Teaching My Heart How to Beat Again

Teaching My Heart How to Beat Again

I am on phone with Jack at 2 a.m. when I lose it.

“Breathe. Just breathe, please,” he is saying, but I cannot do what he wants me to do.

My head is thumping against my bed’s headboard. My pillow is crushing between my hands. My body is bathed in sweat, and I feel the heaviness shifting in my chest. I try to breathe, I cannot, and I feel Jack’s voice fill the room, again.

“Breathe. There is no hurry, but just breathe. I promise, just breathe.” He repeats, once, twice, three times, and in my panic state, I can feel that he is on edge, almost giving up. That this rope he is holding, trying to lift me out of this darkness, is bruising his hands.

Somehow, air finds its way out of my lungs, and I fall in bed, crying. I cry until my bedsheets become wet. Until my eyes begin to sting. Until I do not remember why I am crying anymore. Until the weight of these things that have been keeping me awake shifts from my chest to my mouth. I cry until Jack, on the other end, lets out a soft sigh and says, “I am still here; you are not alone.”

Later, when the storm has subsided a little, my feet have found strength, and my eyes can see again, I sit with Jack and we both cry, silently. He knows, I know he knows that I do not have answers to the questions in his mind. So he stays silent when I say that I am tired of these things. I am tired of the weight in my body. I am tired of struggling to leave my bed in the morning. Tired of waiting for dusk, because darkness is the only thing that makes sense to me.

He stays silent when I say I do not know why I am sad. Why I have to battle with my own thoughts. Why this living is such a hard task for me. Why it is this difficult to exist in my own body. Why there is pain when I walk, yet the ground beneath my feet is the softest it could ever be. That I am tired of being, of seeing, of breathing.

He asks if I want to die. Whether I think death would rid me of these things that trouble me. Then it is my turn to stay silent.

He says he sees through me, even though I do my best to hide myself behind numerous masks. He sees it in the way I laugh as if it is a program I have set in my head. He sees in the way my eyes look for the ground every time I leave the house. He sees in the way I hide behind the people I call mine, wishing that no one sees me. He sees in the way I overcompensate in the way I do and say everything. In the way I give, and give, and give, as if by giving this much, my soul will find meaning. That I will teach my heart how to beat again. That I will teach myself how to breathe again.

He says he knows this kind of heaviness. This kind of darkness. This kind of helplessness, where you lose your voice whenever someone asks, “What is wrong?” Because you do not know how to answer this. Because you cannot place a finger on one thing and say, “This. This is wrong.” And when someone asks, “What can I do to help?”, you fold into yourself and wish that death wasn’t as painful as you envision.

Jack speaks, and speaks and speaks, until I feel the weight of darkness begin to leave my body.He speaks until his voice begins to shake, because this darkness he speaks about, this darkness that is keeping me aloof, has been with him for the longest time. He speaks until we both realise just how similar our wounds bleed. Just how similar our triggers are. How our hearts keep running away from the same things. How we use the same things to escape from our realities. How we both retreat into ourselves whenever our bodes begin to disintegrate. How we  both self-sabotage until we lose everything that used to bring us joy. How we can never speak about these things to any other person, apart from each other. How we are quick to lose anyone whose connection no longer brings us peace.

He speaks, and speaks, and speaks, until I feel calmness begin to return to my spirit. Until the palpitations of my heart start to slow down. Until the itch on my skin clears. Until I begin to feel like life is worth living again. Until I do not repulse myself when I look in the mirror. Until my vision is clear, again, and I begin to let the light inside my house, as if he has been teaching my heart how to beat again.

Later, when I sit in solitude and the anxiety does not come, depression does not knock, and the smell of panic is nothing but a distant memory, I ask myself what I would do if I didn’t have Jack. If I didn’t trust him enough to tell him that I am drowning in myself. If I didn’t make that call that night, and told him I was losing myself. I ask myself what death would have felt like; how many fingers would have pointed at me, wondering how they didn’t see the signs that I was losing it. That my heart had forgotten how to beat, and I was slowly, surely, slipping out of this world.

I ask, and ask, and ask, until tears return to my eyes. Until I  flick off the light switch, rejoicing in the fact that darkness no longer scares me.

I ask, and ask, and ask, until I realise I have always been alone; if I stopped going out in search of me. That I would have died, alone, and no one, apart from Jack, would have understood.

I ask, and ask and ask, turn my phone to DND, and beg sleep to take me, forever.



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Meet Eunniah Mbabazi
Eunniah Mbabazi is an Electrical and Electronic Engineer with a deep passion for books and literature. She has authored Breaking Down (a collection of short stories), If My Bones Could Speak (a poetry collection), The Unbirthed Souls (a collection of short stories), and My Heart Sings, Sometimes (a poetry collection). She has also co-authored Kas Kazi (a novel) and When a Stranger Called (an anthology of short stories).

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