Every airline I have ever flown, begins every flight the same way. Somewhere after the “half-rise-half-step-out-of-the-way-so-the-shmoe-who-came-late-and-has-the-window-seat-to-your-aisle-seat-can-wedge-his-body-past-yours” dance and the serving of your half-can of soda, comes the safety instructions.
Within those instructions is always an explanation of how (just before plummeting to your death) oxygen masks will explode from the ceiling like candy from a piñata. And we are always told something about the handling of those masks: you must secure your own mask, ensuring that oxygen is flowing, before assisting others with their masks.
This evening, at one point, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Maybe it’s just this season of the year or just the season of my life. A busy job, kids school registration, traffic, bad storms, football practice, bills, groceries, dinners to plan, missing my soldier, fear about his possible deployment, worries about the state of the nation..
(that was the sound escaping me as I tried to breathe, I wasn’t sure how to spell it..)
The air wouldn’t get in. It wasn’t like I haven’t been handling things. I was. I am. I am getting it done, making it happen, keeping all the balls in the air. Mostly.
Why. Couldn’t. I. Breathe?
Probably because there was an elephant sitting on my chest?
Yeah. No. No elephant.
Pressure though. To be sure.
And an aching, longing, brokenness. A longing for air. More room, less pressure.
Then the struggle for air became my fight against needing it. How annoying and frustrating to be this overwhelmed and needy. I had no time for this!
Did you catch that, friends? I literally stood in front of a bathroom mirror, tears in my eyes, my lungs nonfunctional, and told myself I had no time to breathe.
“Knock it off, Skye. Your kid needs to be picked up from football..”
I breathed, eventually. (Obviously)
Because my next thought was of those airline safety briefs. My own oxygen first.. Was I was so busy making life ok for so many others, that I never stopped to give vital, life-giving stuff to myself, so I would be ok?
If I stop being ok, then really, how can I help anyone else?
It’s simplistic, I know. Yet, sometimes the most basic things are the easiest to forget.
Even airline disaster theorists know that we need to be told, that we need to be breathing, if we are to actually be of any help anyone else.
Life works the same way.
We have to remember to give ourselves what we need, before we can meet the needs of others.
What I really needed (in addition to air..) was time for myself. Time to pray, read, write. Writing is how I process the hard stuff, if I am not writing I am not processing well. Yet, I figured taking that time would be selfish. I am already at work all day, and not with my sons, to take time away from them to write seems self-serving, and mean. Bad parenting, even.
Does this make sense? No. But when we won’t slow down enough to even breathe, let alone assess what we need to function and be whole, irrational thoughts have a way of seeming rational. The enemy of our happiness and contentment loves our weak, busy, distracted, non breathing moments the most! Suddenly, we forget that a whole person is always a better asset to the people and the world around them, than a washed out, wrung out, exhausted mess.
Maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. That’s ok. It’s my process. I needed to write it because I needed to be reminded. I matter. My time to refuel, refill, and find balance..that matters.
I am just guessing here, but I am strongly suspecting that mom being at the back of the football practice pickup line and able to breathe is better than mom not breathing.
Mom able to smile? Even better.
Please, please, please my friends..secure your oxygen first before attempting to assist others.
All my love and prayers,