Ghost of Xmas past

With S away the last couple of nights – the kids have gone psycho. The stimuli, the presents, the hot weather, the bad diet, all taking its toll. Over tired but not sleeping. 

Xmas was good. It felt ‘normal’ as though we were any family on earth. No issues or arguments. Aside from my obsessiveness over mess and clutter, we all faired well. In fact I found myself forgetting the stresses and strains over the last few months. The odd jerk of reality would send signals of pain and ache, but the noise and my frantic tidying distracted from that.

Now the man of the house has gone to catch up with friends and the fall out of Xmas over excitement has hit base. Last night I felt so tired I couldn’t have written my own name. But the kids kept going, kept pushing, kept bordering mania, until 2am my son past out exhausted in my bed, there was silence and I almost cried with relief, then the cat and kittens started up. 

I managed to get bouts of sleep. Thrust into the depths of dreams about my childhood. Fragments, distorted memories, fears, and I woke often in panic. Trying not to wake my son. I know this has been triggered because the kids wanted Sylvanian family stuff for Xmas, a thing from my childhood and seeing the familiar branding and collection of miniature animal families and entire housing developments has brought memories for me. But not pleasant ones. 

Im still in the zone, the ‘push it away, deal with the emotion later’ zone. That’s been my coping mechanism for the last few weeks.

At one point between the cats scratching at the door and another suffocating dream I woke as a panic attack was beginning. I wanted to reach for the light, reach for diazapam, cry out, but my maternal instincts knew my soft, pale skinned baby boy was next to me. I looked over at his sleeping face, the warm glow from my salt lamp highlighting his gorgeous round cheeks, long eyelashes, arms either side of his head. Total peace, total calm. I lay staring at him, better than any drug, I became entranced by his beauty, his peacefulness, his look of blissful sleep. My breathing calmed and I felt that familiar sense of love and protection for him. My pride, my purpose, my son.

As I lay there, my thoughts changed and  I wondered about my own parents, if they’d ever looked at my sleeping child body in awe and wonder. Pride, love, protection.

I know the answer. My mother couldn’t cope with her much longed for baby and my father worked long hours and drunk too much. I wasn’t protected, I’m not sure if they ever really cared for me more than themselves.

I thought too of my attacker. If he looked at his children with a protectiveness and love, a sense of pride. I wondered if he remembered the things he did to me, and worried for his own children. 

Unfortunately this lead to a flashback. His ‘apology’ as he ‘kissed it better’ – the shame of that will never go away. I felt my body burn with shame, feeling dirty despite a shower only hours earlier. How it came as a surprise that lovers do that act, some even enjoy it. How disgusting. The whole thing is disgusting. 

Why had my brain followed this train of thought? Why was I allowing these memories to infest my soul and gnaw away at me like rotting flesh? Do I have a desire to torture myself? Can I not just lie and watch my peaceful son? Must I have this ritual of sabotage so everything is darkened? 

I have put my past and PTSD symptoms on the backburner. There is no room for them here – in all the mess of my broken marriage and need to be strong.

But night is an envelope, I’m at the mercy of my dreams. My nightmares. And even my son’s light snoring can’t take away the places I’ve been and seen and felt.

I’m a fragmented person, and in the present, I choose the part of me that’s logical, unemotive and unresponsive. Better than breaking down again I suppose, at least I’m still functioning and have a modicum of usefulness about me.

This morning, the kids were predictably exhausted, but I’d promised them pancakes at the mall. In a toss up between trying to keep the house tidy and manage sibling arguments, and driving to the mall for pancakes, I’m opted for the latter. Although my mood was already frayed. I let the girls get their fingernails painted, duly fed them pancakes, and drove home. Keen to read my kindle and let the kids play in the sun, burn off energy. 

Instead I found out a friend of mine that I’d previously helped was hospitalised. I phoned her, she’d had a complete breakdown over Xmas. She went from the emergency department to the psyche ward. I offered to see her tomorrow. I hate going to those places, I absorb energy like a sponge. Plus it’s a reminder that I coast close to those places. But I want to show my support and take her things she needs. People tend to back away at these times, but I want to plunge right in, let her know it’s ok. There’s no shame and there’s hope.

How will I process that emotion after? I’ll deal with it another time. 

I’m in a one man bubble at the moment. I see everything, I  deal to it, then I go to bed and do the same the next day.

Just a regular person. With a burden of shame, a backlog of woeful stories that no one wants to hear and a tidy house.

And this is how I’m choosing to survive.



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