Guardian Angel

The day’s nightmares are haunting me as I try to fall asleep. Noises echo in my head. They bounce from cell to cell in my brain. The rush of the car as it passes me. The horn that’s blown across the intersection. The two coworkers arguing over whose fault it was that the report didn’t get filed. The TV show characters replay their crisis for me. The doctor telling me that these cells that control all this chaos aren’t behaving the way they should be.

The ever-present pessimist living inside me yells that I’m not good enough. She persistently badgers me and complains about how terrible things are always going to be. She’s aggressive and argumentative. She paces back and forth, demanding I just give up. “There’s no point in fighting it. It always gets worse!

The optimist, who I know is somewhere in there, huddles in a corner. She whispers that it might not all be bad. “Maybe this time things will be different.” she says in hushed tones. The pessimist frightens her, intimidates her. From time to time she can be strong, but I think this most recent series of events has finally cracked her. I don’t understand why she doesn’t fight harder.

I squeeze my eyes tighter trying to block out the sounds. I just want to fall asleep. The noise is so loud. My ears are ringing. My head aches. My heart is pounding. Just go away I scream to the ghosts lingering in my subconscious. Why don’t they just let me spend my night in peace? They torment me enough during the day that they should have the decency to let me sleep.

Please” I’m begging. “Please just let me sleep.” I feel my eyes warming and the first start of tears sliding down my pink cheeks. It’s too much for my soul to bear. It’s too much for me to take. “Please God do something.” I squeeze the pillow over my ears in an attempt to shut them out, but there’s no shutting out what’s already inside.

You’re a failure and you know it!” miss Pessimist says. “Not a complete failure.” Miss Optimist whispers weakly. “Of course she is! Look at her. She can’t even silence the voices in her own head!

I’m transported into my mind. My body drops on the dirty, dark gray cement ground. I curl into a ball as the bodies of the voices come closer. They are on top of me. They will consume me. I’ll have no choice but to give in. Their dark figures loom over my head. “Please God. Please. Please.” My plea fades softly until I’m just mouthing the words, my face now wet with tears.

Through the dark figures, a single soft light makes its way toward me. She’s found me once again. She is wordless. She is silent. In the midst of all the yelling, angry bodies, she is quiet and calm. There is a soft smile on her lips. Slowly the darkness is pushed back. A white, shimmering force is pushing them back. The noise is fading. The darkness is being pushed away by her light. Her fingers graze the soft shield she has made for me.

I watch the angry ones beat against the shield, but I hear nothing. Silence and warmth wrap themselves around me. She sits next to me and gently smooths my hair. As peace begins to fill my soul again, I hear her soft, gentle humming. It’s so faint I wouldn’t expect it to be coming from the being next to me. My guardian angel has saved me from my demons once more and I sleep.

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Black Bears

I see him in the distance. He’s giant and round. His hair should be shaggy and mangled, but it just looks silky as the breeze pushes it back and forth. I flatten myself against the hill and hope he doesn’t see me. He looks my way and I lower my head more. I wait a few seconds and chance a glance up. He is looking the other way. I slowly start to crawl toward the shelter. It’s a pathetic sort of shelter now that I think about it. It’s only advantage is that it is on a hill high enough to stay out of reach. Otherwise, the pavilion-like structure offers little protection. I crawl a few paces and look back to where he was standing on all fours. His eyes are locked on me. I freeze as panic starts to set in. I’m still quite a distance away from the shelter and he can move much faster than I. His snort is faint, but is enough to warn me. He turns his body in my direction and before I can see if he will take a step, I’m on my feet and running as fast as I can. It’s not fast enough though. I feel a force pushing against me. It takes every bit of strength I have to keep moving, to keep pushing against whatever this mysterious unseen force is. I can hear his colossal paws landing hard and fast against the hard packed dirt and grass. My heart is racing and, as I reach the ladder, the force is gone and I climb swiftly to safety.

