Insomnia and the 6 steps to hell.

Lying in bed, troubled by something, existing somewhere in your mind. Scanning your mind trying to find the source of your troubles - the pressure engulfs you... Trying to push it away, you only think of it more, the frustration comes and starts the infinite loop of horror, this is the moment you acknowledge that you're not getting much sleep tonight.

Sometime later, believing your mind is clear, the horror strikes once more, and you find yourself concentrating on your breath, your control over your breath drives you insane ; you only wish you could breath naturally, with no control whatsoever, but you control it,either inhaling too much or too little.

The torment is over but surely another is waiting in line.....your eyes, they suddenly feel strange, is it that they are not in place?

You center them, but it still does not feel right, you feel as though you are straining them constantly. This alone drives you mad.

Your eyelids suddenly feel light, as though their natural place is to be open, but in order for you to sleep you need them to be closed. Straining your eyelids you are taken by an even greater madness.

You think of the saliva in you mouth, do you need to swallow? Why are you producing in such great quantities? Why now? You need to sleep, why is this happening???? You swallow it, only to replace it with a new load of fresh saliva - once more, the loop of horror.

The pillow is frustrating you, it is either too high or too hot. You turn it to its other side ,that in turn heats up as well. You remove the pillow but your neck lacks the support it requires...

And so strikes the horror, with you knowing you will sleep no more.

Insomnia affects approximately one quarter of the adult population. Insomnia sufferers typically report that they have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently, tend to wake up earlier in the day, and that their sleep is unrefreshing.(1, 2)

People with insomnia generally fit into a particular profile. They prefer to sleep at a certain time (e.g. at night or during the day, whatever, as long as they would have been sleeping at the same time each day), they take approximately 30-120 minutes to fall asleep, wake up 2-4 times per night, get a total of 4-6 hours of sleep per night, and experience symptoms of insomnia more than 4 or 5 nights per week. While people suffering from insomnia do report daytime fatigue, they would be unable to fall asleep during the day when given the opportunity (e.g. they are tired, but not sleepy). In fact, some researchers report that the daytime sleepiness of insomniacs is lower than that of normal sleepers, despite less total sleep time.(3) Insomnia symptoms occur regardless of what day of the week it is (that is to say, insomnia happens regardless of whether it is a weekday or weekend).(2) In general, insomnia has little to do with how much sleep the sufferer actually gets, but rather the subjective quality of that sleep.(1)

Current research suggests that bouts of insomnia may be due to the experience of a state of metabolic hyperarousal by the insomniac.(4) People with insomnia have difficulty falling asleep simply because they are more physiologically aroused; They have higher body temperatures, increased metabolic rates, and greater levels of anxiety than normal sleepers. Examination of EEG recordings from insomnia patients just prior to and during sleep reveals that insomniacs have more powerful alpha and beta activity, and attenuated delta activity.(5) This pattern of aroused activity may explain the consistent underestimation of total sleep time and overestimation of sleep onset time that is often seen in people with insomnia, and may explain the secondary symptoms associated with insomnia (fatigue, inability to concentrate, moodiness). Interruption of sleep without hyperarousal does not produce these negative symptoms.(6)

Although insomnia can occur without any other apparent cause (primary insomnia), more often insomnia results from other preexisting conditions (secondary insomnia). In these cases, it is important to treat the underlying medical condition as well as the insomnia.(7) The most common conditions associated with insomnia are:

Insomnia also becomes more common as people age, especially among post-menopausal women.(8) Circadian rhythm disorders and disruptions in breathing (sleep apnea) are also associated with sleep disruption, but these conditions generally produce symptoms different from those of true insomnia.(2) To be more specific, people suffering from rhythm disorders and apneas do not experience hyperarousal, and therefore the disruption in their sleep activity is associated with daytime sleepiness.

