deep breaths

I began to bind my chest when I was 8 years old.
I remember feeling ashamed.
I remember feeling confused.
I remember feeling helpless.

But as it became apparent that my body could not be controlled
I tried even harder to minimize the evidence.
Tight tank tops turned into layers of camisoles
which turned into layers of compression sports bras
each one a size smaller than the last.

Binding made my back ache and ribs bruise.
I couldn’t seem to take a full deep breath.
But without it
the pain was much deeper
much more all consuming.

It wasn’t until the age of 20
that I was able to breathe fully for the first time.
A deep breath filling my chest, allowing it to expand entirely.

And that takes its toll on a person.
12 years of taking shallow breaths
of holding back.
of hiding.
of monitoring every millimeter.

These full lungs make me lightheaded.
There’s too much oxygen,
Too much possibility.

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