The Metaphor of the Hole
We all have holes in our lives; the key is getting out
One day a woman was walking down the street. She was a little bit distracted by all the things going on in her head, and she wasn’t paying attention to where she was going. Suddenly she found herself in a big hole. She looked around, and she didn’t see a good way out of the hole, but it was a nice day out, so she just sat down on the bottom.
The woman could hear people going about their business outside the hole, and she thought about calling out to them for help, but she didn’t want to make a scene. She sat down there, thinking about ways to get out. She had some tools in her purse, but all they did was make the hole even deeper.
She was only starting to get irritated that she was down in this hole when the rain came. It was getting wet and muddy. Eventually, someone came by. He said, “Ma’am, what happened to you? What are you doing down in that hole?”
“I don’t know, but I want to get out. Can you help me?”
“Sure,” he said, “I’m a doctor. Here’s a prescription; this will help you.” And he tossed a small piece of paper down into the hole with her. “If you are still in the hole in a couple of weeks, I’ll write you another one.”
So the good doctor walked away knowing that he had done something to make a difference in the woman’s life.
She was still down in the hole; the paper was already getting soggy in the rain. She tucked it in her purse, wondering how that was going to get her out of the hole.
Pretty soon she was feeling miserable, it was getting darker, and she was a little bit hungry. She made some half-hearted attempts to call out for help. Someone came to the edge of the hole.
She called down, “Ma’am, what happened to you? How did you get down there?”
“I’m not sure, but can you help me get out?”
“Of course, I’m a therapist. I’ve got an hour.” She clicked a timer on her watch and settled down on the side of the hole and asked? “How does it feel down there in the hole?”
“Well, I’m cold and wet, and I feel all alone, and I’m losing hope that I’ll ever get out…. “ She poured out all of these negative feelings for an hour. The therapist poked and prodded at all of the sad things in her past. Then, her watch started to beep.
“Okay, times up, I’ll see you again next week if you are still down here in the hole.” And she started on her way.
The woman in the hole was feeling even worse. She had dug up a lot of old feelings. The hole felt even scarier, lonelier, and more devastating.
“Pretty soon, she was feeling desperate and started calling out for attention. Please, somebody, anybody, help me! I’m stuck down here in this hole.” She heard some familiar laughing and realized it was her friends.
A group of them came and looked down at her. She called up, “Please, I’m stuck, can you help me get out of this hole?” They all looked around for a way to help, but they didn’t see any solution for her.
“We’re very sorry,” one of them admitted, “but we haven’t got a clue how to get you out. We’ll come back and visit you, though.” And they went on their way to the pub.
Now the woman was beside herself, she didn’t know what to do or how she was ever going to get out of this hole, and she was on the verge of giving up. She was crying loudly now, wailing really, and she was past worrying about if she would make a scene or disturb anyone else. The next woman that approached the hole said, “Hey, are you alright?”
“No! I’m not alright at all, I’m stuck down here in this hole, and I want to get out.”
“That’s great,” the stranger said and jumped down into the hole with her.
“What are you doing? I’ve been down here for ages, and I’ve got no idea how to escape!”
“Don’t worry,” the stranger said calmly. “I’ve been down here before. I know the way out. Take my hand! Let’s climb up out of here together.”
This metaphor is so powerful to me because I have spent a lot of time down in that hole. I consulted with all types of professionals to help me get out of it. I also tried some things like self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, numbing the pain with self-harm, and even trying to end my suffering in the hole by attempting suicide.
In the years since my recovery, I’ve armed myself with such a vast toolbox; I know that if I ever get near one of those holes again, I will be able to get out, as long as I have the desire.
I know with 100% certainty, I will never be depressed again. Sure, I may be sad when I grieve the death of a loved one, or some tragedy strikes my life, but I feel with absolute certainty there is nothing I cannot overcome.