Insomnia

It’s one in the morning, and my husband has coughed himself to sleep, and I’m wide awake, drinking the leftover boxed wine like a sleeping pill. My tongue is numb from coffee-flavored vapor with nicotine, and I’m oh-so-tired of the stiffness in my neck, and the shoulders that never settle.

And — I am — afraid.

It stutters like that it my head: first the decision to make an addition, then the declaration of thought like Decartes, and finally — the kicker — the fear.

Every year, we have to file electronic paperwork in my office. Are you a veteran? it asks, and that is firmly no; I could never make it through bootcamp with my politics and sassy mouth. There are only two questions, and the second was once a simple no as well — check the two boxes and back to work; a minor inconvenience, a hiccup in the flow of my workday.

But this year I answered yes. This year I checked the other box. It turns out bipolar disorder is a disability.

Even more perplexing and shamefully shaming is that it’s helpful for me to check yes — there is the other box that states you don’t wish to disclose your status — but I need it to explain my behavior and productivity and errors and how I have fallen from a top employee to essentially a trainee in a matter of months. I need it to give an explanation for calling out on the days when I couldn’t stop crying or couldn’t get out of bed or simply couldn’t breathe — the most basic human function — do you know how it feels to pant instead of breathe?

I am afraid that I will be fired, and I am afraid of what will happen if I am not fired, if I do not quit. Something will have to go, be it sleep, or the office, or the podcast, or my writing, or my magazine — most likely my magazine. It’s logically the reasonable choice. Most of my email comes from my writers, and so does most of my work, but it’s delicious work.

I’ve drunk an entire glass of wine in 15 minutes because I am afraid that I won’t sleep, afraid that I’ll go crazy, or let someone down, especially me.

I’m typing and I can hear the Sondheim rhythms backing up my words, like the score to Into The Woods — into the woods and out of the woods and back before it’s dark. But it’s dark and it’s been dark, getting darker as it creeps slowly closer and whichever way I move, it’s breathing in soot.

This is a quarter life crisis, I tell myself. Everyone has one, and you are having yours. But it’s not the crisis that brings the fear; I have been through crises. I have been turned out of my mother’s house, and turned away from men I loved, and there has been so much hurt, but I could spin it into something fierce and useful, like scratchy yarn from which to make a sweater that kept out the cold and I could keep moving.

This is pitch in the dirt and the darkness comes and I cannot move and I cannot breathe.

I tore apart the box of wine to squeeze the remnants into my glass and took an extra Ativan; if I close my eyes, I feel the familiar oblivion. But what happens when I meet the day? And it churns me up like dirt from behind a plow? Apparently seeds are to be planted, like some second puberty, but combined with death and dismemberment, and the thing I become is a Frankenstein mockery of life.

Or so I fear.

I believe in the power of words, of fear is the mind killer — it is the antithesis to solution, to action. But my cat is circling the barstool on which I sit, wanting up, unsure of jumping, and so I pull him and place him up my lap. Because I too am afraid and I need the comfort.

The wine and Ativan are working, but then what? Morning will come, and then what? I will wake and I will sleep and I will fear —

and then what?

Mean Morning.

It’s a Mean Morning, the kind where you get out of bed tired and coffee doesn’t kick, where putting on clothes is a Task To Be Completed and makeup is too much to attempt, where the idea of sitting at a desk for eight and a half hours is enough to make you double up on your Ativan, and the day’s just begun.

We have a point system at work — so many taken away for being late, many more for a sick day, despite the fact that it all comes out of our vacation time regardless. If I weren’t already on faux-bation, I’d take the day and spend it all in bed, shades drawn, laptop nearby with a handy screen for staring and a download folder filled with movies, but let’s not explore my fantasies.

I simply want to disappear.

Some people have lives with topologically normal hills and valleys, vehicles cresting smoothly over and up like a children’s roller coaster. There are maybe the faintest of screams. It feels today like some Nascar race, no comforts within the steel cage of a car and the seatbelt is malfunctioning while for hours I continually turn left with supreme concentration and almost hope for a crash so I can get out. No one would blame me for quitting the race because then the car’s on fire.

This is not a metaphor for suicide; I don’t want your messages of hope. But it’s a good day to get fired.