I look down to see the black bear standing on his hind legs at the bottom of the ladder. He growl is low and short in repetition. He’s frustrated and I’m doubled over sweating. He goes back to all fours and turns first to the left and then to the right. I look to my right and toward the steep stairs carved into the cliffs. They lead to the parking lot, to my car, to true safety. I hear the black bear walking around the shelter. The hill it sits upon is oblong in shape. The sides of the hill are made of rock, just like the cliff’s sides.  The rocks aren’t exactly smooth, but they also aren’t jagged enough for him to get a grip to climb. Thankfully, he doesn’t know how to use a ladder.

My eyes follow the cliffs on either side of the steps. On the left there are two more black bears. Somehow, I know they are females. They are resting in the sun on an outcrop. It’s far enough away from the steps that I may be able to make it to my car. I scan the right side of the steps and my heart sinks. There are three cubs playing atop the cliffs. Never get between a mama bear and her cubs. The saying echos in my head and hope of reaching my car is diminishing. I walk around the edge of the shelter looking for Mr. Bear. I see him on the opposite side still trying to find a way up when another bear shows up beside him. Now I have four full-grown black bears to contend with who will also be hypersensitive to my movements considering the cubs they are caring for.

I hear talking and movement from the other side of the shelter. I turn to find people walking about the park. I’m about to warn them of the danger when the bears come around to the front and show themselves to these strangers. The bears sniff the humans and the humans show no fear of the bears. One young woman actually reaches out and runs her hand along Mr. Bear’s furry back as she walks past. My brow knits in confusion. Why are they not afraid? Why do they not see the danger? Why do the bears seem perfectly fine to let them go while feeling the need to eat me?

I look back at the steps and, although I didn’t think it possible, my shoulders drop further in discouragement. One of the female bears is now with the cubs and closer to my car. I have nowhere to go. I have no escape. Mr. Bear and his friend continue to stalk around the shelter and I’m trapped.

Words

I hate that words have failed me. I lost…I…I can’t even articulate. This is my life, my dream, my pain. There may have been times when inspiration had left me, but never a time when my words have just disappeared. I start to write what I feel, but then the words just stop. My mind has become silent. I’ve struggled before, but never like this. It’s taken me 7 minutes to write one short paragraph. A paragraph that would normally take a minute or less.

What do you do when the words just stop? What do you do when you can’t even express… When you can’t even express…I could take lessons from Porky I guess. Didn’t he just change the sentence entirely? If I were to write the words as they come to me, my sentences would make no sense. I get partials, bits and pieces, tidbits.

Maybe I can… Maybe…fuck. Do I just give it time? I hate words. I miss them. I feel betrayed by them. They’re like a friend who just stops calling or texting. Why aren’t they there? Why did they stop visiting me? Where did they go? Fuck it… Maybe one day they’ll come back.

Every Night

Up in the middle of the night.

Every night.

Toss and turn.

Roll this way and that.

Sleep for a moment.

Wake for a lifetime.

Dreams of chaos.

Dreams of darkness.

Death, murder, despair, anger.

Dreams which cease to be a source of pleasure.

Dreams no longer a delight.

Tired, I’m so tired.

Every night.

No rest for the tortured.

No sleep for the broken.

Heart pounding.

Head pulsing.

Where has the night gone?

Where has my rest gone?

It disappeared without a trace.

Exhaustion and restlessness is all I have.

Every night.

Strength Within

I’m so scared it will happen once more
Fear shakes me to my core
I’m terrified
I’m petrified
I cry alone in my car
The images are never too far
I’m alone and I’m lost
I’d do anything, no matter the cost
To rid my mind of these thoughts
Peace and silence is all that’s sought
Take my frustration, take my pain
The sound of metal on metal is my bane
I’m tired of fighting
My lips are raw from biting
What can I do
Memories stick to me like glue
I don’t want to die
I wish I could fly
I want to find the strength within
Maybe then I can win

Choose To Be Happy – A Personal Experience

Ten years ago I was in a car accident. I was a passenger and it was out of my control. I ended up with broken and shattered bones, a life-long scar, and some emotional struggles that come maybe once every few months.

