101 beats per minute. My pulse races.
I breathe in and breathe out as though the process will purge me. This is my routine.
I am alive.
I close my ears and envision the calming of my soul, the soothing of my mind that races in all directions – directions in which I do not wish to go.
To stay. To leave. To get up.
I race. My mind races. Yet – I stand still. It is a race against time. I find myself stepping on the scales of life which measure my actions, measure my value, measure my weight.
I am breathless. I am weak. I claw through the haze in my mind. My routine.
One foot per step. Progress.
Paralyzed by fear – frozen in time and thought. I struggle to escape. I collapse back. It holds me. My routine.
90 beats per minute. I breathe deeply. There is no pain. I am hopeful and terrified in the same breath.
My – thoughts- swirl- uncontrolled – unedited – then – still – frozen – for – fear – of expressing what I really think – because – what – if – I’m right and it’s back – but – I don’t – want – to – imagine – although the memory is very clear – of – when – “it” changed my life – – My routine.
73 beats per minute. My head throbs. I throw off the covers to cool down from a hot flash – once again as has become my routine. No sound – but for the blood pumping through my ears. I turn my head right to see my parents’ pictures on the wall beside me. They smile as they have smiled for my whole life. Their smiles frozen in time – a time when they were young and beautiful – their lives were only just beginning. Imagine who they were. I didn’t know them then. They are strangers in that photo.
78 beats per minute. Pause. Think. Breathe. Don’t think. Wipe the sweat from my brow. Routine.
I cool down. I cover up. Can I think through this cloud that has shrouded my joy? If I spill words on the page – will they wash away? I write. I feel better. I get up to put one foot in front of the other. One foot per step. My routine.
70 beats per minute. I’m tired. The air is still. The bare branches of the trees outside move ever so slightly to the rhythm of the winter winds. They offer little resistance. In that way, they do not break. They sway back and forth yet yield not their position.
The rhythm of life returns. My attention has shifted to the woodpecker perched on the mulberry tree outside my window. I am no longer a slave to my inner demons – to the fear that sucks me down. All is calm. For now. My routine.