Friday, April 16, 2010

How To Spell The Sound of a Silent Scream...

I promise to get better at the title thing...really.

This one is actually NOT that far off the mark. It was between this one and "I Can't Sleep". Perhaps you're wondering if either one of these is truly relevant to the task at hand. Well, I figure I am going to have days like these...days when I need to talk about something that may or may not be tangent to my project's true focus.

I can't sleep these days. It's true. Simply put: whenever I shut off the light I have this haunting image in my head that someone is going to come down the hallway. My stomach is in knots over a lingering silhouette in my doorway. For the record, I have no further thought of what said person would or could do to those of us sleeping here (thank goodness), so let's not go down that path. My overactive imagination clearly does not need a new level of terror to explore.

But let's come back in a minute to my man in the doorway syndrome.

For now I want to describe the chosen title's relevance. You see, as I sit here in the wee hours of the dark (I honestly don't even start to feel sleepy until 2-ish at this point), I watch TV. I realize that my folly may be right there...that I am unable to fall asleep because my brain is so stimulated by the television, and that reading a book would perhaps facilitate the falling asleep process much better. BUT, it's not that I don't get tired and that I can't sleep in the technical sense. I can, and I do. It's that somewhere in my brain is this random fear of the man in the doorway, and as I reach over to turn out the bedside lamp, a wave of panic ensues. From there I have very little success sitting in the dark waiting for sleep to overtake me...even though my dog is here with me, and I am not alone in the house. But again, I'll come back to the man in the doorway. Obviously there is more to say about him.

One thing I do while watching TV (day or night) is to cruise the channel guide to see what is on and coming on. I do it constantly, as though the entries were going to somehow change from 10-minutes ago when I last performed my run through. Its a bit OCD frankly. I typically settle on movies or documentary-type programming. 

Last night, as I made my repeated "rounds" on the channel guide, instead of seeing the same results over and over again, it actually appeared as though something was changing each time (though in reality it was simply that I was reading the programming description more closely on certain channels as I went by). And to my horror, I found the same subject being examined in different programs; I think there must have been 3 within a 2.5 hour timeframe last night. Perhaps some of you have already guessed the subject...?

Of course it was that of survival against the odds. I'm cursed by it at the moment...why wouldn't it plague me? I don't mind telling you that it was entirely annoying to select a channel more than once to then discover that they were reviewing a subject that I cannot go near at the moment. And it was on the third instance, when there was nothing else that I wanted to watch, I let out a silent, but powerful (and long-winded) scream of frustration.

And then--because it makes absolutely no sense and that's my life--my exhaustion and I sat together, wondering exactly how to spell the sound of that silent scream, for I knew that I would be writing about this story, and wouldn't it be a whole lot better if I just narrated my thoughts in the first person? I know. I told you it made no sense...but as you get to know me, you will definitely realize that I (and my crazy surroundings for that matter) have more in common with Alice (not my grandmother, but the famous one in the Looking Glass) than I would like. I no longer believe it's a coincidence that people have called me by her name all my life.

Anyway, I couldn't come up with the spelling on my own (I could have searched the Internet this morning, but I feel that would have been cheating at this point), so that's how the title was born. I just had to give credit to the 1-2 hours I spent thinking up ways to creatively spell a silent scream.

OK, back to the man in the doorway syndrome. Background: I should tell you that this fear is not unfounded. I have actually awoken to find a stranger standing in my doorway before, and it wasn't that many years ago. It was one of the most adrenaline-driven moments of my life. It's actually a great which I will tell y'all if you remind me...but the short of it is that I got out of bed, took 2 steps and clocked the bastard.

My point in telling you this is that I know what I am capable of in this situation. I have been put to the test, and I would say that I passed. It's comforting on more than one level to know this about yourself. And as a result, I do not sleep without a bat next to my bed. Hindsight found me wishing I had been able to grab something like a bat to use in that first experience (though I know it was for the best that I did not have one at that time--I probably would have killed the poor kid); but I would be damned if I would be found wanting a second time, if in fact, the scenario ever presented itself again.