The particulars of secondary insomnia vary depending upon the cause. Insomnia resulting from depression and/or anxiety generally involves difficulty falling asleep, extended awakenings, and early awakening times. The sufferer will often report a sensation that their brain "will not let them sleep." In other words, the insomniac is too cognitively aroused for sleep to occur.(7) Depression and anxiety appear to produce the same patterns of excited brain activity that have been associated with primary insomnia.(5) Among adolescents, nightmares have been associated with anxiety.(9) As a result, the experience of repeated nightmares can induce insomnia, eventually leading to the development of poor sleep hygiene

A subgroup of those who suffer insomnia because of anxiety and/or depression have what is called psychophysiologic insomnia.(7) In these cases, the patient's concern about his or her inability to sleep result in the propagation of the sleep disruption. These patients will report feelings of sleep performance anxiety. Often, they have associated feelings of failure with the time and place in which sleep occurs. These feelings increase cognitive arousal when the person is in a sleep setting, making it more difficult for the person to sleep.

Use of stimulants and sedatives (particularly if no regard is given to the time at which they are taken) can create a dependence upon the presence or absence of an artificial substance in order to regulate your sleep cycle. That's bad, because a) if you miss your regular intake of whatever substance you are using, your cycle will get all thrown off, and b) as you develop a tolerance to whatever you are using, it will be more and more difficult for you to maintain your sleep cycle even using the artificial substance.

Restless legs syndrome is characterized by an intense and irresistible urge to move the legs. The symptoms tend to get worse at night. This condition usually results from a dysfunction of the central nervous system involving the dopaminergic pathways, although it sometimes can result from an iron deficiency. This syndrome seems to effect somewhere between 5% and 15% of the population, with symptoms appearing before the age of 20 in nearly half of all patients.(10) Within the population of people suffering from this syndrome, 94% report sleep onset insomnia.


So, what can you do if you have insomnia?

First of all, change the way you think about sleep. Studies of human sleep patterns indicate that there is a lot of variability in the amount of sleep each person requires, the time it takes to fall asleep, and the conditions under which the best sleep occurs.(7) Depending on the way you are, you might be fine with as little as 4 hours of sleep per 24 hour period, or require as much as 11 hours. Don't think that you absolutely need 8 hours of sleep in order to get enough sleep. Thinking that way about sleep is likely to increase your anxiety about the situation, and therefore decrease your ability to actually fall asleep.

Don't do a lot of things in bed.(1) Hanging out in bed reading, watching t.v., playing cards, noding, whatever you do that isn't sleeping when you are in bed will dissociate the sleep setting from the act of sleeping. If you go to bed and find that you are not falling asleep, get up and do something else, then return to bed when you start to feel sleepy again. Eventually, you'll condition yourself to associate sleep with being in bed, and it will be easier for you to fall asleep there. Hey, if nothing else, it's a good excuse to have sex on the kitchen floor. (:

Don't use drugs to help you sleep at night or stay awake during the day. Don't drink alcohol before bed. Yes, alcohol is a sedative, so it will help you fall asleep. However, after the initial sedative effect, alcohol prevents you from achieving deep sleep, and increases the likelihood that you will wake up in the middle of the night.(11) Don't consume excessive amounts of caffeine to stay up through the day. The introduction of the stimulant into your system will make it difficult to reestablish a natural sleep cycle. Don't use sleeping pills, especially benzodiazepines.(12) They have ridiculous side effects, are addictive, and only help in the short term, and withdrawal often results in a worsening of insomnia symptoms. Don't take melatonin for any extended period of time. It causes gonadal atrophy!(2) Researchers are actually developing birth control with melatonin as the active ingredient! In fact, about the only substance I read about that had any net positive (i.e. positive effects better than negative side effects) effect on sleep was valerian extract.(12) It doesn't seem to alter how much sleep a person gets (although it may increase the amount of time spent in slow-wave sleep), but it does seem to make insomniacs more accurate when reporting how much sleep they have gotten. In other words, it doesn't really help you sleep more, but you at least feel like you've been sleeping.

If you think that your insomnia is being caused by some other problem, treat that as well as the insomnia. I said that before, but I think it's an important point. Treatment of both problems (and notice that I am not saying that only the underlying cause should be treated) leads to the most improvement in both problems. Lichstein et al (7) even reported improvement in the primary disorder when secondary insomnia was treated.

