Several months ago I was in a really bad place.

I was drained, exhausted, worn down. I hesitate to say I was depressed, because I know so many people who battle with darker demons, but I was very sad.

My emotions were manifesting physically, and I was swiftly reaching a point where I could barely get out of bed, much less move my body. I hurt everywhere. Physically, emotionally, I was simply… in pain. I went to my job, put a smile on my face, kept my customers happy. Came home, curled up in a ball, and wrapped myself in a blanket with my heating pad. I was having panic attacks with great regularity. I slept a lot… sometimes I cried. It took everything I had just to get through each day. This went on for four months.

During that time, a dear friend of mine came to town. Several days in a row she tried to meet up with me. We hadn’t seen each other in a few years, due to the fact that we’d both moved to different states. I made excuses each time she called. She kept trying. I kept brushing her off. She went home. I didn’t see her.

I tend to face pain as a solitary. I go into survival mode. I get quiet, turn inward, shut out the people who love me, block out the sounds and movements of everything outside of me. This has always been my way.

Nineteen years ago, when I was in the hospital giving birth to my son, I went deep. As I was entering into the hardest phases of birthing my child, my labor and delivery nurse calmly told me I needed to breathe. She was ready to help me, but I needed focus on her face, and be present. Instead, I shut my eyes tightly against the pain, shook my head, and went into myself. In a moment of supreme strength, this warrior woman got in my face, and shouted, “Open your eyes!”

My eyes snapped open.

“Now! Breathe. With. Me!”

I did.

A few days ago, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I’d not spoken with my friend in months, and I wrote her an apology. I told her I was sorry. I was selfish. I was in a dark place.

She forgave me.

She apologised for not recognising that I was hurting, admitted that, on some level, she knew, but didn’t know what to do for me. She still loves me. She then reminded me,

“You don’t ever have to be alone. or lonely. Or anything else.”

It’s hard… learning how to reach out. It’s a lesson I will probably always be learning. I may still “go it alone” when I’m dealing with things that are hard, scary, or painful. But I hope to remind myself, when I’m sitting in shadowy corners, that there are people who love me, people who are there for me…

People… who are willing to survive with me, and

Breathe With Me.