The Battle, Not the War

9:48 pm. I feel of the cool night air on my skin. I’m not sure if I will sleep tonight, or if the 10 hour nap I had this afternoon will keep me awake until dawn. Should I make some coffee or down some Benadryl and return to my fitful slumber?

I guess it would be an easy decision if I drifted off to a fantasy land where I am tiny and beautiful and perfect. Perhaps in these dreams if I were wealthy and stylish and floated through a room with layers of silk trailing from a stunning white dress, I would be able to justify the need to return to the sleep that rescues me.

But it is only the fear of staying awake that is worse than returning to the anger and vengeful acts of a rage I unleash in my dreams onto those who have only somewhat wronged me in my wakefulness. It is harbored somewhere deep. I wake up crying. I wake up throwing punches. I wake up disturbed. I would never have the audacity to do the things my mind convinces me to do in my dreams. The only  harm I am afraid of inflicting is onto myself. I am more afraid to stay awake than return to the violence and confusion I face as I snuggle my cool pillow and let the air from the fan wash over me.

11:36 pm. The children are asleep, and I am still awake. The three helpers I have ingested are teasing me. I feel only a peacefulness and the gentle tug of fatigue at my eyelids. My insides are wide awake. I decide to sneak into bed and comfort myself next to my love. He stirs and I tell him I am sad. He says he knows. I have done nothing for weeks. I say I am sorry. He quietly snores, falling back asleep. I want to say more, but I already feel guilty for waking him as he needs to get up in a little over two hours to go to work. The hot tears leaking from my eyes somehow lull me to sleep.

2:00 am.

It’s been hours, but feels likes minutes. I’ve done up the dishes and folded laundry. Flipped through the channels several times. I am beginning to loathe the images on the screen. I have been imagining all the wonderful and productive things I will accomplish tomorrow… I mean today. And then the alarms go off.

It is time for my love to go to work. We will have our little ritual of breakfast for him and a late night/early morning snack for me. We find something funny to watch and have a bit of small chat to lighten our moods. I hate to sleep through this time because it is our quiet time to be together as friends and roommates. No interruptions or kids or errands. Besides, I always felt like it would be sad to get up and sneak out before everyone else is up, and return just in time to go to bed. (He drives an hour and a half to work 12 hour shifts.) Even through this calm, my mind is working, tinkering a plan to get a meaningful job that allows me to still give the kids care, how to clean this or fix that, which necessity do I sacrifice to afford an alternate one?

3:00 am.

Our quiet time is over, and after a quick briefing on the day’s plans, we say our goodbyes. I am finally in the short-lived harbor of his tight bear hug. A quick peck on the lips, a honk, a wave, and I sit on the porch for a while soaking in the night sounds.

A goddamed check on Facebook, a quick glance at some emails. Play a game. Play another game. I know, I know, put down the phone. But even though my eyes droop, but my mind  races on. The phone is just diverting me from my own nagging thoughts. The sky lightens to my left.

5:00 am.

I let the dog relieve herself one last time. I stagger to my bedroom. Plug in my phone… Shit. I left it in the living room. Go get my phone and now plug in my phone. Crap. I need a drink. Go to the kitchen and get a drink of water. Need to refill the pitcher. Go to my bedroom. Get in bed. Get out of bed. Go relieve myself. Get back into bed.

5:25 am.

5:45 am.

I think I’m asleep.

6:00 am.


8:00 am.

Wake up to my alarm reminding me to wake up the little guy for school.(I gave up on rising with the high schoolers. I would sit on the couch with a coffee waiting to have a quick morning convo or laugh, but eventually they woke late, spent the whole of their morning in the bathroom primping and shot out the door with a quick wave. I decided to take advantage of the extra sleep. They will wake me if the need a signature or money or miss the bus.)

