The following contains content of substance abuse, mental health, and sexual violence.....
I look at the clock, 12:17am. Here I am again, wide awake while the rest of the world sleeps. Its my constant cycle, my toxic cycle. Get the kids to bed at 9, watch an episode or two of whatever show is currently trending with my girl and wait until she falls asleep. Then I slowly get out of bed, careful not to disturb her peaceful slumber. I envy that sometimes, the way she can just sleep and dream happy dreams. Sometimes I see a smile form and I know she is having some sort of nice escape from reality. The last dream I can remember was anything but happy, more of a memory. It always starts the same…I am a 7-year-old boy cuddling with my teddy bear, wearing my Spiderman jammies and then I wake up when I hear the door slowly creek open. I know what’s coming next, it has been happening for the last year. I’ve told my mother, but she says that I must be imagining it, but the pain and hurt I feel after he’s done lingers for a few days after and I know it’s not just in my head. I can smell the alcohol as he whispers in my ear, “Hey kid”, I feel his hands like claws grab my hand... Then I wake up, I already know what happens. For the last 25 years I have tried to forget. I have tried to drown my demons with alcohol, tried to numb them with drugs and I even tried to beat them by taking my life. Nothing has worked. No therapy, no medications seem to work. Every day I dread the sunset, the darkness and the PTSD I feel when I the day is ending. I can’t seem to ever sleep at night. I fight it, no matter how tired I am, I fight myself until sunrise. It’s weird, I actually feel safer in the daytime. When the sun is up, I know that my “boogie man” can’t get me. Everyone is awake in the day and I know that my family, my neighbors, even my dogs will know if something bad is happening to me.
3:36am. I feel my eyelids getting heavy. I get up and splash water on my face. Go get a Pepsi from the kitchen and check on the kids. All is calm. I grab the black box I keep in the room and head to the garage. Inside is my arsenal that I use every night to keep me awake. I load the pipe with meth and start smoking away any sleepiness I feel. I win again. After a few hits and chugs from my soda, I don’t feel tired. This is my routine, my ritual so to speak. Sometimes I rearrange the room, fold the clean laundry my girlfriend keeps leaving in the hamper, one night I even cleaned the entire house. I run out of things to do, to keep me busy so I just keep going back to the pipe. I wish I was normal; I wish I can lay in bed and sleep with her and just fall asleep with her in my arms, but I can’t. The longest that I have stayed up was 3 days. I started to hear things, see shadow people and hallucinate. Even when the morning came, I refused to surrender to sleep. I had stopped taking my Prazosin; which didn’t really help combat my nightmares, but it was worth a try; and I went manic and had a severe mental breakdown. My body was weak, I made myself sick and had to be hospitalized. I was sedated, numb and my mind was gone, but I felt peace for the first time. My psychiatrist treated my disorder the best he could, but my demons would always win. I was sent back home with a cocktail of medications.
4:45am. Just a little bit more to go. I can feel my body about to give out. I get up and walk to the door. Some fresh air might do me some good. I spark a cigarette and look down the street. A few people are starting their cars, kitchen lights are coming on and there’s a few birds flying around now. Everyone is well rested and ready to start their day. Not me though, I feel the meth about to wear off and if I sit down, I might crash. I have about 35 more minutes until the sun comes out, I can stay awake, I can do it, I have done it before. I go back inside and start to brew the coffee. I take out some bacon and eggs and start to make breakfast. I feel dizzy and weak, so I pour a cup of coffee, black. I clean up and set the food on the table. It will be ready for my family when they are up. I turn on the TV to the news, I let the dog out and open the blinds. I can see the rays of the sun behind the hills. I feel comfort and my anxiety is slowly fading.
5:30am. I hear the alarm go off in my room. I sit on the bed and kiss my girlfriend on the forehead. She wakes up and stretches. She already knows by the way I look that I was up all night, she doesn’t say anything, she’s used to it. She gets up and gets dressed for work. I sit on the bed, looking at the floor. Feeling heavy, nauseas and lightheaded. She walks to the window and opens the blinds. Light beams in and I stare at the sun. I made it, another night down. She takes off my shoes, lowers me into the bed and covers me with the comforter. I feel my body sinking into the bed and I start to give in. She kisses me and tells me to close my eyes, “Its ok, you’re ok. I’m here.” Every morning she does this…I guess this is her routine. I let my self surrender, until tonight when I do it all over again.