I look down at my khaki pants and white shirt. Sh*t. I hate this outfit. I throw open my closet door and somehow have nothing to wear. The red numbers on my bedside clock catch my attention: 6:48. Shit, shit, shit. I'm going to be late.
My shirt is sticking to my armpits. Oh, gross. I'm already sweating. This is not the way I want to start the first day of my internship. I wail and cover my face with my hands. Tears and sweat mingle in streams down my face.
A hand that seems to belong to someone else rips my shirt off. Buttons fly as another wail pushes its way out of my body. My throat burns as the screams continue. I rake my nails down my arms. Then I see the raised red trails I've made. I curl my hands into fists, and a string of expletives bursts from my mouth.
I wiggle out of the pants and kick them across the room. I am shaking uncontrollably. I slump onto the floor of my closet and curl up into the fetal position.
An image of the hospital where I'm supposed to start work today comes to mind. I have graduated from the student clinic and am starting a real job today. I'm a grown-up. This behavior is unacceptable.
I hear my own voice whisper to me, "No. No more. Get up, Lauren. Get up now."
I breathe deeply, remembering my yoga practice. Breathe in through the nose; breathe out through the mouth. I pull myself up into a sitting position. I continue my deep breathing as my body continues to shake.
I stand up slowly, steadying myself against the wall. I command my body to stop shaking. I can handle this, I tell myself. Just pick something. I reach for my favorite long black skirt and, balancing against the wall, lift one leg at a time to pull it on. I pull out my pink sweater and pull it over my head. My arms quiver a bit as I stretch them into the tight fabric. I slip my feet into my black flats and look at the clock. 6:52. Five minutes wasted on a meltdown. I thought I was done with these.
I head into the kitchen and grab a muffin, my keys, and my bag and head for the door. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror on the way out the door. My mascara has left black trail marks down my cheeks. My eyes are bloodshot and puffy from crying. I gasp. I haven't seen myself like this in so long.
I do more yoga breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth. Fill my belly in between. I push the feeling of disgust down and out of my body and mind. It'll be OK, I tell myself. I can wipe the black off my cheeks at the stoplights, and time will diminish the puffiness and redness. No one will know but me.