Breathe easy

There are times when even simple tasks feel daunting. A pen poised to write the first word faltering before ink can meet the page. Encroaching deadlines can feel like shadows weighing you down until taking a nap feels like the best course of action.

Writer’s block, procrastination, and denial—these are manifestations of the crippling fear of not living up to one’s own standards. The feeling of helplessness and increasing pressure can render one immobile. After all, it is easier to accept one’s failure by inaction than admitting that the effort and work put in was simply not enough. The shadows
grow heavier.

It is difficult to find a way of getting rid of the overwhelming desire to hide when tasks become overbearing. Logically, I know that hiding from reality is impossible; you can only go so far until it wrestles you down.

I find comfort in the idea of being in control of myself. I find it difficult to admit when I am not on top of things, and I am frequently blindsided by the realization that I am no less human than others who need help. I confess that it is sometimes difficult for me to give up control—or at least give up my illusion of it—and I cope by distracting myself instead of facing reality head on.

Offering help is as natural as breathing for me; but recognizing when I need help and accepting it is a different beast. It takes a while before I realize that I need help, and by then I’m too embarrassed to ask for it.

For me, the situation is akin to a sudden asthma attack after years of breathing easy. I spent the early years of my life finding it difficult to breathe, and the sheer joy I felt when I took in my first unlabored breath is a memory I will never forget. It’s been years since my asthmatic self last had an episode, but the possibility of it happening again
hasn’t disappeared.

It was easy to tuck away my trusty nebulizer, to forget about it as a relic of the past, but things buried in the recesses of my mind have a funny way of resurfacing from time to time. Admitting I need help is akin to me admitting my failures and weakness. Like struggling to breathe during an asthma attack, I can’t physically ask for help—even if I wanted to. It feels like I’m admitting I’m not strong enough to breathe alone.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am thankful for the people in my life who show me through their actions why admitting that things are not okay and that help is needed is oftentimes the most courageous thing one can do. It is a slow process, but I am learning. And though I falter at times—or even fail completely—I have to get up and move forward knowing that there are people beside me who will grab my hand when I trip again. Is it difficult? Absolutely. But is it necessary? Unequivocally.

I haven’t needed my nebulizer in years, but it is still there when I need it. It is not weakness to admit that we all need help, and sometimes we even need help recognizing that fact.  In fact, we are at our strongest when we recognize our weaknesses and help others overcome theirs. Like a flickering candle with its wick almost drowning in wax, sometimes a guiding hand carving out a path is all that the flame needs to burn brighter.

By Denise Nicole Uy

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