Take a bath.(11) Seriously, it heats up the brain, changing brain activity in a way so that you end up sleepy. Drink a glass of warm milk. The redirection of blood flow from your brain, and some of the stuff you digest out of the milk will help you get to sleep. There is something to be said for all of those things that your mother told you.

Don't worry about it. This one is much easier said than done. Yes, it is hard when you can't sleep. The idea of getting enough sleep can become all-consuming, as if all your other problems would be solved if you could just get a little rest. You are better off if you can manage not to think about it. Instead, try to just live. If you find that you are getting sleepy, go to bed. If you can't sleep once you get there, go do something else. Don't wonder about when you will start to feel tired, don't think about all the nights before that you haven't been able to sleep, don't try to come up with all the things you can do to alleviate the problem (note that this last suggestion is the exact opposite of what I am doing now). Just sleep if you get tired, and don't sleep if you don't, and other than that, try not to think about it.

I hope you all have better luck with these than I do. Sleep well.


1.http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/sleep/insomnia.txt
2.Perlis and Youngstedt (2000) The diagnosis of primary insomnia and treatment alternatives. Comprehensive Therapy, 26(4), 298-306
3.Stepanski, Zorick, Roehrs, and Roth (2000) Effects of sleep deprivation on daytime sleepiness in primary insomnia. Sleep, 23(2), 215-219.
4.Bonnet and Aarand (1995) 24-hour metabolic rate in insomniacs and matched normal sleepers. Sleep, 19, 453-461.
5.Hall, Buysse, Nowell, Nofzinger, Houck, Reynolds, and Kupfer (2000) Symptoms of stress and depression as correlates of sleep in primary insomnia. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(2), 227-230.
6.Rosa and Bonnet (2000) Reported chronic insomnia is independent of poor sleep as measured by electroencephalography. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(4), 474-482.
7.Lichstein, Wilson, and Johnson (2000) Psychological treatment of secondary insomnia. Psychology and Aging, 15(2), 232-240.
8.Jones and Czajkowski (2000) Evaluation and management of insomnia in menopause. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 43(1), 184-197.
9.Nielsen, Laberge, Paquet, Tremblay, Vitaro, and Montplaisir (2000) Development of disturbing dreams during adolescence and their relation to anxiety symptoms. Sleep, 23(6), 727-736.
10.Hickey (2000) Restless legs syndrome. Canadian Family Physician, 46, 1762-1763.
11.Hryshko-Mullen (2000) Behavioral treatment of insomnia: the Wilford Hall Insomnia Program. Military Medicine, 165(3), 200-207.
12.Donath, Quispe Diefenbach, Maurer, Fietze, and Roots (2000) Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry, 33(2), 47-53.

Last night I lay in bed and dreamed I couldn't sleep,
tossed and turned my subconscious inside out,
muttered muffled frustration at imagination's irony.
Grumbling feverish complaints, growled murmurs that my mattress couldn't hear,
my words were downed in the fine goose feather pillow, stifled by its stuffing.
Around me choked wild wide-eyed dreams,
endless alarm clocks bared lethal neon numbers like glinting razor fangs,
murderous grinning monsters of a jungle I couldn't see.
Terror bloated my mind to immobility, straining, swelling in the vast, strangling darkness.
Closed eyes shut one world out, locked another in
its blind images projected onto the screen of my eyelids.
My room was warped in a cinematic nightmare, no longer a haven of rest.
I drowned in the waterbed's cruel, slavering maw
as fiendish wallpaper cackled wickedly,
and a smirking spider's web of sheets snickered at my entangled helplessness.
The whitefaced ceiling stood mute, but its giveaway guilty glare
gloated of how they'd all plotted against me, stolen my rest,
battered my brain till my teeth rattled with betrayal
down my throat to eat me from the inside out,
beating my breast as I died of exhaustion...!
I awoke, screamed as a knotted string of static burst forth from the radio, tripped over its tangled self,
clattered into my ears with one eager clumsy fall,
snarled angrily to itself and the horror movie fled,
reeled off in defeat, fluttering between my lashes one last time
then over and out at last.

