Standing at the foot of the mountain, I pause to take it in. Towering, with its sly grin, it waves me over. I nod and began making my way, stopping a few strides in to retie the laces I’d double knotted a minute before (a go-to stall or nervous habit, I’m not sure which). The trail is daunting, and the mountain stretches so high it’s got its head in the clouds, putting us at eye-level just below my confidence.
The beginning isn’t flat, but feels it, and I navigate it with such ease that I forget to pace myself. Moving quickly, I make more headway in an hour than I have in a week. Feeling strong, optimistic, and competent, I marvel at the fact it only took a short 38 years to get here. By day’s end, I’m miles ahead and not the least bit tired. With energy to spare, I could keep going for hours. Instead, I concede with the sun.
The next couple of weeks are more of the same. Small victories met right on time, quickly replaced with the shiniest of plans. I make lunches the night before and lay outfits with matching socks on the bed. I read extra bedtime stories and instead of “please stop jumping on the bed!” I scream “let’s jump higher!” Carrying around my bag of punchy quips and laugh out loud one-liners, I’m quick-witted and can think on my feet. But, I write without thinking. Despite the long looming trek ahead, I’m at ease and relaxed. My creativity is endless, and my accountability that of a functioning adult. I’m gracious when met with praise – a praise I don’t second-guess because I’m worthy and deserving. Stretching, wiggling, and jumping out of my seat, I raise my hand to volunteer for more. I float through my day, liking everyone around me. Even you.
Before opening my eyes, I sense it. Despite knowing full well that it would return, I’m no less shattered upon its arrival. Walking feels weighted and not at all like yesterday. The mountain looks steeper and slyer, and I shudder. Forcing myself to move ahead, I take a few steps through the invisible, cement-like mud, before turning back around and collapsing. The air around me is heavy and I have a million things to do. I decide to do none of them. Everything about me now broken, I watch my creativity, accountability, patience, confidence, and voice skip away together, growing smaller and smaller, from shadows to dots to nothingness. Aching for numbness, I go radio silent to ride out the storm.
One week later.
My eyes open bright and early, and with jazz hands. They don’t fight back and what a relief. I inhale, exhale, and realize I haven’t done either all week. Smiling, I remind myself to remind myself to breathe, then make note to add that to my do-to list, before making note to actually start a to-do list. Logistics are a bitch. I skip out of bed ready to take on the fucking world. I feel ten pounds skinnier and damn my hair looks good. I wipe away spills the moment they hit the counter, with a giggle, and began returning things to their proper location (no more brush on the kitchen counter or peanut butter on the nightstand). I sit down to write without effort, feeling so balanced I could run a tight rope in heels.
But, first, I stop to retie my laces. Twice.