Sunday, March 16, 2014

Holes

I have never much liked this poem;
“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.” 

It wasn't until I saw an illustration in a talk by Professor Janet Treasure(that I am cross not to be able to find to include here) that I began to reflect on why. The picture shows a person down a hole, and his friends and neighbours helping to get him out. Isn't that so much better than leaving him to do it all alone? 

 If I was initially cross with the poem, when I heard it repeated at EDIC I was FURIOUS. We had just had a panel of speakers talk about their experience of eating disorders. One of the speakers was a bereaved father who spoke with totally justifiable passion and anger about the way his daughter was allowed to fall through all the holes in the system and die at 19. 

So here, with a nod to (but NOT an apology) to Portia Nelson, the original author of the poem is my version

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
I think it will take forever to find a way out.

My friends and neighbours gather round
With ladders and ropes and skill and determination
They haul me out
And take me to a safe place
To heal and to rest
While the more vocal of them call the council to mend the hole

When I am better
I join in campaigns and petitions
And working parties
To have all holes in the country filled in
And mindful of my vulnerability
I am vigilant while walking down streets

My friends and neighbours help me
With the petitions and campaigns
And accepting my vulnerability
Offer to walk with me if ever I need to walk down 
A street that is unfamiliar or dark

I never fall down a hole again

 

 

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

seems they are being penny wise pound foolish, Marcella. They don't want to invest in removing the holes as they've lived with them for years.Your story offers a solid and sensible truth...like you've exposed the emperor. About time you got that out of your system! ~ mary

Laura Collins said...

You are not only right, your compassion is directed at the right balance of direction and action.

It is profoundly tiresome to have such a serious set of mental illnesses consigned to matters of will and motivation.