Tag Archives: breath

Helpless.

“How dare you.

There was a tragedy placed before me and those were the three words that rang through my mind. They were at the very forefront, refusing to be ignored.

“How dare you.”

I filled in the silence that followed:

“How dare you be so selfish. How dare you be so wrapped up in your own damn mind that, even as this story is being shared with you, you can’t push away your pain. How dare you be holding back tears because of your ‘pain’ when there are so many people in this world who are going through SO MUCH WORSE things than you. You are being selfish. You need to get outside yourself. You need to be there for the people around you. You are so consumed with the fact that no one has reached out to you that you’ve stopped reaching out to others. You’ve isolated yourself. You can barely handle other people’s pain because you can’t handle your own. How dare you. You are supposed to be able to carry other people burdens. Why can’t you put yours aside for a moment? Why can’t you get out of your own head? You should be taking care of people- loving people. Isn’t that what you do? You haven’t been doing that lately. You don’t even care about the people around you. You’re being selfish, only caring about yourself. How dare you. This is not how you are supposed to act. You need to snap out of this. It’s ridiculous. You need to get up. You need to do something. All you want is for someone to see you and, yet, you keep to yourself. You want people to ask how you are and then lie when they do. How dare you. How dare you get so wrapped up in your own problems like this. You are supposed to be better than this. What you are dealing with is nothing- NOTHING- compared to other peoples pain. How dare you. How dare you. How dare you.

I had no words to fight back and other peoples pain layered itself on my own and tears came to my eyes and weight came to my arms and my hands shook and my breath fought against me and I tried to think of ways I could help and my mind swirled and I wondered if there was anything that could be done and sadness hit me again and again and again until I fell. Helpless.

-Melissa

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Professor.

The sky is turning black and the page is blank.

My eyes locked on the darkening window as soft voices drifted in from the open door.

Can you accept something and still be sad?

Ah, yes. Wow, that just connected to far too many parts of my life.

You see, professor, I can’t finish my paper. I can barely lift my hands, let alone a pencil. You see, professor, my head leans against the back of the couch and it’s hard to lift it again. You see, professor, I’m finding it hard to concentrate.

No, professor, I am not tired. Yes, I’ve been getting enough sleep. Yes, I’ve been paying attention (when I can) in class. Yes, you will get your paper on time. No, professor, it will not be my best work. And you see, professor, I can’t care.

You see, professor, this classroom becomes too small. I feel suffocated by the lack of…I don’t know– life? in this classroom. You see, professor, my classmates keep talking about how challenge needs to be paired with support. But you see, professor, they’ve forgotten to pair support with challenge. Professor, their challenges weigh down on me and I fight to not grow bitter against them. Because, you see, professor, they don’t see into my life. They don’t see my loneliness or these days (and days) when I’m unbearably sad. You see, professor, I’m not really close to them. They forget about me. They don’t ask me how I am. And you see, professor, that makes the loneliness so much stronger.

But professor, you don’t see.

And I’ve accepted that this is the way it is for a while. For a while, I will struggle to breathe. I will passively drown. But I wonder if I’ll ever swim again.

I used to be so good at swimming.

Don’t worry, professor. I’ll finish your paper. I’ll make something up. You’ll get it in time.

-Melissa

Fog.

When I was in early high school, I was still riding the bus because I couldn’t drive yet. I remember some mornings, I would walk outside to wait for the bus driver and the air would be thick with fog. The kind of fog that covers everything. We would ride to school and I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t even see the school until we were pulling into the parking lot. And it seemed like it was popping up out of nowhere.

I think fog is pretty fascinating. I don’t know why. It’s always just seemed to contain some sort of mystery to me. You see, I think there are two sides of fog.

The first is comforting. It wraps itself around you; keeps you to itself. It’s inclusive. It welcomes you in and forms to fit you. It envelopes you with it’s presence and you’re safe.

The second is terrifying. It blinds you to everything around you. It steels your senses from you and forces you to go in blind. It isolates you. It offers no warning for the danger that could be lurking just out of your sight.

I kind of had a family emergency this week. That’s a lot more like the second side of fog than the first. It settles upon you without warning and catches you off guard and, senseless, you fumble through the blinding mist trying to find something familiar. When this happens, if you and your friend and family are Christian, people tell you to pray. And you should, they’re right. But sometimes, I just can’t. It’s hard for me to focus on anything because my mind is either spinning or it’s numb. And, especially at the start of it, I could barely talk about it. My words were slow and I left long pauses in between them because my thoughts weren’t… there. I can’t think. So it’s hard for me to pray, even though I really need to.

And you know what? I really think that’s okay.

Because I think God’s presence can be like the first side of fog. I think He surrounds us on every side and becomes as close as our breath. I think He wraps us in Himself and becomes a think blanket of comfort. In the midst of confusion and chaos, He’s there, holding our heads up or sitting next to us as we stare blankly into space, not being able to think. And, truthfully, in those moments, I think it’s enough to invite Him into that numbness with you. To simply utter, “Could You just sit with me for a while?” and rest in His presence. I think He has more than enough grace for that.