---Spring 1995


This really happened, or at least the part about dreaming sleeplessness did. From there I mixed metaphors and wordplayed my way to a pome that made its way into my high school's literary magazine above a print of a truly awesome painting of a skeleton innocently asleep in bed with a teddy bear, face and hair hanging from her bedpost, skin over a chair next to the bed, eyes in a glass on the bedside table. I was thrilled.

I'm tired, like all of the time. Constantly, bone grindingly tired. And still I don't sleep. Well, I do, but these days it seems I can make about four hours maximum of unbroken but nightmare filled unconsciousness that can take forty eight or more hours of constant mental activity to achieve. Hardly worth it really.

I remember having this problem back when I was too young to drink coffee, smoke, or have any of the vices 'they' recommend one abstains from in order to regain sleeping patterns, (so I know it's not that). Sure, I drink too much coffee, but when one's mind is half asleep but won't go all the way one may as well try to make being awake a worthwhile and productive experience with stimulants.

As I said, this has been a life-long trouble. My parents recall what a sleepless baby I was (and yet still manage to blame my lifestyle in the same breath, unable to understand that my lifestyle has formed around my insomnia rather than vice versa). I used to go to bed as an older child and just lie there, waiting for the next day's worth of school to happen. In the end I gave up trying and read under the covers till I passed out. I probably got more education as a result of that than ever turning up to class, all bleary eyed and useless.

As the years rolled by I adapted, I became known as a night owl even though I was awake during most of the day too. I got into the cliché geek all night computer programming sessions, writing music on the PC, all that fun stuff. I found myself inspired more during the night, as do most artistic types. I didn't enjoy the sleeplessness but I started looking at it as more of a gift, a way to access my artsy side during the hours when everyone else slept.

But now it's getting silly. I hallucinate regularly, (nothing wild, just things wobbling that shouldn't, like concrete pillars), my thought processes are, frankly, fucked up and my mood gets more bitter by the day. And the nightmares, unless I get thoroughly stoned before I crash out, I get the most incredibly dark nightmares which really don't help at all. (I admit though, I've picked them up in more recent years.)

Maybe I should see a doctor, but I get the feeling I'll get the same old advice, (no caffeine, no smoking, no this, no that, all of which I've tried at some points before) or I'll get an expensive prescription for pills that'll leave me feeling shittier that before. Perhaps I'm better off ranting in here, hour on end until the wee smalls instead.

I'm off to bed to stare at the ceiling for a while. Wish me luck...

In Albuquerque, New Mexico Insomnia is a coffee bar at 4013 Silver Ave. It is a little hard to find if you've never been there before. The best way I've found to reach it is to travel west on Central and then take a left in front of The Pulse. This will take you onto a street that will gradually lead you into a left turn onto another street running parallel to Central, and this is Silver Ave. If you continue down Silver, the second building on your right will be Insomnia. Insomnia is locally owned and operated by Suzanne and Heath. The trademarked symbol of Insomnia is a crescent moon with an open eye resting on the tip of the moon. That is the sign you'll see above the front door

Insomnia is open from 9 PM to 3 AM every night of the week, except Monday. There is a cover charge to get in on Fri. and Sat. nights. The cover charge is usually $3.00 unless there is a band playing that night, in which case the charge can be up to $5.00. The nice thing about being charged cover is that you get a ticket good for one free drink at the bar. Most of the drinks are about $2.00 to $3.00, so it sort of balances out.

One of the nice things about Insomnia is the building design. When you walk through the front door you're in the main room, and the drink window (where you order and such) is in the back. There are usually three or four coffee tables in the main room, all decked out with games like Chinese Checkers, Risk, Chess, Sorry, Candy Land, and Clue. To the right of the main room is a smaller room where people go to think, write, or just talk in a quieter and calmer location. Next to the drink window on the right is a doorway that leads to a room half the size of the main room. At the back of this room is a stage that the bands use to play on, and where a local poetry reading is held on Wens. nights. To the left of the stage is a doorway that leads to the bathrooms, a backdoor out of Insomnia, and the entrance to the kitchen. To the right of the stage is another, smaller room, that is home to the original Frogger and Centipede Arcade Games] (I've lost more quarters to Frogge than I care to remember).

