Breathing Less Labored

hiding in my blanket caveMonday was numb. Tuesday? Epic. Fucking. Mess. Wednesday? More feeling, less mess. And I ate. And hydrated. And cried.

Crying dehydrates you. Alex, I’ll take Shit You Don’t Think About for $500, please.

But I’m working. Getting shit done and trying to rock my own proverbial suburbs as best I can. I feel like a jerk for looking at my calendar and seeing only a lunch on the books, which means the rest of the time, I have to myself. I can hide in my blanket cave. If I were really crafty, I’d find a way to weave this motherfucker so it extended to every room in the house. It’d be more like a blanket Habitrail system. But it would be warm. And I like warm.

So as it is “what we do,” yesterday I got back on the bike for the first time in over 3 weeks. I rebuilt my track bike, hauled my cookies over to Boulder and took in a workout with the group I’ve bailed on (understandably) for the past 2 weeks. Clipping in was terrifying. Breathing was – irregular and labored. And all I could think is that if I fuck this up, I (and likely someone else) was going to get very hurt. I mean, shit – people leave velodromes with broken pelvises, separated shoulders, broken collarbones and compressed vertebrae as de rigeur. And moreso, you never want to be “that asshole” who did something stupid and caused it.

But I did it. For an hour. And I kept up. And it hurt. And I sat in my car after, with the early winter snow misting, and cried. And I don’t even know why.

Barely over a year ago, I got on my first track bike ever as rehab for my shattered ankle. And today, it’s like I’m starting all over – learning to ride again. I wish this post were more witty, bitch-slappy or something very “Redhead,” but it sums up the cosmos that is Erika: body and mind, two universes spinning off-kilter in my orbit. Moments of laughter, the feeling of longing that runs so deep I can’t even rappel in, the facade that I am present and accounted for, bathing. Stopping the bullshit of wearing pajamas at 3pm. I cleaned my house. Folded laundry. Scooped up cat puke. Stepped in dog crap in the backyard. Cleaned the garage. No, I am not for hire.

I won’t bore you with the beyond ounces of metaphysical/supernatural that tells me Jason’s still hanging around (and for which, I’m very glad). It’s the one thing I’ll never write about – it’s too personal. Intimate. It protects me when I venture out of the blanket cave and into humanity. But I will tell you one thing: it’s beautiful. Whether you believe in the Eastern thought that’s ruled my life for the better part of a decade or not, you understand things that are truly beautiful. They’re beyond words, defy description and cheapened by attempts to describe. So here is where, as a writer, I say: no.

My breathing is less labored for the most part. I have good days and not-so. But beauty…ahhh. I have this indescribable beauty as a bright passenger, thanks to Jason. I thank him for so much…and I’ll never grow weary of sharing that.

43 comments
Michelle Mangen
Michelle Mangen

Nothing to add except that you are in my thoughts every day and I wanted you to know I was here and read e.v.e.r.y. word you wrote.

Shelly
Shelly

I have to say that when I just posted a comment on your last post, I deleted a paragraph I wrote about knowing that Jason came into your life for a reason and that he is smiling on you and giving you what you need... So I had to small when I read this... I'm glad that you cleaned and got out and jumped back on the bike... And I'll never brow weary of reading such great and inspirational things... xoxox

The Redhead
The Redhead

Got slapped, indeed, Sam...good to see you :)

Pipsersmom
Pipsersmom

Erika - your words...they make me thirsty for more time with schippers...but i know what you're talking about...he's still here. i feel it, my frien dlisa relayed a story today about feeling his presence...andd ou're riht, it's pretty fucking cool, is it not? wanted to write you a note but wanted it to be snail mail. (yeah, total nerd like that.) can you please send me your P.O. or address? (pipsersmom@gmail.com) So glad to maybe be starting a really cool friendship. It's obvious he loved you. You shouldn't be jealous. You were his last love, the one he always thought about. YOU, my dear, were his last.

Amy Oscar
Amy Oscar

I often wish (and always when I come to this blog) that there was a "love" button to click - to differentiate your incredible work from the posts I simply "like" and click away from, relatively unaffected. You are a writing magician - and posts like this, are perfectly "Redhead" - real person, real life, magnificently crafted, written like a mainline from your heart to ours.. to mine. PS Labor and breathing, something is being born.

