"This relationship is dead." Someone said that to me once. And it hurt. I mean it stung. But I couldn't argue. In that moment I wasn’t even taken by surprise, because the truth was of course it was dead – I had been holding my breath during the entire relationship. Extended time without oxygen and things tend to cease existence.
I held my breath because I was terrified of being a disappointment, horrified that once a few of my less-than-flattering character traits made an appearance I would be abandoned. Or worse – that my presence would become tolerated but not wanted.
In the end though, it wasn’t the fact that I’m imperfect (shocking, right?) that pushed him away. It was the fact that I couldn’t just be myself… I couldn’t just breathe around him.
Why did I struggle with this? What was that fear that if I showed a little freaking humanity I’d no longer be worthy of love? I think it goes back to Sunday school where I was informed that I had to earn God’s love by being on my best behavior. You know, get good grades in school and no more painting my brother’s nails hot pink while he was sleeping. (I ended up the valedictorian of my class, but admittedly I’m still mean to my sibling on occasion…)
Whatever the reasoning, I’d like to ask – Are YOU breathing? Are you comfortable being yourself, your true natural self? I don’t just mean in your romantic relationships… I mean when you’re in the company of friends or family, when you’re surrounded by strangers... when you're alone?
I’m telling you, there is definitely something to this breathing thing. That’s why there’s a lot of focus on it during meditations, it’s a huge part of the birthing process, and it plays a significant role in any exercise or sport. Speaking of… Let’s take it to the bedroom. “Talking dirty” might get awkward but a little heavy panting… Now that’s a turn on every time.
Maybe I am the only one who’s been holding her breath, but let me tell you what I’ve learned. It’s better to breathe and risk rejection than to… um, suffocate.