Training Wheels

September 15, 2016
By , Escondido, CA

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy" (Martin Luther King, Jr.).


The first time I read this quote I stopped and simply stared at the dark black letters against the clean white paper on which it was written. I remember thinking how true it was, yet I never really contemplated its meaning, that is, until I experienced it first hand. But, the quote not only applies to one's self, but to knowing the true measure of those you care about. It's not about how they treat you when you are at your best, but rather at your worst. For me no time was worse then the night of July 26, 2016. That day, despite always thinking I was a calm and happy person, I had my very first Panic Attack. With the pain and fear over whelming me, one person helped me more then they could ever understand.

I still remember how beautiful that evening was too. Even under the dark cloak of night, the outdoors were lit by the yellow glow and brightness of the only slightly less then full moon.  From my hotel room I could see the stars twinkle bright in the night sky. Even that day was pleasantly hot and humid with not a single cloud in the sky... Yet even with the beautiful night that followed the radiant day, it somehow only made the pain worse. I remember the sharp twinge in my chest as I gasped for air. Thinking back, I still feel the sultry air as it blew in from the ajarred hotel window and hit my face moments before locking myself in the bathroom. But what had started as me simply sitting on the clean white porcelain toilet staring at my self in the large crystal clear mirror as my salty warm tears ran down my face, turned into an ugly sobbing as I made grotesque animal noises with a waterfall of black eyeliner filled tears pouring down my face. This inevitably and very suddenly turned into full on panicking. It began with this sudden longing to be anything but alone. As someone who hates nothing more then crying in front of others, this was a wildly new feeling. After slowly opening the brownish orange door and softly, but just audible enough to be heard over the music I had been playing to drown out my hideous crying moans, I called my sisters name.

Suddenly as she opened the door and I looked into her worried brown eyes, it was as if the whole weight of the world abruptly collapsed on me all at once. I sat back down on the bathroom toilet in a panic scaring my sister into thinking I had almost fallen. My breathing turned heavy, very heavy, as I grasped harder struggling with every breath to catch it.  No matter how much I tried though, I couldn't even feel my lungs. The top half of my world literally turned white as it softly fuzzed into the the top of my sister's blurry face. I could see the fear in her eyes, but it felt as if they were simply a reflection of my own terror.  So I closed my eyes and focused on the rhythm of the music. My ears tuned into the soft gentle humming of the music and the periodic clicking: "Fully undressed no training wheels left for you" (Melanie Martinez). Somehow the song seemed to understand the depth of the vulnerability I experienced in that moment. When the world felt as if it was crumbling around me feet, my lungs were filled with the burning sensation of them seemingly collapsing, and the weariness of life had eaten me alive; there was absolutely nothing I could do. I felt naked, with no 'training wheels'.

Yet in that darkness, I felt a wet warmth on my forehead and smelled the sweet aromatic scent of lavender. Opening my eyes I found my sister holding a white, dripping wet, lukewarm towel drenched in lavender oil to my forehead; her attempt to calm me down. Seeing my eyes open and starring into hers, she swiftly wrapped her soft but short arms around me. Feeling her warm body I let my head sink into her shoulder as I wrapped my arms around her waist squeezing her tighter in return. When I felt lost and alone, my sister was the person who was there for me, both physically and mentally. It didn't matter what she did, because her simply being there with that lukewarm towel and her gentle warm hug, is exactly what I needed. During my most vulnerable moment. When I literally couldn't stand, let alone breath, she was there for me. She was the one I could lean on and trust. Just thinking about this time is difficult for me, but knowing I have her makes it easier. With the darkness and despair of life, hope is found in those you love, and in those who love you back.  From my worst moment in life, I learned of a person who would and will always be beside me when I need them most. My sister would now and forever be my training wheels.

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