This one is for you. Thank you for everything you have ever done.
Lack of sleep is my heroin
If I have not fallen asleep by one a.m. there is no need to worry. Most nights I am up watching TV anyway. One a.m. is a decent time for me, there’s no need to stress; but before I know it, two a.m. rolls around. Now, this is still ok, but I know at this point my eyes and mind need to rest. I try to close my eyes and count sheep but the only things I end up counting are all the responsibilities that come when I wake. My mind races to jobs I need to finish that are not even my responsibility, such as what needs to be done at work tomorrow when I won’t even be there. I fade off into miscellaneous thought. Contemplating on why we as a human species are alive, and I feel like I need to solve that question before morning comes around.
Before I know it, the number four on my phone begins to stalk me. Each minute that grows closer is another step forward that four a.m. takes towards me. I lay in my bed, the back of my head resting on my pillow, body under one blanket because it’s too warm to be fully covered. My hands over my face, fingers trying to force my eyes shut; this isn’t working. Maybe my body is too warm to fall asleep, I get up to turn on the fan that sits on my windowsill. Well, shit. I’ve gotten myself down an even deeper hole. Now that I’ve gotten up and walked two feet to the window, my legs are fully awake. I want to take them out for miles and eventually, I will give in. Everyone tells me to do a small exercise if I’m tired. Yeah, fuck that thought.
How the hell is it already six a.m.? The streets are loud of cars, filled with tired people on their way to work, and I am outside of my house sitting on the front porch. I have not slept, not a single moment. At this point why even bother trying to sleep? The world is awake, so I might as well be too.
Is this mania or is this just insomnia? Even with no sleep, my mind is wild and alive, my hands need to be moving at the speed of sound. I am unstoppable. I can do anything. Nothing will hold me back. I don’t even need sleep at this point. I am Wonder Woman. No…no, I am my own woman. I am big, strong, and confident; I am powerful. I am power.
Later in the morning, I crash. All my walls of strength I have built have come tumbling down to my feet. What happened? Where did my power go? I never really had any power. Power, you see, is simply a word. I am weak, but weak isn’t just a word to me. No, weak is my middle name. I live and breathe each letter of the word. Depression has come back and I am weak. The cycle will begin again. I will be low for quite some time to the point it will feel ok. I will become content with this depression. The small time of tranquility will only last for so long and it will soon pass.
Days go by and my energy will begin to rise once again. This new burst of energy is unfamiliar to my body as I have been down for so long. My hands shake and I am unsteady, but I believe this is probably just anxiety. This hill my mind is climbing is wearing me down. My body won’t stop. Soon enough I have reached the peak, the high of all highs. No drug could ever feel as good as this one right now at the top of this mountain my mind has climbed. I have peaked and oh boy is it beautiful. I am everything I want to be. There is no such thing as being “weak.”
I crave for this kind of rush each time I wake. I enjoy the way it feels, but it hurts me. I talk too much and don’t listen enough, I make bad decisions, become reckless and careless of others. I become a person I don’t know and someone I don’t really want to be.
Most days the silence of the world kills me; I can hear my own thoughts. I try my best to turn these thoughts off because they always find themselves in a dark place. Today is different. I am coming down from an episode and my mind is calm. I am no longer at the top of a large mountain as an avalanche begins. This is real life and I am in my car driving down a long stretch of road, not sure where I am headed, but that’s ok. I let the music play through the speakers of my car, though this time it’s not to drown out my mind. The music is there for me to enjoy. I listen to each note flow through the vehicle. Through the seams of the seats, bouncing off the windows and coming back to the drums of my ears. This sort of calmness feels good. My mind is at rest.
My hands are still shaking from the tips of my fingers down to where my arm ends and my hand begins, but this is progress. My body wants to keep moving at the speed my mind usually does. I know this feeling of mental content won’t last forever, but for these few moments I will enjoy it and take the silence for the beauty that it is. The blood that runs through my veins will take some time to learn how to be at peace. The episodes of extreme highs and utterly low lows will continue for the rest of my life, but my mind and body will learn to manage these feelings. My mind will be at peace with itself.
