I was gonna give this a snappy title but I'm not Fall Out Boy soo... this is called Nightmares I guess
Christmas Eve was gonna be bad for me mentally- I knew this. I won't go into lengthy details here. Trauma & emotional abuse are weird like that- it becomes routine & not specific. So drudging that past up now haphazardly feels like writing a paper underwater with slight amnesia. It's all smudgy. I don't remember. I don't know what any of it means.
For the past few weeks I been struggling to fall asleep and when I do nightmares wake me with a racing heart and overwhelming anxiety fall upon me after 4 hours. My wife is usually asleep beside me yin to my yang, her feet to my head. The house is so quiet, I am overalert for danger whether it be spirit or intruder I do not know but in the dark the anxiety has the loudest voice.
Each dream is usually different. I struggle to find the common threads besides waking from most with anxiety in my chest. They have fully formed and complicated narratives- the kind I could never write in my waking life. Upon consciousness, the details fall like loose screws from my memory.
When my grandmother hired a psychic to her living room last year , she told me to pay attention to my dreams.
At the time, she imparted this wisdom, my dreaming was coming back. I was getting vivid ones again but not often and vague. As I have worked on becoming more present in my body, the dreams have amped up. There is a flood of messages from my subconscious but I do not have the language to sift through and interpret them.
I often google dream meaning but many symbols can mean so many different things according to different sources it is frustrating for me to ascertain which was right for mine. Take for example one dream I had involving my investigating the living room in the early am while wifey slept and my front door opening slowly ominously by itself until I slammed it shut to lock it. According to a google search for meaning “If you dream about an open door and then it slams shut, you may have missed an opportunity which is no longer available. It could also mean you had perceived a problem forming, but that it has now disappeared. It could signify you had never addressed the problem, but had rather ignored it instead.” (source Do you Dream about Doors? | Blog | Slide or Foldslideorfold.co.uk ). Like UMM OK.
I used to have nightmares are a kid too. I don't remember much because I dissociated so often I can barely remember who I was. One involved a vampire in a wood and me running back to my childhood home scared. The other an apple orchid. I have been writing a memoir for the past 2ish years to piece my story together for myself. There’s so many missing fogs. Some so well dissipated they don't fit into any larger things I remember. Until one day I write about scarves in a room full of people and somehow within 15 mins I have veered completely off any map and remember a rare moment of my father being kind or some event from my preteenhood.
My mom tells me when I ate chocolate too late, I would kick the walls in my sleep, knocking down framed Disney posters next to my top bunked slumber. I remember frequently the posters on the floor the next day, stuffed animals that were beside me in the middle of the room.
Sleep at some point became an escape for me as I couldn't deal with my reality.
But now I am afraid to sleep for fear of what will pop me awake this time and how long will I lay in bed ears perked and eyes wide like a deer in traffic listening for any sign of danger at 3 am. This fear used to live in my chest all the time and follow me around. It was heavy but I didn't know that then. Now I feel the full weight but less often. I can't give you the exact date it started to creep off of me and live outside me waiting.. It's all smudgy. I don't remember. I don't know what any of it means.
I withdrew from the world for a few days for a myriad of reasons. Honestly it was nice at first though. Like stepping into the warm ocean but as I kept getting further from the shore I knew it was only a matter time before I drowned. Mostly I’d prefer to drown rather than let anyone throw me a raft.
It was an intense week even looking beyond the usual winter depression pits I find myself in normal Decembers. Both my parents were hospitalized with Covid, a day apart from one another. My dad going in first, still on blood thinners now for a pulmonary embolism. My mother, the next day having more trouble breathing, made it out to the the front step where the medics read her oxygen levels at only 80 % and gave her O2 immediately.
The first day she went in I was unreachable with my phone off. I still feel the guilt of unintentionally making my younger sister take the lead on that. My brothers, who nearly 2 weeks after they originally took the test are marked positive with Covid too, were left alone with the fear and anxiety they most likely pushed under. As my sister put it, they were fine. Kev at 22 & Ry at 16 most likely played video games and ate ramen to pass the time. Every time we called to check in there was not much said. Now both my parents are home, on pills. I still worry. Not sure if it was a good idea for them to be home or if the insurance just ran out after a few days.
I called my mother the morning after she went in to ask how she was. She was crying that she didn’t get anything for my spouse to open for Christmas yet. Only gift cards. And that she got my sister’s fiancé more things to open then my spouse and they’ve “been in our family longer.” She still had things to do, presents to buy.
“Mom, You’re in the HOSPITAL.” I said .
To be fair the past 2 years when she asked me what to get them, I said I wasn’t sure. Autumn and I are still dancing around the conversation, the announcement her being Autumn now, though A is getting to the point of wanting to at least clue in my mom soon.
