Baby – let’s go to sleep now
The toddler laughs easily and hands me some of her toys to take with us on our journey to Slumberland.
Don’t brush the dog’s teeth!
She looks at me and then at the dog and then throws her toothbrush in the garbage can. I feel a migraine coming on.
Let’s change you’re diaper.
She shakes her head no and runs for the door, screaming like a banshee. The dog keeps barking and now my breathing feels ragged.
I bite down on my lip. Hard. Maybe that’ll stop the panic attack I can feel starting to wrap around my brain. I try to use a soothing voice when I talk with her, but the toddler is onto me.
Go to sleep!
She crawls into our bed because she won’t sleep anywhere else. I pull the blanket up and want to bury my face in it. I squeeze my eyes closed tight. Please make it stop. Please make it stop – I plead to myself, but the effort is wasted.
Stop moving and put your head down
The toddler shakes her head no and tries to crawl out of bed. The dog doesn’t stop barking at the commotion.
Go the fuck to sleep!
She keeps rolling around, popping her head up and asking me questions. I can’t even process her words right now – it sounds like high-pitched squealing that assaults my brain.
I can’t breathe
There’s a fist in my lungs that wants to devour it. I yell at the baby to put her head down. And then the tears start. She cries because she wants to play. I cry because the skin I want to crawl out of won’t let me leave.
Let’s go for a walk
I can’t stay in the bed anymore. I’m afraid it’ll swallow me alive and I wouldn’t fight. I put the toddler in her stroller and go outside. The fresh air feels good against my clammy skin, but it doesn’t help. I dig my nails into the palms of my hands. And maybe I wouldn’t care if my hands started to bleed.
What the hell?
She babbles about something that I don’t understand. I think she wants to holds hands, so I hold her little hand in mine, but it only upsets her. She starts to cry again. I keep telling myself to calm the fuck down. Calm the fuck down!
I can’t walk anymore. The ground feels like it’s going to open up and pull my legs down deep into the earth where there’s no sound. I want to sit on the curb and slam my head into the sidewalk until I can’t feel anything.
I run into the house with the stroller, crying, trying to stop, but not succeeding. The toddler is crying, screaming to be carried. My eyes hurt – like fork tines scraping my corneas. Carl swoops the toddler up in his arms and he whispers something in her ears. She smiles sweetly up at him and he takes her upstairs to our room. He’s a great guy. He doesn’t deserve to be married to someone so fucked up.
I take half a pill and curl up on the sofa, pulling a blanket over my entire body, my face in a pillow. The drone of the television sounds distant in the background. The air conditioning hums, a soldier with only one mission. It’s all so very soothing. And so I fall asleep with the dog at my feet, hoping I wake up with sunshine on my lips.