When we become used to our past being a horrid tragedy, sometimes trying to move forward and enjoying life can be difficult. We can even think this action is impossible.
Sometimes I can’t help but want everything to go to shit again. I want everything to go back to a bad place where I am hurting myself: drinking too much, letting unknown pills enter my body, adding new scars to my skin. Everything has been too good to be true. I’ve let my anxiety come back, but it doesn’t seem to ever be “bad enough.” Nothing is ever enough.
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the good moments in life. Laughing with my best friend until our stomachs can’t take it anymore. I enjoy driving my car for hours listing to my favorite pop songs that are much more popular than they should be. Sitting in coffee shops listening to women above the age of fifty talk about how horrible their experience was at the last coffee shop they went to. Critiquing each drink made as if they were to write a review on it. These are the little things I don’t mind experiencing in life, though I know this won’t last forever.
The unknown of happiness frightens the hell out of me. How long it will last? Expecting the worst is easier. Expecting the worst makes it simpler to get through the hard times. When presuming nothing good to come out of life, I will be less likely to get my heart torn to pieces. When suspecting that no one loves me, it’s easier to handle a bad breakup; I see it coming. I don’t fall in love. I know it will let me down anyway. Though I suppose I contradict myself, being afraid of love, but expecting to get my heart broken. Maybe this is why I find myself stuck in life. I never know where to go from here. I’m at a stop sign in the middle of a highway. I should be moving forward but I am at a standstill.
Everyone else zips around me, honking car horns and throwing middle fingers left and right. I don’t react. I am staring into a black hole afraid to move forward. Life has me stumped. Why does everyone else seem to know how to push the gas pedal down, but I’m stuck on the brake?
He is stronger than I ever could be.
I sit at the top of the stairs of my home looking into my parent’s room. It has been almost four years since the event happened. As I stare into the bedroom, memories of horror and fear come rushing back into my mind. I feel nervous; I don’t want to go into a panic over something that happened so long ago. I stand up and make my way down the stairs, each step feeling heavier than the last. There is a weight being carried on my shoulders becoming heavier each time gravity is one step closer. This feeling of walking away from the memories frightens me, but what scares me more is what I will find at the bottom of the staircase.
My dad is downstairs. He is whom I fear. I don’t fear him because of anything he has done, as he is no evil being. What I fear is myself hurting him, even for just a moment. Hurting his feelings breaks my heart, I’ve done him wrong and he is in pain. Dad is resilient and can power through any battle that comes his way, but I am not as strong.
Dad is Superman, making it through a horrid tragedy and still trying his best to live every day; but his mind still aches. I watched his body deny him for hours. Watching that moment caused me pain, though I feel guilty for that kind of hurt. My mind didn’t get taken away from me like dads did. I’ve watched him mentally ache every day and none of it is his fault. When we get into an argument and anger comes over me, I have become the demon who stole his life. He gets frustrated and tells me everything about how he feels and an overwhelming amount of guilt swarms me like a thousand bees. My thoughts become the honey and the bees are my vices. They sting and pierce into my skin. It hurts. Everything hurts. But I would rather take on all of the pain than seeing my dad struggle another day.
We can begin to panic over the smallest things. Memories come back that we didn’t think we would ever be faced with again.
Author’s note: This essay involves some content of sexual assault, the following post could potentially be triggering for some readers.
Gathered together in a small waiting room of a chiropractor’s office people enter and exit as they please, I sit here thinking about him. As each male walks in I get this unsettling feeling in my stomach; a feeling like someone had taken my insides twisted them, and torn them apart until there wasn’t much left to be said for.
