Creativity is a great ally in for our healing journey. As we find creative ways to express our experiences, our feelings, our thoughts, hopes and dreams we access new sources within ourselves of strength and courage. Creative expressions can take many forms: painting, drawing, music, dance, writing are a few examples. I believe any creative expression helps in our healing whether or not it is specifically about our recovery. I’d love to share your creative expressions in future blogs. Use this link to let me know about something you’d like to share or email me at mike@menhealing.org

This week we have a piece by a new contributor, David Day. He will share more of his story in upcoming blog posts. Thank you David.

The Game

by David L. Day

“How long can you hold your breath?”

Being seven, and full of confidence, I said, “I can hold my breath a very long time.”

She leaned close, kissed me too hard, too long, too deep, whispered in lavender and latex, “Show me.”

#

“Are you still holding your breath?” Her words soft, syrupy, sinister.

My lungs ached against a few years of strain, but I wasn’t going to lose, not to a girl, not to my sister, even if she was six years older than me.

“I said I could hold it a very long time, and I meant it.”

She smiled, ivory shards framed in lip gloss. “You sure did.”

#

“Have I won yet?” The pain was unbearable, but I bore it up, tied with a length of entrails, wore it around my neck, an albatross of shame.

She zipped her suitcase. “No, not yet. You’re doing great, though.” She unzipped her blouse. “I have a few hours before I leave for college.”

#

“This game is going on too long,” I whispered, lost among my family, alone and unheard.

She flashed a glare at me across the glazed ham and mashed potatoes, then she donned her best face, turned to mom, “As I was saying before being interrupted, I won’t be coming back home after graduation. I found a job in Michigan.”

I withered in my seat, sunk into the chair, drowning in a deepening dread.

That night, she and her boyfriend slept in her room. I wanted to breathe. He wasn’t holding his breath, so why should I?

#

She stopped asking. She stopped coming home to visit. She knew I would hold my breath indefinitely.

#

For forty years I held my breath, waiting like a stone at the bottom of a marsh.

Little by little, the murky weight of secrecy built until the first cracks appeared, and I was left with no choice but to shatter into shards or let my breath out.

And then I exhaled, a hard, painful, overwhelming breath.

I’d nearly forgotten how to breathe.

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