Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

The other side of the vertical blinds: thoughts on incest, insomnia, chronic pain and the writing process

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | July 02, 2007 7:48 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: fibromyalgia, Incest, insomnia

I can see the light streaming in through the edges of my eye mask it's some impossible time in the morning I'm trying every trick I know to get back into that dark softness -- humming on exhale to enlarge my breathing, poking the tips of my fingers to relax my brain, anal sphincter exercises because sometimes that brings enough of a calming rush to my head, turning on my side to hug the body pillow. But then I'm wired, the worst kind of wired where my brain won't stop I'm planning out three essays at once -- one on censorship and self-censorship, one on contested boundaries in queer and trans subcultures, one on why my brain won't stop I have to get my brain to stop there's nothing helpful about planning essays out in bed when I really need to be sleeping. Maybe if I could make a carbon copy of my brain and look at it in the morning, otherwise everything gets stored differently and by the time I actually have time to write my brain no longer works.

This is the danger zone, where I might not fall back asleep and if I don't fall back asleep then I can't function at all, my body dried out my mind torn up my digestion destroyed it's like the difference between falling and collapse: I can still do something when I'm falling, choreograph and cushion the end results. But if I don't fall back asleep then it's over, now what's happening is that I almost get there I'm kind of dreaming but then I get too hot so I have to turn to the other side and then I'm awake again.

At some point I'm surrounded by this horrible familiar panic there's someone there do they know I'm here should I look underneath the vertical blinds just a tiny bit so that I know what I'm facing? I'm out of bed, right by the window everything is terror I mean the room is filled with what might happen what happens again and again what always happens, I pull one of the blinds a tiny bit to the side but the space isn't wide enough for me to see anything, my whole body is this fear this panic this waiting to be surrounded. I pull a tiny bit wider: what I see is a white flower. Still I'm panicked, was that really a white flower, what could that white flower represent I mean still there's the terror like the white flower is that terror the room in waves.

I can't believe this is the place I'm visiting again, I drag myself out of the dream -- those vertical blinds in my room as a kid, they were supposed to be sophisticated. Then I'm lying in bed again, not wanting to wake up too much but wanting to get away from that flashback state where even a white flower means the end of everything, the end of everything again and again and again. Still, it was a white flower, maybe I can go back in the dream to see just the white flower, like that plant my grandmother gave me when I was a kid, yes maybe it sat on the shelf right by the window.

The good news is that I fall back asleep, when I wake up it's way too late but I'm still so glad that I went back somewhere approaching rest, that second wave of sleep the one that truly matters. The bad news is that as soon as I start chopping vegetables, my right arm feels twisted the wrong way, what is it that's increasing the pain, is it something that I do with my hand while I'm sleeping, my stomach clenched it relaxes when I wake up my hand stays wrenched. I'm just glad that drinking lemon water feels like relief, that means this is more of a normal day then a terrible one, I'll stretch and then hopefully the pain in my right hand will have dissipated.

Mattilda blogs at nobodypasses.blogspot.com


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