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  • Donna Sherman

Stuck in an elevator and no freak- out ensued.

Years, many years, of practicing working with my mind, emotions and reactivity came to- yet another- test yesterday. I had finished teaching a trauma- informed class to a group of women in an outpatient medical setting, entered an elevator, hit "Lobby" and...nothing. I tried again thinking I didn't press hard enough and...nothing. I waited a few seconds tried again and when that didn't do anything I pushed the "open" button. Nothing. Pushed a few more buttons and was met with a deadened silence and lack of motion. No lights. No reassuring arrows. No mechanical noise.


I experienced a second of :"I kind of want to freak out here" because I had thought, in the story I have told myself, that being stuck in an elevator was one of my biggest fears. Then in the next few seconds my mind went to: "I'm fine. Got my phone. Will call for help. Here's goes: I'm in a situation I had hoped to avoid."


I made a call to the building management which smartly had it's phone number on the wall of the elevator. Information was exchanged. I stood and waited. Some minutes later I heard a whirring noise and felt movement. When the door opened I had a real floor to step out onto.


I know I would not have been so calm had I been stuck in there for a long period (with a bladder fuller than it already was!) but the point of all this is that I had lived with a narrative in my mind and when the precise fear materialized into a real- time situation, I didn't freak, didn't give the story that "this is one of my biggest fears' a whole lot of credence and it all turned into a no-big deal experience.


Small example of the enduring power of presence.



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