So knowing this about myself, and knowing I am armed with a bat, why am I experiencing this subconscious freak-out? Why am I so unnerved that I cannot shut off the TV until I see the faint light of morning?

When I discussed this with my mom 2-days ago she said, "Well, you do have the dog in your room", and she's right. Dogs notice when someone breaks into the house...particularly mine who not only barks but growls and snarls at the little old ladies walking innocently on my street. He's perfect for the job. Yet in a late-breaking development last night, a very dissapointing turn of events occurred in which I sat in my bedroom with aforementioned dog while he drempt so hard that he didn't feel me forcefully pounding on the floor and speaking loudly to him for a timed 60-second period. Great. He can turn on a dime when it comes to the eldery on my street but fails to wake up to noise and vibration in the night. I think reliance on him as our whole alarm system, at least at night, is a bit...what's the word...stupid. I have yet to tell my mom about his failed performance.

But I want to know why I am having this problem...not that my dog is or is not a suitable alarm system or that I can and will use a bat against an intruder. So when I think about the man in the doorway syndrome in the light of day today--and as I write it all out on paper (y'all know how cleansing and therapeutic I believe this activity to be)--I am starting to get a glimpse of the 'why'. Now, granted, I don't know SQUAT about dream interpretation or metaphoric symbolism or any of that stuff. But I do believe in it. So I do, scratch that. I have to believe that this whole man in the doorway thing is symbolic of something in my life.

As I write this I am hearing the faint sound of my inner voice, and it's saying the word 'change'. I don't know why, and I don't feel like asking at the moment. I would be willing to accept this as a contender, except that I am pretty darn good at change. So that might not be specific enough. But the word 'changing' seems to fit quite nicely. But why (arghhh...always with the why!!)? Well...

First, this whole project is a change of focus for me. But I already know that's not it. 100% no. I don't feel anxious about this. I am rather enjoying it.

I instead think that it may have something to do with the fact that the state of my physical being is changing. My recovery is entering a new chapter on the physical level, just as I am moving in a new direction mentally and spiritually. My body is experiencing so many different things these days: insane nerve issues, scrunched toes that don't straighten, new pain in my chest, indescribable pain in my left hamstring and abductor, noticeable changes due to brain injury, etc. These are all new things compared to the life I was introduced to in the hospital; a life which included being unable to use my left hand and shoulder, not being able to walk but learning to, etc. A life that was much tougher by many standards, but nevertheless has been my familiar scene for the past 6-months. Now that I can walk every day without needing a wheelchair, that I can use my left hand, that I can move my left shoulder, etc., I am moving (albeit slowly) into unfamiliar territory again. A territory that doesn't start out with 24-7 medical care and psychological care to ensure I am doing ok. Nope. I see my therapists and doctors at regularly scheduled follow-up/check-in visits now, unless it gets to be too much or I'm sick, and my PT is all done at home. Further, no support system exists for me mentally as I move forward (not that I don't have's that the calvary isn't going to come charging around the corner if I have a bad day this time).

I actually think I have figured it out. I am changing, and it's scaring me because I do not know how to manage these new pains, if they are normal or not, and if they are here to stay or just part of the road to the next chapter. But the name for my villain is not the phrase "I am changing". It's "fear of the unknown".

Ah yes. That tricky bugger...I am familiar with him. He snuck right up on me this time. [growl] My inner voice seems to agree with this analysis, which has suddenly put me at ease. Interesting. I am not usually able to figure out such things without beating myself bloody against the wall for a while.

I am unsure what to do about this fear, except to find a way to accept it. Perhaps I will make a list of all my new issues/symptoms just to put some kind of envelope around something what seems to be so infinite at the moment. Perhaps I will find a counselor. Perhaps I will do both. The real litmus test, I think, will be over the next few nights when it comes time to turn off the light.

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