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When I was small I remember quite clearly that if I went to bed feeling angry, weepy or miserable sleep would miraculously erase the upset. Even as a teenager if I slept on it everything would be better in the morning, or at least minimised. So it's come as quite a shock to discover that the sleep fairies who sprinkle the stardust of happiness and equilibrium no longer visit me before I wake. The last few nights I’ve gone to bed feeling stressed, frantic and on the brink of disaster and, in the few seconds it takes to go from somnolence to consciousness, this heavy weight of despair returns to settle back on my shoulders – I try to wear it well, like a mink stole, but it really isn’t a look I enjoy.
Why the anxiety and aggravation? I’m ashamed to admit that I have the deepest pit of resentment (mixed metaphor alert) and it’s bubbling away like magma. [As an aside, I used to be engaged to someone whose mother was nicknamed Vesuvius by the neighbours. She was certainly formidable!] Anyway, I have to keep a lid on this resentment; I can’t direct it at anyone because I don’t want to roast my nearest and dearest; I can’t get it to seep away or dissipate because every day something happens to turn up the heat and pressure a notch...
I’m in trouble because I have to do something before I blow my top and hurt innocent bystanders. TA can see the smoke and feel the tremors; I’m surprised he’s not running scared. I’m running scared, but I can’t escape myself and I can’t escape the situation, although I’d dearly love to.
I have guilty fantasies – I never met TA, I continued to save money and now I’m buying my first flat alone, no one else to please, career girl, no need to beg and borrow from my parents, I’m independent, I’m free to do whatever I please. I have out-of-control arguments with ‘those to blame’ in my head saying the things that I’ll never be allowed to say and think I’m not really allowed to feel, vindictive and evil bile spews out of my silent mouth, while in my sleep my teeth grind. “You have utterly screwed us, you told us that this would work – you said you’d only practice during the day, you said you’d clean up, you said we’re all adults and perfectly capable of buying toilet rolls, you didn’t warn us that your boyfriend is a vacant, vain popinjay and that you’d continually be on and off again, you didn’t tell us that the three of you have never really grown up - and it clearly hasn’t worked and now you’re making our home life unstable and treacherous. And that’s a betrayal, a bitter one since TA and I have done so much to try to help you. We gave you somewhere to stay, we fed you, I’ve even tried to help clothe you, we’ve given you money we can’t afford to try to help you, we’ve been patient and kind to you when frankly I wonder if a slap round the head and a repeated dunking wouldn’t have worked better.”
“And as for you, when are you going to get a job? One that pays money? How long am I supposed to be patient? I’m sick and tired of this. I’m sick and tired of carrying you, of being expected to carry your relatives too, of having to consult you on every decision – especially when you drag your feet. I’ve invested so much in you and now I want to see some dividends. It’s payback time.”
“You. I blame you, and you and you and especially you for getting me into this mess. This mess I can’t see a way out of. And I’m angry and you’re all going to suffer the wrath. And then I’ll feel better and vindicated and I’ll leave you in my dust as I power off into the sunset that’s reserved for those of us who are righteous.”
This mink stole is heavy, stinks and marks me out as a pariah. I hate it and yet it’s the only thing that’s keeping me warm and it’s mine all mine, my secret, self-indulgent luxury. So I cling to it, breathe in the mouldy rank odour and wrap it round tight as I pull my shoulders up to my ears, grit my teeth and face the day.