Inhale. Exhale.
As my two feet completely touch the earth below, I become more aware of my existence, my place in this world. I feel validated. My feelings, thoughts, pain, suffering, joy, lust – they all become validated. I feel a part of nature – as if I can be flown in the same direction as the wind, just like the crisp, newly-fallen leaves follow where the big wind blows. But before it’s too late, I revert my attention to my balance and not let my body be defeated by the strong force of the wind. I am as strong as I am weak.

Inhale. Exhale.
When I start to walk, my heels are no longer touching the earth, and my feet are in pointe position. Except – I am far from being a ballerina. Each step weighs a million pounds, and sweat starts to drip down my face, although I’ve taken only a few steps. It feels as if boa constrictors have replaced the muscles in my body. My muscles tightly contract with every inch of movement I make. I see my breath in the air and my hands are numb, but my back is soaked. Although my body erratically tenses up, the pain I feel is a reminder that I am alive.

Inhale. Exhale.
I am far along in my walk and I forget about the tremendous effort each step requires. Instead, my brain overflows with thoughts – intoxicating thought, debilitating thoughts. I somehow back in my ten-year-old body again:

I am alone in the house and I locked myself in my room. I was crying into my pillow as if I was never held enough as a baby- no one there to rock the infant to comfort her, to protect her. That feeling of vulnerability and abandonment lingered throughout my life. I was crying so much that it came to the point where I had trouble breathing, but the suffocation almost felt good. I was slowly losing feelings in my legs and arms, and my lungs were short on oxygen. I was on the thin line between life and death, but for the first time in my short ten years of life, I felt something. I continue crying into the pillow to further suffocate myself until I was so close to death that I begin to feel fear. I lift myself up to gasp for air, and I started to breathe again. But the crying continued, and it echoed throughout the hallow halls of the house. That ten-year-old girl was contemplating suicide but – no one there to rock the baby to comfort her, to protect her.

I close my eyes and try to erase everything – erase the memory, erase the pain. The tempo of my walk unknowingly speeds up, and the thudding rhythm of my heart makes me forget. It makes me forget.

Inhale. Exhale.
I find the nearest bench and I sit down. I put my head in between my thighs to bring myself back to equilibrium. My heartbeat starts to slow down and I breathe normally again. I remind myself that the reason I continue to go on these walks is to regain agency over my own body, over my own life. The physical pain distracts my phantom pain, and then the pain feels manageable. Walking is the symbol of my survival and it’s the source of my hope. I inhale toxins and poisons, but I exhale antidotes and tolerance.

2 thoughts on “Inhaling to Exhale

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