It’s a good day for telling my boss she’s incompetent or screaming, not from the top of my lungs, but the very bottom, somewhere near the gullet where the bile is, a roar of FuckItHelpMeSomebodyGiveMeAnAnswerBecauseI’VEGOTNOTHING.

Take your medication, Elizabeth. The fuck is that supposed to do? Well, it’s meant to stabilize you, to pat all this shit down into a pancake that you cook up and eat. I’m not hungry.

Does any of this make sense?

Today is a good day for feeling crazy, for opening the window in spite of the deep-freeze and screaming back at the swaggering dudes outside who think they’re going to be rappers. Today is a good day to kill someone else’s dreams.

It’s a good day to gather up my Little Cat, to put her on my shoulder and let her sleep because there’s a soporific gland on her belly and I want to be anesthetized. It’s a good day to get in a fight with someone on twitter who’s being a fucking dumbass, or to tell a friend she’s being a drama-queen-privileged-idiot-fuckwit, or to listen to The Used.

It’s always a bad day to pick a fight with my husband, but to hell with it — let’s throw that on the pile.

It’s a good day to get in a fight. I want to feel my fists and feet explode into someone’s body and cause pain because then it’s in them, in their bruises, and that’ll heal with time. Crazy fucking girl came out of nowhere, man, and starting wailing on me until she sat down in the street and cried. It’s a good day to feel ineffectual.

These are the days to believe in God, but in that department I’m S.O.L. I’m a Buddhist. We believe in impermanence, that eventually everything ends: you, me, this Mean Sonuvabitch Morning. But there’s no timer — no one’s telling me when and where the Demon Dogs stop chasing and humanity begins again.

It’s a good day to burn your tongue on the coffee, and a good day to stock up on more.

It’s a good day to ask for help because the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, but I’ve hit that step, and the second one is to “believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” but I already said that I’m a non-believer, so I guess I just have a Problem.

This isn’t the sort of thing that ends with “it’s a Good Day,” on that uplifting note that brings hope and closure. This isn’t the sort of thing that closes. It’s a wound that doesn’t want to heal despite the gauze and the tinctures and the antibiotics and the traction. And it doesn’t help that I keep picking at my scabs.

It’s a good day to write like I’m in high school again, glamorizing the throat pain of cigarettes, or to contemplate becoming a truck driver, or to pour a glass of wine at 8:10 in the morning, and I don’t mind if I do.

Never mind the glass — the bottle’s quicker.

It’s a good day to be soothed by vices, to skullfuck your deadlines, to eat so much Doritos-and-Cake that you get sick and take a bottle of gingerale to bed. It’s a good day for nicotine, caffeine, and benzodiazepines. It’s a good day to fawn over Sylvia Plath.

It’s not a good day to cross my path, but it’s a great day for convenient rhymes and bad cliches.

It’s a Mean Morning, and by the looks of it, the forecast is going to hold all the livelong day.

Beer and Rumination

Last night, I had two potent beers and watched Birdman. This is a dangerous game when your medications are also potent.

Sure enough, when IMDBing how old Michael Keaton is (63), I realized that my father is 65 years old as of last month, and while that might qualify him for Medicare and Social Security, that’s nowhere near old enough for me. Especially since his family line has a penchant for living as close to forever as human beings can reasonably live.

My father is the worst human being I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I assure you, it isn’t. Both my mother and my best friend’s mother (who unfortunately chose to date him for a time during my sophomore year of high school) have restraining orders against him to this day. My mother divorced him 24 years ago, and my best friend’s mother broke off their relationship 15 years afterward, 11 years ago somewhere around this time. He raped them both, and was physically violent to my mother on multiple occasions. She’s been in the hospital more than once as a result of his hand.

I’m lucky in that he only hit me once.

I was a senior in high school, and living with him at the time. I had been on the phone with a friend who had to hang up and call me back. It would be a matter of moments between hanging up and the phone ringing again. I was sitting on my father’s bed with the phone in front of me; he was putting away laundry nearby. When the phone rang, we both reached for it, but I made the ‘mistake’ of pushing his hand away, saying, “I got it. It’s for me.”

In response, he punched me above my left knee, on the outside of my lower thigh. It left a bruise for well over a week — I don’t remember how long exactly.

When I backed away from him, and said that he would never touch me again, I remember his laugh, as if to say how ridiculous — over this? I left that afternoon, and went to my mother’s house to exchange music on my iPod — my father’s place didn’t have iTunes. I don’t remember how I mentioned it to her, but it was casual — our relationship then was strained, nothing like it was now, and I imagine I wanted to tell her so she would feel badly about making me leave her house.

