Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tightness to Lightness

    With that dawning recognition that something is missing, like chronic back pain that is suddenly absent, or a healing wound that finally stops throbbing, I realized that the tightness in my chest has loosened. No, not "oh-dear-gods-Imma-havin'-a heart-attack" tightness. This has been a constriction, a stifling weight, an ill-healed battle wound, that panicky feeling of being smothered by the demon sitting on your chest compressing your ribs. Straining against what feels like inevitable suffocation. It was not a physical ailment, it was the psychic manifestation of repressed fears. Fear of failure. Fear of risk. Fear of rejection. Fear of facing the world alone. It has been such a constant in my life for what seems like an eon that I had learned to ignore it, accept it as the norm, think of it with the same disregard as I thought of my bum knee. It was just part of me. But, just as with a bum knee, it was likely to abruptly surface, and drop me to the dirt, often with little or no forewarning. Too many times the fear and panic would clutch at my chest with a force that could not be ignored or denied. These oppressive attacks have happened so frequently over the years that I had to have an entire medicine chest of emergency cures and restoratives. True, the episodes had tapered off, but they were still a part of me. That familiar feeling in my chest, the demon crushing the wind out of me, the panic, the breathlessness, had lurked on as if to remind me of where I have been, where I come from, the battles I have fought. But today, just today, I realized that something was missing. That something so familiar that it had become as a physical appendage was gone, painlessly amputated. It was a remarkable feeling. A lightness of being. I cannot guarantee that the constriction won't return, but I am thinking that it may be gone. Oh, I am sure I will feel the tickle now and again, a "phantom limb" feeling, but I think I have finally stepped into a realm where my fears are unfounded, unnecessary, unneeded. I will enjoy this, even if it only lasts a day.

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