When it comes to emotions, I like to think I’m indestructible. Any emotional pain I feel is smothered by mantras I internally repeat to myself (“You are amazing, smart, funny, and have great hair.”) and huge doses of humor. I am a big fan of humor for humor’s sake and also a fan of humor as a giant band-aid for emotional wounds. If I can make jokes about the emotional horror I’m wading through, it will lessen the pain. It won’t seem as bad if I constantly undermine the true way I’m feeling with jokes because then we can at least laugh and that offers a temporary relief. I depend on humor’s ability to mask pain. If I pretend everything is ok, it eventually will be.
Humor is the crutch I need to scale steep emotional mountains until I realize I’m on the descent and don’t even need the crutch anymore, but reaching this point is a tough battle. And sometimes when you think you’re there, you’re actually just on a patch of stable, flat land until the ascent abruptly continues. These are dark days, when humor seems like the only thing you have to help aid the continuation of the climb.
Getting to the true point of decline can take years of work. Navigating through emotional terrain is certainly not easy. In addition to humor, you better have packed your GPS, tissues, water-proof mascara, energy bars and matches to start a fire for those nights when you’re trapped wondering what the hell happened when the helicopter dropped you off in the middle of nowhere and now you’re sleeping over (or not sleeping at all) in a freezing, emotionally-burdening sleeping bag of hurt on the edge of a teetering cliff. And it will agonize you to tears and rage at points along the way to know the journey could all end in one single moment if the helicopter would just find you again. A part of you will wonder what it would take for a fading-familiar hero to appear above you, brilliant as ever, dangling from the rescue rope to pluck you out of this torture and into a warm embrace, offering apologies for all you’ve trekked through. And you will wonder this for what seems like forever as you vehemently push on yourself because simply,……..you have to. The only way to guarantee progress is to do it yourself and you’re certain to go nowhere if all your eggs are naively thrown into the basket labeled “Hope”.
So I press on, into the sun, tired but hopeful, worn but wiser, with a better sense of myself and what I want when I find my way back to emotional civilization. The rescue helicopter may never come– maybe it can’t find me, doesn’t want to, doesn’t realize I’m lost, is lost itself, or has moved on to flying over new territory—so I must power through myself with visions that the finish line, although possibly years away, has its own rewards. By making it through the emotional rainforest of hell, I will know what I’m truly made of. I will learn many aspects of myself– my needs and desires, what makes me happy, sad, motivated, inspired, what I will never again accept and where I’m willing to compromise. And for this I will be stronger and better.
It would be just another lie dressed in a cloak of humor if I didn’t say that surely, I glance to the sky every once in awhile, wondering if that helicopter may ever return and where that helicopter could be at this very moment. But in the meantime, and sometimes grudgingly so, I move on knowing that progressing with my own two feet and a thermos of humor is the only sure thing I can control in the quest to feel whole again. And if by the time I’ve made it to the final few steps of the descent without that helicopter ever back in sight, I will know that this was my destiny and the entire idea of the helicopter in the first place, was only ever an artificial fantasy.