Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

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At 41, you’d think I’d know how to breathe, right? I mean, it’s a basic (and necessary!) bodily function. And theoretically, I should have been doing it for the last, well, 41 years. Because if you’re not breathing, you’re not living. And if you’re not living, than what’s the fucking point?

 Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

I didn’t even know that I was holding my breath. For all these years. All tight and pent up and red faced and eye popping chest on fire strangling. Feeling like I would burst. No sudden movements, you might burst! No exhaling, because KAPOW! No emotional release…..BOOM!

Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

The thing is…when you can’t breathe, you can’t feel. Or think. Or be. You’re paralyzed. Stuck. Frozen. You don’t get to laugh. Or sing. Or cry. Or scream. Or dance. Feel joy. Feel pain and sorrow and be so completely heartbroken that you crack wide open. Be raw and pure. Be messy and so fucked up and beautiful. Be so damn happy that your laughter rushes through the trees. Your tears singe the leaves. Your smile shines a light on the path and leads you to right where you’re meant to be.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

And then one day it happens. You just can’t hold it back anymore. The pressure has built up for far too long and in one fell swoop the clutches release and you begin to relax and…the air! The air! It rushes and gushes and dances and does fucking cartwheels. And your whole body and mind and spirit and soul tingle with the just the hint of life being born. Such an unfamiliar feeling. A beginning. Scary as hell. Oh, but what possibilities are emerging!

Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

You tread lightly. Quick and shallow breaths. Testing out the waters. Dip a toe in here, a fingertip there. As the tension breaks it sends ripples across the surface. The murky waters churning up so much ugliness and sludge, swirling around and around and around. The pain, the sorrow, the broken pieces…start floating to the surface. Glimmers from the sun play with the reflections. Take a breath. Hold it. Release. Feel the air come rushing in to fill you up, and then, like a frightened lonely child it rushes out as quickly as it came. Eyes cast down in fear and shame.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Live.

It’s all so new. You keep them to closely measured short clips of breath. The slightest bit of air. Only what is needed to just get by, because it’s too much to handle all at once. You’re overwhelmed, You run away. You kick and scream and push away. Even just that hint of air, of breath, of life, sends searing white hot pain across your skin your bones your eyes your mind. You can’t stop it now. All this feeling. It comes in waves and crashes over and over and over again. It knocks you down. You get back up. It grabs your legs and pulls you down and tries to swallow you whole. You punch and thrash and yell and scream and finally you break away. You’re lungs burn as the torrid air is hot and hard and fast and pounding on your chest.

Yet, you stand. You look around. You brush the savage mud from your trousers. You take a step. You survive. You breathe in. You breathe out. You live.

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