Monday, November 14, 2011

Sucker punches. I can't breathe.

I hate getting the air knocked out of me.  It's happened a number of times in my life.  Each time it's happened, I recall the moment quite vividly.  I think everyone's experienced this phenomenon.  It can either be a physical thing, emotional, or a combination of both. 

The first time it happened to me, it was physical.  I was in the first grade and this little girl, her name was Marie, decided to punch me in the stomach.  I don't know why she did it.  At the time we were best friends.  Perhaps I said something cruel?  Maybe I took her crayon?  I may have told her she smelled.  Who truly understands the thoughts of a six year old?  Either way, I had the wind powerfully forced out of my lungs and it scared me to death.  I cried for about a minute then I whacked her back.

At nine I had grown into the quintessential tomboy.  No one could ride my brother's orange, Hang Ten skate board in the shape of a foot better than me.  Even a few years later, with my entire lower leg in a green, algae covered cast, I was the "girl dude" on the board.  In the mid to late seventies, safety gear was not even a consideration.  Kids roamed the streets on bikes, skates, and the new "thing", skate boards, without helmets or knee pads. Enter Bri.  Riding around the neighborhood like a demon from Hell on that ridiculous orange foot.  One of the wheels hit a pebble on the sidewalk, the board stopped but I didn't.  I flew into the street and landed hard.  My head cracked on the cement, my elbow slammed, and the wind whooshed out of my lungs.  A neighbor saw me go down and ran immediately to my side.  I didn't lose consciousness but I couldn't breathe for a few seconds.  It was frightening.  Afterwards, I walked my board home with a nasty goose egg on my forehead, bloody skin, and severely wounded pride.

Now we get to the really painful stuff.  The sucker punches in life.  The ones that not only knock the wind out of you but bruise your heart and keep it from healing long after the fact. 

An eighth grade slumber party.  My very best friend through my entire elementary school years was coerced by another girl not to invite me.  I found out quite by chance the night of the party.  Betrayal, especially during adolescence, is excruciatingly painful.

The next one is a combination.  I was being emotionally and sexually abused by my first boyfriend in high school (another blog, another day).  I had finally decided to stand up for myself and refuse a ride home after a school performance I was in.  The air was knocked out of me when he landed the first of many painfully sharp slaps across my face and various blows to my body.  Abuse is always hard to catch one's breath after.

Just a year later, in my ridiculous innocence, I placed myself in a situation where I was sexually assaulted by a man old enough to be my grandfather.  This in itself wasn't why I had the wind knocked out of me.  It was afterwards when I told someone whom I loved and trusted what happened...she didn't believe me.  I couldn't catch my breath for the rest of the drive home.

The day my ex-husband, then current husband, walked into the bedroom and said, "I don't love you anymore, Bri.  To be honest, I don't think I've ever really loved you."  Wow.  Yes, I can still quote those words.  They continue to ring painful as I type them.  They were honest; however, sometimes honesty like this is brutal.  No one should ever be told so bluntly that seven years of their life was a lie.  I need a break.  I need to catch my breath.

December 22, 2002.  It was after 10:00am.  The Price is Right was on in the waiting room when my Uncle came in, looked at my Mom, and said, "Mary, he's gone."  Sucker Punch.  Dad had died.

Last night I returned a phone call my mom left while I was at church.  She sounded tired.  Bad news.  Someone I love - someone whom I'm very, very close to has just been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer.  It runs in the family.  I can't breathe.  I'm talking, but I can't breathe.  I'm thinking, but I can't breath.  I'm typing, but I can't...



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