It took a while for me to convince my crying mother that time was made up and we could do christmas whenever we wanted. She insisted she needed us to all wear our christmas pajamas and take photos to send to her this year. I promised.
Now my parents are home and my brothers are positive too. This is going to be a long winter.
The day they returned, my period which was 19 days late finally decided to enact its vengeance. Like the last time I got it in late October , it was again a month and a half’s blood instead of 1 month alone. it was excruciating. This time exceedingly worse. I bled through the thinx boyshort underwear in the middle of the night, not enough to puddle our (luckily crimson colored) blanket underneath me but enough to get the outside of the underwear sticky .
Pulling them down was like a murder scene. Blood covered my hands, my bush, my inner thighs. I didn't know what else to do in the middle of the night. These were the only period underwear of two that were even worth it and anything else I’d have would not have sufficed. I resolved to put on the useless highcut thinx , while putting another regular pair overtop lined with 2 overnight pads for leakage.
Highcut panties are useless to me because they do not cover the full surface area of my fat chocha lips. . I still woke up with blood on my upper inner thighs but luckily I haven’t been sleeping well so not much harm was done.
I lay in bed for 2 days because I could do nothing else. I wailed and rocked, frequently going to the bathroom for battle cleanup, watching The Spanish Princess series on a borrowed Starz subscription to distract myself. I was in agony. My periods are typically heavy, especially in the 3 years since the copper IUD insertion but this was entirely different. Watching miscarriages' on the Starz drama unfold, I looked and wondered how much blood pours out of a womb when a fetus yeets itself. It didn't look too far off from where I was with a period to be honest.
I hate to be "down for the count" resting when there are things to be done. There is an entirety of difference between not doing anything you should be doing because your limp depression films everything with difficulty and not doing what you have to because your body wills that you cannot. My stubborn attitude hates when anybody - even my own body- tells me what to do. But I am learning to yield to it.. Let it pass and float back when I can.
I’m supposed to be sleeping. So I can be fully rested tomorrow for the only job interview I have been able to secure since quarantine started. But instead I am awake and restless. Concocting a mental to-do list that keeps growing even as my focus can’t be settled for one moment. I tried to work on two projects I’d forgotten for a while, tried to type pages in the journals I’ve been avoiding for two weeks, whose entries are fresh snow from this December but whose marks are hard to decipher. But I couldn’t stick with either task for long.
I can blame the caffeine earlier for all this mania. Indeed, that is even too hard a drug for my tenuous brainmeat. I drank half of a large chai tea latte- the sweet taste I’d not gotten since February- and my thoughts shot out faster than a meteor. Which is a cliche but also inaccurate. Meteors move a lot slower than you think but also faster. Both of these things are true. It’s hard to explain unless you’ve seen one. I saw a few that one night in the desert. Laying on the picnic table with my casita coven, creating inside jokes and cackling into the luminous sky above us. Everything seemed possible then. What feels possible now?
What seems possible now is barely a crumb of the open vast sky I gazed upon with wonder 5 years ago. Expanding our view of what is possible and what alreasdy exists is beautiful but it is also painful. Once expanded the mind cannot go back to its former dimensions. Once I knew there was joy, a life beyond the squalor I was born into, that there were people who loved you in a way that felt real, I could not go back for scraps.
But that is only half truth. Still I find myself going back to scraps. Surrounded by love I still go looking for those who don’t or can never love me in those deep ways. My mind always chasing the familiar. I have been lucky to be loved by so many and yet. And yet I squander it every time because I’m too focused on the people I am only background noise to.
Dee told me, drunk at Hobart 2019, that I had to stop acting like I wasn’t awesome. And it hurt their heart - I was great. We were sitting at a table with 12 women writers, getting drunk and laughing loud like children- so loud that a woman from a neighboring table asked us to be quiet but I so drunk I didn’t understand her request. Back at the farm we were staying at, Dee and I sat on concrete steps in the quiet, squeezed hip to hip next to each other. When I looked up into that sky then, everything felt possible there too.
Dee and I have known each other since we were 12. Sure we lost touch in our high school years while we struggled to be people, silently or not so silently self destructing in our own respective ways. But they are someone that can speak to so many iterations of who I have been. Not many know me in a tangible way though they might believe they do. Dee was there through pieces of my life I can scarcely remember now. They are here now supportive as I piece the different versions I have been into a quilt I can fully inhabit. We met in the school library in 6th grade. Or we met because of Heather and her orbit, how she pulled us all together before departing from AMY 5 never to be heard of again. Both of these things are true.
But anyway back to the scraps. Many of the people I am most grateful for these days are people I first relegated to acquaintances or plain low level friends. [ there are many friendship levels and mine tend to be very intense in the best ways once I can get to the place where I’ll allow it.] So uncomfortable with unconditional love that is freely given to me thus I have not “earned yet.” I am under the assumption most will grow tired of me once the shine wears off. I keep everyone at a distance and people fall in love with me pretty easily. Or rather they fall in love with the manic pixie dream girl parts of me that I will play while bored and once I am no longer bored, instead of just explaining this, for the most part I disappear.
