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Only When I Breathe #SongLyricSunday

How can I put this? How can I possibly make people understand how it feels?


I struggled with these kinds of questions for many years. Pain can be physical or emotional. Both, I know now, are comparable.

This song is not her biggest hit. I’d say Melissa Etheridge was at the top of her game in the nineties, but this one came out a few years after I’d started experiencing daily pain around the year 2000, from either headaches or somewhere in the rest of my body, mostly my limbs, but really a sensitivity to the touch.

This song was likely about emotional pain, which most songs are about, but by this time Melissa probably experienced both, within relationships or physically because of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with.


I, played the fool today
I just dream of vanishing into the crowd
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
And I can’t ask for things to be still again
No I can’t ask if I could walk through the world, in your eyes
Longing for home again
Home, is a feeling I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
My window through which nothing hides And everything sees
I’m counting the signs and cursing the miles in between
Home, is a feeling I buried in you, that I buried in you
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe
I’m alright, I’m alright
It only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Yeah, it only hurts when I breathe, when I breathe
Oh,it only hurts when I breathe



It’s hard to make people understand. We all experience emotional pain from loss of a loved one or other family troubles. Love ends. People leave.

Most of us get a headache or the flu or a broken bone at some point in our lives. I know that child birth can be painful, not from personal experience but from those who have felt it, but I know that pain fades because of the reward for it in the existence of a precious child. Most acute pain fades from our memory as time passes.

It’s chronic pain that is hard to explain because most people, like the thought of living life as a blind person, can’t or don’t want to think too hard about it, don’t want to imagine that happening to them, but living with chronic pain changes you. It’s changed me.

The awful pain scale is a familiar way to help people understand, but pain is subjective and one’s ten is another’s seven. If ten is the worst pain you’ve ever experienced, what was that worst pain? Everyone has had such varied experiences with pain that it makes it hard to rate sufficiently.

Stabbing…throbbing…dull…sharp…pounding…and so on and so forth.

I’ve only found a few people in my life who truly understood it. One of them is gone, so I am greatly familiar with both emotional and physical pain from many sources.

I decided this
Song Lyric Sunday
I would focus more on the physical side, as I’ve written plenty on emotional pain already.

I don’t talk a lot about living with chronic pain, here or elsewhere, because I don’t believe people truly want to hear about it too often. This song brings it up in the chorus though, as saying “it only hurts when I breathe.” While coming off sounding dramatic, this one line certainly gets the point across.

Don’t get me wrong, I love breathing, but I could do without the pain.


10 thoughts on “Only When I Breathe #SongLyricSunday

  1. Chronic pain is the anvil that the hammer keeps coming down on. Not everybody will want to read about it on a regular basis but they can cope with having it explained to them just how it makes you feel and there are many others who will empathise with you too.
    I wish you a pain free week (& life)
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  2. A few years ago, I experienced a headache for almost three months straight. It was awful and affected every area of my life. Luckily, I found out the reason why and made changes so I could remedy it and I no longer have to bear it. I can’t imagine living with physical pain every single day. I’m sending hugs your way! Thanks so much for sharing the amazing song and for giving us a glimpse into your world. ❤

    • Thanks Helen. I have looked at all possible factors. Sometimes we want so badly for there to be an answer, something we can fix, but this isn’t always the case. Stress doesn’t help, but I haven’t found the best way to alleviate that. Still looking. Glad you liked the song.

  3. I love that song as well am a fan of Melissa too!! I can see this as chronic pain and I feel for you. I agree that it is hard to know who to share what chronic pain is like. I know most people do not even believe I live with pain every day because I don’t have a frown on my face all day long…I have read your blog a few times and feel for your pain as it must become so heavy day after day. Thank you for sharing…I appreciate it.

    When I am physically and emotionally wiped, I describe it as It’s such an effort to even breathe. Hugs, kiddo xx

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