subject line: exhale

 

Where the broken pieces sit

Is there an opposite to hyperventilating?

I just googled it, and there is. It’s called hypoventilating, and it means you’re not getting enough air because your breaths are too shallow.

The word feels too medical for what I’ve been feeling since April.

I can’t get a breath. Those good, deep breaths that satisfy you and make your lungs puff up and make your brain come alive with that beautiful oxygen. My body breathes but I don’t. There is a constant weight on my chest. I call it depression if I’m being honest and call it “feeling down” if I’m not.

I’ve never been punched in the gut, but I imagine it makes all the air just whoosh right out of you. I have belly-flopped in water and on land, though, and it does the same thing. All the air just leaves, and for those moments you feel frozen. It’s a pause, this giant, accidental exhale. And while your body’s still running on the oxygen it has, while it’s trying to get your lungs to get their fucking act together and breathe again, you kinda wonder... am I ever going to breathe again?

Breathe easy. That’s what I want. The breathing easy. Where your chest doesn’t feel tight, and your heart doesn’t feel like a boulder, and your brain doesn’t feel weighed down, like it’s sinking into your throat. I used to breathe easy and I don’t anymore and I haven’t for months.