HOW TO HIT ROCK BOTTOM
I could not believe why this was all happening to me; I mean, I was a good guy. I was a family man. All I did was cut a few corners in life. Everyone does, right? I assumed I was going be homeless and living in my car. That my wife and son would leave me and move far, far away. And that everyone would laugh at me and think I’m a total loser. I was right on almost every count.
This wasn’t the first time I hit rock bottom. Truth be told, I’ve hit it many times. You’d think by now I’d have it mastered though (what an accomplishment), but to no avail I had not.
I was a convicted felon living on house arrest, where we all barely stayed in a tiny one bedroom apartment. Now I say barely, as we had fallen behind on rent (along with everything else). Tension was at an all-time high for us. Us being me, my wife, and toddler son. And lately, it seemed like my winning personality wasn’t doing a whole lot of winning, as everyone was starting to hate me – even the dog (man’s best friend my ass).
I had no money, no prospects, and no sense of hope. Pair that up with my shitty credit, the shitty broken down car that would get me to and from my (shitty) part-time minimum wage job, and the thought of chugging a gallon of drano and calling it a day all seemed quite appealing. Should I go on?
I was tired, beaten down, and grossly overweight. I admit, I hadn’t exactly handled this whole “legal problem” very well, and as a result, had let myself go. Obviously, the bullshit can get to you, and I was totally overwhelmed, so of course my natural response was to self-medicate. That did not help matters.
Worst of all, I was losing the person who’d stood by me through this whole ordeal, as we were arguing non-stop. There would be these vicious fights with harsh words exchanged but was always trying to find a way to make up. After a while, even that was getting to be harder and harder.
I’d find myself staring at the ceiling in bed next to her, still angry, not wanting to trust her with my feelings any longer. Even though we were together, I felt alone. Yet despite all of that we still loved each other.
You have to admit, there’s not many people who’d be attracted to a fat, broke, felon. And of all the people she picked to be with, she had chosen me (poor thing).
There was a sadness that I could see in her eyes too. I knew that look. I recognized it as I’d seen it countless times growing up – the look of disappointment. She didn’t have to say anything either because I knew it.
She could’ve left. Could’ve packed up and taken our son. And that terrified me. Was I with her for the help, or because I loved her. Or did I love her because of the help. My ego was hurt and bruised beyond repair as I grew more insecure with each passing day. I felt like a failure. A walking cliche. The loser felon.
Who did this?
I had lost everything for us. Our house. Our savings. Cars – you name it. Mainly our freedom, and any sense of security that goes along with it. A life I personally destroyed that we’d never be able to go back to. I was worse than a gambler.
The only saving grace was the fact that I’d been caught and no longer had the need for incessant worrying about staying ahead of the law, thus allowing me small moments of peace. Didn’t really matter though, I was still deeply troubled at where I was in life.
I was scared to death of what the future held. How in the hell am I supposed to take care of a family if I can’t even take care of myself. I was both angry and sympathetic towards my needs. I knew I let a lot of people down, but still thought that everyone was coming down on me a little too hard and wasn’t being understanding on what I was going through.
God I was severely depressed. I wanted to kill myself. Seriously, I really did. Only I was too much of a bitch to do anything about it.
It felt like all walls were closing in on me and I couldn’t breathe. In actuality they were, as I was in this congested little apartment serving out the beginning of what was to be a lengthy sentence. Jesus, I couldn’t even go out for a leisurely walk to get some air and clear my head, as my home confinement didn’t allow for it. I’d underestimated just how hard this would be.
All I remember was that I skipped out of the courtroom that day in a celebratory mood with a stupid grin on my face. I scored both house arrest and probation, narrowly escaping a prison sentence. Within hours the mood would drastically change, as reality set in on my new way of living.
Worse, my mind started to process what was to make of life as a convicted felon serving out long, grueling years of punishment. I despised that. And I was bitter. And angry. And defeated.
I felt as if life was doing everything in it’s power to go out of its way to make things difficult for me. That it, and God was being spiteful. And my hatred towards the both of them, unfortunately fell hard on my family.
“Maybe they’d be better off without me” is what I muttered. I felt a pain like I’d never felt in my soul. I didn’t want to lose my family after already losing everything else, but felt it was already too late. That they didn’t need or seem to want me anymore.
The breaking point would occur one rainy evening when I got kicked out because I’d had an epic meltdown and was mouthing off. I yelled “you can’t kick me out” from the hallway. “I’m on house arrest. Where the f*** will I go”.
Didn’t matter. I was out of control, drunk off my ass, and feeling sorry for myself, spewing hateful, cruel words to everybody. So naturally I did what any drunk, convicted felon on house arrest would do in that given situation: I got behind the wheel and drove the hell off in defiance. F***’em. However, at the end of this memorable night I made two interesting observations:
- God has a sense of humor, seeing as how my car battery was dead so I was stuck and grounded.
