top of page

Climbing Out of Deep Holes

Altered book, deep hole

Read through the excerpt below and take some time to reflect on the following questions: What’s your deep hole? What chapter are you on currently? Where do you want to be?

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

© 1977 Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery


I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I still don't see it. I fall in again.

I can't believe I am in the same place.

It isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there, I still fall in.

It's habit. It's my fault. I know where I am.

I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.


I walk down a different street.

Living with trauma, addiction, or other mental health concerns can often leave people feeling completely out of control. Like the sidewalk analogy presented in Portia Nelson’s “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” it can feel like you’re falling into a deep hole over and over again. A hole that you don’t see at first, a hole that’s really difficult to climb out of, a hole that (for some people) becomes more comfortable than the sidewalk, because it’s all you’ve ever known.

I went to a mindfulness training a few years back and heard a quote regarding chronic illness that really stuck with me: “It isn’t your fault, but it is your responsibility.” There is so much stigma associated with being a victim of trauma, addiction, and other mental health conditions. Perhaps it’s time to shift our perspective on these deep holes. You did not cause your trauma. You did not create your addiction. You do not consciously choose to struggle with mood swings, anxiety, or depression on a regular basis. Your disease is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. So, how are you managing it? What do you do to cope with your symptoms? How do you get through the day? How do you walk around that deep hole?

I encourage you to identify your strengths and resources right now, at this moment. What can you do to move one step closer to your end goal? Maybe it’s as simple as expressing gratitude for one thing in your life that you take for granted. I guarantee that if you think hard enough and get a little creative you’ll find one, even when it feels like there is nothing to be grateful for. One of my co-workers, who practices gratitude on a regular basis, shared that she expresses gratitude for her skin when things get really rough. At first, the idea of saying out loud or writing down “I am grateful for skin” made me laugh. But, it really does put things in perspective. I am not on a burn unit. I have the luxury of healthy skin to hold things together. I am so grateful for this simple organ and for my co-worker who shared this simple practice with me.

Maybe you won’t be walking down a different street today. Maybe you won’t avoid that deep hole tomorrow. But, if you acknowledge your power, strengths, and resources and do one thing to make you feel a little better every day, you will be well on your way to climbing out of that deep hole.

Ready to schedule your first session? Please contact me directly to discuss treatment options, fees, and insurance benefits.

#mentalhealth #addiction #trauma #therapy #counseling #empowerment #gratitude #selfcare #responsibility #arttherapy #recovery #journey

bottom of page