When I was a kid I thought the tunnels at Craters of the Moon were so cool. As a teenager I thought the rocks were so booooorrrrriiiingggg. Now, as an adult, I can't get over how beautiful this area is. These rock towers that the kids and Mr. Hotness are standing next to are the side walls of a volcano that broke off and then rode on a lava flow until they came to rest here, still standing, about a mile away from where they started. So cool.
Amid all the rough beauty and sagebrush, though, something sinister was waiting for me. Passing a sign that read, "Devil's Orchard," and arriving at "Inferno cone," I should have known, should have stayed, safe and sound, in my car. I should have listened to that voice in my head that warned me to turn back before it was too late. Instead I walked myself right into my own personal hell. Those who know me personally are shocked right now that I can even type that word. I'm so adverse to cussing of any kind that I prefer to say hades, heck, or spell it with hockey sticks. But that is because I believe powerful words like this should only be used when absolutely appropriate. I think this is appropriate.
What is hell? Well, let me just describe it for you:
There I was, surrounded by people, happy people, people walking around free to do as they wished while I sat chained to the ground. People walked past me, some even ran, hand in hand with friends and loved ones. My loved ones were only a short walk away but I couldn't reach them. I clutched my newborn baby to my chest and willed myself to break free, that I might move for the his sake, but I couldn't. The loneliness I felt, while surrounded by others, made my heart ache. The smiles of others seemed to mock me as I sat in abject fear. Only slightly less powerful than the fear was my shame. The shame ate me alive from the inside out and denied me the right to ask anyone for help. I could barely even cry, sunglasses hiding my tears, feeling that if I expressed too much emotion my body might move and any slight movement might cause my worst fears to come true. Fear controlled me, shame silenced me, loneliness hurt me, and I was in hell.
For some people hell can be addiction, guilt for a crime, abuse from a loved one or self abuse, or other various things. For me on that day hell was a phobia.
a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.
I have a phobia of steep slopes. Thinking back, I've always had this fear. As a small child I used to wonder how people were able to walk up hills that I could only crawl up. There are still places here in Seattle that I can't drive in because the hills are so steep (though I have to say that I've come along way int he 6 years we've lived here). Well, this day we were climbing Inferno Cone. About 10 yards up I realized that it was going to be too steep for me to handle and told Mr. Hotness I should turn back. He knows about my fear but has rarely seen it in action and when I hold his hand I can usually see my way through it. So he encouraged me and said, "It isn't that steep, I know you can do it." I'm a big believer of mind over matter so I tried to believe his encouraging words and kept going. A little further up I just knew I had hit my limit. I could not go any further. But I didn't want to ruin it for everyone.
"This is as far as I can go. You guys go on ahead and I will wait for you at the car."
They kept going. I went to turn around, and that is when it hit me. I was in BIG trouble. Not only was this a steep slope, but I was wearing flip flops (an unsteady shoe), the ground was made up entirely of loose, shifting, cinder rocks/dust, and the wind was blowing fiercely. I was able to turn enough to face down hill, slowly lower myself to the ground, and then the paralyses set in. I had one hand on the ground and one on the baby (who, luckily, was safely wrapped and sleeping in the baby wrap), my two feet spread apart for balance, and that is the position I held for what seemed to me an eternity, though probably only 15 minutes. Agony. Sheer agony. Feeling like you are going to die a tortuous death at any moment while logically knowing you are just fine is not a pleasant feeling. At one point a man walking with his family turned to look at me. If I hadn't been wearing sunglasses I'm sure the pleading look in my eyes would have answered his silent question. He turned back several times. I almost called to him for help, but, by the time I had decided to, he had already moved on. When he got to the base he turned to look at me again, hesitated, and then got into his car. I wonder if he was being prompted to help me. Later two bikers drove up and I felt a flash of hope. Bikers may look rough and scary but they are the most understanding humans when it comes to other's handicaps. I knew I could ask them for help without having to worry about making them understand. Sadly, they weren't real bikers. Just two punk kids with big bikes, and only one of them came up the hill and he didn't even glance at me.
Eventually the kids and Mr. Hotness came back. Pablo and Cookie ran right past me. Monster Man came and sat next to me and hugged me for a minute. Oh, how I wanted to take his hand and walk down that hill with him. Finally Mr. Hotness, with Sweet Terror on his shoulders, came from behind me, held his hand out to me and lifted me off the ground. And, just like the light shining into this dark tunnel, peace found it's way to my heart as I trusted in my husband's strength and gravity to see me safely down.
How could something so silly, so simple, so easy for everyone else cause me such torment? This is what hell is: personalized torture that only the one suffering can understand. Compared to it, fire and brimstone look cozy. Mighty cozy, indeed.