Insomnia is comfortably furnished in old, beat-up, plush couches and chairs. They are dangerously comfortable, (dangerous only because they are easy to fall asleep on, and if this happens Heath will take the liberty of gently waking you from you peaceful slumber by shouting through a megaphone next to your ear. There is also the danger of sinking in the upholstery and becoming lost in the nether regions of the couch or chair) and look like something you'd drag out of a high school drama furniture loft.

Insomnia also offers you an interesting cross-section of social groups and classes. Just about any stereotype of person you could think up eventually seems to walk, stumble, or be drug in through the doors at some point. There was once an ugly incident of someone running through the doors while aflame, but that's another story.

The usual cast of characters to expect at Insomnia are as follows - Angel, Athena, Balls, Bones, Casper, Charles, Dark Heart (not the villain from the Care Bears), Dee, Derrick (he'll be the one talking to people that aren't really there), Dice, Emma Rose, Erin, Foxy (when she's not in jail), Froggy, Ghost, Irish Mike, Legend, Liz, Mel, Opal Anne, Phoenix, Roman, Samantha, Sin, Sparky, Stephen, Sway, Tony Santiago, Trip, and Ug (short for Ugly). I'm really not sure as to how many of these people came to have their nicknames. In the case of Dark Heart he liked the name, and just started to demand the everyone at Insomnia call him by it, which is a little strange. As far as I know you have to earn your nickname, you can't just give yourself one. In the case of Sin, her nickname makes sense. Sin was originally spelled Cyn, which was short for her real name, Cynthia. Sin changed the spelling after she had The Seven Deadly Sins tattooed down her spine.

In the morning, when Insomnia closes (which is sort of ironic), everyone goes to a nearby park to play on the swings or in the sand box. People from Insomnia also tend to circulate between two others establishments known as The Blue Dragon and Astro-Zombies. If you are ever visiting Albuquerque, it is recommended to stop in at least one of these three places. You're guaranteed to meet some interesting people. Some are crazy and beautiful, and others make you want to walk across the street to avoid passing them (though this is usually to do with BO, and not intimidation). Insomnia does have good coffee, plus you can pick up some free condoms and a weekly copy of The Alibi at the door.

As of July 25, 2003 Insomnia shut its doors permanently. It is now called The Cafe Next Door and is owned by the Bookstore Next Door. It will be missed sorely by those of us who used to frequent it.

2002 remake of Norwegian film of same title by Christopher Noland, director of Memento. Stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.

Summarily, its another cop flick, with Al Pacino playing a homicide detective in the later years of his career, hounded by internal affairs and being pressured by his partner to undergo an investigation (at least I think was happening -- you know how movies can throw all this stuff at you that, in a book, is comprehendible, but when elucidated by actors turns into vaguely important background noise...?).

Anyhow, he goes up to Alaska, where its daytime all the time. There's been a murder that either the local cops can't figure out or is interesting enough to involve such a heavy hitter -- that, too, wasn't that hashed out, but it doesn't really matter.

Some sticky shit goes down between Al and his partner, leading the murderer -- Robin Williams, in a decently creepy stepping away from his normally creepy comedic schlock -- and him to come into communicae.

Blah blah blah, all that detective stuff with the usual amount of unusual twists. Pacino carries his load, Hillary seems under-used, more a prop than an actress, really, and Robin isn't given enough slack to show us how twisted he can really be.

As a film, its well sculpted, but isn't anything special, which is almost a let down, considering Nolan's breakout film, Memento. But doesn't every artist deserve a little time with the standards? Take David Fincher's Panic Room -- no Fight Club, surely, or Seven for that matter, but it shows how the conventional is a great venue for one's creativity to express how unconventional it is.

Insomnia was written by Stephen King in 1994. This particular novel of King's presents us with one Ralph Roberts, who was getting less and less sleep every night, ever since his wife Carolyn died. After many months pass, after he had tried every folk remedy in the book, as well as questioning a pill-pusher in the back of a Rite-Aid he couldn't cure it. He just woke up earlier and earlier. In fact, everything short of seeing his doctor, the same one who had mis-diagnosed Carolyn's tumor.

