i call it breathing

i started this when i was living in niger, and i’ve come to finish it on a day where i very much feel all of this.

 

a long time ago, a friend told me that they knew i “feel love like a weight,”  and it took me a little while for that to settle in. not because i didn’t believe it, but because i could physically feel it hurting in my chest. the moment i heard the words, i thought of things going on in the lives of people i knew, in the world around me, and i could feel it in my chest.

it isn’t the feeling of anxiety, i knew that feeling very well and hadn’t experienced it since my early days of trusting Jesus. it is just a physical feeling of sadness, empathy, i suppose. but it is overwhelming sometimes, paralyzing on the worst days.

and i feel it often.

i feel it now, it has been heavy in my chest  and i can’t shake it and i don’t want to. because it’s the only way i feel human.

i’ve been telling my new friends here about my amazing ability to cry. at movies, a photo, a glance at a stranger. some might call it being “overly sensitive,” but i believe it’s a gift. it’s a gift because it’s an outward showing of what i can best describe as the spirit moving within me. even that sounds fairly trite. because how can i possibly understand or even quantify what that truly means or feels for anyone? i only know that for me it feels like a weight.

i’m sitting at a table thinking about the people i know around the world who feel pain from physical malady. those who own scars from the wounds of life that no one asks for nor deserves. i’m thinking about all the children i know who don’t have fathers or mothers. who can’t go to school. who only feel daily human contact by way of violence or abuse.

i’m thinking about women who yearn for children but can’t have them. men who want to provide for their families but feel shame because they’re unemployed.  people who are battling cancer, chronic illness, unexpected traumas. i’m thinking of people who are trapped in brains or bodies that we don’t fully, medically understand and may never.

i’m thinking of the people who carry heavy emotional burdens on their backs for their family, friends, children, and lovers. i’m thinking of the brokenness.

and i feel it like a weight as i sit here in my own broken body. this body and brain and soul that i don’t understand on my best days and curse on my worst days. this body and brain and soul that feels broken on their best days and phony on their worst.

fake. phony. an illusionist.

and i have to believe that being a broken, fake, phony illusionist is normal and even ok. because on my worst days i feel like the weight is crushing me.

but on my best days,

on my best days, i believe.  i believe that loving people works. i believe that hugging someone works. i believe that crying next to someone works. i believe that telling someone that they did a good job or that they are kind, i believe that works. i believe that breathing through the crushing weight of other people’s pain, breathing through the selfish ambition to walk away and stay safer in ignorance, pushing through as a broken person sitting next to broken people, i believe that works.

on my worst days i hide and i listen to sad music and i let the weight crush me until i have no tears left to cry.  and that’s ok.

but on my best days i admit my own brokenness, i don’t pretend, i don’t feel phony. i look all of that in the face and i love the broken person next to me.  and that’s better.

to me, that’s what this life is about.

that’s breathing.

 

 

(sleeping at last, accidental light)

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