Why Is It So Hard To Just BREATHE?


We've all been there.

Years ago, when I was pregnant with my third child I can remember asking my gynecologist, “Why does labor have to be so hard?” His response was, “Labor is the closest women come to dying without really dying. Everything in woman’s body shuts down to focus on the sole purpose of giving birth to the baby.”

I thought to myself wow, “Then why is it in Lamaze classes they tell you to just breathe, when I feel like I’m dying? It’s interesting to note that during this most difficult and painful experience, if we don’t breathe the body will tense up and make the pain even more intense ... If you can believe that!

Breathing allows the body to relax and do what it was designed to do. Oh yes, I’m like most women who’s husband is in the room while you’re in labor telling you to just breathe and even breathing with you and you just want to inflict pain upon him at that moment. I’m also to woman who at some point during the transition of labor became very angry with my husband and the blamed him for everything wrong in the universe. I yelled, pushed, scratched and screamed until I saw this little face that would make me forget about giving birth to the placenta too. It’s amazing how shortly after childbirth you somehow feel the pain was all worth it, and you would willingly do it all over again because of the end result.

It’s funny how life can sometimes throw you a blow that feels like the most difficult thing you have ever had to deal with. The emotional pain can be just as intense as the physical pain of labor. For me, it's grieving the loss of my mom. Oh how I miss her so. I recently went shopping and visited one of the stores my mom and I shopped in a few short weeks before her death. For sixteen months now, I have purposely avoided this store.

So this past weekend, I mustered up the courage to actually shop at this store. I can picture my mom shopping for a winter coat. I clearly remembered the coat she tried on and the mirror we both looked into as we smiled at each other knowing this was the coat and that our time together was limited. We were also excited that she had the energy to shop and enjoy the experience.  While I was in that store this weekend, I decided to actually go to the same mirror and re-live the experience in my mind mentally and emotionally.

As I walked towards the coat department and that particular mirror, it seemed as if every emotion was stirring in my heart and soul — fear, anticipation, grief, sorrow, joy, contentment for the memory, anxious about my response and afraid of the reality. There was an emotional hurricane stirring inside of me. As I moved closer to the coat department, I realized that the store has done a "remodel" and the coat department is no longer where is used to be and the mirror was gone. I was devastated and moved to tears.  

After a few moments of standing there and giving myself permission to cry, I told myself, “Just breathe. You still have all of those precious memories in your head. You have the coat she purchased and you have the joy of knowing and feeling how special this moment was for the both of you." I stood there in the store in a different department and yet with the same memory, all because I remembered just like when I was in labor to "just breathe."

In that moment of taking a deep breath, the emotional hurricane within me subsided. I recognized that although the mirror was gone, my memory and experience was still fresh in my mind and heart. I could see and feel my mother’s presence and love within me. Ahhh, the power of the breath. I’m so pleased that amidst the intense pain of grief, I had the courage to stay in the moment and "just breathe." During my long exhalation, I recognized I had to be purposeful about letting go of the exterior things that I couldn't control and give birth to the deep moments of grief.

This shopping trip down memory lane helped me to move to the next level of missing my mom; that level is being able to remember her in quiet moments and smile. I would've missed this beautiful moment had I seized up and ran away from the shoe department that used to be the coat department. 

Okay ladies...are there moments in your life that cause you to tense up, what would happen if you took a moment to "just breathe?" Do tell.

This article was originally published at Cathy Mott . Reprinted with permission from the author.