She didn’t say much about it, and I left to see a movie with my best friend — Silent Hill. We were cowered in our seats at the sight of various creepily crawling monsters when my mother tapped me on the shoulder (not the best move) and told me I was never going back there again. And I didn’t, save for the day after she got an emergency court order changing my custody — we went into his house during the day, when he wouldn’t be home, took everything that was mine, and left.

For whatever reason, my freeze-out didn’t last as long as I would have hoped. I’m ashamed to say it was probably due to convenience. My freshman year of college was a miserable experience, and I came home every weekend I could make plans with friends, which was often. I needed rides back and forth, and my mother could only do so much, so, eventually, I reached out to my father.

That ended one afternoon in April 2007.

I had spent the weekend talking with my mother about her history with my father, piecing together the history of violence committed by one whose genetics I shared, whose awful temper I sometimes shared. She told me that, when in the Navy, he had picked up a fellow sailor by the pecs and left weeks-long bruises because he had pinched my father. She told me that he had held her in the air by her throat when they were long-distance dating, leaving her in terrible pain on the flight home. She told me that they had had a puppy together — but that he had grown sick of it, and so, one day, shot the dog instead of giving him to a shelter. She told me of the many, many cats he made her give away after promising they would be permanent pets. She told me that he had called her fat when she was pregnant, while he made her pose sideways in a two-piece bathing suit to monitor her progress. She told me that he had anally raped her, many times.

She told me that when she decided to leave him, we ran away in the middle of the day, while he was at work. We had to take the dog, for fear of her life, and, since the women’s shelter we stayed in didn’t allow pets, my mother begged and pleaded until a local vet agreed to kennel her until we found a permanent place to stay. We lived in that shelter for weeks. I was two years old, and they had been married for about as long.

She told me I hated going to see him on alternate weekends as a child. I believed it all, but this I could remember. I remembered staying with him and his girlfriend in the house they shared, and being forced to sleep in the basement because the guest room shared a wall with the master bedroom. Presumably he couldn’t keep their sexual activities outside of the four nights per month I stayed with him, so I cried myself to sleep at night, scared of the furnace, the cold and dark. If I couldn’t sleep, he made me march around the room until I became exhausted, or to stand in the corner, but not lean against the wall.

He did take me rock climbing, to the science museum, the aquarium, and the children’s museum, but more often than not, I spent my father-weekends riding my bike to the local library, stocking up on books, and climbing the tree beside the driveway, reading away the time. I remember playing by myself in the woods for hours, going deeper and deeper into the wilderness, and never hearing my name be called. I remember only being allowed to watch educational VHS tapes about the biomes of the Earth. I hated it there — I remember many things.

She told me these things because I had asked her, knowing he was going to drive me back to college on Sunday afternoon. It had been about a year since he had hit me, and I was ready to confront him, scared as I was. He never drank, never did drugs, but worked out constantly, and was strong, especially for a man in his mid-fifties. I had caught slants of his temper before of course — he would never yell, but his eyes would turn cold, and his voice would sharpen, and you would know to hold your breath and do as you were told, else

I was in the car, calculating the time until we were to reach my dorm, on a busy street in Boston. I knew that once the car pulled up to the curb, I would have to fly out of it and away, and that it would be difficult for him to follow, especially since leaving his enormous Buick on a street that narrow would be almost impossible in the city.

So I confronted him.

I told him everything I knew, with anger and dismay. I told him that I knew what he was, that I was ashamed to be related to him. I repeated back to him the story of the time he had hit me, never asking him to apologize, but speaking in such a way that it was suggested. And then I asked him why.

“You had to know who was in control.”

At that point, the car was at the curb and I flung the door open, grabbed my bag from the back, and hurled my parting words into his face before slamming the door, and racing up the stairs. Recalling it even now gives me a speeding heart. I don’t remember what I said to him, but it was intense — it was loathing — it dared him to take action.

There were no elevators to the dorms on the first floor — you had to walk up to the second first, and then present your ID. I remember there were people in front of me, and I cursed them, sure I was about to feel a hand on my shoulder, and fire in my face at any moment.

It never came.

