My Darkest Time – reposted

dark and scary

Life is pretty good these days. No, actually it’s great. It wasn’t always that way though. There was a time, about thirteen years ago, when my life was a complete mess. Wait, that’s not true. My life wasn’t a mess. I was a mess. A complete disaster actually. My life was complicated and things hadn’t been going my way. Not small things either. Major life things.

Having bounced back from an ugly divorce, I had remarried a wonderful man, my son was in his first year of school and I had a great job. All was good. Then the other shoe dropped. The day after we got married in Hawaii, the company that my husband worked for relocated to Memphis, Tennessee. A great opportunity to move ahead in his career,this wasn’t something he could turn down. We made the decision that he would go ahead and take the relocation and I would approach my ex-husband on the subject of me taking my son to live there as well. Unfortunately, he didn’t agree, neither did a judge….or an appeal judge for that matter. In hindsight they were right, but at the time I was devastated. I just wanted to put the past behind me and start a new life.

So there I was, living in a rental home and sharing custody of my son with a man who not only resented me for trying to take his son away but was bound and determined to share all of that information with my son. As much as we hated being apart, the company had offered my husband an amazing position and even though it did have a finite time frame attached to it (four years) we were newlyweds who only saw each other once a month if we were lucky. I hated being alone and it wasn’t any easier for him. We had sold our townhouse in hopes of being able to make a quick move so half of our belongings were in storage. It was a nice enough place but it wasn’t home. On the outside I had it all under control. Taking my son to school, going through the motions of life but underneath I was floundering in depression, sleep deprivation and anxiety over my relationship with my son and my new husband.

dark and scary 2

At the worst of it I would lie in bed at night in the empty house and imagine that gang members were creeping down the dark driveway to break into the house and attack me. It was so dark, so specific, so violent.  Yet so real to me. I would open my eyes and tell myself how ridiculous it was. I would go downstairs and turn on all the lights, look out the window and re-assure myself that everything was okay. The coast was clear. Back up to bed I would go. Close my eyes and the exact same thoughts would invade my mind. Just as I got close to sleep I would hear a tiny creak and my eyes would fly open and my mind would be all in a whirl again. It didn’t seem to matter how tired I was, I couldn’t get the images out of my head.

I’m not sure if it was the lack of sleep or the depression but my decision-making abilities were all but gone. One day I needed to go to the grocery store for dinner. I wandered around for almost an hour trying to decide if we should have burgers or pasta. Did I want something healthy or tasty and quick. I didn’t want to have to cook so maybe should just get something frozen.

I left the store with a loaf of bread.

Half way to the car I thought this is stupid and I should go back and just buy something. I turned around and headed back to the store. Half way to the store I turned around again and headed back to the car. Sitting in the car I silently cried. It’s just dinner. Why is this so hard?

Believe it or not I didn’t go to the doctor for what was really bothering me. I can’t even remember why I was there but it must have been pretty obvious that I was a mess. After writing me a prescription for sleeping pills and an anti-depressant he suggested I go and talk to somebody. What? No, I’m fine. I just needed some sleep and everything will be good.

At that point I was still in denial.

I couldn’t even tell a man I had known for years what was going on. He was great. He said okay well just go see this friend of mine and if she says your okay then you can come back and tell me I was wrong.

It was just what I thought it would be. A couple of comfortable chairs, books on self-help and lots of candles. Close your eyes and calm your mind she said. I closed my eyes but all I saw was movement. Grey moving shapes flashed in front of me. My mind wouldn’t, couldn’t, stop moving. Try again she suggested. I closed my eyes again. No, still can’t get the world to stop spinning. Opening my eyes again I choked back tears and everything poured out. I explained the last year of my life and how I seemed to have lost any control over what was going on. I wish I could say that after spending an hour with her I had a better grasp on things but that would be a lie. It took us months to get me back on track. The sleeping pills helped. Along with antidepressants and a lot more appointments in the room with comfy chairs.

So why, when things are so good do I go back to that time?  It was dark and scary and out of control. I go back because it’s important for me to remember that all of the Best Things in My Life were with me through all of it.  And they still are.  I just couldn’t see them through all the grey swirling movement in my head.

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Where’s the Sandman When You Really Need Him – “Tales of the Momside”

girl not sleeping

A purple glow emanates from the diffuser in the corner of  the room.  The scent of lavender is everywhere.  Low calming music plays on an iPad on the bedside table.  The lights are dimmed and the room is cozy.  If she didn’t know better she would swear that she was at the spa.  But she wasn’t.  She was in her daughter’s bedroom at 9:00 at night and she was desperately trying to get her to go to sleep.

Her eight year old daughter was wide awake and insisting that she could NOT go to sleep.  Her legs were thrashing about under the  covers and her little hands were balled into fists.  A child who was typically rational and easy going had, for the past week, turned into an irrational, agitated, almost incoherent, nightmare.  Ironic that nightmares happen when you are asleep.  Which her daughter was NOT.

“I can’t go to sleep.”

“But you haven’t even tried.” She pleads.

“But I just don’t trust myself.  What if I don’t get to sleep?”

“Sweetie you are eight years old.  Every night for eight years you have gone to bed and gone to sleep.  There’s no reason why tonight will be any different.”

“But……”

“But what?”

“But…….”

“Yes?”

“But I don’t trust myself.”

“Yes, you’ve said that.”

“But….”

“Honey, you wont be able to get to sleep if you don’t try.  Just lie still, close your eyes, take a few deep breathes and try to relax.  If you still can’t get to sleep after, say, ten minutes then come and get me and I will tuck you in again okay?”

She starts to get up from the spot on the floor that she has occupied for the past half an hour.  If she can just get out of the room maybe her daughter would……

“But…..I don’t trust myself to get to sleep.”

Damn.  So close.

It’s all she can do to not scream.  She is trying really hard to be patient.

“Count to ten.” She tells herself.  “Or maybe one hundred.”

She had spent the last few days researching sleep disruption in children and one of the most important things, they said, was not to get angry and make the child think that what they were doing was bad behavior.  In theory this made total sense, but her sweet little sunshine was still repeating the same maddening phrase over and over again and it was hard not to let that annoyance creep into your voice.  Hell it was hard not to scream at her.

Just shut up and go to sleep

“Maybe she’s not tired?” She thought.

“No, she’s had a busy day and it’s an hour past her regular bed time.  She should be tired.  She’s done this every night this week.”

“You know what sweetie?  I’m tired.”  She stretched and yawned in the hopes that her daughter would follow her example.  The truth was that the lavender oil, soft music and low lights were making her sleepy.  Was her daughter immune to this stuff?

“Hey, I’ve got a great idea.  We will both get into our  beds and see who can get to sleep first.”  Good lord why has she not thought of this before?  It was genius.

“But mommy what if you get to sleep before me?  Then I’ll be awake all by myself?”  She had started to cry again. Damn.

Fearing that she might just loose her cool she gets up, kisses the little girl on the head and says.

“Good night sweetie.  I love you.”  Then leaves the room and walks down the hall to her own room.

“Mommy?  Mommy.  Mommy!  MOMMY,”  then silence.  Could that be it.  She held her breathe and waited.  She lay down on her bed and closed her eyes.  Just as sleep start to creep into her she feels her.  Close.  Beside the bed.

“Mommy, I can’t sleep.”

From this point things will go one of two ways….