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  • Writer's picturefollowingflamingos

It's the climb

I find myself once again looking into my own personal abyss. How deep could the dive be this time, I find myself wondering what is at the bottom. I know that where there is a chasm, there must be walls, sides, edges, as on these I can envisage small outcrops - the little ledges I use to cling and hold fast. A steadfast refusal to acknowledge pain is a problem I can do something about, as who am I to feel such pain when others suffer all over the world from devastation and war?





From those enclaves I used to pretend that there was no abyss, no chasm and no falling. Because a job, a partner, friends, a social life, belonging meant normal. A career, my intellect, my degree, my grades, my youth, at times my reflection. Steppingstones sideways and downwards and diagonally. Motherhood, life stage, good health, bad health, employment, mortgage.


Skirting around and occasionally finding an oasis of possibility and scramble upwards. That new job, new interest, new person or people, recovery, a new way or place to be. Always that slide back downwards, further, confused as to what was my starting point anyhow and what was it again that I had clung to?


At some point I must have been at the top, must have looked down from somewhere, but I know not where. I have no living memory of being normal and every living memory of being abnormal, wrong. I did not know this kind of invisible fall was possible. Is it hubris to force yourself to fit in and do normal, when as a result even your missteps are disbelieved? Like Alice I have indeed wondered about the centre of the earth as it seemed that downwards I would go, oblivious to almost all. I focused on making each rocky shelf my home, getting a firm grasp in order to appear ok, just as I planned it thank you. When did I become aware of the whispering, the held breath of others clinging on in their turn, faces turned upwards too?


At some point I began to doubt that there would be another ledge, another outcrop. That’s when the chance of falling outside the realms of any reasonable help seemed inevitable. Again, fingers found rungs and feet found toeholds and again, where was I climbing to anyway? Looking upwards became unavoidable, that shaft of light illuminating what could have been searing my skin and my insides adding shame’s burden to my load.


Even now writing this I am feeling for my footing again, one step somehow above the unknown, tentatively alive with harness in hand, imagining that someone will read this and have a clue what I am talking about. Because they too have been there, faced with what is invisible to all others usually but themselves and if lucky those that love them best. But just as real a task as milestone or marathon climb.


Have you ever felt it in your body, that you had to fall, that in order to live you had to stop doing the normal, accept you were indeed falling, and that you could fall? Have you had to find some unspoken faith that you would find some kind of bottom to safely land?


Keeping talking about mental health as usual. Message me your experiences.


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