My dad was breathing and I could hear it. I could hear it over the general chatter of conversation between my parents and me. In and out, in and out. My dad has a cold at the moment; his voice is a bit croaky, and he’s congested. I can’t normally hear his breathing. Tonight, though, every breath, in and out, each one an epic undertaking, each one a journey, worthy of metaphor.

Not that long ago, this sound would have driven me screaming from their house. My fight/flight response would have switched over to FLIGHT mode, and I would be executing the order with extreme prejudice. It would, as I slunk home, dragging my sorry arse like an unloved doll, be the cause of much self-loathing and recrimination.

Instead, I was reasonably okay. I was aware of it. I noticed it. It was a feature of the environment, along with the chat, and the slight winter chill. It was okay. I managed. I did not have to leave early, in great haste. There was no sorry arse to drag home.

Where I come from, this is what recovery looks like. It’s when daily life, in all its manifold details, tasks and challenges, begins to resemble something less than a SAS obstacle and ropes course, and more like a Friday afternoon in Ballajura, visiting your mum and dad.

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