I haven’t spoken a lot about what my specific challenges are, the exact circumstances that cause me to feel overwhelmed and constantly weightless in freefall. To some, it may seem that my journey through life is no different than any other’s. I am not sure if I will ever be able to share the true story of my jihad in this venue, but I can certainly describe what the experience of it is like.
Life for me at this time is like being in a large, dark room. It began as though I woke up in a warehouse that is pitch black…so black absolutely nothing can be seen. Of course I rise and start to try to get my bearings or assess where I am, and at the very least search out a way of escape so I can return home and back to normalcy. I realize as I am rising slowly from the ground and extending my arms to feel that this room, this space I am in is very large…perhaps as large as a football field or more. I realize then that I must take care to find my way to safety, because I do not know what obstacles may be in the way…nor do I know if an enemy is lurking about to consume me.
I kneel on the ground and start to crawl slowly in a direction that I believe is straight ahead. After a few feet I feel the ground end and a chasm opens up, a gape which I cannot feel the bottom of and perhaps is deep enough to end me if I should fall in it. I pause and try to think of how I should redirect my course when I hear a scuffle. I stop suddenly and try to listen above the clamor of my rapidly beating heart, and try to discern the origin and nature of what I heard. I hear my husband softly whisper, “bibi…”, and I realize he is also in this room with me…somewhere far from me, and I am not sure if we can make it to each other.
From talking to him I learn he is also surrounded by rifts that he cannot pass. He is confined to a patch of ground only a few feet in diameter. I cannot locate his position from me based on his voice due to the echo of this vast room, but at least we can talk. That’s all we can do is talk, and try to find a way to reunite and escape.
When I say this place is pitch black I am not lying. There is not even the faintest hint of light to make out any shadows of our surroundings. It is so black, that we both believe we are seeing other things in this place. Are those things real? Did we really see them? Are there others here who are set to torment us until we die? One thing seems sure- wherever we are, no one seems to know and our hope of being rescued by an outside entity seems impossible. We must find a way to save ourselves.
My husband is restricted to his patch of safety. I, on the other hand, spend each day moving slowly across the floor trying to map out a path to a wall, door, the outside…anything. Groping in the dark is hard enough, but being careful not to fall off what could be a deadly precipice makes it even more frightening. I realize for what could be the first time in my life, I am truly frightened and can’t help but worry the worst outcome awaits us.
Then, one day, a brief and dim light casts into our space. The light is so dim, in fact, that only I perceive it….it didn’t even stretch to where my husband was for him to have known about the illumination at all. As such, it was not strong enough to reveal where he was in relation to where I am. I am shocked and try to take a look around to see where I am, but the light fades as quickly as it came. During the brief presence of that flicker of light, I am able to take note of a few things. For one, this space is truly as vast as it seemed, and the cracks in the ground are indeed deadly and large. However, I also note that off in the distance there are two possible escape routes, as I saw what seemed to be both a door and a window. However, between these and myself there are countless fissures. Finally, I noted that there were other objects in the room…but I could not discern what type of objects they were or if they could help us escape this place somehow.
I have shared all I thought I saw with my husband. I tell him that if we can make it to the “window” we might certainly escape to the outside. However, I’m not totally sure that it actually was a window…it could’ve been a framed picture on a wall or something else entirely. Another problem was, the “window” is small enough for me to escape through (assuming I can access it), but it may not accomodate my husband’s larger frame…if he can even get to it.
I sense that the door is closer and possibly more accessible to where my husband possibly is. I believe that the door (if it even is a door, and not something like a refridgerator or cabinet) is big enough for him to get through, but the question lies in where it leads. What if the door opens to another large, dark room with dangerous obstacles like this one? What if that “door” doesn’t lead to the outside and freedom?