I also believe that, in distress, it’s the responsibility of others to pray for you. I pray for others a lot and so I hope when I can’t pray, they’re stepping up to pray for me. I just think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

“What can I do with my obsession with the things I cannot see? Is there a madness in my being? Is it the wind that moves the trees? Sometimes You’re further than the moon, sometimes You’re closer than my skin. And You surround me like a winter fog; You’ve come and burned me with a kiss. And my heart burns for You. And my heart burns… for You.” // David Crowder

-Melissa

Two.

I do much better in the daylight.

But it was dark. And cold. All the curtains were drawn so that no one could see in. It was meant to keep them out. But I was kept in. And I was very aware of my heartbeat.

Calm down. You’re fine.

I was fine. I’m fine. I. am. fine. My breath though… it was more shallow than normal. My heart rate was speeding up.

Would you stop? You’re fine. 

Yes, I had to stop. But my head felt funny. I couldn’t think straight. Why couldn’t I breathe like a normal person? Why could I feel my heartbeat so clearly? Am I okay? What should I do? I can’t sit hear anymore. Pacing. No stop. I’m fine. Am I safe here? I can’t stand anymore. Sitting. The floor.

For goodness sake. You’re fine. You know you’re fine. You’re being dramatic. Just breathe.

Just breathe… I can’t! I can’t get enough air. Why is my breath so shallow? Aren’t I breathing? My chest hurts. Should I… call someone? Text someone? What would I even sa–

No! You are fine. You are in control. You do not need to get a hold of anyone. No one would be able to do anything anyway. And you know that it’s no big deal! You’re working yourself up for nothing! It’s all in your head. You are fine! Pull yourself together. Why are you so dramatic?! Just breathe like a normal person!

How do I calm down? I want something… comforting. Something warm.

Tea.

Tea… Tea. Do I have tea? Why didn’t I bring tea! Why didn’t I bring enough of anything?! I’m supposed to be more prepared than this!

Your backpack. Are there still some tea bags in your backpack?

Backpack…. Yes! There’s tea. Lemon.

Good. Go make it and calm down.

Calm down.

Calm down.

-Melissa

Three.

Once.

You had me at hello

Once

I can see the moment

Perfectly held

Perfectly preserved

Once

To stay indefinately

Oh, honest?

Much longer

But he, in that image,

Ceases to be

And me, in that image,

Long gone, my dear

You have become merely a whisper

Of worry once held

Laughter now is laced with freedom

Once, it was with longing

Once

But yesterday is more distant

Today is tomorrow

Once is a memory

And once was enough

Refuse.

Just a whisper

Not heard, but seen

I embrace anxiety like an old friend

Warm and inviting

Your pain filling my chest

Spreading through each vein

Until every bit of me is shaking

You ask for words

I have none

Nothing to ease this moment

Nothing to stop your pain

Or this shaking

My breath soon leaves me

Unbearable worry to blame

I refuse to be consumed.

So I fight for breath

I fight for words

I’ll fight for you

Your pain as an effective fuel

Helpless in reality

Nothing to offer but presense

Nothing to offer but prayer

(And I’ve heard prayer moves mountains)

Fool.

I’m so f***ing invincible

Because I have to be

Powerful, able

I can’t be overcome

Strong, I stand firm

Unyeilding

Able to lift and then

Carry along the weight

Of the world

Without breaking

I don’t even come close

Nothing can hurt me

Nothing can touch me

I’m unreachable

I am quite aware

I’m not fooling you

I’m probably not fooling

Anyone

But let me fool myself

Let me believe I can’t be broken

The hope is when hurt

Surrounds me on every side

I won’t feel it when it hits

-Melissa

Panic.

I shut the door behind me and leaned against it. I tried not to make any noise which was hard considering the fact that it was quickly becoming extremely difficult to breathe normally. I turned the fan on and then the shower to make some noise, but soon I was gasping for air.

This couldn’t be happening. My mind, reeling, flashed back to three years earlier. The situations, the reasons for panic were so similar it astounded me. This wasn’t as serious. That’s what I kept trying to tell myself. But logic had no way of reaching me here. I tried to hold myself up with the wall, but my efforts were futile. My knees soon met the cold tile of the bathroom floor.

This is how it started last time. My mind again took me to three years ago. I remembered it clearly. The thin carpet under me as I grasped at anything. My entire body had been in so much pain. That panic attack had been the worst I had ever had.

This wasn’t as bad, I again told myself. I coaxed myself into breathing normally again. I would be okay. Everything would be fine.

But what if it wasn’t? Simple tasks became hard. My hands were trembling and I couldn’t think straight. I lost my breath again.

It went on like this for a while, alternating between breathing and forgetting how to. Because the reality is that it might not be fine. The reality is that something, so many things, could go horribly wrong. I’m not a control freak. But sitting by helpless is one of the most terrifying feelings in the world.

-Melissa