The tiredness sets in behind my eyes so that I am almost blind with it, it feels like tears or hangovers or fevers, present and brilliant, dulling my hearing too, sending me into a fog. My back aches, in a total way it rarely does, from the base of my skull fanning out like fingers down the back of my neck, arching the curve of muscles over my shoulder blades, palming the space underneath them, wiping its fingertips back up my spine and sitting there, throb-throb-expand-throb.
I murmur something suggestive though. I am smiling through the dim, arching throb and gloom. I know what it is -- I think -- the emotional turmoil I've felt eventually had to become physical, had to release my heart and lungs and spread through my shoulders, up my spine, into my sinuses and my eyes, and yet -- it released my heart. I take a breath deep into my belly and feel it expand almost unhampered by the clamp of my fears.
* * *
I felt it splinter days ago, I lie in my bed in the middle of the night -- alone, my boys with their father -- feeling it like a vacuum, like an evacuation, like rats skittering from a sinking ship. At first I thought the way to fix it was to show how much pain I was in, wielding raw emotion like a cudgel, but waving that thing around hurt me as much as anyone else. And who wants to share pain anyway? I had to let myself fall off the cliff of panic, let myself be caught, ragged and bruised purple but still alive. Miraculously pieced together.
What's emptied can be filled again and not just by someone else. Sometimes you have to find your breath somehow, gather your strength as best you can and pull it all back in. If you can let a thing unwind you, can you not wind it yet again?
* * *
And here, now, all the pain that'd been strangling my heart and lungs had to go somewhere. As I worked it free, untied the knots that I'd woven to tight, inexpertly, the ends flapped hard and loose, beating flesh and sinew and nerve around it, spreading out like a spill being absorbed by the thirsty sand. At some point you have to honor that. Let the ache feel like warmth, let your breath examine it, interrogate your muscles with their center, heart, let each yank and twang settle into their rhythm, give them the prayer that's their due.
"Away with you," you murmur, calling to them softly, holding on with tears sparking your eyes like saying a fond farewell. "I know your worth," you're saying now. "You held me tight and let me go." And you're letting them grip you as long as they need to, you're giving them time, you're closing your eyes and waiting peacefully, all this ache you cherish, it's your fear, you say to it now, whenever you're ready, fly away home.