Do You Feel It?

When you wake up, do you feel a balloon in your throat, too? Or maybe it’s a corset: too small and too snug, cinched up tighter than poor Kate Winslet’s mom did to her in ‘Titanic.’ “Hold still,” I think she said before she yanked again. Or is it that feeling of having had too much caffeine too quickly–prickly little pins jumping around on your skin, but that’s impossible because your coffee hasn’t even been brewed?

Do you feel it too? A rope around your heart with something awful heavy on one end, tightening and squeezing so that every beat struggles to push through? Is it your leg bouncing like you’re waiting for the doctor to call your name next? Or maybe you’re rubbing your tongue along the inside of your bottom teeth mindlessly, knowing full well that it’s destroyed the thousands of dollars your parents had to save up and spend on orthodontics when you were a teenager but like breathing, the second you stop thinking about it, there it is again running back and forth, back and forth.

That adds to your headaches, you know: clenching your jaw all the time and never giving your tongue a rest. But you try. You really, really try.

Is it a cement block just below your diaphragm that’s impossible to dislodge? Gluten free, vegan, no sugar, no alcohol, and even no caffeine won’t make it budge. It just sits there so sturdy you could place a table on it. Or maybe a piano. And the best piano player you know will play loud and endlessly along your ribs, vibrations skiddling down your arms and fingers so that when you try to put your contacts in, you can’t because your fingers move as frantically as his.

Maybe it’s melting candle wax dribbling down your neck, crusting over and hindering your movement with every new layer that coats the last. How weird that it’s warm but then suddenly freezing cold: an iced neck brace, bracing for the next pour.

Do you feel it? A galloping equine in your chest that hits the hardest just below the various scars you have all over that either didn’t heal properly or had to be reopened over and over again, so they sit on top of your skin: discolored little worms with odd textures that you know you shouldn’t be ashamed of but you plan your wardrobe accordingly because the glances–the constant glances–are just too much sometimes?

The tics, the aches, the shakes, the brakes: an odd, Dr. Seuss machine at full speed the moment it turns on in the morning: does yours do that too?

Do you feel it?

I do. In ten ways or another, I do. And if you do too, in this way or that: I see you. I do. I really do.

But please don’t stop waking up just because it’s far too overstimulating or because it hurts so bad sometimes. You have to keep waking up. We need you. I need you.

I love you, Jess

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