Funny though, they aren’t the incidents I remember most. One of the worst wind knocking incidents didn’t happen to me. This is the one that haunts me though. I’m in high school, downstairs in our Green Meadows house watching TV with my brothers. Tyler is driving me crazy, I can’t remember why. Maybe because I’m a hormonal teenage girl and maybe because he just really was annoying me. The point is, at some moment I reached my limit. I rarely resorted to physical force, mostly because I don’t think I was ever really bigger than any of my brothers. This time though I will never forget because I punched him, square in the stomach, hard. I knocked the air, wind, life out of him. The feeling that came over me was an instant nausea and regret. One I haven’t forgotten to this day. To have the wind knocked out of you is one thing, but to be responsible for knocking it out of someone else is far worse in my book. My night was ruined and clearly the guilt has stuck with me for many years.
In the course of life I’ve had the wind figuratively knocked out of me a time or two as well. We all have-whether it’s a death, divorce, cancer, or any number of other tragedies. The news of it instantly knocks the life out of us. Our brains can’t process and the world goes on around us seemingly oblivious to our failed attempts for breath.
No one knows when the wind is going to get knocked out of them. You don’t see the punch or fall or tragedy coming. It’s not until you are breathless that you see your need for air. I’m certain Tyler wasn’t expecting it. And I know even more certainly, that I never saw it coming.
Eventually when it’s physically knocked out of you, it comes back, slowly but surely. Within a few minutes you are valuing the oxygen filling your lungs back up. Within an hour, you remember the experience but your body has recovered. To the eyes around you, no one would ever know.
Getting the wind knocked out of you figuratively is different. The time it takes to begin to fill your lungs, your brain, and your heart again is much lengthier. It’s not just your lungs struggling for breath, it becomes your life struggling to inhale and wondering if it will have the strength to exhale in the next moment. I know so many of you have been there, or are there-stuck breathless and wondering if the life will ever possibly fill you again.
It does, it slowly begins to creep back in. It’s messy at first. It’s a concerted effort. It’s ugly and painful. And it’s truly a matter of letting others shine light and life into you when you don’t have it in yourself. But regardless of how or who or why the wind got knocked out of you, there is breath beyond it. There is beauty on the other side. It may be scarred and tangled at times, but people will surround you who understand that. People who have not forgotten their own battle for air and know what the journey ahead looks like. It’s no accident they are there and it’s by choice they stay there walking beside you. It’s a gift to them just to walk with you. Unlike the physical winds recovery which doesn’t leave traces, you know those who have figuratively had the wind knocked out of them because they can’t help but shine into you. They have been my true blessings and they will be yours as well.
I’d like to think I’ve done more filling up with life in others than knocking out. Id like to believe ill never knock the wind out of anyone again. I’d like to believe I won’t have to face breathlessness again anytime soon. These things I can’t claim though.
What I claim is this, this life is what it is because of the breathlessness I’ve faced or sadly because of the lessons I’ve learned in knocking the wind out of someone else. Sorry Ty, I dont know if that makes it worth it.
I can claim that there is healing and breath and blessings beyond the blow. And as I lay here with my precious children sleeping soundly in their beds, I find my God near, my breath steady, my hope constant and my heart full. This is what I can claim in this moment.
What I hope for you is that you trust yourself to find breath again. That you know there will be struggles but that life is not done being lived. That you hang onto the people that really make life worthwhile and shine into you. That you breath deeply everyday thankful that one day you will find the blessings beyond the blow. They are waiting as you take each breath. And you are not alone.