This was the part she dreaded.
She felt the fear rising from the pit of her stomach. Thud! It landed in her throat. For a split second she couldn’t breath. Fear disabling air from entering her lungs. Air unable to enter her lungs. Constriction.
“Get a grip” she scolds herself. “It’s not as if we’re never coming back”.
The empty suitcase lay there on the floor. Open. Empty. Terrifying.
Around it lay pile upon pile of clothes. Neat and tidy. Waiting.
They could be waiting a while.
It’s a common pattern. The joy and delight for Beth always comes in the planning and pulling it all together. Then slowly as the days to departing begin to creep upon her, so to the dread. Like the slightest wisp of air against her check. Apt at keeping herself busy she is the mastermind at distraction. Years of well tuned practice has ensured Beth the ability to distract herself when the slightest tremor of fear appears. Best to ignore it and get on with things, the motto. Well trained as a child to dismiss her feelings. Now however she has been slowly learning that this is not so wise and definitely not healthy. Its been taking time but slowly and patiently she has been changing her relationship with her feelings. Instead of clamping then down tight, like an airtight lid on a container, she is now allowing them to be. Practice.
However there are many times when she doesn’t catch them, like now.
“Argh geez” she exasperates.
“I don’t understand my problem”.
“I should be enjoying this. It should be exciting. I should be revelling in it. But I am not.
For this she felt bad. Ungrateful. Which only compounds her experience.
“Okay take a deep breath”
“We’ve got this”
She put her hands on her stomach and consciously takes a slow deep breath. And waited. Waited for her hands to rise slowly suggesting the air had reached her diaphragm .
“Okay this will take some time”.
Once more she took a deep breath and allowed the throat to relax. Air began to trickle down, like rain on a window.
Not quite to the stomach but closer.
“Once more” she whispered to herself.
She closed her lies and allowed herself to lie on her bed, amongst the pile of clothes. Resting her hands gently on her tummy she took a slow deep breath.
This time her hands raised slightly. She could feel the movement. A sign of life. Without force, yet with consciousness, she focussed on her breath. Each inhale and exhale resulting in a deepening connection with herself. Expansion.
Her throat now relaxed, her heart rate slower Beth welcomes the release.
Her bed a welcome place of refuge.
She feels the warmth of the sheets under her body and the comfort of the pillows for her weary head.
Love would lay here.
So she does.
She allows herself to doze off.
When she awakens a shift has occurred. A common experience for Beth. Sleep a way to integrate and heal.
“Okay so lets have another go”.
This time paying attention to what is going on within her, Beth looks at the empty suitcase.
“Why do you frighten me?”
She looks at the clothes surrounding it. Waiting patiently.
“What if I get you wrong? What if I pack you but you work out not be right?”
“What if I don’t pack you and wish I had?”
The pressure was rising once more.
“What if you are all I will ever have?”
“What if something happens and everything I ever own will be what I choose to put in you?”
A quiver in her heart, a welcome sign that she was on the verge of learning something else about herself, that had previously been out of sight. She knows not to push it. Simply breathe, allow the feeling to move and explore what comes.
“And what if what is in the suitcase is all I will ever have?” Beth asks herself.
“I can’t pack up my life. I don’t want to. I have done this before been forced to pack my life into one suitcase and flee. Not in this lifetime. Yet the feeling still sits in the recesses of her soul. Don’t make me do this again. Please. It hurts. Deciding what to take. All I see is what I am leaving behind. More is left than taken. How can I do this again?”
Packing up my life in a suitcase pressured to make the right decisions in a split second. No I won’t let you do this again. You must stop.
“Oh my, my precious one. Is this how you feel? Oh goodness”.
Beth embraced herself to soothe this wounded one within her. “I had no idea”.
“This is not what is happening here and now”.
“I feel your terror however it is not now. Come and rest, allow these feelings to come into my heart, so together we heal. Our heart”.
Gently, gently now. She will tread.
Aware of this unlocked trauma within her Beth will undertake this process with care. Each item she picks up and places into her suitcase will be done with gratitude and love.
She will be gentle and kind. Knowing that when she reaches her destination if she needs anything she hasn’t packed she will be able to find a solution.
Packing her clothes, she realises, is a symbol of packing up who she is now. Putting who she is in a suitcase as she departs. She nows within this however, that what she unpacks at the other end will most likely be a different being to the one who departed. Who boards the plane will be transcended by the one who returns.
For this my love is the joy of travel. Transformation. Expansion. Growth.
Short creative fiction by Libby Kinna 2019