frozen and unable

February 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm 12 comments

For the past year, I have been climbing stairs; one floor at a time.  In these last few months, I have reached the pinnacle – an open window high above the ground, so high that clouds block the view.  A few weeks ago, I opened the window, took a step out on to the ledge and just as I did, the window slammed shut.  I have been standing on this ledge ever since.

My dilemma – where do I go next?

Option 1:  I cannot turn around and open the window and step back in – the window is locked from the inside.

Option 2:  I cannot go forward.  The fall will bring certain death.

Option 3:  My only choice – choices really – I can move to the right or move to the left.

My predicament – I am paralyzed – frozen – unable to move in either direction.

I am at an impasse.  People are depending on me. I am depending on me.  I really need to move – life moves on and I must move along with it, but how do I break out of this state?

A reflection from the past —>

Many years ago, I was helping a friend renovate a house.  The day came in which work on the roof was required to complete the project.  My friend set up the extension ladder, handed me a bucket of paint with a brush and said “Go on – I’ll be up in a few minutes”.  I looked at him, looked at the ladder, looked up at the roof and looked at him – again and froze.  He must have read my mind because the next words which came out of his mouth were “Just do it – go slow, one rung at a time, and do not look down”.  (There were also a few choice words of which I will not repeat.)  I became a bit enraged, which in turn, motivated me to clamor up the ladder to the top of the roof.

When my work on the roof was complete, it was time to return to terra firma.  Again, I froze, but this was different – I was physically terrified.  My body trembled uncontrollably as I looked down.  It seemed so far away.  What is interesting about being on the ground looking up is that one’s perception is completely different from that of being up and looking down.  The distance from ground to roof seems miniscule compared to the distance from up on the roof to down on the ground.

I was stuck.  I was trembling.  I was horrified.  My friend, who was on the ground, looked up at me and his words, more delicate this time, were “the first part of getting on the ladder is the hardest, but once you do, the rest is easy.  Take a few deep breaths, relax, do not look down and do not worry – I will not let you fall”.  (Please note:  He did not say he would catch me.)  This time there were no choice words; couldn’t even if I wanted to.  Needless to say, I made my way down the ladder.  It took me about 15 minutes to gather up the courage to move – turn my body around on a sloped roof, slither backwards, blindly find the first rung of the ladder and step down.  My friend was my guide – his voice were my eyes and his words were my comfort.  I still had to do the deed by myself, but I had much-needed support.

When I think back at this particular incident, I wonder what I would have done if my friend was not there.  I would have made my way down eventually, but I do not believe I would have by myself. I would have waited for someone walking or driving by the house.  All I needed was someone on the ground, guiding me along.  The ladder was unstable (as ladders are), the roof was very sloped and the chances of blindly sliding on to the ladder, without pushing it sideways causing it to fall and not having anything solid to grab hold of on the roof (could not use the gutter) – well, let me just say, I could envision this taking place.  I needed someone to hold the ladder steady.  I needed to know someone was there, while I gained control of my head, which in turn, controlled my legs, arms, breathing, perception….

Back to the present—->

I am in the exact same place as I was many years ago, however, variables have drastically changed.  I am not painting a roof and my support is gone.  I am teetering on the edge of my life – having to make a life changing decision – and I have no one standing beside me to guide me.  I have been waiting for ‘cars’ to drive by, even flagging down help, but what I have received is a waving hand in return.

I understand that there are times in life when there is no one around but your own strength to pull you through.  I get that.  I understand the concepts of self-love * self-confidence * you can do it *  if at first you don’t, succeed, try, try again * self forgiveness * one has to be willing to get their hands dirty in order to make something happen * shit happens, deal with it * life goes on, do not let it pass you by * when life gives you lemons, make lemonade * ………  I can keep going and going and going, etc…..

You see, I know I can do what it is I need to do, but I am terrified and I am struggling with this internal fear.  I suppose if I know what to do, then I should be able to conjure up the strength to just do it.  Right?  Everybody else seems to believe I can do just that, but they are not inside of me and they cannot see this battle I am fighting.  I do not need someone to ‘catch me if I fall’ or fix it and make it better.  I just need a helping hand to steady me for the first few steps.  That’s it.  That’s all.  So, why is that so damn difficult?  Why?  I am fighting a battle for my life and all I need is a hand.  That is it.

different state, different roof, different world that no longer exists

different state, different roof, a different world that no longer exists


Entry filed under: answers, darkness, death, depression, emptiness, fears, future, life, loneliness, loss, memory, mental heath, pain, Personal, questions, sadness. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

the box office is open under the mask

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. unlovingyou  |  February 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    this is so beautifully written. Beautifully sad. I would give you my hand.

    • 2. words4jp  |  February 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      thank you and thank you for your offer. you are very sweet.

