I was never good at math in school but I learned the basics of algebra.
I was taught every step to drafting an essay from start to finish.
I could recite to you four poems I was instructed to memorize and
I could also draw you a picture of the back of that boys head in my English class,
the one I sat behind for a year,
because it was at his head of hair I would stare when I couldn’t breath
but the teacher continued speaking anyway.
It was not her fault. She couldn’t feel my world collapsing.
I can still hear the steady ticking of the clock drowning out the mumble of my classmates,
can still feel my palms getting sweaty when the walls closed in one me –
there was never a class on how to exist in this body.
I was never taught how to breathe when all of the oxygen has been sucked from the room or how to claw these words out of my throat
they tell me it’s anxiety
that I have a problem that can be solved with some breathing techniques and maybe a few pills a day but I still walk down the halls and feel like a ghost of myself
I can see myself walking and hear myself talking and feel myself breathing
but I am not there.
They never taught me how to deal with this urge to run
not when the going gets tough but when surviving takes more energy than living.
I can’t walk into a room without scanning the room for exits,
I can’t join a group of people in casual conversation without first convincing myself they don’t hate me,
I can’t ask you how you are because of fear that you’ll return the question.
But at least I can find the value of x.