The further we fell in the holes we’d dug for ourselves, the less the depth seemed to matter. Ten feet? Twenty? Fifty? It doesn’t make the light above seem that much smaller. Always reachable, we tell ourselves.
Always reachable, if we really wanted. After all, we were the ones digging. Our choices – ours alone. How easy it is to keep digging. So what, if we hit rock bottom?
Such an easy thing to swap the shovel for the pickaxe; dig further. Deeper. The light at the top looks so dim now.
Do we really want to climb back up that far? It’s really not so bad down here, we reason, and chip away at the rock. The light’s dimmer and dimmer, now. Eventually it’ll fade to darkness.
Here we find ourselves. Alone, still digging, in the dark.
Eventually, we pause. Do we keep digging? I can still remember how the light felt. It’s like grasping at a fading dream just awoken from, but I think I can remember what it was like.
This definitely wasn’t our dream for ourselves; this was never who we’d wanted to become. Our words and reasons echo like the hollow cliches they are; a thousand voices having said them before us. We never meant to give away all those pieces of ourselves that made us who we used to be. We never meant to dig this far. No-one ever does.
Still, it’s not so bad, is it? There’s a familiar comfort in this darkness; we don’t have to see ourselves. There are no mirrors down here. We can ignore who we are. Deeper, still, would definitely be the easier way.
No, we finally say. This far and no further. While we can still tell which way is up, this is where we stop.
Slowly, we begin the climb back up.
It’s such a long climb. Tasking. Arduous. Muscles ache and lock. Every pause, every agonizing minute, reminded that climbing down would be the easier way.
Still, we climb upwards; struggling to get back to that light we can barely remember.
Slowly, every fiber of our being rebelling against our willpower, we climb.
Days, weeks pass. Eventually we emerge into the light, now blinding.
Bruised, battered, still whole. Basking in the light, we rest and find things to try to fill our time.
Slowly, we heal. Mostly. Those who’ve gone this way before say it will always be like this. They caution how it never fully leaves you, the memory of darkness. The hole still lingers. Taunts. Tempts. We had such a good time, though, didn’t we, digging down?
We resist, and in time, our bruises heal, cuts mend. Track marks and the scars they left begin to fade.
Always at the back of our minds, though, the hole beckons. Maybe just a little ways down that rabbit hole? Just a taste? It couldn’t really hurt. There’s always some excuse. After all, this light; sometimes it’s far too bright.
Still, for now we stay here. Stay in the light. Remember how the climb back up felt. Nothing is worth that painful struggle. Nothing could be worth putting ourselves through that hell yet again. So we choose the light.
Every day, we make that same choice. Over and over and over again. Sometimes it all seems far too bright, and on those days we might squint a little.
But for now, here we’ll stay.