Rock Bottom can be found at a town in Texas.
The past few days have been dedicated to FEMA. There is a lot of waiting for FEMA, and so my mind was largely left unattended. Free to wander, my thoughts kept drifting back to a Trauma Training I attend several years ago.
This training was unique in that it was filled with Survivors rather than clinicians.
I should fit in there, right?
If you know anything about psychology- you know they love research & scales. People love to quantify crazy so we need to provide measures or scales of how far from “normal” something or someone is… I know my therapist friends are now searching their minds for a theory that does not have a scale. Trust me, every theory has some sort of scales attached to it. This was no different and their pet scale was fondly named The ACE. The ACE (or adverse childhood experience) scale is a simplistic test that assigns a number from 1 to 10 of how traumatized a human is and then links it to horrifying outcomes such as rates of suicide, substance abuse, and the such. I am good at tests- and I aced the ACE impressing no-one with my ten of a possible highest score of 10 arguing that I only capped out at ten because you can only count each scenario once. But no-one in the room full of 6’s to 8’s cared.
Being that the trauma training was not led by a clinician there were few, if any, euphemism used to discuss the data. The facilitator saw my score, moved to the suicide data and announced out loud to the class that according to the graph I should’ve been dead in my 20’s. (I took the news rather well since it was not the first time I have disappointed someone by not dying on time).
I did my best to feign apologetic for skewing the data by not complying to that Em-should-be-dead stat while the rest of the class moved on to a discussion of “Rock Bottom” and how to dig up from there. Each of the members of the class were invited to describe, in horrifying detail, what their personal rock bottom looked like. When to my horror my turn rolled around and I was met with expectant glares, everyone eager to hear #10’s breaking point…
Dare I say it, “Um, I have not reached rock bottom yet?”
The shock was palpable.
How dare I- this #10, perfect ACE score, outlier of suicide stats- not have a rock bottom. I searched my brain for some plausible explanation but all I am ever really left with is my personal truth which is this-
I have been in an epic battle with the Universe since I can remember. We do this not-very-delicate dance of how much can Em take before she breaks. Saying any experience is my “Rock Bottom” implies two things I will likely never admit to-
The first of which is defeat. In my mind (and probably only in My mind) “Rock Bottom” is the end of the game and The Universe has won. It means I finally broke. I had enough. I gave ‘up’ or ‘in’ or however that saying goes. Any way you name it, I am not doing that. Ever. It is the proverbial crying “Uncle” , I give, or ally ally, all come free. I did not ask to play this game, but I am not going to lose at it either.
Second- it tempts the Universe by implying she has finished torturing me. I promise, she has not. No matter what the Universe has ever thrown at me, no matter how hard any obstacle has been, I know that there is worse, more, deeper pain that the Universe could impose at any time. And if I am patient she usually does. Sure, the flood was bad. But I don’t think it is all the Universe has got, and the fact that I am alive implies that she certainly is not done with me yet. So I will neither tempt her, nor allow myself the pleasure of thinking the worse is over now and I can carry on with an expectation of a simple, carefree, happily ever after.
Now, back at that trauma training where I had already been informed I was a few decades late according to their suicide data, I was now further muddying their training by explaining that I will never admit to reaching Rock Bottom. No-one was pleased. After a few minutes of debate, I gave in and agreed with them that I probably just had just not hit mine yet.
I comforted them that I will eventually join them in that dreadful place.
Well I did not know it then, but I know it now- Rock Bottom is an actual place. And it happens to be in Pasadena, Texas. See? My luck is improving! All I have to do to fit in, is take a road trip there. Then when folks ask me when I hit “Rock Bottom” I can tell them the story they crave to hear, “it was a cold day in September of 2017 when I finally reached Rock Bottom….. “
Rock Bottom can be found at a town in Texas.