A little less than a month ago I was in another car accident. I was sandwiched between two other cars. I was the driver of my vehicle, but was not at fault. I walked away with a concussion, a few bruises, and a burn. Although this accident was less serious physically, the emotional toll it has taken on my mind has far surpassed the first.

I have lost all faith in other drivers. When on the road, I live in a constant state of fear, tension, and paranoia. I have to constantly remind myself that no one wants to get into or cause an accident. I am constantly checking my rearview mirror to see if the person behind me has left enough distance between us. When I’m coming to a stop, I brake gently and long before I need to just to make sure the person behind me knows “hey, there’s going to be a stop ahead”. I leave more room between myself and the car in front of me but still find myself slowing down to give even more room.

When the car behind me is following too closely for comfort my heart starts to pound. My entire body unconsciously tenses. My fist clenches. My breath catches until they back off. Even at speeds of 25 MPH I find myself fearing for my life. I have to remind myself to relax. I have to remind myself that “I am safe. I am centered. I am grounded”. I try to focus on 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell, and 1 thing I can taste.

After a lot of thought and analysis, I’ve figured out why this most recent accident affected me more than the first. It all falls down to control. I didn’t have control in either accident, but the first was preventable. The first happened because a driver ran through a stop sign. That can easily be avoided. I can control how I handle stop signs. For ten years I have made a full stop at every single stop sign. For ten years I have watched any cars at or approaching the intersection for any sign that they won’t adhere to the rules of the road. In ten years I have had no problems at stop signs.

This most recent accident was caused by the driver behind me not paying attention. He didn’t brake. He didn’t slow. I saw him in my rearview mirror. It’s amazing how many things can go through your mind in a matter of 1-2 seconds. “This is really happening. I’m going to be in another accident. He isn’t stopping. Oh God! He isn’t stopping!” How do you stop something like that from happening? How do you prevent it? How do you tell the driver behind you “Hey! Pay attention! We’re all suddenly stopped up here!”

I keep quite a bit of distance between the car in front of me and my own, but I’m always reminded that that distance won’t stop the person behind me from hitting me. It only stops me from being pushed into the car in front of me. I can never control the person behind me. I can’t keep him or her from hitting me, I can only have faith that they will be paying attention.

How do you learn to trust strangers again? How do you learn to put your faith back in people when day after day you see people swerving over lines, speeding, passing in no passing zones, blowing through stop signs? How am I supposed to let go of this fear when people keep reinforcing it?

I find myself sitting at a local diner during lunch. I’m relaxed, enjoying my favorite food. Suddenly, without warning, I have a vision of a car crashing through the window and slamming into me. I’m sitting at a red light. Humming along to my favorite song when I see the car behind me coming up too fast for comfort. Suddenly I’m hit with a flashback. I see a silver bumper. I see white air bags. I see smoke and smell sulfur. I’m driving on the highway. My cruise is set to exactly the speed limit (who would have known this speed demon could be tamed) and I’m enjoying the sunshine. The car that’s passing me inches to side and nearly crosses the line. My mind is now filled with images of my car spinning out, of blood, of choas. 

My ears ring. My heart pounds. My chest tenses. My grasp on the wheel tightens. My eyes grow wide. No car crashes through the diner window. The car stops in time. The car passes me without incident. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I tell my body to loosen up. My ears slowly stop ringing. My heart finally slows to its normal rate. 

How do I stop this paranoia and fear? How do I make people understand I have no control over it? I feel like I’m not me. I feel like someone else is inside my head. I feel crazy. Why does the choice to be happy have to be so hard?

Choose To Be Happy

My mother always taught me that happiness is a choice. This was mostly brought up when I was mad about something and being a grump. She would tell me that I need to choose to be happy even if things aren’t going the way I want them to. She was absolutely right. Being happy is about attitude and how you react to things that are out of your control. 

What she never told me is how I would have to make that choice over and over in the same day. How I would have to struggle to push away invasive and unwanted memories. That once I had made the choice in the morning to “be happy” today, I would be presented over and over with an overwhelming push to tell “be happy” to go fuck itself.

