Breathe. Just Breathe. In. Out. You didn’t hear it. He didn’t say it. You have had these fights before. He didn’t mean it. You know you didn’t mean it. Just take a minute. Breathe. Just breathe. O.K. Maybe he means it tonight. Just get in the car and don’t let him see you cry. They say that’s the worst thing to do. But he knows I’m going to cry. Traitorous tears. Just breathe. Breathe. In. Out. Breathe. Someone else. Did he say there was someone else. Not really they’d just been talking. After work. Great. He’s in love with the girl that works at Orange Julius. I’ll never have a limeade again. Just breathe. In. Out. Oh fuck it. Let the tears come out. I’ve been wanting to cry for ages. Let ‘em flow like raging rivers. Let him drown in my anger and my sorrow. I know what this really is about. One tiny little word. "No." It has the power to scare the shit out of little boys and they think to make them men. Breathe in. Breathe in. Oh no, let it out, let it out. There. Almost home. Utter silence except my tears and my breathing. He pulls in and I’m out of the car before it even stops. I was barely gone a week and my life was turned upside down. I find out my mother was married before. And my boyfriend of two years, the one who I planned my life with, the one we planned our future together, or I kind of followed his plan, cheated on me. I waited three weeks for him and he couldn’t wait one week.
I enter my living room. Breathe in. Breath out. My sister and mother are there. I tell them what happened. My mother asks, "Did you do something nice girls don’t do?" Breathe in. Breathe out. Just keep breathing. She is such a comfort. "You’re too fat." My sister informs me. Breathe out. Or is it in. Just breathe. With those words of comfort, I go to bed to comfort myself. And through the night I breathe. Just breathe. In. Out. Sometimes, I have to consciously make the effort to breathe. My tears are so heavy, yet silent that I don’t feel like there’s enough room in my mouth to breathe and cry so I choose to cry instead. I’m alone. Because he was my best friend, too. So I have no one to talk to because my mother thinks I’m not a good girl and my sister thinks I’m too fat. And I never talk to my father. He makes my skin crawl. And I remind myself breathe in. I remind myself breathe out. The food that used to comfort me no longer helps. It is choking me and my tears don’t stop no matter where I am. And friends, friends that knew already and didn’t tell me, say I should stop crying. And his ego inflates. And other boys like me. But my tears won’t stop and I remind myself breathe in. Breathe out. And then I find a new friend to comfort me. Alcohol dulls the pain somewhat. It makes the tears go away. I can plaster a smile on my face. And I do. And I no longer have to remind myself to breathe in and to breathe out. I breathe in. I breathe out. I still cry. I don’t eat. I sleep long hours. I am suffering from depression but no one recognizes it. I know something is wrong. I know that when dying seems like a solution to my pain, that there is something wrong. But no one asks if I am okay. No one seems to care. And I find out how alone we truly are in this world. I continue to breathe in and breathe out. And my boyfriend. My former best friend has a new girlfriend. And she messes with his head and his heart and it doesn’t make me happy. I watch and I breathe in and breathe out. A fellow mourner of life, a dark soul who sees the blackness in the world and lays with it holds my hand but is too scared to speak. And I am too busy concentrating on breathing in and breathing out to help him understand me. I can barely breathe in and breathe out. I face rejection again from him, my boyfriend and it opens old wounds that had been closed. Breathe in. Breathe out.
I change my life plans. They remind me too much of him. Of what we had planned to do. It was all laid out before me a time line, structure. I now feel like a grocery store balloon let go from a child’s small hand as he was getting in the car, forgotten floating up and up loose in the atmosphere, where will I land? Or do I just burst into tiny pieces sprinkled over the earth shattered like my life. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Just breathe. The tears swim just below the surface. I still float in the wind and I know that none of it ever really had to do with him. It was me. I needed to escape me. And he would only ever be temporary. I said yes and it wasn’t any different than saying no in the end. I never found the escape because I couldn’t outrun myself. Just breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Just breathe. In. Out. You’ll find yourself and maybe it won’t be too late. To be yourself. Whoever you are. Without his time line. Without running from yourself. Without any tears. Without having to remember to breathe in. Breathe out. One day, you will just breathe. And that will be the day. You will begin to breathe. Just breathe.