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I’ve officially submitted the manuscript for Breathing Room, my upcoming book, to the publisher for review. It required entirely too much caffeine, but I’ve completed my 50,000 words, and they’re on their way!

This book contains my inner journey over the last four years, and I believe many of you have walked a similar road. Here’s a sneak peek from the working Introduction:

The human body’s urge to breathe is irrepressible and essential. When we hold our breath, we begin to feel a pain inside our chest. This is called our critical line, a signal it’s time for another breath. Everyone’s critical line is different, but everyone—at some point—must breathe.

Research shows that we hit our critical line, not necessarily because our body needs oxygen, but because our body needs to exhale and release CO2. When we hold our breath, our body sends a signal that it’s time to let down. Only then can we take in the air we need.

“As it turns out,” a breathing researcher writes, “the opposite of holding your breath isn’t inhaling, it’s letting go.”

Over the past four years of my life—which have included the birth of my first children (boy/girl twins), the challenges of learning to be a working writer, two moves within my hometown of San Diego, a miscarriage, another pregnancy, a move to the Middle East for my husband’s job in the Navy, the birth of our third child in the Middle East, and a move back to San Diego with three small children in tow—I have been through a bit of a come apart. Or, to say it in breathing terms, I hit my critical line.

I had been holding my breath for years—probably more years than I realized—trying to manage the pain in my chest. Trying to stave off the letting down. Trying to keep it all together.

Until I couldn’t anymore.

This is not to say that the last four years have been horrible. They haven’t. In most every way, they have been the richest, most textured years we’ve lived.

Which is why things got so very confusing. If life was so beautiful (and it was) and I had so much to be grateful for (and I did), why was I struggling? Why did I feel like I was being squeezed relentlessly? Why did everything feel so urgent? So suffocating? All the time?

Sure, we had stress. No one would deny that. But our life wasn’t coming apart, not in the ways you think of someone’s life crumbling. If anything, our life was arriving, precious dose after precious dose.

Still, I could not breathe.

My inability to suck it up and manage exposed and highlighted my growing suspicion that I was grossly inadequate for my own life. I begrudged my critical line and believed something was wrong with me because I couldn’t just push past it like it seemed so many others were able to do, like I had always been able to do.

My refusal to exhale, to let go, just about drowned me.

I needed someone or something to turn the valve on the blood pressure cuff that was squeezing my soul. I needed the anxious intensity to dissipate. I needed a place I could go where no one would try to convince me of how blessed I am or how I should simply pray harder. I needed people and words and spaces that were filled with grace, that honored my struggle. I needed someone to give me permission to exhale because I could not offer it to myself. . . .

***

I woke up many mornings over these last years without the ease and freedom I so longed for. If you’re feeling that way too, I understand. You’re not alone. And I hope that Breathing Room will give you courage and rest and support. I hope this book will help you turn toward yourself with radical compassion, like you’ve never done before. And, I hope it will give you permission to let go and seek the care you need.

I laughed and I cried as I wrote, and I’m praying you will, too, as you read. There are so many people drowning in their own secret struggle. Join me in praying that this book would be a company keeper to those in need of a bit of breathing room.

Thank you to all of you who have read here faithfully, offering your comments, stories, souls, tears, and hopes. Thank you for being a safe place for me and for so many others to talk about what’s really going on.

I will keep you posted on book updates over the coming months. For now, I’d love to hear how you have found breathing room in your own life, especially when you’re in the midst of a difficult season. What has provided space and broad grace for you?

Always believing in you,

Leeana

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