Instead, I rode up to the eleventh floor, hid out in the laundry room, and — sobbing — called my mother. I told her I never wanted to see or speak to him again, and I haven’t since. It has been eight years.

He has tried to contact me since, calling me every so often until I changed my phone number. My mother told me that when we split from him, he hired a private detective to hunt her down, and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done the same with me. He’s incredibly thrifty, and made quite a lot of money when I was a child. How else would explain the sudden appearance of his mother in the restaurant I worked at in 2012? I pretended I didn’t know her, poor thing, with such fear and sadness in her eyes. She has since passed away. That was the last time I saw her, the first time since I was a child.

I dream of him often, nightmares all. He’s always hunting me, for violence or sex — though he never assaulted me that way, not that I can recall. I’m always afraid he’ll turn up somewhere, and thank my job for it’s lockdown approach to security — no one gets in without a badge, no exceptions. I thank my building for requiring a fob to swipe into the parking lot and building. I thank my husband for being a man that makes me feel safe.

And I wait for the call that will inevitably come, the one where some lawyer somewhere will tell he’s died. That day, I will feel a great deal of relief.

Perhaps it sounds monstrous to think this way about your father, but then again — if you knew a man who had beaten and raped multiple women, who had hurt and neglected you, who savagely killed animals and never apologized for any of it — if such a man happened to be your father, even — wouldn’t you hate him, too?

Lost

I used to be good at things, you know. I used to succeed without involving much effort and have time leftover to write and I was always reading and socializing and I worked hard and made money. I used to be able to do this, and now I’m afraid that I’m not doing any of it right. Maybe I just need to admit to myself that I’m afraid. I’m scared. I’m worried. I’m afraid.

I’m not giving enough time to my writing, when that’s really the most important thing. It’s always been the most important thing, ever since I was in second grade and I wrote my first poem, and was praised — it all fell upon me like glittering snow: you’re gifted you have a talent that’s amazing I don’t know how you do it and on and on until I was something of a star to some people, but now — I’m unfulfilled potential. I’m sitting on this novel inside of me, and instead of letting it out, word by word, until it’s finished, I’m smothering it. My enthusiasm, my excitement of the idea of it is smothering, too, and maybe I’m not ever meant to write a novel. Maybe I don’t have the thing that keeps you writing, the grit, the goddamned grit that makes you succeed in your ventures when it’s just you and a computer. What don’t you do then? What’s keeping you?

And I have pieces to write, pieces I believe in that I pitched to places that matter, place where I will be read all in the hope of becoming something. A literary agent from a high profile company contacted me based on one of those pieces, and now? I’m just someone else with a WordPress account and some deadlines to meet. The website that published the article that got the agent’s attention won’t take any more of my ideas. They won’t even answer my emails. That’s also the only piece I’ve ever been paid for — digressions. I have more work to be done, more words to write, things to say that could be good — no, enough of being modest, they could be fantastic — if I only set aside the time. I only seem to get work done on the second floor of a coffee shop and then I can write for about five hours, but it’s a cold walk, so cold that I sit at home and wait on the ideas and turn in pieces that could have been brilliant. What good is publication if your work is mediocre? Or even if it’s merely good? There are so many people who are good, and to succeed you have to be amazing — you have to be shining above your peers so that your light drowns everyone else out.

And I could. I believe I could, without vanity, without any inflation of my ego, but there are other things, other preoccupations and projects — there is my darling magazine that brings hope to so many writers like me. It gives them a place to write the prose that isn’t candy but warm, hearty bread that nourishes people, that feeds those that make it and those that eat it, but my bakery is getting busier all the time. My inbox is never empty and the drafts keep pouring in and I love it — I asked for it and hoped for it — but I’m getting to the point where I’ll soon need help. And no one will love it like I do, no one can look at a piece of writing and see what it needs like I can, or pick out a talented writer from one piece in a veritable sea of pieces, and know that they fit here, on the island of misfit talent. Where do I get the time?

And what if, what if I’m not cut out for podcasting? I’ve grown a little recording of two girls talking into being plucked from the ether by one of the largest networks in the country, and I listen to the other shows — my peers, comrades in arms — and I don’t know what I’m doing there. I can’t speak intelligently or humorously at length, and I come to recordings too prepared, with quotes from newspapers that I read verbatim and, though I’ve quit stuttering, I now pause when I lose my place in a sentence, building suspense out of which is meant to come insight, but instead, I simply finish a normal thought, and I wonder why anyone is listening. I wish there were feedback coming in, but instead it’s silence and I don’t know where to go from here.

