Here’s what you should do.

First,

Children listen.

Then they contort.

Social compression goes unnoticed.

Later, they’ll feel the stiffness.

But unknotting is harder than stretching.

Imagine if they had heard “could” instead.

Now adults must unwind balls of stress—themselves.

Wondering, “Is any of me left under these wraps?”

Seeking the answer bravely, or lacing back up in fear.

After years constricted, years may be needed to breathe again.

Years of change, challenge, and—most painfully—the unknown.

Surely the self is in this mess somewhere,

Just wrapped too tightly to call out.

The lines are quite tangled sometimes.

Can it even be done?

Breathe in, breathe out.

Count to ten.

Count back,

Again.

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