“When you stand at the abyss, you fall to your knees and you f***ing grab for any comfort, any little thing to keep it from swallowing you whole.” ― T.A. Webb
February 11, 2022 I finally went through with something I’d been thinking about, planning, saving for, and waiting for, for at least a year. And today, just over a week later, I pulled off the bandage and got a good look at it. I love it!
You see, second chances are something people think happen rarely, if ever. Most people believe that if you get a second chance, you are incredibly lucky. And maybe, for some situations or circumstances, that could be true. You don’t always get a second chance to nail that big job interview. You don’t always get a second chance to impress someone important to you. You don’t always get a second chance to mend a relationship.
But when your mind has turned against you and convinced you that death is the only solution to life’s misery, you get comfortable with your own mortality pretty quickly. Other people’s mortality still completely throws you for a loop of course, but your own? You’re as comfortable with it as your favourite underwear. But along with that comes the realization that life is full of second chances. They’re not always the big ones that everyone thinks of. Often they’re pretty small. Or, to you they’re small but to someone else they’re huge. Somebody cuts you off in traffic, you take a breath… and you can say a quick prayer for their safety, because maybe there’s an emergency. Or you can spew anger and profanity, but that breath is your second chance. The waitress at the restaurant is having trouble ringing your order up, and can’t fix the mistake she made when she tried, and her visible tension is making it worse. You take a breath… and say “Hey, it’s okay. Everyone has bad days. Take your time.” Or you can sigh in audible frustration and irritation, but that breath is your second chance. Or to make this really personal: When the intrusive thoughts of death just don’t stop, I can take a breath… and just breathe, and breathe, and breathe, slowly and evenly, because every breath is one breath closer to those thoughts subsiding and my head clearing. Or I can continue to shallow “panic breathe”, get sucked down that mental spiral, and let it control the rest of my day, week, month, etc.
You see, every breath is a second chance. Every breath I breathe is one I almost didn’t have. Every breath is one I can try to choose to have a positive influence on those around me, or I can choose to absorb the negativity and continue to spread it. Every breath is one that suicide nearly stole from me. Every breath is one where mental illness wants me paralyzed and silenced in fear, shame, and agony. Every breath is one where I can make a difference.
And I’m here to tell you I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I take the breath and let the negativity and frustration flow, with all the stuff I’ve heard, and then my own on top of it. Sometimes I take a breath, and let something slide because I don’t want to deal with that issue right now – and wind up letting it fester and grow into something much bigger than it should have been. Sometimes I take a breath, and don’t message that person I’m worried about. Sometimes I take a breath… and believe it’s not worth reaching out to someone on my bad days, because I believe I’m not worth it, and that honestly no one gives a flying f**k.
And sometimes, I take a breath, and wish I didn’t have to take another. Sometimes, taking another breath is just another breath in a life that feels like it’s stuck on repeat. Sometimes, that next breath brings pain, heartache, sadness, bad news, and so on. Sometimes, that next breath is hard. All the tattoos and positive thinking won’t change that.
But for all the times I’ve gotten it wrong, I’m learning. I’m learning to embrace those little moments more often. I’m learning in the long run, the big things become less significant, and it’s the little things that really make a difference. And I’m learning to see that I don’t have to wait for New Years Eve to make a resolution. I don’t have to wait to sign up for a course to work on making changes. Those moments seem significant because of the hype. And with the hype comes the disappointment when (not if) things get off track. And in those times of disappointment of where things are at, I want to remind you (and me) of something very important.
You have that next breath. And every breath is a second chance.