During an economic recession, much anticipation centers on identifying the point at which it ends. When is there sufficient growth to demonstrate that the economy is in the infant stages of an upward trajectory? No longer languishing in the trough that symbolizes the worst of a recession, we are movin’ on up a la George and Weezy. As we’ve seen in recent years, however, recoveries aren’t painless. Recapturing lost ground requires patience.
I believe the same can be said of recoveries occurring after personal challenges. While celebrating the end of an onslaught, you may find yourself glancing upward. Your first thought may be “where am I?” or “what is that dim light in the distance?” The reality of your current location may be so startling that you drop your champagne glass.
After you clean up the broken glass, it’s a good idea to start climbing. No good comes from lingering in a trough unless you like potato peels and the occasional nip from an eager pig. Ascend one step or handhold at a time, pulling yourself towards any glimmer of daylight you see above. Don’t worry about how you appear from below. You will be a light in the darkness to anyone trying to muster the energy to venture out of the trough. Don’t worry about how you look from above either. Anyone above you is, or should be, too focused on his or her own climb to spend time judging you.
Quite unfortunately, while you are ascending there isn’t a moratorium on setbacks. It seems fair that the Wizard of Oz should sign a proclamation that during such time as the party of the first part is climbing out of the aforementioned trough, life henceforth will be all birthday cake and warm woolen mittens.
Sorry, sissy. I come bearing the worst kind of news. Climbing out of a trough doesn’t exempt you from floods or frogs or locusts. As much as I hate to raise this sad truth, you will get audited by the IRS. Or rear-ended. Twice. You will break your wrist or have to buy a new hot water heater after the old one leaks and destroys everything in your basement. Shit happens, sissy.
THAT THING might even happen again. The thing you bargained and pleaded with the Universe “please, please NEVER let THAT happen again.” THAT THING. Your personal kryptonite. You lose your job. The parent/sibling/friend who brings out your worst codependent tendencies is sleeping on your couch. You get dumped. Via text.
If THAT THING happens, it’s OK to be furious. It’s equally OK to be heartbroken. Hiding in your bedroom for two weeks eating candy corn until your fingers and tongue are stained orange and your pancreas begs for mercy is a reasonable response. But once you’ve finished the ninth trick-or-treat sized bag of candy corn and every single sweatshirt you own has dried snot on the sleeves because you ran out of Kleenex on Day Two of the Candy Corn Marathon, consider some advice: make a plan to recommence climbing. There’s no need to be ambitious. Start with an eensy weensy step: shave your legs, eat a single piece of kale, let someone who loves you know you are still breathing. Build your strength until you are able to channel your disappointment into photography or meditation or someone who needs your help. Go blonde. Get something pierced. Buy a pair of Manolos or a motorcycle. Whatevs. In any circumstances, don’t even consider retracing your steps into the trough. That simply isn’t an option.
You are, and always have been, better than that dead end job. Take the tiniest step. You deserve relationships, family, romantic and otherwise, that are filled with authenticity and mutual caring. Any relationship that doesn’t embody these characteristics isn’t meant for you. Focus on climbing. The temptation to lash out may be overwhelming, but hold on to the high road with a death-grip. Healing is facilitated by the knowledge that you showed compassion for yourself and others. Keep moving upward. It doesn’t matter if this is your 84th setback. To quote Dory in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.” Setbacks are a part of our common humanity. Climbing is an even more important component of our common humanity.
What you will find, I believe, is that covering a particular span of ground for the second (or tenth) time gives you familiarity with where loose gravel or quick sand is located. Hopefully, this makes for quick climbing. Godspeed.