(Maybe) If I were

I know the place,
I try to leave it when I sense it.
Why nurse the chaos?
All has been shown, unraveled.
There is no undoing our reality.

I move,
I sleep,
I eat,
I dream of drinking.
Sobriety is a curse.

It doesn’t matter
The timing,
The setting,
The role I’m engaged in-
I inhale- air- oxygen – life force –
A pain thunders into my chest.
Open space. Hollow.
I feel it, this abyss of sinking.
As if a hand has wrapped itself,
Around my neck, My throat,
Strangling me into stillness,
So a knife can slither,
Piercing my lower trachea,
And enraging down my thoracic cavity,
Pulling it’s blade out at my sternum.
I try to exhale,
But the sensation of this hole, this void,
It takes my breath away.

Each time,
Each bloody time,
Is a new experience I navigate,
Trying to stay afloat the sinking.

I try to keep my mind busy,
My fingers weeding through prayer beads,
My anchor on the buddhist breath,
But sometimes,
Against all my being,
These four words present themself:

Maybe,
If I were..

Maybe,
If I were
Stronger,
Better,
Kinder.

Maybe,
If I were,
More.
More wiser.
More developed.
More mature.
More stable.
More healthy.
More balanced.
More whole. More healed.
More able to grasp the impermanence of life.
More able to see beyond my pain, focusing on yours instead.

Maybe,
If I were a better yogi,
If I were more advanced in my practice,
If I were able to take all the the yogic lessons off the mat into the story of us.

Maybe,
Just maybe,
If I were,
Just .. more,
Even just a little bit,
Then maybe,
Just maybe,
I could have saved you.
I could have helped you.
I could have taught you tools.
I could have helped you towards peace.

And if I could not have saved you,
Then maybe,
Then just a lonely maybe,
I could have overcome my lack, my short comings,
So I could be there for you. More. Like you needed.

Why the fuck could it not have been me?
Regardless of the dents you left,
I would have traded roles without question.
I am more equipped,
You did not deserve this.
You needed more time.
Why could it not have been me?
You needed more time.
You deserved to experience peace in this life.

A strangled breath caught in my wind pipe
Tangled into a breath jars my attention back to the “now”.
Fuck. 
The “now” doesn’t feel good at all.
The “now” is all I’ve got.

And the logic slams every muscle in my body
Into an immediate softening.
The parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.
What’s done is done.
You and I, We can’t go back.
But my memory does.
My memory goes back to your final moments. Your final breaths.
Watching you. Watching the medical equipment.
Watching numbers measure your level of aliveness.
Watching you.
“You are safe, you are loved, you are protected. 
    You can relax now. You’re safe. Just relax. You’re safe. It’s ok. You’re ok.
    You are so incredibly loved. You’re safe. You can relax. It’s ok, you’re safe.”

The struggle of my own navigation to breath softens,
I witness that torn rip in my chest,
It’s still there.
I place the warmth of my hands over top my chest.
I send a warming thought of compassion to this space.
It does nothing. But I keep applying pressure.

“Bring awareness to the sensation of air coming into your nostrils, filling your lungs, 
Bring awareness to the sensation of air  moving from your lungs, leaving your nostrils,” 
The chilling voice from memory clouds into my mind, a male with a deep voice, of Buddhist wisdom.
“Your thoughts, your thoughts are caused by a diseased mind. Keep awareness to the breath. Feel the mind softening. If your awareness moves away from the breath, bring it back.”

His voice,
Absorbs,
Everything.
His voice,
My mantra,
I regain focus.

The breath.

Focus on the breath.

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