An Echo Off a Mountainside

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It feels like an avalanche. That’s what I told my best friend last night. It’s like an avalanche and when it happens, it buries me.

When it happens, it feels as if there beneath a pile of snow, a piece of myself dies. That there’s no getting out from under it all. I give up beneath the weight and whatever finally emerges is a colorless ghost of what remains below.

I’m trying not to think in those terms anymore. I told her I really want to try to instead imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top. Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’d never described shame in these terms before.

Mainly because it isn’t something I ever talk about. With her or anyone else. Even in therapy.

My therapist knows it is something I struggle with. But I’ve never shared details about the things that invite that avalanche. The desires and emotions that feel like screams against a snowy, fragile mountainside.

I don’t know how it got to this point. I only know that radical acceptance feels like the only answer.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

I told my husband once that those are the only words I want to hear. When I share some part of myself with someone, those are the only words I want to hear in return. Anything less, anything different, and I’m awash. I’m rolling backwards down that mountainside.

Buried once again.

I’m the girl in a corner somewhere being screamed at, spittle flying because the many ways I’m a disappointment, and a failure, and a slut, and a cunt, can’t even be described in any manner that’s calm. They have to be shouted with a vitriol that’s physical and dripping with disgust.

Those words, that screaming, never happen in any way in my life now. Nobody treats me that way now.

Except myself.

I climb halfway up a slippery, frozen mountainside just to admit something I desire. Something that isn’t what society may say is normal.

I finally voice it. Not in shouts, but in whispers.

I support you. I want you to have that. That sounds wonderful for you.

If that isn’t the echo that answers my whisper, if those words aren’t on the wind that rolls back in reply, it begins.

An avalanche of shame that buries me anew.

I’m trying to imagine that as soon as the avalanche runs its course, I begin scraping away. And maybe my fingers leave streaks of blood across the white of the snow and ice. But I emerge, whole, ready to keep trudging along and fight my way to the top.

Holding tight to all the things that make me who I am, no matter how far away the top always seems.

I’m trying to keep whispering. No matter what rolls back down the mountainside.

I’m trying.

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You’re here, he says. You keep coming back. Let’s acknowledge the bravery in that.

I nod. Silent.

How does it feel for you to hear that?

I’m not brave enough to answer.

————

A friend mentioned fearlessness to me today and it hit me. That word doesn’t even exist in my vocabulary.

Fearless. Brave.

Those adjectives are fake storefronts propped up in an effort to convince anyone approaching that there isn’t a paper shack hidden behind, ready to blow over in a breeze. The truth is I keep going back to therapy out of desperation.

I keep going back for my kids.

I keep going back because I’m afraid of the alternative.

I keep going back because I don’t have insurance and they accept sliding scale fees.

Because so long as I feel as if I’m doing something, anything, to get better, I’ll hopefully keep putting one foot in front of another.

Because I don’t feel like I have a choice.

—————

That word fearlessness especially worries me. Maybe because my anxiety tends to translate into feelings of fear for me. So I would never ever use that word to describe myself.

I think I have sporadic moments of bravery and I think I can be tenacious. Calling for my first appointment took six months of working up the nerve after a two and a half year depression that rendered me barely able to answer a text, let alone ask for help.

Moments of bravery.

I’m determined to see this through until there’s a moment where I feel like I’ve done it. Like I’ve made sense of most of what I’m struggling with. I know there is never a finite end to working on all this stuff.

Well, except for death.

But I am hopeful there will come a time where I feel as if I’ve got enough tools in the toolbox, so to speak, that I can move forward without therapy.

Or at least without so much of it.

All of that, for me, comes from a place of fear. The fear that if I fall into a deep depression again I won’t make it out. Ever. Or alive.

—————

Another friend and I discussed self-acceptance.

Radical self-acceptance.

Refusing to compromise one’s identity.

That, to me, is where fearlessness and bravery take flight.

My wings are not yet feathered.