Ralph thinks he's seeing auras, four months into his lack of sleep. And little bald doctors. And huge giant bags of despair, hovering over buildings and people.

That brings us to the famous feminist Susan Day, who's very rumor that she was coming to give a speech caused the town to be split in two. "Hey hey! Susan Day! How many kids did you kill today!" That's what they said, the pro-lifers. The local clinic, the one they called WomanCare, it was under accusations of committing abortions. It was true, of course. However, the pro-choicers wanted to stop at nothing to allow Susan Day to speak there. The pro-lifers wanted to stop at nothing to stop Susan Day from speaking, even killing her if necessary.

Poor little Ralph. No sleep for Ralph. And yet, he knew something horrible was to happen to Derry, Maine. And yet, it wasn't just about this Susan Day woman. It was about Derry.

I had good times with this novel. It wasn't exactly scary, but once the prologue was over, the story picked up, and it raised some very interesting questions on religion (for me, at least. And even if I state them, it would spoil stuff. A lot.) It's the kind of book that simply presents a good tale, and then ignites the thinking and discussion a while later. Sometimes, the events in the book would get a little confusing, (near the end, for example, because too much stuff was happening too fast) but the book usually sorts it out before it's too late. I upvote this book.

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Can't get no sleep...

Nothing was ever her fault.

This is very important to remember. Almost everything hinges on this principle.

I have never really told the tale of what happened during my two and a half years in New Hampshire. I've tossed out a nugget here and a nugget there, mostly shrouded in mystical language. The truth of the matter is that I was drawn to New Hampshire under false pretenses. I was drawn there by someone I had known and deeply loved for twenty years, someone who had disappeared from my life nine years earlier who now resurfaced and claimed to have decided that the time had come, that we had both evolved and matured to the point where the idea of us being together was something that needed to be explored.

To do so required that I come to where she was. This should have been my first clue, but she could talk a wolf into letting a cow devour its head. There is a much greater danger in a genius losing their mind than your average person going nuts. The genius is capable of plotting and planning and reinterpreting everything that happens in such a way that it reinforces what they think and believe.

Life was a little slice of paradise for the first few months I was there, but The Muse is not a creature who can accept bliss as anything other than a painful condition that must be overcome. The bliss must be overcome and it must be overcome in such a way that she becomes the victim so that she can have what she most desires, the support and sympathy of others. The way in which she lives her life involves keeping a deck of cards that symbolizes her friends and those who she can call on. At any given time she will turn on, betray or otherwise attack, in a passive-aggressive way, anyone in that deck of cards, but only when she keeps a number of cards face-up and on call to pick up the pieces.

You see, the method of her genius was to make it always appear that her misery was caused by someone else, in such a way that she can call others to her side to support and reinforce her in what becomes a battle against those who have done her wrong.

Can't get no sleep...

She attempted suicide in July of 2005. By my standards it was a rather lame attempt, but I have rather high standards when it comes to suicide. If there is anything I am an expert on, that is where I would plant my flag. There was a deviousness in her suicide attempt. It involved calling a suicide hotline after she had taken a fairly large number of sleeping pills and then pretending she had no idea they would call the local police after she told them what she had done.

I divide suicide cases into three categories. The first is the cry for attention, a moderate exposition of the need to express deep pain and an inability to both express it and find someone who understands. Most suicide cases fall into this category and they don't become critical very often, unless there is no one to listen who understands and isn't just giving the bullshit party line of "toughen up, soldier." The second category is dramatic exposition, which usually involves the situation reaching a point where intervention of some kind is required on a professional level. This was The Muse's category, she wanted the police to show up, she wanted to be taken away in an ambulance, she wanted to spend the night in the hospital, but she did not want to die. She just wanted it to look that way because that was known to bring greater sympathy and support her way. The third category is intent, and while it may involve exposition, it usually works to avoid any situation where intervention is possible or will stop the intent. Pretend there is a gun. In the first category, the person waves a gun around and say, "I'm going to shoot myself in the head with this gun," while making certain you will have no real trouble taking the gun away from them. In the second category, the person points the gun at themselves and says they are going to kill themselves, pulls the trigger, but makes sure they don't shoot themselves in any way that will end their life, maybe a bullet in the leg or the arm will do. In the third category, well, they have the gun and you will never be close enough to stop them from pulling the trigger when they put it in their mouth.

