On the couch: a short story

I took two sips of a fresh cup of peppermint tea, hoping the hot liquid would ease the cold, numb feeling in my chest. It burned briefly but the chill returned. It always does.

Self-help gurus and the ever-positive like to spout platitudes about how “you are the one in control of your life. If you don’t like something change it.” Sounds like bullshit to me. I have considered that I might be overly pessimistic by nature but I doubt it. So here I am, sitting alone on my mother’s couch, listening to the fan rattle and wishing I wasn’t a failure at life.

Of course, she noticed me slipping into despair and gave me a “pep-talk.” I appreciate the attempt. I know it’s motivated by motherly love, but the unfortunate thing about these talks is that they often make me feel far worse than I did. I wonder sometimes if what she means is the same as what she says. Or if what she says matches what I hear. So I sit silently, almost missing the old days of childhood when she’d just hit me and get it over with.

I probably do the same thing to my little girls, who are currently sleeping. I like them best that way honestly. They look comfortable, at peace, and I can hug and kiss them without being told I’m gross. I also get the perverse pleasure of waiting to see who will kick whom in the face. I am so not up for waking with a child sleeping on my face tonight. So I’ll probably sleep on the couch, and hope the noisy fan will lull me to sleep. If not, I’ll watch the paint be dry and think about my husband who lives in another state, and try to remember why I got married in the first place.

Oh yeah, I think love had something to do with it.

He texted me earlier and I asked him if he was racist. I can’t trust my own judgment. I thought it might be best to ask. It seemed fair enough since he asked me earlier if I was cheating on him because I didn’t answer my phone yesterday. Of course I’m not. What kind of person cheats on their spouse in front of their parents while sharing a bed with 2 toddlers? I could go to the hypothetical guy’s house but my dad would probably say something crazy like “take the kids and stay for the weekend.”

I digress though. He said no, he is not racist (of course). But how do I know that was an honest answer? A few people in his family don’t like me solely because I’m not a part of their obviously superior race. He might be absorbing asshole behaviors right now. And if he is racist, would he really have told me so? See, I might be insane. This is why I don’t trust my own judgment.

This numb feeling in my chest hasn’t gone away. I haven’t gotten any sleepier either. The tea is amazing though. Awesome, I “found silver lining” to use an old cliché.

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