breath in. breath out | Teen Ink

breath in. breath out

October 20, 2022
By catbat25 BRONZE, Little Elm, Texas
catbat25 BRONZE, Little Elm, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out. This is the mantra that I repeat in my head over and over, again and again. I feel the ice-cold wind getting swept up into my lungs, dancing, burning, filling them up until all I can do is exhale, seeing a cloud form in front of me, only for a second. The cycle repeats itself, my overworked lungs and body preparing itself for the torture it knows is about to happen. I feel the adrenaline being dispersed around, surviving is its number one goal, and winning is the only way to survive. 

My body aches, like Atlas, my coaches, and my mother's watchful eyes weighing down on me, almost tipping the scale at all times. But just in time, I hault, swimming up to the surface for a breath of air, burning my lungs more than the water ever did.  I close my eyes. I stop listening to the crowd's screams and the harsh grating of cold sharp metal hitting the ice. Something that can bring ships down in a heartbeat, yet something others like me, are required to navigate each and every day. 

Somehow, I ignore it all.  It took years of practice to harness this skill of compartmentalizing the emotion, the mind, and my body.  I am laser focused, this is not entertainment for me, my fellow peers are now my sworn enemies as we each take our turn in the ring.  There is no room for friendship in this high stakes circus.  No room for friends who do the same thing as me, friends who do anything at all, friends with similar hobbies, no friends of any kind because friends are a distraction while we are all vying for the spotlight. Just like the jeers and the pain,  peers and popcorn are blocked.  

What I do think of is my routine. It comes to me as naturally as sleep. Every day, every night when I'm not learning or practicing my routine on ice, I'm rehearsing in my head. It's worth the headaches it gives me and the lack of sleep I get because it's better than what happens if I don't win. Headaches are better than the hours of beratement from my mother, and the hardened eyes of my coach that let me know I'm always a fall away from becoming insignificant. I focus back on the glacier, the cold unforgivable ice that I inevitably end up touching, because I simply can't stand anymore. I don't ever fall on ice. Not anymore. Most people think that because I spend hours every day on ice I must love it. I don't. I despise it. 

Ice means aching bones and joints, aging me before my time.  I'm so young, but the clock is ticking. 

Ice means having to be yelled at by coaches who say they know better, and who always seem to come up with new ways to tell me how bad I am. 

Ice reminds me of my mother who at this point I can't even remember ever being warm. They say that when people are born in a house on fire they think the whole world is burning. 

Well, when you are thrust into a frozen one, you watch yourself freeze to adapt. To survive, to fit in. Right before a competition, the whole world stops. it freezes. I stay still too hoping to blend in with the world, and convince myself it's a dream. It doesn't work. Mostly because it's not. I'm never going to wake up and be three again having barely been walking. Most people who play a sport, get to choose what. They get to choose when. I didn't. When I was placed into this frozen-over hell at the ripe age of three, my choices stopped being mine. What I ate, what I wore, where I went, and who I talked to, were all taken from me just like that. Of course, I'm too young to know, they said. I mean how am I supposed to know what to eat when, I have to maintain enough strength to hurdle myself into the air, yet somehow stay petitel. I can't possibly know what to wear to the act. because I’m not yet a master at picking the most uncomfortable and tight fabrics known to mankind. I can't pick who I talk to because I might get too friendly with them. When I stand here wearing my elaborate outfit and thinking of the routine that took me months to learn, that has moves that took me years to master, to perfect, to do good enough that my mother and my coaches approve, I don't think about that, for once.

 For once I don't think about the diet I'm on that makes it hard not to salivate, at literally anything, I mean when you drink protein shakes and what I would describe as sludge, the gum on the sidewalk starts to look good. 

I don't think about how much it hurts to push your body to the extreme, and how not just my body hurts, but my lungs, my heart, my very bones. 

I don't think about how the rink is warmer than my mother's smile even on the hottest days all I can think about is one thing. 

I wish I could have friends. I wish I could be a kid. 

With those thoughts in my head, my name is called and I forget it all, shoving it deep inside of me and my routine comes back to me and I do something I could do in my sleep at this point, 

Like a marionette doll, my strings being pulled in all directions, the ringmaster and puppeteer orchestrating my performance.  My painted exterior hiding my suffering, while people applaud at my silent cry for help, yet I keep going, my body doing the one thing it knows how to do, knowing if I mess up I will be thrown out and forgotten, reduced to nothing but ash all the while I know I will one day be thrown out and forgotten

The author's comments:

i wrote this too show how toxic the sporting community is for young figures skaters. they have to put their body threw torture, only to get a few years in the spotlight, before there tossed out for someone newer.  

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