And Finally: Up the Rabbit Hole

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News March 2016

As human beings, we often speak using metaphors that can best visually describe our experiences and emotions

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I’ve heard friends and veterans speak of their experiences being akin to climbing a mountain, jumping into the ocean and navigating a vast desert. This month, I’ve put some thought into it, and believe I’ve come up with the most appropriate metaphor for becoming paralyzed — “falling down a deep rabbit hole.”

Falling Down

First, we can all acknowledge the different reasons why we ended up in the rabbit hole in the first place. 

Some of us were drafted by the government to fly 3,000 miles from home, against our will, ordered to walk through this path we knew was dangerous and weren’t surprised when we ended up falling down this huge rabbit hole, waking up later to curse all who were within earshot. 

Others volunteered, wanting to serve our country and make the world safer for all living citizens. Within our service roles, we boarded an airplane headed thousands of miles away, engaged in a battle or were traveling from one place to another, and ended up being shoved down a rabbit hole. We woke up and found ourselves attempting to come to terms with our new situation. 

And then, some of us were just wandering down a road, minding our own business, and woke up at the bottom of a rabbit hole, dazed and confused, and pretty pissed off at the turn of events.

No matter how any of us ended up at the bottom of that hole, there we were, faced with a choice. Unfortunately, some chose to stay, and some still do. Those who chose to climb out did so in as many different ways as we ended up there. 

Keep Climbing

I’ve observed some of us wake up and without being told to do so by anybody, begin climbing. 

Without regard to the danger, those of us who climb get out of the hole and on their way in no time at all. How some managed after climbing out, I don’t know, for I was in the bottom of that hole and couldn’t see anyone or anything outside of it.  

Then there were most of us, who had to learn how to climb, develop the strength of our arms, shoulders and hearts, and slowly work our way out of the hole. 

Many of us would slip and some would fall right back to the bottom again. Many times the hardest thing to hold on to was hope. You see, rabbit holes don’t go straight up and down. They have dips and curves such that you may not see any light at the top of the hole until you’re almost right there.

So, most of the time we’re climbing, energized only by the faith and belief that there’s a top of the hole, and if we keep climbing we will eventually reach it.

This is where so much of the efforts we witness fail. We may not see someone fall back to the bottom of that pit, but we may see our comrades quit climbing, choosing to exist the remainder of their days at their present level in the hole. 

Some may climb back down, believing it’s easier to live in the darkness of the hole than to keep climbing.  

When the rest of us climb past those who choose to stop, many times we’re asked by our friends, why do we keep climbing?

It’s hard to answer because most likely we can’t see the top ourselves. We can offer some examples of our own faith and belief, but the truth is, our faith can’t sustain nor ignite the beliefs of others. Each person must find his or her own reason to believe and use that to ignite an effort to continue climbing. 

Reaching The Top

And we keep climbing. We keep turning corners, grabbing ahold of whatever we can, slipping, sliding, cursing, smiling, laughing and crying in the dark until we eventually see a ball of light.

We cheer inside, for we’re about to emerge from the hole and begin our life in the light. Except we emerge from the hole, and it’s raining. Well, my friend, remember this: The entire time your friends, families, therapists and doctors were helping and encouraging you to climb out of the hole, no one promised you it would be sunshine and roses every single day.

Just remember, even outside of the rabbit hole, it rains sometimes. Just not every day. Unlike the bottom of the rabbit hole, the sun does shine, and it will. 

This is why those of us who have climbed out of the rabbit hole have a new appreciation for sunshine, and even a newfound appreciation of the rain and the darkness. Because out here, we know the sun is just around the corner.

Heck, we just climbed up a long, treacherous hole to see it, leaving friends and acquaintances behind along the way, dropping old ways and habits, learning new skills and beating old obstacles, but we made it.

So believe us when we say, “That sun is beautiful.”

Scoba Rhodes is a U.S. Navy veteran and author of Rules of Engagement: A Self-Help Guide for Those Overcoming Major Personal Trauma.     


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And Finally: Up the Rabbit Hole


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