- A 2001 Kia Sephia is not very comfortable to sleep in and will tweak your back up nicely.
I found myself lying in the backseat (yes, the fetal position) of my shitty car in the parking lot, staring at the roof, pondering the meaning of a shitty life and where it all went wrong for me, all while listening to the soothing sounds of rain drops pelting the rust off my car.
I thought about if this was my punishment for anything or anyone I ever did wrong in life. I prayed for forgiveness and another opportunity to make things right. But I also thought about plenty of rotten people in this world who get away with so much, yet seem to have such a great life. I curled up, hoping to never wake up and die.
You mean I’m the bad guy?
My drunken stupor was more reminiscent of the infamous Tony Montana scene from Scarface shortly before his gruesome death.
Unfortunately for me, I was still alive and having to deal with the aftermath. And it’s not like this just happened in an instant. I mean, it took some time and effort to get to this shitty point. It’s really a collection of bad decisions. Sometimes even a series of indecisions. Either way, it all comes back to haunt you.
My arrogance, laziness, and fear all contributed to bottoming out. I’d easily gotten sidetracked and caught up in life’s drama and the unfairness to it all, so I lost sight of what was most important. When that happens, life starts to pass you by. And while all this is occurring, you’re not aware. You’re oblivious. When it finally dawns on you, it hurts like a gut punch. A nauseated feeling usually accompanies. Followed by a feeling of anger. Then shame.
The whole dramatic process of how one becomes a felon screws your head up good. Your nerves are fried having to always be challenged each and every day when you don’t know what’s in store for you. The uncertainty of it all. One can easily find themselves desperate and lost. And when you lose hope, you’re in a dangerous place.
So now what?
You know all that bullshit they say about life and how you gain clarity when you lose everything cause all the distractions go away and so it is THEN that you’re able to focus. Yeah, well that’s partly true.
Although I don’t agree with that methodology seeing as how I could do without flushing every thing I’ve ever worked hard for down the toilet, alienating the people I love most, and losing my self worth and respect, along with enduring public humiliation all in the name of self-discovery.
So sure, maybe you gain some perspective from that. The hell if I know. Crazy thing though, but there’s something about certain peoples brains and how they’re hardwired to make it easier for them to appreciate life and learn from it when they’re in pain and suffer loss.
… life is hard. Close to everything in life is hard. And going through life with a criminal record is extremely hard. In respect to that, just getting up in the morning and tying your shoelaces without blowing your brains out is a true accomplishment.
That first year I was on house arrest was a doozy. It was the most difficult, gut-wrenching, exhausting year I’ve ever experienced in this lifetime. It tested every fiber of my patience and sanity. I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die.
But you know what – I got through it. And part of the reason I got through it is cause I got out of the away from myself and focused on something other than me for a change. That night that I was sleeping in my car, something happened that never really happened. I cried.
Only this time it wasn’t cause I felt sorry for myself. It was cause I knew I could’ve done more and been more. A better husband. Better father. Better man. Better everything. I was capable of more, and not living up to what my potential was. Didn’t matter that I was a convicted felon.
I thought about my son who played games with me in the parking lot cause I was on house arrest and couldn’t go to a park like a normal dad. And how he still loved me, and looked at me like a god, smiling, and laughing the whole time with his attention fixated on me. I was a father that couldn’t provide for this little life, who was (unfortunately for him) reliant on me, of all people.
And then I thought about that girl who I fought with, and how she stuck by me. How she supported me, and went to court for me. And how she cried for me and begged the judge to show mercy that day. And how she said I was a great father, and husband, and provider for my family to everyone in that courtroom, even though that wasn’t the truth.
And how I made her miserable. With nothing to really offer her in this life but drama and sarcasm. She was there with me. For me. Most people would have left. And now looking back on some of the fights we had, it could of all been prevented had my ego not come into play.
You never want to be doubted in life. It’s a very hurtful thing for someone to not believe in you. To doubt you. But how can they not? It is not their fault. You lose credibility when you’re a fat, broke, felon.
With time passing though, it has a way of giving you new perspective. One you can’t accomplish with drugs and alcohol. I can see certain area I was sensitive to, that lead to breaking points. I didn’t want to deal with my faults, let alone accept them. I was too hung up and concerned with what everybody thought of me.
A major reason is that I gave a shit. I cared. Almost too much. About what others think. About if I’m a failure. About what if’s. I worried. God, I worried.
But the wrong method is to try and NOT give a shit. Or be mad at the world. I guess that’s the anecdote. For many people on that edge. They care. They care so much. They just need balance, and that comes from gaining perspective.
I’m no longer crippled with fear as to what people may think of me or my failures (I guess practice makes perfect). I lost that fear. And I stopped caring so much on what others may think of me, felon or not. I got out of a dark hole in my life by just focusing on how I could improve myself in order to improve the situation.
I adapted. I had to. I didn’t want to die anymore.
–The Educated Felon