It's a phrase from the line: The last time Cal got sick, you went down a rabbit hole looking for every remedy, shutting out the world, shutting out me, and so I spiraled and shut you out.

What does "spiraled" and "shut you out" means in this phrase? I checked the dictionary but still confused... I mean, it's weird for me to use spiraled to describe a feeling... looking for help!

3 Answers 3


From Macmillan Dictionary we have:

spiral (noun) ...

2) a situation that gets worse and worse

or as a verb

2) to continuously become worse, more, or less

Usually with regards to feelings it is an established feeling becoming more pronounced. In most cases, the spiralling feeling is negative, like depression. In your case, I think it means that they (the author) felt worse because they felt they were being ignored, but that assumes that they felt bad in the first place. It might mean that they repeated the shutting out behaviour themselves but on a grander/more deliberate scale.

"Shut out" (again from Macmillan) means:

if you shut something out, you stop yourself from seeing it, hearing it, or thinking about it

So they refused to even think about the other person, let alone contact them. Alternatively, I've seen "shut out" used to describe a situation where one person hides their feelings from another yet maintains contact.

So, in simple terms, when "you" ignored me, "I" ignored "you" back, with even more ignoring.

Note: "with even more ignoring" is playful English at best - I think it gets my idea across adequately, but I wouldn't use that phrase in formal writing.


so I spiraled

Honestly, I am not familiar with "spiraled" used in this context, sense it would normally refer to spinning in circles. There is also the second meaning to "spiral out of control" to mean to lose control over a situation and being unable to recover.

However used like this, I'm inclined to think it is slang for something. I found that "spiraling" is a term created thanks to Jersey Shore (article can be found here). It essentially means drinking in the place of sleeping.

and shut you out

This is probably referring to the figurative sense. To literally shut someone out means to actively prevent them from entering a building or a room. The figurative sense, you can probably guess, is to drop contact with a person or no longer acknowledge their presence.

Putting these together, the intended meaning is that in reaction to Cal getting sick and "you" essentially alienating yourself from friends and others, "I" drank heavily and stopped staying in contact with you.


The figure of speech is related to a crashing plane, which spirals down to the earth.

Things can "spiral out of control". As you can see from the link, this phrase was coined during the world war. It's not a phrase that has been in English for hundreds of years.

The "worse and worse" connection comes from the widening radius of the spiral.

But the idea of using a spiral as metaphor for an ever-worsening condition predates the war. Compare the poem by Yeats called The Second Coming and the word gyre.

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