  • 3. suchadiva  |  February 15, 2013 at 1:03 am

    that paralyzing feeling….i felt that as i was reading your story. it’s so easy for others to see our strength but we have no clue where they see it. i struggle with that every day. remember that you have made it this far, the strength is there somewhere.

    • 4. words4jp  |  February 15, 2013 at 1:37 am

      Thank you for your kind words – a reminder that I am in constant need of right now. Kimberly.

  • 5. natasharenea  |  February 15, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    This is so tragically beautiful.

    Summoning your own strength to do something is not an easy task. It sounds lovely and it sounds empowering but the task is often daunting.

    Please know that you are not alone in any situation and these helping hands come in more forms than you can imagine. Maybe these people who aren’t there for you like you are thinking you need is, in some form, a helping hand. Sometimes, it takes the realization that you are your own hero. And, trust me, being your own hero is worth more than having someone swoop in and save any day of the week. This is a lesson I learned recently and it’s been the most gratifying learning experience of my life this far.

    Be strong.
    Fight hard.
    Never ever give up.

  • 6. natasharenea  |  February 15, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    And since I love Elizabeth Gilbert so much, maybe this will help…

    “So tonight I reach for my journal again. This is the first time I’ve done this since I came to Italy. What I write in my journal is that I am weak and full of fear. I explain that Depression and Loneliness have shown up, and I’m scared they will never leave. I say that I don’t want to take the drugs anymore, but I’m frightened I will have to. I am terrified that I will never really pull my life together.
    In response, somewhere from within me, rises a now-familiar presence, offering me all the certainties I have always wished another person would say to me when I was troubled. This is what I find myself writing on the page:

    I’m here. I love you. I don’t care if you need to stay up crying all night long. I will stay with you. If you need the medication again, go ahead and take it—I will love you through that, as well. If you don’t need the medication, I will love you, too. There’s nothing you can ever do to lose my love. I will protect you until you die, and after your death I will still protect you. I am stronger than Depression and Braver than Loneliness and nothing will ever exhaust me.

    Tonight, this strange interior gesture of friendship—the lending of a hand from
    me to myself when nobody else is around to offer solace—reminds me of something that happened to me once in New York City. I walked into an office building one afternoon in a hurry, dashed into the waiting elevator. As I rushed in, I caught an unexpected glance of myself in a security mirror’s reflection. In that moment, my brain did an odd thing—it fired off this split-second message: “Hey! You know her! That’s a friend of yours!” And I actually ran forward toward my own reflection with a smile, ready to welcome that girl whose name I had lost but whose face was so familiar. In a flash instant of course, I realized my mistake and laughed in embarrassment at my almost doglike confusion over how a mirror works. But for some reason that incident comes to mind again tonight during my sadness in Rome, and I find myself writing this comforting reminder at the bottom of the page.

    Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a FRIEND…

    I fell asleep holding my notebook pressed against my chest, open to this most recent assurance. In the morning when I wake up, I can still smell a faint trace of depression’s lingering smoke, but he himself is nowhere to be seen. Somewhere during the night, he got up and left. And his buddy loneliness beat it, too.”
    ― Elizabeth Gilbert

    • 7. words4jp  |  February 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

      You are so sweet and thoughtful. Thank you very much. I am so happy I discovered your blog, and in turn you. I do struggle with the me thing. I do not hate myself, but i am not a fan either and, yes, I forget I am a friend to myself. I am a much better friend to others than to myself. I appreciate you sending this passage along – I pass a library on may way home from work – I am stopping by today to see what I can find from Ms. Gilbert.

  • 8. WB  |  February 16, 2013 at 3:24 am

    Very good story, there is nothing like hardworking to help ease the mind.

    • 9. words4jp  |  February 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      thank you. i did not mean to make you feel helpless. i know there are people at the bottom of the ladder, but i so miss the two people who used to be. one is gone forever and the other is just gone.

      • 10. words4jp  |  February 16, 2013 at 3:31 pm

        damn i just responded to the wrong reply. i am sorry. forget what i just said. thanks for reading

  • 11. Lunch Sketch  |  February 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Beautifully and painfully written I am sure. I read this in my lunch hour last week and felt a little helpless. Been on that ladder physically and mentally (more times than I would like). Too often that hand didn’t come for me and I went blindly ahead … alone.
    I guess I knew there were people at the bottom waiting for me, who could not see or comprehend my fear. I guess I didn’t cry out to them either. But knowing they were waiting gave me the strength to continue alone.

    I really do hope you get that hand – it makes things so much bloody easier!

    • 12. words4jp  |  February 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      i am having a bad morning and i just replied to your comment to someone else. talk about feeling like an idiot. here is what i said, thank you. i did not mean to make you feel helpless. i know there are people at the bottom of the ladder, but i so miss the two people who used to be. one is gone forever and the other is just gone.

      again i apologize. i appreciate you reading my ramblings.


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