Let Writing Rescue You

Last night, carrying a large laundry basket downstairs, I tripped over my cat and fell face first into the air. The basket flew from my hands as I tried to grab the handrail but got air instead. I thought about how to minimize landing impact right before my chin and mouth hit a bar stool just to the right of the stairs. That was enough to slow my body’s descent and I landed seconds later on my right knee with my right hand spread out to take the brunt of the fall.

I collapsed onto my side, wimpering in fear. Nothing hurt. Nothing felt broken. Maybe I was okay. Meanwhile my cat was nowhere in sight. Neither was my husband. Surely he’d heard me fall? I started to cry, laying there. I’m not sure why. Adrenalin, fear, hope of being rescued. My sobs were increasing; I decided to try to stand. Carefully I pulled my body from the floor and stood with my back to a wall while I tried out various fingers, toes, elbows. Everything worked as it should. Except the crying thing. By now I was sobbing uncontrollably, and badly in need of a Kleenex.

I went upstairs to let Al know that even though I was crying so hard, my body heaving with each deep hiccup of breath, I was fine. I just needed tissue. But even after I found the tissue, even after I looked in the mirror and found only mild redness on my chin and lip, only a skinned knee, I continued to cry. “I don’t know why I can’t stop crying,” I said. “I’m fine. Really. I’m fine.” When I had looked in the mirror, I’d seen the twisted grimace of heavy sobbing.  Not pretty. Oprah calls it the ugly cry.

Finally, I quieted. But I was puzzled. Why cry after the fact? When I knew I was fine? Maybe adrenaline release forced me to burst into those spasms of deep gutted sobs. But they were over, so I went to look for my cat. He was fine. I finished putting away the laundry, but a dark disquiet still rattled me. I could have broken my neck, bashed in my face, really hurt myself. I didn’t, and I was grateful but unable to settle down.

I spied my journal open on my writing room table and sat down to see if my right hand, which is what hurt the  most, would work. Yes! I could write. And so, like millions of other times in my life when something scares me or hurts me or upsets me, I wrote away the worry. I let writing rescue me.


  1. I was so tense at the end of the first reading of this post that I was speechless. I am relieved you are okay…and glad you found a way to work through the fear and pain. The emotional release after an event can be as traumatic as the event itself. It will be awhile before you walk confidently down the stairs….


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