I’m lost, and some of it is my brain chemistry convincing me of certain failure when really things are progressing normally, and some of it is being 26 and wanting to achieve something amidst my quarter-life-crisis, and some of it is jealousy — absolute jealousy of those who are more successful, more talented, more glorified, just more than me

— and I’m failing my husband who has held me up all this time. He needs a partner and I’m so trapped in my head by disease and self-interested delusion that I forget to look through the bars and see. This is not a one-woman-show. He is not something I climb on top of to stay afloat. He is my sanity, and sometimes he is the one to take away the knives, and to hold me through the tears, and provide the support I want and criticisms I need, but he is my husband, and I am afraid that I am doing a very poor job of being his wife.

I am lost, and I’m tired of looking for the way. Would I even know if I found it? For now I will sit where I am and wait for something to come, whether it be a deus ex machina or simply a coherent thought, but if you need me, I will be here. Sitting — waiting for something to come.

Relatively Normal: A Matter of Representation

Every morning, I wake up and take five pills: 3 Effexor, an SNRI antidepressant; 1 Wellbutrin, an aminoketone anti-depressant; and 1 Ativan, an anti-anxiety benzodiazepine. Actually, I take these five pills sometime after I wake up, when my reminder alarm goes off — Ativan can cause memory loss and I’ll end up taking somewhere between 2 and 4 more of them throughout the day.

There are other side effects, some of which compound on each other:

Ativan and Effexor reduce your sex drive. Wellbutrin usually has no sexual side effects. So my love life is holding steady at a negative 2. Wellbutrin and Effexor cause insomnia, while Ativan makes you drowsy. No wonder why I can fall asleep easily, but have an insomnia hour around 4AM.

All three cause headaches/migraines, and dizziness — I get both fairly frequently. All three also get you much more fucked up, so a few sips of wine or a beer, and I’m fairly drunk. I’ve taken to avoiding bars, but Wellbutrin and Effexor cause dry mouth, so I’m always well hydrated.

However, all of these things are supposed to be endured to stave off the crazy.


I am allowed to say ‘the crazy‘ because I’m reclaiming that word. Like feminists with ‘bitch.’ Except that I use it in a more self-depricatingly funny way. It’s not pride.

Then again, can you really be proud of something you didn’t decide to be a part of?


The crazy is also shorthand for Doctors Don’t Really Know What’s Wrong With My Brain.

Right now, the general descriptors are depression, anxiety, and PTSD, with a slight chance of Bipolar II. My votes are for the two latter. In the interest of time, my proof is multifaceted:

I think a lot about bad or weird things. I’m often distressed, either about nothing, or about a perfectly reasonable situation that for some reason bothers me. I’m either snipping and yelling at my husband, or not talking at all. I’m exhausted a lot of the time, and it can come on any time, in an instant.

Oh, and random crying. There’s some of that.


The problem with all of this is not all of this. I’m very rarely upset to be stupidly tired, or contemplating cutting, or feeling triggered in the grocery store. This is the new normal. It has been for two years. There are ways to deal. Workarounds.

The problem is that all of this is supposed to be pushed under the rug. Hidden away. It’s not pretty or pleasant, so no one wants to look at it. The new padded walls are closed mouths. We’ve rid ourselves of asylums and put the impetus on the inmates to hide themselves away.

She’s introverted.

She’s bitchy.

She’s such a negative person.

She needs to get over it already.

She’s just trying to get attention.

All of that is easier than having to actually face something like depression. Or anxiety. Or PTSD. Or bipolar. Or schizophrenia. Or OCD. Or spectrum disorders.


So depression is something you experience when you’ve had a bad day.

Anxiety is when you’re really nervous about a test.

PTSD is when you don’t like hearing about your ex-boyfriend.

Bipolar is having contradictory thoughts or emotions in the span of an hou.

Schizophrenia is shortened to ‘schizo’ and hurled as an insult.

OCD is being a type-A personality.

Having a spectrum disorder makes you interesting.


No one wants to speak for these people, my people.

We can’t even get a public defender, much less a psychiatrist who gives enough of a shit to explain your medication to you, and listen to your experience with it.

We have to represent ourselves, and that starts with identification.


I’m Liz.

