35 mph.

Why am I here.

42 mph.

I am nothing.

57 mph.

Everyone would be happier. I’m a miserable person.

64 mph.

I can’t. I can’t I can’t I can’t anymore.

35 mph.

I hate this. I hate You. Why won’t You just let me die.

0 mph.

My hands clutch the steering wheel of the car, heart ripping a hole in my chest, eyes unfocused, breath coming in short whispers and whimpering heaves. I hunch over in my parked car, angry at a God who is no longer there but won’t let me end it all. Angry at myself for not turning the wheel. The laundromat in front of me blurs, whether from tears of anger or desperation, I’m no longer sure.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

My mom, she doesn’t understand why I can’t stop crying when I get home. When I try to force the words “I tried to run my car off a bridge” out of my mouth, they refuse to surface– choosing instead to bubble underneath my crumbling exterior. She assumes it’s a bad day. I’m inclined to think it’s a bad life. Oh, how we are both wrong.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

Girl meets boy. He becomes my drug. More than that, he becomes the very air I breathe, to the point where I am barely existing when he is gone. Dangerous, I know, but I have nothing else. He doesn’t really care about me, but I have wrapped my existence so tightly around his presence that I am able to lie to myself. I say that this mockery of a relationship is enough. Then he leaves.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

The word “heartbreak” doesn’t begin to describe this debilitating pain that rages through my entire body, soul, mind. My heart is only one organ, but he has managed to afflict every piece of me that is left…the pieces I had trusted him to put back together. I still see him at school every day. We’re still friends. We act like nothing happened.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

Advanced Placement Calculus. I told them I didn’t need to take it, that I would take another class, any class. They didn’t listen. The first test. Frozen to the seat, salt water rolling down my nose onto the page in front of me, making the straight lines run together. I can’t see. I can’t breathe. Gasping, I manage to run out of the room, every shred of my dignity remaining in the seat I abandoned. He was there. Watching me. Doing nothing.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

They made me get help. “Severe Anxiety and Acute Depression” my diagnosis read. The letters danced cheerfully across the sunshiny sheet of paper, but the only letters I saw clearly spelled out my failure. “It’s okay if you need to cry,” the stranger in front of me said, offering me a tissue box. “This is a safe place.” What she doesn’t understand is that I’ve cried myself dry over the past year and a half, and if my own body is no longer a safe place, then nothing ever will be again.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

Everyone is tiptoeing around me. I can feel their caution, their scrutiny, but I no longer have the energy to care. My days get easier, but only because my teachers no longer expect much out of the girl who had a meltdown in the middle of class. I ignore everything and everybody, choosing numbness instead because being numb is better than the knifing pain that lances my body when I feel too much. Graduation comes and goes without much fanfare. I’m accepted into college with half tuition, and I begin looking to the future.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on.

He comes back. He comes back but things are different. He left me when I was weak because he didn’t want to be the strong one, and I learned to live without him. We find less and less things to talk about, and the things we do discuss no longer hold any meaning. I let him go. I’m finally strong enough to survive on my own, and it’s a beautiful feeling.

Inhale. Exhale. Move on. 

College begins. Apprehension fills my soul, making me question if I can handle the stress that will undoubtedly be thrown my way. The second night in the dorm, I am up until 2am, not because my fears are haunting me again, but because my roommate and I are dancing around the room to our favorite songs. I can’t breathe, not because my chest is caving in on itself, but rather because my laughter is uncontrollable, the first time I’ve laughed like this in over two years.

Inhale. Exhale. Stay in this moment.

I find Him again. Not the boy that was toxic to my heart, but the King who sooths all pain and mends every break. He welcomes me with open arms, the prodigal daughter returning to worship my Heavenly Father for the miracles he has performed in my life. I am redeemed, and I am made whole by His love. Perfect healing comes through Him, more than counseling or medication could ever deliver, and I am breathing easily for the first time in a long time. He never left my side. He never gave up.

I’m no longer just surviving. I’m living.


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