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Thoughts Between Sleep And Waking

This one is true and I thought about not writing it, but it found its way into words and I did. I appreciate those who read what I write so, as a courtesy, I’ll mention that if you become queasy about or have a fear of bugs, you may prefer not to read this one.

How sensitive is too sensitive? Am I overly sensitive? I think I’ve learned something about strength from my small forays into the creepiness and danger of the world, but I’m overtired now and can’t control my musing.

In late morning light filtering through curtains and shades, I lie on tightly tucked sheets, fresh layers smoothed carefully over the mattress I’ve slept on for seven perhaps eight years — ever since my former mother-in-law decided a single bed would be easier in her condo after her beloved husband’s passing.

My eyes are deeply hooded, wanting more sleep, lids almost meeting like hands adding weight to a pressing prayer. But my mind is wide, traversing oceans of thought borne by angry waves that haven’t settled all night. I’ve woken exhausted again and refusing for as long as I’m able, to stumble into a day where merely functioning as human wears me down like a file.

Late these summer nights, I’ve looked at the bedroom ceiling and cringed at the sight of various spiders, and long smooth bodies with many, many threadlike legs — strange mobile fringes — all ugly to me because they aren’t outside. I sweat when I see one perched above me, remembering another one long ago racing toward my face across bed covers and making me doubt my formerly safest place. I was lucky to have ever envisioned it as one. I get them with a broom when I can and shake uncontrollably when I can’t.

I want to turn over but can’t if I still hope sleep will find me despite the thoughts that won’t stop.

Wash the bed sheets after this blistering heat. They’ve been soaked, and now you can move through much cooler air without difficulty. Tear them all off and the mattress pad, too, of course. 

Now that they’re in the washer, check the mattress because that’s what you do, compulsively each time. Good. Nothing out of the ordinary, no debris, no specks, nothing but the few dark scrapes from when your ex dragged it in through the door. You’ve heard too much and it makes you think too much. Now go tend to your work. Write something pretty if you can.

Time to retrieve things in stages from the dryer. Put the pad on first. But before, check again and then rub the mattress down from the center out and all around with a cloth because you haven’t done that for a while. Compulsive and pointless, yes, but this is your bed. You have to do this. It wouldn’t do to cover a spider or anything else as you prepare your haven. 

What is that? What is that crawling there? Stop staring at it like a stone. You are the only one here. You want someone to lean on, but you are alone. Deal with this. Now. Remember this. Remember how it looks then get rid of it. NOW. There, pulverized in a white cloth, it makes no stain but that of its tiny brown body. What could it have been?

Another check of the mattress shows nothing different, dark, transparent, alive or dead. Nothing. Check the seam around the perimeter. Lift as much of the corners as you can between it and the box springs. Nothing between. Stare for a few moments more. Don’t weep. No time for that. It won’t help anything. How much would something to encase the mattress cost? Don’t contemplate remedies. There is no money now for any remedy you could find for the problem you pray you don’t have. And how could you have it? Google that tomorrow. You must court sleep tonight. Becoming more scared is morning work.

Yesterday I googled photos of what I remembered and took little comfort in the fact that it may have been a hitchhiking stray from any trip on public transportation, or that finding it says nothing about a person’s cleanliness. I just wanted to be wrong. I want to be wrong today as sheer will keeps me from behaving like the easily frightened person I was in my youth who would have refused to lie on my own bed for the last few nights.

Now I have to be the warrior who fights for everything, including sleep (whether she wins or not) and, now that I’m wide awake, for the space to let myself cry for just a little while before I fight some more.


11 thoughts on “Thoughts Between Sleep And Waking

  1. that last paragragh makes me think of a poem, a warrior who fights for sleep, very visual! and the fear, totally get that, good post Ré!

  2. Thank you for the warning. I’ll read anything you write, but I may have to delay this one for a couple of days, as just this morning I put my hand right onto a spider that was perched on my front door. I’m still recovering. . .

  3. This is as taut as I guess you felt,Ré. Fi and I stayed in an old country house hotel recently. I came home with a few bites down my left side (ordinarily bugs don’t go for me). I figured it was best not to know.

    • Thanks, Al. When I contemplate the perceived merits of knowing things I can’t do anything about and not knowing, I realize that knowing does give me the chance to exercise some of my muscles, so to speak — a hair’s-breadth better I suppose, but it doesn’t always feel stronger.

  4. One of my jobs growing up was being on call for my youngest sister who is deathly afraid of spiders. I never laughed at her. I carefully carried each and every spider out of her room and released it outside. Now, as an adult in another state, she has this weird little vacuum thing with a long nozzle and little bag that is just for sucking up spiders. My insect fear: earwigs. I know they are going to go in my ear and eat my brain. My dogs are trained when I yell ‘earwig!’ to come running and eat them. This was such a deep post, and you were very brave to go so far into you fear and find the words for it. My favorite line is crying a little before fighting again. That’s courage. To be able to be brave in spite of being terrified. That’s you, a courageous woman in more ways than you know.

    • I’m so glad you never laughed at her. It’s hard being afraid of something that so many people think is silly.

      Chicago had a abnormal amount of earwigs during the summer my daughter was born, it even made the TV news. I’d never seen one before that. I was so afraid about my baby when I found them on furniture and even on a washcloth. Brrr.

      Thanks for understanding this one and saying I’m courageous. You’re right about me not thinking that way about myself much.

  5. Oh, those fears in the middle of the night are the worst. I hate lying in bed, worrying, knowing I’m supposed to be asleep and I won’t get there anytime soon.
    I, too, love the line you write at the end about crying a little before you fight again. I think we all have to do that sometimes.

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