Breathing Out Slowly

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It’s okay, it’s okay.

I tell myself as I stare at my calendar for this week.

I’m usually diligent about calendars, planners, Post-it reminders of everything and anything I need to do; even if it were something small and trivial like a “Scan this!” reminder back when I used to work.

But I haven’t been in a job for a while, and truthfully, my calendar is pretty empty save for the occasional temp job that pops up. (This isn’t an invitation to fill up the calendar, btw.) I was scheduling some stuff and though the calendar looks more like a chessboard, I found myself fixated on the Monday tasks.

Oh, right; it is Monday today. I didn’t realize I still have those moments that freeze up – pangs of fear or a rush of cold blood when I realize, It’s Monday, I have things to do, VERY important things – ‘I shoulds’.

I haven’t really discussed it in detail save for a few people who let me process these things, people I trusted with my pain, I guess, but I struggled a lot during the past year and I have only started to breathe lightly again. I stacked up my calendar crazily trying to keep up, or feel the adrenaline rush, or do something, until it got to a point that I needed to rest because I was too stressed and my body had no qualms informing me about it.

Part of me felt like I was being over-dramatic over a not-cancer scare; part of me felt guilty because I obviously waited until this moment to listen to myself and get some rest; part of me felt guilty that I thought I was being dramatic when in fact it was a bit scary to have cysts growing in you because of stress, and obviously my mother was worried, and I really didn’t know what I felt at the time except for a resounding fact that I needed to take a hint and pause for a while.

So I did.

But now that I’m well physically, I couldn’t really say the same emotionally or mentally, because how do you stop everything at the same time and then pick up again like nothing happened or as if nothing changed? I was scarily busy before I took this time to rest and now my calendar is near-empty; but the feeling of dread – when I look at the planner and there are these things I need to do – is still there. Sure, I breathe easier now. I feel like I should be mentally ready by this time. But sometimes I’m not, and I’m still nervous to make choices, nervous to meet people, nervous to be assertive…

So I remind myself that nobody is forcing me to make life-changing decisions today or the next half-hour. I remind myself that the tasks on my calendar are not tasks where somebody loses their job if I screw up. Nobody’s telling me that tomorrow, I should say ‘yes’ when I really think that it’s a ‘no’. Nobody’s forcing me to breathe. The grace is that I can breathe unconsciously, and that God isn’t impatient about me doing more than I can handle right now.

I’m so glad God has never forced me to do anything more than I can handle.

Sure, there’s a balance; I pick up tasks for this week. I’m doing odd things for money, while looking for a job. I update my profile. I rest. I talk to my mom and dad, and wonder if it would be cheaper to live near work. I meet my wisest friends. I won’t dare miss small groups if I can help it. I connect with people who are safe, and most of all, I connect to God. I don’t know what I could have done or what could have happened if I stopped completely; but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

Slowly, I’ll be okay, and I’ll get back on track.

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