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Little Breathing Machine

By Greg Bonagura All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Humor

Blurb

Devin Porter is a self help addict on psychiatric medication, who finally works up enough courage to break up with his cheating girlfriend. When he meets Maggie, he has a one night stand that quickly turns to tragedy. In an attempt to support each other and face their demons, they fall in love. Everything is great until Devin finds out that Maggie is not who she seemed to be.

Chapter 1

My girlfriend loves me a lot, but unfortunately, she loves fucking other guys more. Sarah wears sweatpants and a t-shirt and her long black hair is messy.

I say, “Hey, I decided to call out of work, what are you doing today?”

She says, “Well, that’s nice, but I’ve got to go in tonight. We can fool around a little bit before I leave though.”

“Okay.”

She grabs me and drags me over to the couch. We have sex for a little less than five minutes until I get off.

She says, “Really? That’s all that you’ve got?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, at least I won’t be late for work. I’m going to go take a shower.”

While she’s in the shower I start reading one of her Facebook messages. It confirms my previous suspicion that she has been cheating on me again. I shouldn’t be invading her privacy like this but she left it open for me to see. This guy isn’t even wearing a shirt. I decide to reply.

“Hey, babe, I just found out that I have herpes, you might want to get yourself checked out. Talk to you later!” Then I put a winky face and a heart.

I hear her getting out of the shower. She comes up from behind me and locks her hands together around me, pulling on my stomach, then starts kissing my neck.

“Do you think you have it in you to go again?”

I wonder if I should have sex with her one more time before I break it off with her. No, I can’t do that, I’m too hurt. I confront her and she doesn’t deny it. She doesn’t try to manipulate me. She doesn’t even give a shit.

“If you weren’t so bad in bed I wouldn’t have to go out and do things like this.”

That’s understandable I guess. I don’t say anything. I just walk out and get in my car. I almost broke up with her the last time this happened. That was the time I found condoms in her purse. I wasn’t snooping, she asked me to grab her cigarettes and there they were. We stopped using condoms when she went on the pill. Unprotected sex still isn’t smart but I often tend to do what makes me feel good without thinking about the potential consequences. Let’s be honest, sex with condoms is like decaf coffee, fat-free cheese and light cigarettes. When I found the condoms, the pack was open and there were only two left, “What the fuck are these?”

“Um, condoms.”

“Yeah, no shit, but why do you have them?”

“I was fucking this European tourist a couple weeks ago and I didn’t want you to get AIDS or something, baby.”

That’s what I love about Sarah, she’s always thinking about other people. The drive home is a nightmare. I am in tears and it is distracting me from driving. I thought this relationship was going to be different. I thought that we had a lot in common. I thought I was actually with the right person. I thought she loved me. Every committed relationship I have ever been in has ended with the girl cheating on me. She would always tell me how much she loved me and for some crazy reason I believed it, even though she didn’t do a very good job of showing it. When a girl tells me that she loves me, it immediately gives them a tremendous amount of power over me. When I hear that phrase, I always believe it. I always believe it and it is never real. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

At this point in my life I’m starting to get tired of being mistreated. I’m going to make a change. I’m going to use this opportunity to grow. I’m going to push aside my emotions and do something good for myself. I am going to end it. For real. I’m not going to just break it off with her and then go crawling back in a few weeks. I am determined to start making healthy decisions for myself. I am an amazing person. I am loving, caring and compassionate and I deserve better than this.

I pull back into my driveway and I call her.

“I am tired of your shit, Sarah. This is the last time you are going to hurt me. We are never going to be together, and we are never going to be friends. Goodbye.”

I listen for a response and hear quiet crying for a brief moment before she hangs up.

I can’t believe it. I finally stood up for myself and not just to her, but in some weird way to every girl that has ever hurt me. I feel so amazing. After a moment, the reality of what I just did hits me, and the little boy inside me realizes that she is really gone. Who is going to love me? Who is going to take care of me? The emotional pain I have felt since I read the message has been slowly building up and at this point I can feel it burning my insides.

I’m bipolar and I have general anxiety disorder. Right now, I am having what professionals call, a panic attack. I become terrified and my body goes into fight or flight survival mode. My senses become heightened and my pulse and blood pressure go up noticeably. It feels like I can’t breathe, like I’m drowning. My life is spinning out of control and I am going insane; the only thing I am capable of is crying and feeling sad. The acids swoosh around in my stomach and cause me to throw up. I feel like I’m dying even though everything is fine in reality. Cigarettes always help me with my anxiety. They are what professionals refer to as an unhealthy coping skill. But they work. After my cigarette the only thing I want to do is get under my covers and curl up in a little ball. I take an anti-anxiety pill and hide there for hours. After a while I find the courage to get out from the covers.

I have to do something to make myself feel better. I’ve been reading The Blooming of a Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh, which teaches how to use meditation techniques to heal life’s ailments. Conscious breathing and mindfulness have played a huge part in my recovery from mental illness and whenever things start to get out of control, I slow things down and meditate. I calm my body and just sit. The relief I get from this practice is more powerful than any pill I have ever taken. Doing this is what professionals refer to as a positive coping skill.

The first exercise in this book is called Joy of Meditation as Nourishment. It has two simple parts. Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile. I do this for fifteen minutes, repeating the instructions in my head. Crazy thoughts pass through my head but I make a conscious effort to let go of them as soon as I have one. I imagine that the thought is on a cloud and I just watch it float away. I think about Sarah and get sad. But I do not hide from the pain. I recognize it and then let the emotion leave on one of my clouds. Then I begin the second part. Breathing in I dwell in the present moment, breathing out I know it is a beautiful moment. I pay attention to my body. I try to feel my feet in my shoes. I am conscious that there is a sock around my foot, and I feel it, and I am conscious that my foot is in my shoe, and I can feel that too. I continue on like this, breathing in and out, fully and deeply, for about a half an hour. My anxiety has passed. I know that whatever happens I will be okay. I am okay.

I inhale.

I exhale.

I am alive and I am at peace.

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