and doubts to creep into my psyche, I made my decision out of love. This trip, like many of my other trips, was life-changing. I say that because I was not the same person I was before I left. I not only met amazing people along the way, but I started to genuinely meet myself and really began to understand who I was and who I wanted to become.
Since that trip, I’ve visiting Spain and Italy in the Fall of 2017, Sayulita, Mexico in January, 2018, India (for a month), Malaysia, Thailand, and Bali (Nusa Ceningan) in the summer of 2018, and most recently Croatia and Spain. I am, by no means, reciting this list to brag or boast about my travels in the last 2 years. Instead, I want to show that I figured out something that was near and dear to my heart and didn’t let anything get in the way of me experiencing it as much as possible.
For me, one of my non-negotiables is traveling, but for you, it may be something totally different. The point is to find those non-negotiables, or things, in your life that can’t be negotiated. It’s as simple as that. Something that makes you happy, makes your soul happy, that brings you joy, should never be put on the back-burner with the mindset that it will be tended to at a later date. You may not be able to bring it to fruition in this exact moment, but hold yourself accountable to make it happen at some point in the near future. Give yourself a time frame or a deadline and stick to it. Plan out the necessary steps, create a roadmap of sorts, and don’t allow yourself to veer off and change courses. Make sure you tell yourself that what you are working towards is something that is a non-negotiable in your life. That it’s something your heart yearns for and is essential for your growth, your evolution, and your own self-discovery. When you start to frame it as such, you will NEVER give yourself, or anyone else, permission to come between you and your passions; what makes your heart happy, your soul shine.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure where this was going when I started to write it. I wanted to talk about my journey dealing with rock bottoms and how they come in many different forms, which I did. But, I didn’t expect it to end with me encouraging everyone to establish non-negotiables in their lives and to always follow their heart, no matter what.
Much like life and it’s unpredictive nature, that’s how I try to write these days. I may have an idea in mind, but then I let go of any aspirations of perfection and let whatever is flowing through me to come out on the paper. In doing so, you’re getting my heart more so than my mind.
You’re getting my raw and uncut feelings more so than my structured and refined thoughts.
You’re getting my pure and unconditional love.
You’re getting me, unapologetically honest and openly flawed.