When you have no control over traumatic experiences in your life, choosing to be happy is very hard. It’s not about the co-worker who is irritating or the stranger who bumps you in the supermarket. It’s not about the weather changing from gorgeous blue skies to blackened clouds and pouring rain. It’s not really a matter of fighting outside sources of fear, frustration, and anger. Instead it’s about fighting your own mind.

You lay in bed trying to think only of positive things (like your niece’s smile when you try to get her to say your name or the sweet thing your spouse said to you earlier) so that you can maybe go one night without nightmares. While you think of these sweet memories, the ugly ones creep in like water falling through a crack in the ceiling. First just a drop comes through so you brush it off, but slowly as the pressure builds and the ceiling weakens, the water comes slamming through and now you have to fight to dry the room again.

I choose to be happy. I start out every morning vocally saying the words “Today is a day of happiness and peace”. I literally say out loud that I’m going to have a good day. The morning may go well. Hell, I may make it all the way to the end of the work day without needing to make the choice to be happy a second time. Then there’s a trigger. One small moment, something almost undetectable, and I’m faced with a decision; do I try to push through the memories and fears and choose to be happy or allow myself to be swallowed up by them?

Making that decision multiple times a day is daunting. It’s exhausting. Sometimes I feel I have no choice but to be lost in the flashbacks. When that feeling sinks in, it takes every bit of strength I have to find the happiness again. It takes my entire focus, my entire mind and soul to remember that there are good things in my life and I have nothing to fear. 

I’m honestly not even sure I’m doing the struggle justice. I know there are people out there who understand the point I’m trying to make, but if you’ve never experienced it…I’m not sure how to help you understand it. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense to my own brain.

Maybe it’ll help to explain my experience. To keep my posts a reasonable length, I’ll post that separately and insert a link here once it’s done.

She’s Never Called Me Mom

She is my daughter, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve changed her diapers and taught her how to use the potty, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve cooked her breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but she’s never called me Mom.
She’s fallen asleep in my arms, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve wiped her tears and calmed her fears, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve picked out her outfits and helped her put them on, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve listened to her stories and laughed at her corny jokes, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve kept her secrets, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve sacrificed time with friends to be with her instead, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve cleaned up after her and wiped food crumbs from her face, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve brushed her hair and teeth, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve buckled her in and tied her shoes, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve zipped up her jacket and spread sunscreen on her skin, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve caused good of giggles, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve given her hugs and kisses and snuggles on the couch, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve given her baths and helped her put on her PJs, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve watched her shows and learned the names of her friends, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve attended open houses and school concerts, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve thought about her every day, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve thrown birthday parties and sleepovers, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve picked out gifts and placed bows on special wrapping, but she’s never call me Mom.
I’ve baked blue cakes and lit candles, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve tucked her into bed and kissed her goodnight, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve taught her to love herself, but she’s never called me Mom.
I’ve loved her with every ounce of love I have to give, but she’s never called me Mom.
She is my daughter, but she’s never called me Mom.

This is the struggle I believe many stepmothers go through. We love a child that is not our own and give them our all and do it without expectation of a return. I don’t need my stepdaughter to call me Mom, but I used the wording as a demonstration of the thanklessness that the job of stepmom can be.

I hope she understands she has my entire heart. I don’t want to replace her mother in any way, she needs her mother. I just want to be a second set of arms to run to. I want her to always know she has my love no matter what happens in life. No matter where she goes or who she becomes, she will have my heart forever.

In The Night

Night holds no comfort for me.

She holds no solice from the torments of the day.

She taunts me.

She haunts me.

She sneaks into my dreams.

Her spiny black fingers creep into the corners of my mind.

The corners that are reserved for rest.

They clutch at my tranquility and rip it from my mind.

Her wicked thoughts replace the sweetness of my dreams.

Violence and terror.

Fear and horror.

Loathing, hatred, war, suffering.

These are those things which she leaves behind.

Where once peaceful light filled my nights,

Now thick blackness invades.

I can’t escape.

I can’t run.

I can’t hide.

