Breathing through it

The unexpected response from my last post has left my overwhelmed with gratitude – I have amazing, truly amazing, friends. One of the comments left on my blog page (Meg Mac) had me near tears. I don’t know what I did to deserve such kindness and caring from others, but I’m blessed to receive it. I wrote that for me to finally get my feelings down. To accept the pain, instead of running from it. It’s not easy, I have ups and downs and I’m embarrassed by it because I pride myself on being a strong, independent person. So to feel so much because of one person makes me feel very powerless. It’s hard. Especially when I don’t know, at the end of the day, if the other person is able to just forget everything. That makes me feel even more powerless, you know?

On Saturday, I impulsively went with a friend to get a tattoo at this place I’d never been before in my college town. Ever since I was probably 19, I wanted a tattoo on my ribs. I knew it was one of the more painful places to get one, I knew it could be more expensive (the one on my neck, $60 I believe, would have been $200 on my ribs!), I knew that I would see it all of the time. The choice changed over the years from a quote, to a dove, to a phoenix, to a phoenix and a dove, to a phoenix, a dove, and a quote (okay, now I’m kidding), to a list of other various things that never stuck. But the last few months I’ve been very sure I wanted one there and knew I wanted something that related to spirituality and balance. I ended up laying, shirt off in all of my semi-sheer running pants glory, with a young guy gouging into my skin for 45 minutes. And holy hell, did it hurt. I have multiple tattoos and piercings, I’m no newcomer to the pain, but when that needle hit the underside of “the goods”, it took all of the breathing exercises I knew to not tense up or move. Darlanna, my friend who’d gone with and already received her inked gifts, resorted to one-finger petting my shoulder. Apparently my face is not as stoic as I assume when facing acute pain.

But anyway, I had been laying there, wondering where on the 1-10 How Peeved Am I Scale my parents were going to land for this tattoo, and trying to follow what another friend had suggested during rib tattoos – breathing with the artist. It involves deep inhalations while the needle isn’t in your skin (that line made me cringe, not going to lie), and as he was tattooing, exhaling very slowly and steadily so as to not move too much too quickly. The last thing I wanted from my surprise excursion was a shaky kindergarten scribble decorating my side for the rest of my life. It wasn’t easy, there was a good looking guy stabbing me with an ink-filled needle and loud, raucous music eliminating my ability to focus. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the raucous music. I downloaded it when I got home, but when you’re trying to reach a state of zen, any state or sub-state of zen, it’s rather impossible with sliding guitars in the background. I digress.

Doing that, trying to breathe with and through the pain rather than clenching my body and curling further into the fetal position (or falling to the floor, which I felt like doing for a few minutes there), helped immensely. I read an article about how people are only taught to breathe when facing great pain – like women in labor – but the benefits of breathing exercises are innumerable. Yoga and meditation first helped me understand that, though I can openly admit I still struggle with it and find myself holding my breath when expecting pain. I breathed and then it was over and I was filled with lightness (also known as endorphins) and was ecstatic. Thinking about it last night, I realized that the experience had other real world applications.

I woke up this morning in a bad place. It’s Tuesday, I stayed up entirely too late watching Gilmore Girls (Team Jess forever and all that), I still have to peel my ribs off of the sheets because I have a tattoo healing and apparently I like sleeping on it, and I’m sad. Not devastatingly sad, not world-ending sad, not oh-god-hide-the-butter-knives sad…just sad. And hopefully, as today goes on, that’ll pass and I’ll distract myself with more important things and feelings, but right now I feel heavy. Not literally heavy, mind you, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since the break up. Not healthy, no, but do I look awesome? Yes. I’ll accept it as positive collateral damage. Does that exist? I need more sleep.

