Stair Rail In Hell

by Sherry Riter in Health,PTSD,Self-Development  

If I were the railing on a flight of stairs, considering my age, I may look a little faded in color with a few spots of missing and peeling paint. Although life as an aging stair rail is not easy, I felt useful, needed, wanted and even desirable because of the steadfast way I performed my duty.

Then one day a traumatic event occurs – a tornado threatens to demolish the building that I perform my function in every day and night. At times, I feel that I will be torn to shreds as the roar of the winds and the pelting rain continue for what feels like an eternity. I begin to think that maybe I am living the life of a stair rail in Hell and that there is no escape from the constant torment.

Eventually, the tornado is over and although my building is still intact, I have been totally traumatized.

Up becomes down.

Left becomes right.

The stair rail repairman tells the building’s owners that I have PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In time and with therapy, I will heal. The repairman does not guarantee that I will be 100% what I was before, but I should improve. In the meantime, I should be able to perform my duties, but there will be days that I simply should not be asked to support anyone as they climb the steps of the stairs.

I am very sad hearing this prognosis, however, I have become so traumatized, nothing really lingers long in my memory. All I can think about is the tornado with the violent winds that threatened to destroy my owners, the building and me.

Many of the owners of the building and their friends climb the stairs and are aggravated because I no longer look the same nor do I perform or act the same. They ignore the advice of the repairman and expect me to immediately be the old stair rail again.

I cannot.

I want to be like I used to be, but I literally cannot.

Hours turn into days and days into months while I continue struggling to stand straight. Eventually, the constant reoccurring playback of the dreaded tornado night ends. I am so relieved! I do not see a tornado nor hear the rushing winds every waking moment. Three or four times a day the memory will pop into my mind, but for the most part, I feel a great sense of relief.


I also feel exhausted and weak.

I almost cannot remain straight.

As a matter of fact, I feel like collapsing.

My bolts are still tight. The paint is still holding tightly to the metal. I am a bit faded in color, but still intact.

Why, oh why can’t I feel and be the way I used to when I stood happily on the stairs and supported everyone’s climb each day?

After fourteen months, not that I am counting, I get a little of my color back, but my life is drastically different. I go through the motions of standing on the stairs now, but often do not find joy or happiness in helping others with their safe climb. At any given moment, part of me is lost within my own thoughts and far away from this life of standing straight on the stairs. I dream of being new and shiny again when loving hands kept my paint from peeling and particles of dirt were removed. Moments of happiness on the stairs take over my mind for many hours without my invitation to do so.

I want the repairman to come back, disassemble my bars and take me completely apart so that I am no longer a stair rail. Dreams of being a sailboat with a beautiful cloth sail feels more enjoyable than my current state. Unbidden, my mind keeps me in this train of thought even longer than thoughts of remaining a stair rail. When I do see life on the stairs for how it truly appears, I am baffled at why I cannot just pop back into being a happy and straight stair rail.

No one that climbs the stairs understands the torment I suffer because they are absorbed in their own journey up and down each step. When needed, many reach out to use me for support and then without a thought, continue on with their tasks.

If I were the railing of a flight of stairs that had been traumatized by a horrible turn of events, I would say that I struggle to stand straight. Each day brings many hours that are made easier by kind people who stop on the steps and make me laugh, give me hugs or throw me kisses. Some even recognize that I am not quite myself so they bring me lunch and big pieces of cake, write me nice emails, send me pretty pictures of far away peaceful places, have fake snowball fights in the middle of summer, drive me home from work, ask my advice about blogging because they see my value or talk to me for hours on the phone while cooking spaghetti every night for dinner. These people who stop on the steps beside me will never know how much I appreciate their time and effort because this stair rail is far more grateful than words can express.

As lame as it sounds, thank you from the bottom of my peeling painted heart for helping me stay straight on the stairs.

The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stéfan Lévesque July 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I really like how you make me think.


2 Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I really like how you make me think.


3 Joan July 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

This is a brilliant analogy using a metaphor! This post made me laugh and it made me cry for the stair rail! 🙂


4 Anonymous July 29, 2011 at 3:44 am

Superb writing. The strength of the arm that hurls the snowball is attributed to the greatest snowball creator ever. And that big snowball creator loves you more than you will ever know. The snowball fighters have not met in the snow by coincidence. Now, wouldn't life be boring without snowballs and laughter? BTW, I have some fresh paint for those stairs…what's your favorite color?


5 Therese October 30, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Agreed. I cried hysterically through this page. Took me longer to read than the ones before it. I too want my life back and the choices left to me are few as you have noted. But I was strong and will find my strength once again. Thank you. Your blog is helping me accept what I cannot change, and giving me avenues to investigate to move forward.


6 Sherry Riter November 23, 2015 at 8:50 am

Accepting the things we cannot change is one of the hardest things to do. Don’t give up! {{{hugsss}}}


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