You wake up in the morning, and you feel fine. You walk the dogs, and you feel fine. You kiss your husband goodbye and head out for the day, and you feel fine. Your annual checkup goes quickly, and she doesn’t make you feel old for not having a baby yet, which is something to feel good about. You decide to walk across the park instead of taking the bus, and on the way you leave a voicemail for your friend, in which you detail out your day: “I just went to the doctor, and now I’m heading to Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up some stuff for the apartment, and then I’m going to FlyBarre. Oh my goodness, I sound like a…35 year old, because that is what I’m going to be in just a few months.” You continue walking, your head swirling. Is today any different than yesterday? Didn’t I do this last week too? Isn’t this what I do, almost every day of my life now? Gym, errands, volunteer, read. A nap around 3. Dinner with my husband when he comes home from his busy day of actual work and acting. HGTV. Go to bed, wake up, repeat. What am I doing with my life? Who am I? Did I accidentally give up on myself?
You enter Bed Bath & Beyond in a trance, that familiar feeling in the pit of your stomach. It starts as a small little seed, right underneath your heart. Sometimes a deep breath takes care of it, but today that isn’t the case. It expands slowly, spreading its invisible poison to your stomach lining, a warm sour feeling that makes your lungs feel like they’re being attacked by a thin cloud of smoke. They seize up, and your breath starts coming a little shorter. All this time, you are pushing your cart around the store, trying to concentrate on hangers and spatulas. Every person you smile at who doesn’t smile back feels like a personal affront, an ice cube in stomach, and you wonder why you bother. You head to the toiletry section, which is normally one of your happy places, but it’s difficult to focus your eyes on anything. Each item you place in your cart is a a miniature attempt to seal up the hole that is slowly opening in your gut, but the thrill of picking it up vanishes as soon as you claim it as your own. You text your husband, “It’s one of those days.” When he immediately writes back with his love and support, the knot travels up to your throat, and you have a vision of a world in which you sit down right by the Oxi-Clean and let the tears flow. But you don’t.
With a few deep breaths and the grace of an exceptionally kind cashier, you make it outside. Your husband suggested that exercise might make you feel a little better, and while you doubt anything can help, you head to the studio. The sun is shining and you are able to recognize the beauty surrounding you, but are unable to participate. Your mind is both quiet and racing at the same time with incoherent thoughts that you don’t have the energy to finish.
Class begins, and having something to focus on helps the smallest bit. You find yourself smiling tentatively at your instructor, who you don’t know, but he treats every individual in class like a best friend. You find yourself working harder so the man radiating kindness and positive energy will notice you and cheer you on. Towards the end of the 45 minute class, when this joyful man breaks into an impromptu ballet combination that exudes freedom and surrender, you realize you are breathing normally again. You check in with your brain and see that it has calmed itself a bit.
You walk home through the same world you were in just an hour ago, but now it is different. Yellow looks like yellow again, and green is bright and lush. You are a part of the world again. If you can get through a moment, you can get through a day.
Can’t go over it, can’t go around it, must go through it.