I mentioned in my last entry that Dana and I are both very busy this week. We’re getting ready for her parents to arrive on Saturday, and I am transitioning to nights on Sunday at 11:00 PM. In order to get used to it, I’m going with my friend Scott to KPFT, where the radio station is dedicating three hours to the memory of Jimmy Carper, longtime host of After Hours. Then, I’m going to church around 10:00, and afterward, we’re hosting a party for the Superbowl, as well as our sixth anniversary. Somewhere in there, I have to sleep.
I am fairly certain that it’s just going to be a 90-day rotation, but to me, that’s unsettling enough for one year. The last time I thought I was going to nights, I made it three days before I felt like my world was coming apart, starting with every muscle and bone in my body screaming for rest. It’s lucky that I’ve spent most of my life in the dark. I enjoy being a night owl, once I get used to it. But that 5:00-8:00 range is psychotic. That’s when you *really* start trying to keep yourself awake and cursing the people who did this to you. There is only so long that sleep can be replaced by caffeine, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve slept ten hours during the day. It’s not the same. Your circadian rhythm will still kick in. All of my coworkers say that the rotation is just short enough that the day you get used to it is the day you find out it’s over.
The one thing that staying up all night does for me is keep my depression to a minimum. The chemicals needed to keep yourself awake against your circadian rhythm’s siren call include dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. I will get the same drugs I take in pill form naturally… not enough to stop taking my medication, but enough to help them work more effectively.
Alternatively, when I stay up all night, I am so tired that I cry as easily as a baby. It’s not that anything is especially wrong. It’s just that emotions are running high… and don’t even get me started on long distance commercials. But crying is cathartic, and if that’s what it takes to get used to being upside down from the rest of the world, then so be it. I could probably use a couple of good cries, anyway. I spend a lot of my day trying to be strong and grown up and all that, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not still vulnerable on the inside. Everyone is, I suppose. Some people are better at showing it than others, though.
My vulnerability is that I’ve gotten over missing my abuser, but I haven’t gotten over missing who I used to be, because I haven’t yet figured out who I want to be in the future. I feel trapped, kind of like when I live in Houston, I miss Portland and vice versa. Neither feels like home anymore, but Houston is becoming more so as I get grounded at work. I’ve never had a job like this before, one where I am excited to get out of bed every morning.
But going back to “who I used to be…” I know that I have changed so much, and need to do more work on myself. It’s just that who I used to be is so familiar. That’s the Leslie I know. We’re friends. This new Leslie is so different that I don’t know how to feel about her, yet. It’s like when The Doctor regenerates and he checks out his new body. Same software, different case.
Some days, I can’t wait to see her. How she’s growing, how she’s doing, where we are together. Other days, I want to crawl inside the old me, because the new me has done something that I wouldn’t normally do and I’m frightened that I’m changing so rapidly. For instance, the new me is not afraid of conflict, and uses the tools she’s advised for other people all her life without giving herself the benefit of their use. It’s in those moments that I have these out of body experiences where old me does the running commentary on the new me. My friends who are in AA call it “the committee.”
As a preacher’s kid, I am predisposed to hate committees.
…but at the same time, I am lying to myself when I say that I’ve gotten over missing my abuser. It’s a strange and tangled web we weave, long-term relationships with people who intentionally or not cause us harm. I thought of her incessantly yesterday when I found out that Jimmy was dead, because she was the first one to know that I wasn’t going to be straight when I grew up, and that I was going to need things like After Hours to give me strength. It was a moment in which I remembered her in her green Gap sweater and penny loafers and blue and white striped Oxford shirt and wished I could cry into it.
…and I didn’t even stay up all night.