While sitting in one of the many white chairs, I look up and see an older man: left hand in his blue jean pocket, a black pen tucked into the pocket of his dark blue polo shirt, and shiny snow-white hair combed over the top of his head, with a pair of round glasses to finish the look. He smiles innocently at me like he has nothing to hide behind his closed lips, and I give him a smile back; though he doesn’t walk away after, he decides to hang around and stare. He looks at me then glances over to the drinking fountain beside me. My hands begin to shake. What could he possibly be doing or thinking? He is standing in the middle of the waiting room staring into what seems to be either an abyss or my soul. Rather, those two could be the same. My mind instantly starts to think about him again. The thoughts start racing back. Images that I did not want to visualize inside my mind at nine in the morning, start to play like a movie in my head. The older man finally sits down in a chair on the other side of the room. He is still smiling as if his face were stuck that way and looking in my direction like maybe I had a sign above my head saying, “look at me.” My heart rate finally begins to settle, and the thoughts are slowly beginning to diminish.
Just as I thought everything was settling down and this older man was the only person I had to worry about, another male around 30 years old decides the chair to the left of me is a perfect spot to sit. Despite the fact that there are plenty of other options around the room, he chooses to plant himself right next to me. The thoughts are coming back. Him. That’s all I can think about. What he had done to me, and what these people could potentially do.
This new man leans on the armrest closest to me; the room suddenly begins to spin. My stomach still feels as if though it is tied in a thousand knots, my hands are shaking uncontrollably, at this point I’m simply praying that no one notices how much of a wreck I am. That thought on its own makes me even more nervous. I take a look up to the other side of the room. The older man still has his glued-shut-smile staring directly at me. After we make eye contact he stands up and begins to saunter towards me, the drinking fountain, and this 30 some year old man I happen to be sitting next to. It’s time to go into full panic mode without showing any signs of going into full panic mode. Flashbacks are in full effect.
I begin to remember in grave detail when he forced me to unzip his pants. He took my left hand to his zipper and forced me to undo it. He forced himself into my mouth. He took his left hand holding the back of my head, grasping my hair and clutching my left wrist with his right hand; I had no control. This memory goes by quick but I remember even the smallest details like what he was wearing: A blue Hollister t-shirt with the light tan colored cargo shorts. I remember his name, where we were, what he said. The temperature outside, I remember it was colder than usual that day. The taste of his mouth is still sour.
The man with the snow-white hair has finally made his way…to the drinking fountain. The goddamn drinking fountain is where he had planned to go this whole time. This is what I had panicked over. After he was finished with his water he made his merry way back to his seat. I was called back to see my doctor and on my way to the back, the man gave me a full cheek to cheek smile filled with a surplus of innocent anxieties, just for me.
When a bed becomes more than a place to dream.
My queen sized bed has become my best friend. When I am tired, which seems to be all the time, she gives me a comfortable home to rest my eyes. If Mother Nature is blowing snow outside of my window, she keeps me warm. She caresses me into her soft body and wraps around my skin and bones to keep me from shivering from the cold. She is good to me, so, so good to me, though I am not always good to her. I am not always around when she expects me to be, yet I always need her when she doesn’t seem to need me. During these times she likes to be alone, but as soon as one o’clock comes around I need her kind arms around me.
Some days she’ll get mad at me. She can smell the scent of another bed all around my body, in my hair, and under my nails. I have denied, rejected, and let her down. She’ll get unimaginably angry towards me and she won’t allow me to sleep. She turns her body into stone and she rocks the bed as if she is the sea and I am the canoe. For this I feel sad; I’ve let another one down. I begin to spend more time with her to make up for the moments I’ve missed.
I have become addicted to her. When I rest upon her chest all time seems to stop. I am free. With my head upon the pillow, she whispers stories in my ear, her voice soft and sweet. The way the words flow out of her like silk is arousing. All of her thoughts she tells me, turn into a beautiful, yet tragic dream. Some nights I am resting on clouds, slowly flying by being blown by the breath of her words. I am in heaven. Every second I am with her, I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.
Some nights are a surprise. She frightens me. These times of horror come from her frustration and hurt. For all the times I left her, she was soaked in pain. On these nights, when she tells me a story it is dark and heavy. Her words are sharp and stab into each crevasse of my body. When I wake, I find tears slowly trickling down the side of my face. I am no longer on a cloud in the sky, but on a train rolling off its tracks seeing its death come upon as it falls from the bridge.
After these painful moments I know I should leave her because she’s hurt me, but honestly, I don’t mind. I’ll always find myself crawling back to her: back to bed.