I can’t stay awake.

My eyes and body betray me.

They give in to her sultry whispers.

Her promises of warmth and comfort.

My mind slips into that sardonic grasp.

I’m lost.

I’m broken.

She has me.

She won’t let go.

At my most vulnerable,

In the night.

Pros & Cons of An Analytical Mind

Having an analytical & restless mind can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Pros:

  • You are good at problem solving.
  • You enjoy any type of puzzle.
  • You remember events and conversations because they play over and over in your head.
  • You can find the best in a situation.
  • You’re never bored because you observe things that need done.
  • You know within a matter of minutes what type of personality someone has.

Cons:

  • You remember events and conversations because they play over and over in your head.
  • You can find the worst in a situation.
  • Because you always see stuff that needs done, you become overwhelmed easily.
  • You read into things too often and see things that aren’t there.
  • You stay conscious during tramatic events because your brain knows you couldn’t handle not knowing what happened.
  • You have a hard time falling asleep at night.
  • You over-analyze meaningless conversations.
  • You try to figure out what people are thinking about you.
  • You want it all to stop.

I just want the images to go away. I want to stop seeing them. I want to stop seeing the face that is so red it matches his hair. I want to stop seeing her gray face and hearing her moan. I want to stop hearing the sound of metal on metal. I want to stop feeling the sharp pain in my hip. I want to stop hearing the pain in his voice as he says those three simple words; I’m so sorry.

I want to forget the sound of the airbag exploding in my face. I want to forget the panic of not being able to find my phone to call my husband. I want to forget the terror that filled my heart when I saw the car in my rearview mirror. I want to forget how helpless I felt. I want to forget how hard it was to breathe; how hard it still is. I want to forget the ringing in my ears, the blood in my nose, the cut inside my lip, the burn on my arm, the bruise on my chest.

It only took seconds but so much went through my head as I stopped and looked in the rearview. I knew it was coming before I even looked. I could already hear the sound. I could already feel the jar. Seeing that car in my rearview was just confirmation. My worst fear was happening. I kept telling myself I was ok. I keep repeating that I walked away. But I also keep hearing that sound. I keep feeling that fear. I keep feeling the panic of not being able to breathe. I feel crazy. 

Sure, my car got towed. I walked away, however, with what most would consider minor injuries. I keep telling myself it’s not like the first accident where I had a hospital stay. I walked into the ER. I walked out of the ER. I am sore as hell, but I’m walking. And yet, I can’t think about it for too long without breaking down. I try distractions to keep my mind busy. I try so hard to avoid the thoughts, but they come anyway.

Every move reminds me of what happened. Every time my arm rubs against something, I remember the details. When the bruise on my leg rests against something hard, I’m taken back. Every breath I take reminds me of the jolt my body felt. When I wake up with my head throbbing, I hear the ringing in my ears. I see the white airbag. I smell the sulfur. I feel the rough fabric of the curtain airbags. I feel my hands shaking so much I can barely hold the phone to talk to my husband, can barely write my statement. Tears pool in my eyes and blur my view. My head pounds all day.

It’s not like the other accident; I know that. It just takes me back. Why did this happen? Why did the vehicle have to be a Jeep? Why did it have to be within a mile from home? Why do there have to be similarities? Am I being overdramatic? Am I analyzing this too closely? Why won’t my brain shut up?

Then comes what scares me even more. I’m repeating myself. I’m forgetting things. I’m writing the same thing twice on the same piece of paper. I’m writing the wrong dates and not just a day or two off, but months off. When I meant to write 7/31, I wrote 12/31 without a second thought. 

I’m frustrated. I’m hurting. I’m tired. I’m sore. I’m scared. For the first time in my life I’m scared to drive. For the first time in my life I’m scared to go back to work. I don’t want to write the wrong thing or repeat myself. I don’t want to forget who I’m supposed to call or what kind of help they need.

How do I heal? What do I do? I feel so confused and lost. Why do I wake up with those images in my mind? Why do they repeat over and over? Why do I have to hear the sound over and over? What do I do? How do I find my way again?