I have the crazy.

I’m not proud of it, but I’m not ashamed, either.

Fix Something That’s Broken

If you move to push your hair off your shoulder, catch your delicate necklace chain, and snap apart the links, you can bring it to a jeweler who will handle it with care, and piece what’s broken back together, ready again to lay against your neck.

If you drop a vase and it shatters on the floor, flattening out from one curved and beautiful piece into many little sharps, you can sweep up the majority and discard them. Some will surface later, in the heel of your foot, or on the bottom of your shoe. Slowly, but surely, though, the bits of glass will all be gone one day, and the vase will be replaced.

If at birth, there is a tiny seed germinating in your newly birthed head, the result of bad genetics or an accident of god, and it grows for 23 years into a shadowy tree whose roots dig into your brain slowly, slowly — one day something will rupture .

There is nothing to be done.


You’re never supposed to self-diagnose, especially not through WebMD.

I self-diagnosed — albeit through a typical in-office psychiatrist’s test — and checked WebMD to confirm that my shadow tree was Bipolar II.

I don’t know what else to say about that


There isn’t a way to fix a broken mind, no way to smelt it back together, or dispose of it and find another. You live with the brokenness, inflict it upon others, withdraw into the crevices where no one else can go.

You can consult your therapist, who dedicates an hour a week to untangling the shadow roots so that the puncture wounds aren’t as deep, but in the end, she has less power than the disinterested psychiatrist who will always come to a new solution too fast, and charge you too much.

Like cough drops, they drape a cloth over the symptoms so only the outline remains.


I have taken antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics, benzodiazepines.

I am a child’s chemistry set — imprecise, and poorly cared for. Chipped, scratched, missing parts.

The part that I miss most is what distinguishes reality from craziness, but that’s been gone for a long, long time.


I can’t fix what’s broken. I can use duct tape, WD-40, and patches for the holes.

But what’s broken remains. Will always remain.

Befriend Your Fears

I have been avoiding this topic for sixteen days. I’m afraid of my own fears — a silly statement, unless you’re a Roosevelt; then it becomes profound.

The last time I saw my therapist, we began to talk about my nightmares (or should I say dreams? I sleep, and there’s nothing there but fear.). When I was younger there were monsters behind my eyes, and now there are men, three men, who shift in and out night by night.

There is the downstairs neighbor who holds raucous parties on occasion, parties where people end up screaming at each other, and girls cry. I hear it all through the heating vent, and it colors my dreams. The man’s voice is the voice of a drug king; he is fighting with a friend who comes undone when he drinks or does drugs, and the man has a girlfriend whose screaming drowns out what the fight is about. In my dreams, the man, the drug king has taken some interest in me. He finds me amusing, pursues me, but not romantically. His girlfriend’s eyes and ears see and hear, yet she interacts with me in the building’s elevator as if we are to one day become friends.

I come home from work one day, and there are twenty or so people waiting. I know they wait for me. I fight them, shrugging off the first two, but I realize it won’t stop until I am battered black and blue. I stand still and silent as they rush toward me, awaiting the pain — and I wake, hearing the sounds of the man, the girl, and the friend echoing up the heat shaft; they won’t stop until the sun begins to rise.

There is another man, more boy than man, skinny thing, all elbows and nose, and his presence is sinister, but in the dream, I don’t suspect a thing. I talk with him, drink with him, lie in bed with him, re-establish intimacy that is never consummated because I wake first in protest. I have awoken punching walls. I have awoken about to scream.

The dream is a film of the past, of misdeeds done in the name of confusion and loneliness, and I watch myself ruin my life again and again, unable to intervene, only able to wake up with a wrenching will, panting with the effort. I settle myself into my husband’s arms, and stare off into the darkness for a time, blank-faced, hoping the memories will clear.

There is one last man, a powerful hunter, a repetitive abuser — he seeks me out in my sleep more than the others, mainly for sex. I do not like to talk about him. He exists in the real world, has hunted me, has hit me, has raped women I know — he has a history of hiring detectives to track down the people who attempt to elude him.

He is out of his prime now, would have arthritis, maybe his skin cancer has returned. He will be 65 on Sunday. I fear him most of all.

How does a woman befriend these fears that return her to shrinking girlhood? How does she remain strong in the face of three men who play upon her most vulnerable weaknesses? That is a thing that eludes me upon waking, every time.