Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Adult-Sized Threats

My father woke little-girl Me up during the middle of the night; I shared a room with my sister Shelley and was concerned that her sleep would be disturbed accidentally by my dad's angry voice. He was viscerally upset with me and began his late-night lecture.

He informed me that Shelley had already been awake for awhile—in fact, she'd never gone to sleep. Each time she would be close to sealing the sleeping deal, she would startle awake with the memory of something I had said to her earlier:

"Shelley, I'm so angry with you that I'm going to kill you in your sleep."

At most, I was seven years old and Shelley was six. I was too young to realize the heft of my words and Shelley was too young to understand the hyperbole. My dad had woken me up to explain the consequences of my unkind speech, then informed me that I would not be sleeping until Shelley was. After that, my memory blurs and I don't recall whether or not we ended up seeing the sunrise.

But the moral of the story remains. Shelley lost sleep because of what I'd said to her.

Lately, I myself have been losing sleep at an alarming rate. This is a new phenomenon in my life—I am the world's deepest sleeper and proud to take advantage of that. At my angriest, my weepiest, my worriedest, I have been able to seek restorative sleep. And I always felt better in the morning.

But this morning, I do not feel better. What I feel is my body moving through clear gelatin, almost unable to close my eyelids due to the wobbly pressure pushing against my retinas. My hours have been distilled into slow motion film. The only events that have cut through the fog were the several times Jacko threw up last night; motherly instincts don't lose their edge. But dealing with the children's emotional aftermath has been a series of cartoon stills with a piano hanging above my head on a fraying rope.

Jacko's told me that he hates me approximately fifteen times this morning; Lucy has followed suit in her own obstinate way. But I don't hold it against them. They aren't the only ones that hate me.

I can't sleep because I feel like parts of my life are saying to me:

"Holly, I'm so angry with you that I'm going to kill you in your sleep."

Who is going to lecture them on my behalf?

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