The second category is the most difficult to deal with. I know there are those who will argue the third case is the worst, and I have lost someone to suicide, so I know where you are coming from, but someone who continues to injure themselves and cause themselves harm and works to physically, mentally and emotionally wound and handicap themselves over time is a demon of a much different color.

Can't get no sleep...

The Muse was a cutter, but to say that is to make a gross understatement. It was something she was proud of, something she felt gave her meaning and value within the warped sense of values she held onto. How many cuts could she make on her body? How deeply could she cut without requiring stitches? How nasty, or in her words, "how exquisite" could her scars become? By the time I finally wrangled her into the locked ward at a psychiatric hospital they managed to count well over five hundred.

The Muse was extremely obsessed with becoming the most accompished self-mutilator known to man. She worked in an environment teenaged girls who were cutters. The computer I now use, the one she threw out, contains her journal entries from over a three year period of time. She rated who impressed her and who was lame in their cutting. She managed to fool an entire legion of counseling professionals and hid her activities from them for nearly four years. All she wanted was to be around people who did what she did so that she could prove to herself that she did it better than they did.

Thankfully there aren't any awards for such things.

The truth? I've seen things you people wouldn't believe, if I may quote Roy Batty. I would come home from working third shift, in the morning, and lead her out of bed so that I could wring the blood out of her sheets. I came home on a Saturday night when she expected me to be away for the entire weekend to find her in the tub, the water so dark with blood you could not see the bottom, and I got into the tub with her to make her stop, to take her razor blades away, while she wrote, in blood, on the shower wall, "Love is lies" and then broke down and cried, screaming, "Why can't I cut my wrists? Why can't I cut my wrists? I can cut everything else but I don't have the balls to cut my wrists!"

Can't get no sleep...

She deconstructed me.

I was once... well, maybe hundreds of times... told by my angel that any effort I made to "reclaim" those things that mattered to me in my life before June 6, 1994 would result in great misery. And yet I pushed for this. The Muse was there for me in ways others were not for many years, and while we dated when we were in our teens, I had the most invasive crush on her for the rest of my life, even as I dated and slept with scores of beautiful and remarkable women. The image and the memory of her never left me and I always believed that somehow we would come back together again.

That was the card she played. And she perverted the very nature of unconditional love in order to control and manipulate me into accepting and even condoning her behavior.

"If you leave me, you were my last hope, and if you leave me then I can never believe in anyone again and I can never believe in love again."

Bullshit. Wrong answer.

Want to know why?

You want to know how much unconditional love has to do with being with someone, as in being with someone in a partnership that is akin to being husband and wife? Absolute zero. The Muse had my unconditional love as a friend, but once you enter into a close partnership, the equation changes. There has to be mutual respect and trust, and to violate that respect or that trust leads down a very dark road. Once you no longer have that mutual respect and trust, all bets are off.

Over and over, as if testing the limits of my love for her, The Muse pushed the envelope. Actually, she tore the envelope open and pissed in it, but that is besides the point. She expected me to cover for her, to lie for her, to support her no matter what depths of madness she descended to. Her abuse of a mixture of alcohol and pills reached the point where she was no longer capable of rational thought. One night when we had invited a female friend over for a visit, she had been out drinking with several men from the neighborhood. These men were so disturbed by her behavior they later avoided her like the plague. She had been popping pills while slugging back wine and not only offered to have sex with all of them, she offered our guest to them for similar purposes, all before even bothering to come back to the house to greet our guest. And then, when she did manage to show up, she stumbled in incoherently and went on to our guest about how she was in love with her and that she was a lesbian and that our relationship was "just for show."

