the ladder back out

Sometimes, something will go so disastrously wrong with my day that before I know what's happening, I'm pushed to the bottom of a cold, dark rabbit hole. So dark it's impossible to see the ladder guiding me back up to sunshine and warmth.

When that happens, I only ask one thing of myself - that I continue to put air in my lungs. Breathe, I think. That's the only thing you have to do right now. I do that for as long as it takes. Sometimes, that's five minutes. Sometimes, it's five hours.

In the past, when I would get really, really low, all of the other negatives in my life would come tumbling off the shelves, threatening to bury me alive. But I've finally started to retrain my brain. I remind myself that while yes, I just had a fight with my boyfriend, or got a piece of bad news in the mail, that doesn't change the rest of my reality one bit. It doesn't improve it, but nor does it worsen it.

My parents are already dead. They can't get any deader.

I'm already unemployed. I couldn't be any more unemployed.

And so on. Unsuccessful relationships I had in the past remain just as unsuccessful; they can't be resurrected and reenacted to some further point of failure. I'm just as divorced as I was before. Any standing health issues I have aren't exacerbated by this fresh, new source of pain. They're immune and apathetic to it.

Last night, I spent the evening with new girlfriend: happy hour at a restaurant I'd never been to, stops at another two bars I'd never set foot in (despite the fact that they're a few blocks from my apartment), cocktails, music, conversation, and a late-night burger to top it off. Eight or so hours of entertainment that, if not for virtue of where, when, and to whom I'd been born, I'd never have the privilege to enjoy.

Perspective and gratitude. Two rungs on the ladder back out.