Sunday, January 06, 2008


It’s Saturday night and I’m in bed. I’ve been staring at the insides of my eyelids for the better part of an hour and a half.

You see, my brain hates me. It’s the one consistent factor in my on again, off again fight with insomnia. When I need to sleep, or just particularly want to sleep, my brain decides to bombard me with every stressful memory I have, or replays every situation where I should have done one thing, but did another.

You know, like the time that dude pulled a knife on me in Liverpool train station. The time my (literally) psychopathic third grade teacher marched me around the entire school so every class could see what a ‘baby’ I was for crying after I finally broke down from months of her constant verbal abuse. All the times my douchebag brother destroyed what little confidence my teacher hadn’t managed to stamp out by demonstrating just what a soulless, self absorbed sociopath he is.

Miss Jennifer and Kathy knocking on the door at 3.44am to tell Sunny and I that Clay had been killed. I miss you, Clay. I still find myself getting a new gadget or something and looking forward to you coming over to show it off…then I remember…miss you, dude.

Oh, and the time my drink got spiked on the Millennium New Years Eve. My brain just loves replaying that one. On that night I was laughing and having a good time and suddenly it was like someone flipped a switch. I found myself instantly filled with an inexplicable white-hot rage that came from absolutely nowhere; like a furious, captive animal that had found that someone had left the cage door unlocked.

There’s nothing quite like waking up on New Years Day and realizing you’d went on the rampage, hurting pretty much everyone you care about…and having absolutely no idea why.

I hate that memory. What I hate even more is what a spineless pussy I used to be. I still shudder when I think what my life would be like had I stayed that way. Those are the memories that haunt me the most. Not the tragedies I couldn’t avoid. The ones I could easily have avoided but didn’t because I didn’t have the balls to stand up for myself.

Hey! I’m a changed man! I tell my brain. I don’t take shit from anybody anymore. Sure, I used to have zero confidence and self esteem, but if someone tried to take advantage of me like that today, I’d tell them to go fuck themselves!

I know. Replies my brain. But you didn’t then, did you? And guess what, no matter how much you’d like to go back and re-do things, you can’t and you’ll never be able to! Now, how about a repeat showing of when Mrs. Bibby deliberately made you piss your pants in class? Remember? You asked her at least 12 times but she wouldn’t let you go to the bathroom? I’ll even run the special features on that one, where she openly made fun of you about it for the rest of the week.

I really hated that teacher. Still do. They eventually fired her when they found her alone in the school library, reading a “Janet and John” book to herself out loud. Most people can talk about a psycho teacher they had at school. I think mine actually got committed. Four years I had to put up with her. No one ever believes the six year old when they say a teacher is picking on them.

Yeah, all those things happened, I tell my brain, but you know what? Nothing like that’s going to happen again! I had a college tutor who tried the ‘Humiliation Approach To Teaching’ once. Remember that?

I sure do! Says my brain. He was the teacher for that History course you had to take because the admin fucked up and put you in the wrong class. Degree level work when you hadn’t done history since you were 14.

That’s the one. I say. Hadn’t done history for seven years, and they told me it was too late to change. It was take the course or wave goodbye to my degree.

I remember. My brain says. He said your essay looked like it was written by a 10 year old, called you stupid and tried to make you read it out in front of the class. He got right in your face and asked you why you where there when you were obviously too stupid to be in college.

I know that. I said. Remember what I did about it?

Sure! Says my brain. You stood up and told him you wanted a private word with him outside. He laughed in your face and said ‘sit’ like you were a dog. You asked him again and he squared up to you like Billy Badass, and told you to sit down like he has talking to a retarded child.

Yeah, yeah. I say. You love the bad stuff, but what happened next?

Ok. Says my brain, reluctantly. He squared up to you, had his nose about an inch from your face and tried to push you back into your chair. You grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, pinned him against the wall and asked him who the fuck he thought he was talking to. Told him that unless he started treating you with some respect that maybe he’d like to come with the whole class to see the Principal to discuss his attitude...or if he wanted to continue getting physical, you’d be happy to step outside with him and oblige.

Yep. I said. I still can’t believe the fucker squared up to me and got right in my face, but he left me the fuck alone after that. So you can see, I’m a changed man, and I don’t care about that shit that happened in the past. It’s who you are that’s important. Not who you were.

Fair enough. Says my brain. After a few minutes of glorious mental silence, it pipes up again.

Hey, imagine if Sunny was killed in a car crash.

Shut up, brain.

It happened to Clay, you know, it could happen to her just as easily. She drives a lot and the roads are icy as hell this time of year.

I said Shut up, brain.

Imagine getting a call and having to go to the morgue to identify her body. She’d be there, almost unrecognizable from the crash, but you’d see the wedding ring on her finger and…

Ok, I’m getting the fuck out of bed.

I hate it when I can’t sleep. Whenever I’m alone in the dark, that little voice in my head that absolutely hates me comes out to play.

So I decide to get up. I glance at the clock. It’s just before 5am.

Silently as I can, I try to get out of the bed, grab my clothes and glasses, and get out of the room without waking Sunny. This is a pointless exercise. As a mother, she has hearing like a bat. She could hear a mouse fart three rooms away. I’m almost at the door when I hear:

“Where are you going?”

“I can’t sleep.” I reply. “I’m getting up.”

“Nooooo!” She says. She hates it when I get up in the middle of the night. “Why are you getting up?”

“Too much coffee, I think.” I reply. It’s much easier than saying “I can’t sleep and my brain is playing the extended cut of ‘every time I fucked up’ and ‘These are your greatest fears’”

I’m almost out the door when I hear:

“Sweetie, if you’re going to be up anyway…”

“Uh huh?” I say.

“Do the dishes. We’ve got company coming over at 12.”

I sigh. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

1 comment:

OzzyC said...

You sure spend a lot of time replaying the past. I hope that you'll eventually learn to simply live with the past. It's a lot easier on the psyche.