Can't get no sleep...

It was not long after that I first made plans to leave. Through a convoluted series of rationalizations, The Muse had convinced me to continue sharing a home with her while she went on with a very openly explicit relationship with a woman. You know that old saying about how a man would love to watch his girlfriend get it on with another woman? Theory is better than practice. It starts out kind of interesting, but it gets dull and annoying very quickly. It wasn't until months later that I realized this other woman was getting screwed over as badly as I was. I would say, "No pun intended," if it were not such a terribly cliche thing to say, but, oh well.

When I attempted to leave, I found myself faced with self-depreciating soliliquys about how she had done me wrong and needed another chance to prove herself, to show me that she loved me and needed me and wanted us to stay together forever. The nature of her speeches and her pervasiveness convinced me that yes, I needed to give her this opportunity.

As much for myself as for her. If I walked away at that point I would have been held in the grasp of "the pain of never knowing." Due to the nature of things and what we had meant to each other for two decades, I needed an absolute answer, even if it killed me. If it gives you a clue to understanding why, I am an Eagle Scorpio.

And it very nearly did kill me.

I insisted she needed to reveal the nature of her disorders to her employers, who were mental health care professionals, and were my employers as well. I also insisted that her weekly visits to the therapist and her current prescriptions were not enough to stabilize her and allow her to live a normal life. I insisted she needed to go in-patient at a mental health care facility and stay there until they could study her and figure out some way by which she could learn to overcome her self-destructive behavior because I was no longer willing to stand by her while she destroyed herself piece by piece.

And it took another suicide attempt, this time by taking a shitload of aspirin, since I had made her more potent "fun pills" disappear, and making a call to 911 after she called me at work to ask me to call 911 for her, something I refused to do (making a 911 call from a facility that is part of the justice system isn't something you want to do if you want to keep your job), before she finally went into a locked facility for evaluation. And when I visited her there she was still hooked on her ultimate addiction, proving she is crazier than everyone else around her. In fact, it is my strong belief that she feeds off the issues of others, not only for justification of her actions, but for benchmarks by which she can figure out how to demonstrate she is willing to be even crazier.

Her two weeks in the hospital were my only vacation, and even though I visited her twice, all I got were telephone messages about how horrible I was for not visiting more often. And then I got screamed at for telling her social worker that alcohol was a large part of her problem, and for telling her that The Muse was abusing prescription pills she had gotten from friends, and for telling the social worker she had serious sexual issues, including having slept with a convicted child molester more than once while working at a shelter for troubled teen girls. I had only learned about this after contacting friends of hers and sharing with them the negative and horrific things she told us about each other as part of her ongoing game with trying to corner the market on sympathy and support.

I told someone tonight I was fairly desensitized to most things as she showed me how she had cut her hand while washing dishes. Try having a girlfriend who walks into your room, pulls up her shirt and says, "Look, it is just like a grapefruit!" excitedly as she shows you the deep cut in her stomach and how it has cut well into the fatty tissue so that it... well, it looks like the inside of a grapefruit. I've been covered in her blood, her urine and her vomit. Hell, I've practically bathed in it.

And then, as I find out she has been continuing her affair with another woman while singing to me about dedication and devotion to her recovery plan and wanting to marry me, she looks me dead in the eye and says, "I guess it is better I find out now that you never really loved me than to have found out after I married you."

Can't get no sleep...

For me, excommunication is at the soul level. My own philosophy supports a belief in an external soul that acts through us as physical beings. I did not simply remove The Muse from my life, I removed her at a deeper level, and for me there is nothing left when it comes to "us." There is no "us." There never will be again.

While she cheated on me, sliced herself open this way and that, lied to me, manipulated me and emotionally abused me, and I was lying in bed wishing I could just die so it would all go away, do you know what she said to me?

"You don't love me enough."

We won't see each other again. This means something to me.

Forward

In*som"ni*a (?), n. [L., fr. insomnis sleepless; pref. in- not + somnus sleep.]

Want of sleep; inability to sleep; wakefulness; sleeplessness.

 

© Webster 1913.

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