Customcranium
Customcranium

And you're a human. Sometimes we forget simple things like that, the luxury of which gives us abilities to do and speak as we do. It comes with a price that we often take for granted; the ability to feel and process emotions, sometimes begrudgingly. Enjoy the ability to feel and to reason what you feel. I've had a bright passenger for 19 years. Eventually, he will be such a part of your life that it becomes a direct part of you, integral and integrated. You find peace in it, I promise.

Kat Jaibur
Kat Jaibur

We count on you for your honesty, and it is breathtaking. You can set any limits you want. We will take you on your terms, with love. I understand that beauty that you're talking about, and the metaphysical and the Eastern thought. And I know that the stuff that really matters cannot be measured by anything but the heart and soul. For those of us that get it, that's just fine. Thank you for your courage to keep writing. You are something else, Red. xoxox

Chelsea Talks Smack
Chelsea Talks Smack

I've been thinking about breathing more so than ever these days...and every time I take a breath I think , "wow...this feels...unfamiliar?" it's what moves me and nourishes me and yet it feels so incredibly foreign every. single. time. I do it with INTENTION. The exhale is sort of my mantra right now...I'm proud of you and sending you deep breaths, little victories like getting out of your pajamas by 3.... (I full support staying in them ALL DAY, but that's just me..). xoxo.

Cali Harris
Cali Harris

I love you. Very much. Keep breathing.

Danielle Baldwin
Danielle Baldwin

Erika, I don't know that I've ever felt so connected by the thread of words and so moved by the beauty of that connection. I've been reading through the process with no ability to put my own thoughts in words and completely overwhelmed by the futility of a comment. Your journey, shared, is a gift. I picture the immensity of your grief spread out across this community that has gathered around you and each of us holding up our part, healing it individually, carrying a small but poignant part of your pain, to help you heal in tiny bits each day. Much love, my dear. Keep writing, we'll keep carrying what we can from here.

Duffy Gillman
Duffy Gillman

The Snuggie® is like your own portable blanket cave. You know this, right? ;) Hang in there, Redhead. Eres una chica fuerte. No need to be ever bitch-slappy for us. We all love you. Breathing is sometimes the hardest thing, but it is everything. You are an inspiration for hanging on to the beauty in the world and rolling forward - even if you're rolling forward in a circle at high speed indoors (sheesh, some people are just plain weird ;D). -D

sjs
sjs

Grief is both a horrible and beautiful thing. It's horrible because it's raw and bleeding and broken. It's the pre-Phoenix-like "rising from the ashes"...the part where you're burning and dying and disappearing from who you used to be. It's beautiful because it is so very real and human, and resonates with people like the readers of your blog here who pull and ache and grieve for and with you. Thank you for letting us be your community during this time.

Jeff Harbert
Jeff Harbert

Good to see words from you. I've been wondering how you are. I completely agree that some things can't and shouldn't be described. They just are, and they're wonderful. Wishing you warmth.

Kris M O'Connor
Kris M O'Connor

Thank you Erika...A blanket habitrail - I do wish that for you - along with tasty tea, comforting butternut squash soup, and sweat + music. For me, these are all soul medicine - they are seemingly trivial, yet so powerful. And little by little, the breathing will be less labored.

Mike Masin
Mike Masin

I believe that our "bright passengers" are additions to the "house of us." If I allow myself to use the sacred key that opens the door to the passengers travelling with me I can sip from the memories that I cherish and I'm fortified for my next challenge.

Dysfunction Junction
Dysfunction Junction

Oh the breathing. I spend one day a week in therapy and a huge part of it is breathing. For me, it's the exhale. It's scary. It feels like you're letting go. Which I guess is its purpose, but what if you don't want to let go? I'm so glad that you feel as if Jason is still hanging around. That makes me happy for you.

