Christmas is hurtling toward me again. My fifty-third Christmas season. The emotional burden of Christmas Past swoops down from the twinkling lighted trees and brightly lit homes that surround me. The blue and red flashing bulbs wring me out until I resemble a soiled, sour dish rag. I resist the waves of regret and remorse, work and work on my computer until my shoulders are on fire, EBay until my arms are no longer able to function. Work around the house until I can’t trust my twisted, deceitful hands (hands which used to be so petite, so pretty) to hold a Styrofoam cup of lukewarm coffee without letting it fall to the floor.
I’m tired. It’s time to lie down and accept my lashes. Lashes of regret for all the loved ones whom I’ve hurt, for all the loved ones who have slashed me with the tree switch of dysfunction, my remorse that has no cure, my rage that burns inward, my self-destructive urges to destroy the vessel that encloses my anguish. My sobs break free, my muscles clench, my flesh trembles from the anguish of forcing the traumatic memories back down; but still I see the cherished faces of nanas, grandfathers, mothers, daughters, grandchildren, sisters, brothers, fathers, sons, lovers and friends.
My ties bind me to people whom I’ve lost to foolish games; codependent lies, contaminated love, mine and theirs.
Each time I close my eyes, Past flashes me like a crazy pervert naked beneath his raincoat. Therein lies Justice because there is no place to hide from myself and myself is where Past lives.
I try my meditation. Relax my entire body starting with the top of my head, working down to my toes. Picture a warm pot of honey and Pooh Bear with a fluffy, yellow dipping wand. He encloses me in a cocoon of warm honey, swirling his sweet warm around me, gently starting at my head. Pooh doesn’t make it past my shoulders before I shove him aside.
I want to slice the pain away, run to the bathroom, and take a razor to my wrists until I have slashed through the skin that protects my veins. I want to cut and slice until the unbidden, unwanted memories Past forces on me leave me alone, my brain waves registering a zero.
But I can’t. After numerous botched suicide attempts, I’ve decided that life is an obstacle course with Heaven as my reward and I’ll pass God’s test if I don’t kill myself or any one else. Therefore, I am trapped, imprisoned in Earth’s orbit, each moment reminiscent of a corny Star Trek film where Captain Jim can’t break free from the aliens. I am captured by that damn, “Thou shall not kill-anyone!” clause.
So; instead, I cry raggedly into my poodle’s soft pillow which he left behind when he followed his daddy to bed. I wrap my little girl Barbie blanket over my arthritic swollen joints and I weep.
I remember the carefree crazy days when I carried two razors at all times, one in my left shoe and one tucked into my size 36 AAA bra so I’d always be prepared to self-destruct at a moment’s notice. (I broke that habit when I sliced open my pregnancy induced 38 C breast by roughly pulling off my bra before I removed the blade.)
That night, I put down the bottle too, cause hell, I was high enough on impending motherhood and each time I drank, I wanted to kill me or the baby’s daddy, maybe both.
I wasn’t able to put down the Southern Comfort the next time around, and although the scar on my mature breast has faded, my second baby still bears the thumb print of my addiction on her forehead.
Past is a stubborn, relentless enemy. He sucks, he tears and he drains, he holds me prisoner under the soft lie of a safe Barbie blanket. I wet her smiling pink face with my faucet of tears.
I get up to get a tissue though, because not even Past can force me to wipe my snotty nose on Barbie’s Sweet-n-Low smile. She’s the dream, the hope and the promise. She’s the little girl still hiding inside my haggard, worn body. I drag my butt to the bathroom for the Angel Soft tissues.
Sleep would be a blessing because I’ve learned to stop my dreams by staying awake until I’m exhausted, but Awake won’t let me close my eyes.
By the way, I just had to stop writing to go back and edit all the sentences where I had slipped into second tense in this ménage a tale of woe, because that is how I distance myself from myself, a survival trick that I learned long ago to attain comfort in chaos.
I’ve surrounded myself with pink and yellow, but the blue remains. A three foot Barbie is decorating my pink Fiber Optic Christmas tree from the Dollar General, pink dolls drip from the branches, a pink and cream handmade afghan drapes over my night gown covered knees, sunflowers burst from sky blue and sunshine yellow vases. The window behind me is open and the sharp winter’s breeze cleanses my Marlboro filled lungs and airs out my smoky living room.
Still, inside I am black. My dark, tortured soul beckons to me and my gut begs me to give in to the insanity. “Just let go,” they whisper.
Psychiatrists say that the truly insane don’t even know it, so maybe I’m simply deranged, damaged goods, but either way, I keep a viselike grip on my minute drip of reason because I’m not going down that black hole alone again. Not even I am that brave.
I decide to stay sober for just one more day. I decide to stay alive for just one more day. After all, I’ve put together over thirty years of sobriety by promising myself, for just one more day. The dream. The hope. The promise. My Barbie blanket and me.