If you ever want to make yourself very aware of the passing of time, troll your own Facebook. Look at what you’ve said. It’s like the world’s most public diary, for some more than others. I try not to post too many emotional things to Facebook (Twitter, etc etc) because…well, it’s not everyone’s business. Some people like posting shit about how miserable they are, how badly they were hurt, and so on but I really try not to. I usually end up regretting things I’ve shared in moments of strong emotion. But, anyway, I looked back and saw way too much that made me sadder. I have that tendency, to fully accept an emotion I drag myself more deeply into it so that I can really feel it. There’s a slight possibility I’m a masochist. But there was this status I had posted about being taken care of when I was sick and a comment from him saying that he loved me and would always take care of me. Fuck, that hurt. And then I promptly wanted to kick myself because all I was doing was twisting the knife. Of course he said that, and probably meant it, but he doesn’t now and it is not fucking healthy to wish anything otherwise.

I spoke with a friend last night on the phone at length, first about the over-medication of our generation (um, because for real you guys, it should be talked about), but then about part of what I had written. I went on and on because I have a tendency to do that when highly caffeinated but I also said things important for me to let sink in: I am right in how I feel. It is okay for me to be conflicted, angry, hurt, lonely, and sad. It’s okay to not be sure what the right choice is. It’s okay to miss him. It’s okay to wonder. And there’s nothing wrong with playing out the millions of conversations (most of them involving yelling) I would have liked to have had. But, though those feelings are perfectly okay and I should let myself feel them, I need to play the reel all the way through and acknowledge that for all he’s said, even last week, it is not right, okay, fair, or acceptable to let someone put me in a one-sided relationship. I deserve far more respect than to be told all of these things I want to hear and not have the actions reciprocate. You want to keep me in your life? Okay. Answer the goddamn phone when I text you, not when I get angry about it. I am not, nor will I let myself be, someone who stays hidden in the background of someone else’s life. It would be doing a disservice not only to myself, but to him, to let him believe that it is okay to hold onto someone without actually being willing to be an active part of their life. Relationships, no matter what kind, are a two-way street. I know his past is littered with people, especially the woman he’s with right now, who have let him believe that it’s okay to treat someone like that and they’ll just come back and push down and try to forget everything. I can’t do that to him, or myself.

I keep trying to tense up, like I normally do, to this pain. I keep trying to block it out, or ignore it, when it does come and pretend like I can shed that kind of love like a winter coat. But to forget that the same winter coat kept me warm when it was cold outside it to damn myself to repeat the same mistakes. I’m like the kid who curls over and tries to let the dodge ball hit my shoulder instead of my head when I should be reaching out and attempting to catch it. I am no less accepting than I was the other night of anything, but I am also trying to be more aware of myself. Accepting pain doesn’t mean not feeling it. It means taking that deep breath and exhaling slowly and feeling it, all of it. I can compare it to anyone’s break up I want to try to make myself feel guilty, but that won’t make the pain less. Trying to shame myself for hurting won’t solve the hurt. Then I’ve just added shame to the hurt and oh wow, can you say downward spiral?

Every day I miss him. Every day, at least once, something happens and it reminds me of him or makes me want to reach out. I have never ever felt this way, and it’s weird, because I compared my post to the last post I wrote regaling that last time someone dumped me, so to speak, which was exactly a year before. Like same week and everything, how’s that for shit luck? But, I compared it and found almost stunning similarities in my mindset. I reassured myself last year that I shouldn’t want to be with someone that doesn’t respect me. And that’s difficult, because he did respect me…until he didn’t. So it’s okay to miss him, it’s okay to want to talk to him and wonder if he has thought about me or if he is as conflicted about it all as he’s said, but it’s not okay to pretend like I’m in any state of being to forgive and accept what he’s done. That would be impulsive, codependent, toxic, and cruel (to me). To act like all of this isn’t effecting me would be a lie. To continue to put myself in a position wherein I feel like someone’s second choice, whether I am or not (let’s face it, he made me that), is cruel. If he really can’t live without me, if he is as messed up over all of this as he’s said, he’s just as capable of picking up the phone and telling me the things he sees that made him think of me.

Today, my tattoo is still tender, scabbed, and healing. My mom poked it, because sometimes she thinks things are a good idea that are just not, and it still hurt intensely. The rest of me feels very similarly, but I think the most important word is the last one: Healing. It is healing, I am healing. I am still tender, hurt, confused, and sad. I am very, very sad. But, I am healing.


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