People tell me I am good at things or I am good and my belief in them plummets. I lose trust in their judgement. I tell myself they don’t know me. They haven't seen the rank pit of me. And it’s true they haven’t; But that doesn’t mean I’m all garbage. Both of these things can be true.
You know when you do a thing and then later you realize because you did the thing that you are mentally ill. Like you almost forgot and then as you process you're like wow I am really sick because you spend so much time masking how sick you are that you nearly convince yourself?
Today was a day like that.
For 2 days I was manic, sleeping like 3 hours a night and waking up at 2 am to type and be productive. I got a lot done. I finally put my nakey zine up like I been meaning to and felt super vulnerable. My mind was constantly circling and unable to stop. But then yesterday I plummeted HARD. The deep doom depression reared its head.
It’s been a really long time since I was self destructive and I guess that's why today unintentionally I went on a long journey where immediately upon waking, without eating or drinking water all day, I walked from my house to the mall traversing through the length of it , racking up credit card debt on crap I don’t need but that could possibly get me serotonin later from five below, before exposing myself to Walmart and its dizzying full chaos of people, finally dragging my now heavy granny cart full of stuff the 25 mins home.
And that's the outline version of it which gives you some idea. Just like trying to explain myself in therapy, I’m in the eternal state of wait- there’s more. I’m so hype to get to the “there’s more” and add a punchline that I don’t even realize that the stuff I said was a lot already.
I am a lot already.
Which is why instead of showing the bad “a lot” , I swallow it down . Everyone loves it when I'm the good kind of “too much.” When I’m laughing loud, hyping everyone up, confident and badass. But people get really uncomfortable with the truth of me: the messy parts of me.
The parts that one person away at the register’s conveyor belt felt the urges of a panic attack rising up in my lungs and my sole concern was not letting anyone see anything is wrong. I managed to only let 2 long hot tears leak out before I got it under control.
And by control I mean I wrote 3 paragraphs on my phone to try calming myself down before stopping mid thought, efficiently lining up my stuff on the metal stripping before she was halfway done so as not to inconvenience the family behind me. Because damn that’s my focus mid panic attack, not having a stranger wait a few seconds longer than they would have.
The words disappeared from the internet and into the ether by the time I remembered again. Its gone. It was fucking brilliant I tell you.
From the outside nothing looked off. As much as it feels differently inside my tornado mind, no one ever notices. I am very calculated that way. I was taught to make everyone comfortable. As long as no one sees you are rotting. you’re doing what you're supposed to. It only counts if it’s addressed. As long as your appearance follows the script of acceptable and contained you're free to self destruct away from public view..
I smile, the most helpful and joyful in the room if you're not looking too close. Congratulating and therapizing all the friends in doubt in my inbox while I don't believe the same things about myself. Sharing shit posts and posts with hopeful quotes.
Cut to halfway home, Tallhart’s “Holy Coast” comes on and my depressed ass belting along loudly “It was the fear of starting over. I was afraid to lose it all “ crying alone maneuvering the cart around the packed driveways and into the street as the christmas lights all around me make me feel even worse.
Cut to weeping listening to Jessie Reyes for days.
Cut to the sink full of dishes I can't bring myself to do.
Cut to the edible finally hitting and instead of relieving my cramps I am sitting on the toilet panicking because I swear I can see scars on my thigh, remembering all the times I cut those lines there bc no one could see them that high up. I am halfway between here and 15, halfway between this current bathroom and my childhood home where I used to lock the latch hypervigilant, quickly carve then guilt-filled, slap antibiotic cream and bandages over it ,pulling up my pants like nothing happened.
Cut to shoving a key in my arm, hidden with a hoodie during chemistry class to quiet the quickening symphony of my brain.
Cut to bent over , draped across the top of the granny cart wailing loudly, leaning my butt against the fridge to hold myself up.
Cut to that first time my girlfriend came over and instead of impressing her I had another high emotional breakdown, wailing on the couch beside her as she looked at me with so much love I felt like I didn’t deserve. I didn't speak to her for 2 days afterwards nearly. Too embarrassed to acknowledge how I'd let her see my broken so soon. A year into the relationship.
Cut to closed eyes repeating poems hitting each word and breath on point with the performer.
Cut to “Por tu Maldito Amor” coming on shuffle as I finally stop heaving tears at my desk- like an indie movie scene.
Cut to. Cut to. Cut to. Scene after Scene after Scene.
I’m good at taking the raw goopy material and cutting it down to make it more palatable for someone else. But I remain swallowing the poison all by myself.