Kellie J Walker
Kellie J Walker

This post touched me at least as much, if not more so, than your others re: Jason. I hope you don't mind me sharing a few thoughts re: the bits that stood out to me. "...and cried. And I don’t even know why." It’s the breathing. For you to be able to hit the track AND keep up after two weeks away is impressive as hell. It also, I assume, forces you to breathe. Really, truly, deeply breathe. Since we hold our emotions in our bodies, breathing is one of the ways we (try) to control how we feel. Wonder what I’m talking about? Watch a young child try to stop crying. What do they do? They take shallow, short breaths. They know instinctively on some level that doing so will make them slightly hypoxic. That small bit of lowered blood oxygen level has a slight narcotic/numbing effect. So, it makes sense to me that one of the reasons you cried after riding is that to ride you had to breathe. And, to breathe meant you had to feel even more deeply than you already were. You may not have known it consciously, but going to the track took even more courage than you might have guessed. That you showed up, stayed AND kept up? I tip my hat to you, friend. "I wish this post were more witty, bitch-slappy or something very “Redhead,” I, as others have said, find this post and the other related posts very “bitch-slappy” and very “Redhead”. Anyone can be witty and pithy and eloquent when things are going well. Attitude is easy to throw around when you feel confident and strong. Showing up and doing the work when your universe has been rocked like yours has? That takes something special - something very “bitch-slappy” and very, very “Redhead”. "It’s the one thing I’ll never write about – it’s too personal. Intimate. It protects me..." Not that you need anyone’s permission, but good for you for keeping the especially personal, special bits for yourself. Quite often it is those bits that get us through when we think we can’t go on. Thank you for sharing. It means more than I can say. Hugs and prayers.

Killian
Killian

Actually, I think this post -is- the real Erika, just like the rest of them. They are facets that make up the beautiful gem of you. It's gentle, and it's vulnerable, and it's quiet. The fact that you are clawing your way back into that light, and back into your life, show the strength that you hold inside, and that is now fortified by your obvious love for Jason. Thank you for sharing another facet of you. We vlaue it more than you might think.

Marc Quinn
Marc Quinn

I really needed to read this today, thanks so much for your bold vulnerability!!

Timstich
Timstich

One of the best installments yet. It shows the person behind the attitude that is the column. Thanks. I especially like the part about just folding the stupid laundry already. One day at a time like always.

The Redhead
The Redhead

You're a doll and thank you for always stopping by, Michelle.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Sending you an email, m'dear - and excited about a beautiful new friendship as well.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And I wish I had children so I could relate to the birthing process. At this point, I'll take your word for it, as my best friend from high school just checked into the hospital to deliver her first. Jason traveled to his brother's wedding in Virginia as I flew to Houston for her baby shower. It was a weekend filled with fun emails :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I have half a mind to ask if if it gets easier. Less painful. Whether 19 years from now, there will be (as one reader messaged me) enough scar tissue over the gaping hole in my heart to function. To love. And then I think...no...I won't ask. Though it currently is unpalatable, I do find that ambiguity is delicious. And grief not a flavor I ever expected to know. Thank you for sharing your bright passenger.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks for tuning into my "East Side," Kat :) It's a tough pill for many to swallow.

The Redhead
The Redhead

It's 5pm and I'm back in my pajamas. :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

I have to keep writing...so that, m'dear, is a given :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

Una chica fuerte? Damn. Nice, Duffy.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And thank you back. I'm the luckiest, in so many ways.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And that's what I need right now: tea. Brilliant idea.

The Redhead
The Redhead

He is. He's here. He comes and sees me every now and then...and it's lovely. So very lovely.

The Redhead
The Redhead

I simply cannot share anything other than thanks, as I log in to read and respond after a day of surprisingly labored breathing. Thank you.

The Redhead
The Redhead

And it beats the crap out of Dexter's "dark passenger" :)

The Redhead
The Redhead

And I value you more than YOU might think. So thank you...and you're welcome.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Don't know how bold it is, but it's all I have...

The Redhead
The Redhead

If only laundry had a Facebook "dislike" button.

Dysfunction Junction
Dysfunction Junction

I can imagine...I know memories aren't good enough, and never will be, but to feel his presence, well...sometimes it's more than any of us ever get. (Which of course I'm not trying to say it replaces him. Nothing could do that)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grant Griffiths, JobShoots and JobShoots, Kellie Walker. Kellie Walker said: @RedheadWriting reminds us that "just breathe" isn't always as easy as it sounds. http://ow.ly/38bFA Hugs to her & any who have loved & lost […]