Seven A.M. The sun is up and the town is waking around me, but I've been up for three hours now. The coffee pot is half full of warm brew- shouldn't be drinking coffee, but I know it's too late to try to sleep again, and the panic attacks are easier to deal with during the day anyway.
Any moment the baby will wake up and tap at the bedroom door to let me know she's ready to start her day, so I hoard these few minutes of silence with my warm cup... Not as good as sleep, maybe, but it will do for now. God, I just wish I could sleep. Sleep without dreaming, without waking up panicked and choking and begging silently for something I can't even define. The past few nights have been better, if only because I'm just unsettled and anxious instead of consumed with fear, but the fact that I keep wanting to call the dream person and see if he's all right is driving me crazy. Before that were the kidnapping dreams, every night a variation on how I was going to lose my girl, and the daylight hours I spent fighting down the paranoia that threatened to rise up and engulf me every time the phone rang or someone knocked at the door. A friend tells me that this is normal; well, as normal as things can be for people like us.
People like us. God, what a phrase.
It's so easy to read the news articles about this or that unimaginable atrocity and shake your head, turning to the person beside you for commiseration as you say how awful those people are and how thankful you are that those things don't happen around here. You conveniently ignore the voice in the back of your head that's screaming at you to open your eyes and see what's really happening, you shut off the video player in your brain that shows clip after clip of how you've been on the receiving end of those things. If it keeps up long enough you try and have a nice rational discussion with the voice...
"No, no, you've got it all wrong. See, it's different in my case, because my life is normal- these people in the newspaper are obviously not normal, and besides, if something bad happened to me it was probably my fault anyway, so it's not like I'm a victim or anything like that. No, you just don't GET it, do you? I AM NORMAL. This doesn't happen to normal people. *pause to listen* You see, I can explain that time- he was just having an off day, and I really DID make him angry, so it was perfectly logical for him to hit me. I DESERVED that, and I only got bruised because I tripped over my feet and fell down while he was swinging, so that wasn't his fault at all, really. *another pause* Well, no, I didn't ask him to do that, and it did hurt quite a bit, but I'm almost sure I was giving him the wrong idea, so that was my fault too, you know. It's really quite simple."
People like us. People who think it's all their fault, who think they're weak because they get depressed and anxious and don't understand why- people like us, who have been beaten, raped, degraded, manipulated, tortured, ground down, and who try to get through the day by thinking it's all in their heads, because people who are supposed to love you would never do that sort of thing to you. People who beat themselves up when tears run silently down their cheeks for "no good reason", people who think they've gone crazy because they lose their grip on reality and can't figure out why.
People like us.