My husband and I talk about what I’ve seen. We talk about possible strategies and potential plans, all which rest upon details we cannot rest any certainty on. I believe we should both somehow make it to the door, so that whatever comes we can face it together. However, he tells me he wants me to find the quickest way out, no matter what that is. He tells me that if I can more easily make it to the window and can escape, to do so even if it means leaving him behind with an uncertain fate. He tells me he believes I will be able to come back with a rescue, and convinces me to agree to this.
The plan now is to wait for the next shadow of light to appear, to be ready and waiting for it so that I can guage what else is here where we are that might help us wake up from this seeming nightmare. Every day I continue to slowly crawl around the ground, trying to configure a mental image of the mapping of this room. Besides what I’ve seen in the previous reveal, the only certainty I have each day is hard ground, jagged and deep pits, and neverending darkness. I begin to believe there may never be another ray of light, or even an escape. I begin to try to accept a reality of being stuck in this darkness, separate from my husband, until we both die.
One day I am keenly trying to sense my surroundings. Trying to use echo-location, as it were, to assess what can be done. Suddenly, another faint light chases some of the thick black away. It lasts no longer than the first episode, but because I was anticipating this on some level I was able to make better use of it. I am still not able to discern whether the window is, in fact, a window. Yet, I can tell that there seemed to be things close enough to it that could be used to hoist myself up and out of it if it should be one. What I don’t know is if I can meander a clear path to it, or if my efforts will be thwarted by the many chasms between it and myself.
This time the light originated from a seemingly different source, because it illuminated the room in such a way that my husband was able to see it. He was able to confirm that he was indeed blocked from moving on all sides, but on the other side of one of the gapes there were boards or something else that could possibly be used to bridge one of the holes and allow him access to other parts of the room. He tells me if I could find a way over there, perhaps I could help him in that regard and we could continue trying to find the rest of the way out together as a team. As he is telling me this, I note that he is indeed closer to the “door” exit. What we both saw, however, was the most perilous: that my husband’s path to the door is blocked by what seems to be a sea of venemous snakes…snakes that did not appear to be blocking my acces to the same “door”.
I realize that my husband might risk his life to get to that “door”, only to find out it wasn’t a door at all or perhaps it leads to nowhere that helps us. I see very clearly that for him to even attempt to get to that “door” is a chancey feat in itself. I can make it to the door, with time and patience, but I might make it there alone. I can try to make it to him, and help him out of the trap he is currently sitting in, but I then will face the same snakes as he. Of course there’s always trying the “window” by myself, and leaving him here….none of these are attractive options.
As I spend each day trying to find out which course is going to be taken, which course will be the easiest to implement, I realize my health is starting to fail. I feel weaker physically from the state I’ve been kept in. I know I need my health to keep moving forward, but my mortality begins to stare me in the face. I do not tell this to my husband, because I do not want him to despair. He tells me, “If you can make it to the window first, go there. And if you can make it to the door first, go there. But if you can make it to me easier than either of those, come here.” I am not always sure which is easiest, as every day I have to reset my course to any of those destinations based on the cracks I encounter as I creep along the dusty ground. On some days, I thought I was within the reach of the window…then a crevice would cause me to inch along until I found myself closer to the door. Trying to approach it, I am again blocked by threat of being swallowed and backtrack until I sense my husband is very near to where I am….and I begin to wonder if I can reach the planks that could bring him to me…until another obstacle prevents it.
So every day, it seems like I’m going in circles in darkness trying to find the route to escape for both me and my husband. Every day I am steeled by the hope that I made it closer to an exit, only to be dashed by the reality that it cannot yet be accessed. Every night I fall into anxious sleep trying to accept the possibility that the end result of all this may very well be me being lost from my husband forever…because I was able to escape but my husband wasn’t. I try to visualize what that would mean for me, living a life without him knowing I left him behind. I think that would be too traumatizing to recover from, so every morning I resolve to find some way, against the odds, to get BOTH of us out of there safely. Some moments I believe it can be done, and some moments I know it won’t. One thing is for certain, each day that I awake in this dark, cold room, I have less hope than I did the day before.