I stagger drunk-like out of bed to help him get ready and complete his checklist: change your clothes, wash up or shower, brush your teeth, where are your shoes, did you remember to put your folder back into your bookbag?, get your coat, wear a hat, blah, blah, blah… I am fortunate his bus stop is in front of the house. I grab a mug of coffee and my comfy, yet ragged, red flannel coat. Sorry, neighbors. Yell funny things and sing songs at the little guy to pass the waiting time. Here comes the “cheese wagon” as we call it. You can hear the breaks squeal down the block. Wave to the bus driver. Wave to the little guy. Wave to the kids on the back of the bus cooing over the dog waiting with me on the porch. Watch the bus roll away. Let the smile fall away. Go back to bed.

11:30 am.

Shit. There went half the day. I am lost without a steady job. I loved the last one, but it was so stressful, my whole family prayed it to be over. Besides, I’m not going there in my head right now.

Many days I clean everything. Make sure things are in place and ready. I am the one home, it is my responsibility. Then the monotony starts to literally destroy me. Little by little, each dirty dish, each trip down to the washer, each scrub of the toilet, my soul vanishes. I just did this, how is it dirty again/already. I know I am home, but fuck, I am so constipated I haven’t shit in a month, let alone this brown speckled catastrophe! Doesn’t anyone else see this? WTF!? I just mopped the floor, why do I keep stepping on shit? What is that? Crumbs? Dirt balls? 

I slowly go insane.

Fuck this shit. Cleaning and paying bills and chauffeuring people is all I am good for?

I go back to bed. Me and those fucking tears that burn my cheeks.

3:15 pm.

My daughter wakes me by flinging open the front door. I stumble to my bathroom and try to make like I’ve been awake.Some days she heads to the kitchen for a snack, but today, like most days lately, she heads straight to her room and shuts the door. I get annoyed that I wasn’t worth a “hello,” and flip on the TV. 

Haven’t seen her older brother in a week. He works and goes out with friends and spends some nights at his dad’s or grandparent’s. I don’t get a call. I usually don’t get any calls. I don’t get visitors. I don’t venture out. I’ve had my fill of one-sided relationships. My mind is tired, buy it keeps running some marathon with no finish line. My spirit is tired. Each accomplishment gets wiped out and I have to start over. My soul is tired. Now my body is tired again.

Chewing on my cheek and clenching my jaw subconsciously leads to the sudden headache I now feel. Grab a cup of tea. Flip through garbage on the TV. Shut off the tv. Close my eyes.

4:18 pm.

My dog is barking like a fool. The little guy is home. Ask him about his day. Start the quest to get homework done. What do I make for dinner? I don’t want anything. That won’t fly with the kids. Riffle through the cupboards and fridge and freezers. “I guess this will do.” Ask little guy if he needs help. He really doesn’t until the last math essay questions. Then he’ll run to his phone or tablet or go outside to see the neighbor kids.I pop a couple asprins as my mind goes crazy over employment options. Damned useless degree. Damned useless job websites. Damned useless life. Damned useless me.

7:15 pm.

My love is home and he’s tired. Somedays we eat at the table. Today we are gathered in the living room. My daughter texting her friends and watching her favorite show’s past seasons online. Little guy is watching a video on how to make car sounds. We (I) watch more garbage TV. We eat and talk and then eventually they retire to their sleeping places to get ready for the new day. 

11:00 pm.

I am sleepy even though my mind is running full speed. I will read or check Facebook or play my games or do a puzzle. Lately, I am teaching myself to crochet to try to chase away the self-loathing that fills every void in my head. Any lull in thought brings forth a thought of hatred. Even if I do lay down proper and close my eyes, my chest fills up with a primal scream. I could let it out and feel better, but I’d probably scare the living shit out of everyone. “Suck it in. Breathe. Shove it back down.” I pray for peace and patience. 

1:35 am.

The time which crawled during the lonely day has flown by in the darkness so my efforts to tire myself out have been in vain. My love will be up in less than a half-hour. My eyes start to close. My dreams torment me with some crazy obsession. Sometimes its terrors from the past. Sometimes it teases me with a life I can never have. Sometimes there is nothing and the day’s theme continues.

Soon the creaking of the stairs will wake me…


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