Breath/breathe/breathless

Free associations today:

  • The way that my kitten or my pups curl up on my chest, their little heads under my chin, and as I breathe the air passing through my nose hits the tops of their ears, and it makes them twitch all adorable, and then every now and again they’ll shake their heads. I try to move my head so that I’m not exhaling on them, but it’s not always possible. And, despite how it’s clearly bugging them, they really don’t want to move, so just put up with it. Sweet little twitchy ears.
  • Breathing in the air late at night. Walking out into the crisp cold wonders air and breathing it in. Wood chimney smoke, the smell of the cold cold air. And, the sweet summer nights. Saltiness from the sea, sweet mellow flowers, warmth, and a day well spent outside.
  • Running and running and running until you can run no more. Sprinting as fast as you can, and feeling the air burning through your lungs. There’s some sort of satisfaction and comfort in that.
  • Sufocating; my biggest fear. Being held underwater, hands over mouths and nose, things in your mouth that shouldn’t be there.
  • My grandmother in the hospital. Already dead if not for the life machines technically allowing the basic functions to continue as that of a living person. But body only, not brain. Saying goodbye. The machine pumping her lungs full of air. Its roughness, the forceful way her body moved with the oxygen. The loud harsh noise of it. Not at all gentle like the actual breathing of my dear nan. Saying goodbye to the body of somebody already dead but being made to look alive in the most grotesque way. She wouldn’t have liked it one bit.
  • The way therapists have always made a note of my lack of breathing. The way I hold it all in. One therapist once told me it made him think of tiny little baby birds opening their mouths for their mums to feed them to survive. My body was the birds and I was starving it of life by refusing to breathe. That not breathing is a way of holding all emotion in.
  • The way my flute teacher in my very first lesson made me lie on the floor and asked if he could put his hand on my stomach to try to explain how I was breathing wrong, and how to do it better to maximise the air I was taking into my body. How scared I was, but how I did it despite every bone in my body screaming at me not to. How I never looked back, how I adored this man.
  • How my t told me today to sit with my kitten and notice his breathing and then go back and notice my own for as long as I could, until I find it too much, and then to go back to my cat again. How I’m trying to do that right now as I write this.

Water

I love water. I love swimming, I love being in water. I just love it.

I’ve always been known for it. For swimming for hours when we’d go to the beach, and for going in the freezing UK sea no matter the weather. Or even the season, actually. I once went in in February as a kid in my underwear because we definitely weren’t expecting to be swimming. They’re a photo from when I was about 4 or 5 I think, of me diving (sort of – the way little kids dive) into a swimming pool, no arm bands, and it makes me smile.

This past summer was uncharacteristically nice here in the UK, and I went swimming in the sea as often as I could after work.

There’s something about being submerged. The way you dive under and all the sounds that were there before are muffled. The way you go from being surrounded by people to being entirely alone, under the water, with the water flowing over your body.

I dont really have words for it, how to describe how water settles me and grounds me, all I can say is it helps me so much. Be it having a shower or better, listening to crashing waves, sailing through them, or diving into them…or just feeling it flow around me as i make myself streamlined and push myself through the water.

I kind of want to end it here, keep it positive. Annoyingly though I can’t seem to let myself. Because there’s something else that comes to mind… One of the things my brother would do when we were kids (and in my teens too) was to push me under water and hold me there. He’d have his hands on the top of my head or on my shoulders and he’d keep my head under. I’d writhe and panic like crazy and try to get out of his grip, but wouldn’t be able to, not until he let go, no matter how hard I tried I was never strong enough. He never drowned me (obviously, I’m here writing this), but sometimes it felt like it came so so close. I can hold my breath pretty well, but when you’re terrified, when you’re panicking, it’s so much harder. Id often have no air in me, id have let it all out, sometimes by sort of screaming in the water at him, and then he’d still hold me under for a bit longer. By the time I got up I’d be gasping for air, tears streaming down my face (not that you’d know, of course, because of all the water). Id be relieved, and fucking terrified too.

But yeah, I now don’t like swimming in pools, or the sea if its crowded. I don’t like people coming near me in the water. I don’t like people touching me in the water. And my biggest fear is of suffocating. And this is one of the ways that I can imagine it all too clearly and horribly.

And I am so mad about that. That something that could be so good for me, I can’t do, because it’s too cold to swim in the sea most of the year here (I’m not that brave anymore), and I don’t like pools, because im too close to other people in the water. So I can’t swim most of the time. And that’s crap. I hate that he took that.