Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just breathe

The past couple of months have been so crazy for me.  I've been going through a lot of things, including very soaring highs and very hard lows.  I've alternately felt very aimless and very set in my path, and sometimes I just fall in the middle somewhere.

Work. Dating.  Friendships.  Family.  Personal goals and personal failures.  Successes and mistakes.  Self-reproach and self-satisfaction.  It's been a weird ride.

I saw my therapist again today.  As often happens, in advance I thought maybe I wouldn't have enough to talk about.  However, once I got in there, I talked mostly nonstop, often in jumbled, hurried, paragraphs.  By the end of the session I realized it...I've barely given myself time to breathe lately.

I've either been legitimately busy with real activities, or my mind has been racing a mile a minute.  Mind you, I've also had bouts of plenty of free time.  But even in the quiet times, I can't get my brain to settle down. 

My attention span has been lacking.  I can't focus my thoughts enough to write blog posts like I used to.  I've been reading the same (excellent!) book for over a month, which I NEVER do.  I can't write in general because I can't sift through everything in my head to glean anything useful out.  It's all such a disjointed mess. 

I never just sit in the quiet anymore.  I don't know how to be quiet right now.  I always have the TV on, my ipod on, music on in the car.  My phone is always buzzing with emails and texts and IMs or I'm surfing online or playing on Facebook or otherwise entangled.  I go to bed with the TV on until I'm near sleep, I keep a notebook on my nightstand not for impulsive creative thoughts, but in case I think of something I need to do or take care of. 

My mind doesn't know how to rest anymore.  I don't know how to just sit quietly, disconnected, by myself.  I feel like I always have to be doing something or talking to someone or worrying about the next thing.  Silence panics me. 

Yesterday my day felt off.  All day through.  I knew why, too.  Compared to a normal day, I was interacting with far fewer people via text and IM and email.  My phone wasn't ringing like usual, or buzzing constant alerts.  I felt invisible most of the day and night.  I actually felt forgotten, missed, ignored.  The break wasn't welcomed, it was a reason to feel upset.  I went to bed feeling off kilter because of it. 

My therapist encouraged me to take a minute to just pay attention to my breathing.  She had me do it right there and then, in our session.  The silence was deafening.  Ten seconds in and I was thinking about how I felt dumb, worrying about the things we'd been discussing, consciously fretting that I was wasting my valuable therapy session just breathing.

 "I have a picture to give you, too. Here is a forties photograph of a woman that I found in last Sunday’s paper. She is seated on the grass, wearing a suit and a hat, her purse centered in her lap. She is smiling, but her eyes ache, and behind her, I know this, her hands are clenched. She can’t relax. She has forgotten the grass. I kept staring at her, thinking, this is me. Checking my purse three times for keys before I leave the house. Stacking mail in order of the size of the envelopes. Answering the phone every single time it rings, writing “paper towels” on the grocery list the second after I use the last one. I too have forgotten the grass. But I used to do one-handed cartwheels and then collapse into it for the fine sight of the blades close up. And there was no sense of any kind of time. And I was not holding in my stomach or thinking what does my opinion mean to others. I was not regretting any part of myself. There was only sun-rich color, and smell, and the slight give of the soft earth beneath me. My mind was in my heart, anchored like a bright kite in a safe place ."-Elizabeth Berg, The Pull of the Moon

I too have forgotten the grass.  But I want and need to remember it again.  I have to figure out how to let myself breathe again. 


  1. What a great reminder for all of us. I so often get busy in the reality of life and forget that it is ok to sit and breathe. I hope you can find some peace and some solid ground soon. I will also give this a go with you. Thanks for sharing.