I was so tired last night, I could barely stay awake with the kids through Gnomeo and Juliet. I wanted to put the kids to bed at their usual time and get stuff done, but that just wasn’t going to happen. I was beat and the kids were still bouncing off the walls. Kim was out driving so I went to bed right after the kids.
I indulged in my vice of choice as a little nightcap while reading through some great blogs of a new follower. Now, I’m going to air my opinion here a bit because this tends to be a focal point of arguments in those I decide to finally cut ties with. Is it because it’s the easiest thing to attack, or does it lie in politically aligned values?
I’m thirsty. I feel it in me, like a vampire tale. A week is tolerable, but much longer than that without a drink and I start to feel real miserable. I have only a few times in my life been blackout drunk. These days, with driving being my primary income, I’m good for maybe two beers in a sitting, and only when I have the next day off. I don’t really recall the last time I could afford liquor, it’s been least a year ago. I’ve had pretty wet times in my life, however. Times where I was very good at getting and maintaining just the right amount of drunken buzz to keep me through the day without wrecking something horribly. I would easily maintain a few drinks every night for a nightcap if I indulged in brewing again. But, that’s a slippery slope back into pounding several every night, with heavier benders when I have the pleasure of sleeping in the next day. Then the anxiety attacks, damage to my health, especially my teeth, free floating hostility, bouts of explosive anger, and ultimately being a complete inebriated mess.
My mind is very active at night. I could blame too many all night video game marathons fueled by gallons of Mt Dew. I could blame the months on end working grave shifts so many times in my life. I could blame college, cramming all night to finish a critical report only hours before the start of class. Truth is, when my head hits the pillow, I roll the dice on whether it’s going to make me feel better or worse in the morning.
I went to the doctor, took their drugs, and lost my job after suffering from awful hangover like symptoms for a week. I went back to the doctor, took some different drugs, and got disgustingly sick. I kept going back, trying new drugs, suffering new side effects, and made no progress. I had faith in the docs. Don’t get me wrong, I think the VA Healthcare, at least in Portland, is great. But, the last thing I care to do is subject myself to a pharmaceutical roller-coaster ride. It went on for months before I finally cut it off cold turkey. I was homeless, jobless, and all around dysfunctional. Several years later while I was less than happily married and expecting a baby, I accepted my wife’s urging to go seek mental help. Another two months ensued of being so messed up I could only journal every 30 min to keep my head straight. So, phuck pharmaceuticals, basically.
As I do every night, I settled in with my vice, and mostly fell right to sleep. I slept well for most of the night. Kim’s alarm went off and woke me in the early morning. If possible, she tries to take the morning shift. One little noise and she is wide awake, whereas I have been known to hit the snooze button until my alarm stops going off altogether. This morning, she silenced her alarm then set it for a few hours later. I woke the first time, feeling a bit refreshed, but went right back to sleep.
I don’t know what the rush was, but I whipped my car into a parking lot. There were a few well dressed people standing in the way, conversing while one of them grabbed things from the trunk of their car. I saw a spot right near the entrance and backed in. It was a funny angle, and I almost backed right into a beautiful blue mustang. Panic struck as I stomped the brake pedal to the floor without slowing at all. I pumped it several times while seeing my car come within an inch of the other before bumping the parking curb. Embarrassed, I pulled forward and backed in straighter. The brake worked fine.
I walked, half jogging in short bursts, across a playground. My ex wife appeared out of nowhere. “Oh, hi. You know, I never got that password from you.” I have no idea what she’s talking about, but I try to keep walking. “Excuse me! Don’t you walk away from me, I haven’t finished!” I try to keep walking, almost juking and ducking like a running back just to get past her. She is almost in hysterics, now grabbing my shirt. Then my son’s substitute teacher shows up, with that grouchy old woman scowl that can only be grown by decades of being irritable with the whole world. She berates me with simple adjectives while my ex continues to gush about all the awful things I’ve done (and more that I haven’t done) in my life.
“Disgusting!” “Shameful!” “I can’t believe you would be so inconsiderate!” “Your child is JUST AWFUL!” “Careless!” “So closed off! You’re so horrible to estrange me and your whole family!” “Horrible influence!” “You don’t love anyone! You don’t even care about your own child!” “Pathetic!” “You only ever think of yourself!” “I can’t trust you to look after your son’s health!” “Abuser!” “Bully! That’s what you are!” “You just ride roughshod over everyone!” “You can’t win friends by pushing people around!” “Rotten excuse for a parent!” “You’re going to destroy your child’s life just like your own!”
I broke free of her grip on my shirt. I felt solid ground under my feet, but before I knew it my legs were kicking with no resistance. Their voices echoed with anger as I fell into darkness. Falling. Most people wake themselves up out of the physical panic of the sensation. I fall, and fall, and keep falling. The falling is fine, as relief comes out of the fading away of their scathing verbal lashes. Eventually, my brain registers the jarring, stinging sensation of impact. My body doesn’t feel the sting, but rather the cold and wet of the water I presumably landed in.
Kim was gone. The first real world thought to enter my awakened mind is how gross I felt with the sweat soaked blanket and sheet sticking to me. The next thought was wondering why my muscles were so incredibly sore. My head hurt. A spot of sunlight lit the bedroom as I rubbed my teary eyes. The kids’ content voices permeated the room enough to assure me that all the terror and fear was bound within my own body.
The world presents me the warmest welcome it can and two smiling little innocent faces light up when I emerge from the bedroom. I smile the kind of smile that is forced through pain and trauma. A hot shower removed the gross feeling and somewhat lifted the mental fog. My body still aches and my energy is still drained. I will face the day and do my best like always. When I go to bed, I will try to convince myself that I do need rest and will get it as long as I can get myself to go to sleep.
Mostly, my nightcap helps me get there. The random thoughts firing relentlessly in my mind replaced by a soft, unconcerned ignorance. The tension in my forehead melts. I can feel that same numbing buzz that alcohol produces without the throbbing, debilitating hangover when I wake. Ideally, my brain doesn’t register anything between initially falling asleep and waking up. On the rare occasion, I might find myself floating through a blue sky of puffy cumulonimbus or crowd-surfing on a sea of colorful flowers. But mostly, when I am settling in, I just hope not to have the kind of nightmares that relive the worst of reality. I gave up hoping it could happen naturally, I refuse to ride the roller-coaster of manufactured drugs, and I learned my lesson not to give into the thirst. It is my medicine, though getting a prescription, leaving a paper trail, would only give baby’s momma fuel for her fight.
When having a restoring rest is such a challenge, many of life’s usual difficulties become totally overwhelming. I wish I could have half the support others enjoy, because so many days I already feel myself struggling just to maintain balance. Call it what you will, it prevents my daily self-destruction and allows me the constitution to deal with problems in a calm and respectable manner. Most days, anyway.