It might be a slight understatement to say that I’m not 100% adequate when it comes to the less defined functions of my brain. I mean, I walk, talk, and compute ok, and I can usually make change at the grocery store, but emotionally speaking, there are not infrequent short circuits. This is a chronic issue. I think I remember being in high school and literally beating my head on the wall because I couldn’t sleep for unknown reasons; I also remember getting unusually upset about seemingly small things and crying without stopping. A few years ago–actually, it’s like TEN years ago now, goddamn it!–the problem really seemed to come to a head somehow and my family began first hinting, then suggesting, then ordering and then blackmailing me, to the effect that I need to find a shrink to talk my troubles away, and I have been refusing.
Dear loved ones, I offer you this in my defense.
Now, I generally despise Sundays. First of all, there is not enough to do especially if the weather is bad, and it’s been bad this summer; in fact, this is the worst fucking summer I remember in a long time. I mean, I wore a jacket today, and wished for boots, for goodness sake! So, there is not enough to do, and my kids were languishing in the house, and even the hours upon hours of screen time I was using as a babysitter weren’t keeping them entertained enough not to whine like an unoiled gate.
Secondly, work tomorrow. That’s the worst part of Sunday: there is work tomorrow. It’s been better now that I work for myself, but in the past, I’d start having palpitations as early as like six o’clock thinking of work tomorrow, and by bedtime, I would be keeping track of my own pulse as it resonated in my ears and kept me from falling asleep. When I did fall alseep, I’d usually end up with some totally fucked up dream.
This problem has been quiescent for a while, like I said, but out of nowhere, I had this nightmare last night. And I can call it a nightmare because I woke up shaky, and after a few seconds, when I realized that I was awake, I felt great relief.
I dreamt that I was still working at my other hospital, where I was a resident. I dreamt that I was home, sleeping the best sleep ever. Maybe I was post call, when you crawl into bed, into your crisp sheets, your body all achy, and you slip into oblivion and no one is home to wake you…. that kind of sleep. Then, in my dream, I slowly woke up, and took a leisurely shower, did my hair in front of the mirror, and put on make up, eyeliner first, then concealer, then lipliner, then lipstick, the whole nine yards. Then I glanced at the clock, and realized it was 2:30 in the afternoon.
A painfully familiar rush of cold anxiety washed over me, the kind where your heart takes a nose dive into your nether regions, then bounces back up into your throat, your head threatens explosion, and your toes go numb. Because it was a dream, though, the intensity of it reached metaphysical proportions. My heart in my throat and my entrails on the floor… I was supposed to be somewhere! I missed the whole workday!
Then the little devil on my left shoulder said, welp… what’s the point of hurrying in now when all the patients they had scheduled for me probably already left?
But my conscience screamed: Why haven’t they been trying to page me?!
So, I grab my pager; to my dismay and horror, they HAD been trying to page me. It had several blinking triangles: pages I haven’t looked at. Interestingly enough, they were real phone numbers, except from this, my current, hospital. On the other hand, the place where I was supposed to be and wasn’t belonged uniquely to my training hospital: Cards clinic! Renal clinic! They schedule patients just for residents! (I haven’t been a resident in years!)
My hands are cold and shaking; I can see my nail are blue as I hold the wretched pager, with the spinach green screen. I consider calling back some of the numbers. One of them had just come through, about 20 minutes before I looked, maybe I could still pretend like I was returning the page in time. I even practice saying, “sorry that took a while…” Then, I imagine trying to explain myself, and put the pager down.
I need a second opinion.
So I run downstairs to visit a neighbor.
At this point, it becomes clear in the dream that I was still living in my old apartment in Boston. I never really knew any of my neighbors there, and I certainly never visited any of them. And apparently, the neighbor in the dream was a co-resident, Kato, who never lived anywhere near me. We were barely even friends in real life. He called me an “erythematous dipshit” as a form of endearment! But apparently, he was my neighbor in this alt-reality.
In the dream, I tell him the heart wrenching tale, and ask if he thinls it is worth it to go in to work – and he told me to go. He says”To be honest, it won’t take you long to get there, and you’ll do an hour of work… I would go.” This is not what I wanted to hear, so I get out of there.
Back at my apartment, I start to freak out and pace. (Note that actually going to work never crossed my mind)
Hubby gets home. He’s like, “que pasa!” Panicking, I tell him what happened. He looks through my pages as if he can’t take my word for it. “Buf!” He says. Also, all my concerns about the situation pour forth: why am I always screwing up? They already hate me, and this is just another thing! “Bah!” He says. No, it’s true! Finally, it’s been discovered that I am incompetent in so many ways!
He’s a Spaniard. Nothing is a big deal: “No pasa nada!” He says. “Pasa, pasa!” I insist, all tearful. We sit there and try to come up with an appropriate lie to tell my chief as a reason for not showing up to work. We come up with several concrete examples: I was stuck in traffic, and my cell phone was dead. That won’t work! I already visited Kato! There was a family emergency! again, won’t work. I was never supposed to work today! This might work, or at least, it’ll definitely muddle the picture.
Now, it suddenly dawns on me. I should check IF I had to work at all! (somehow, the pages I got from cards clinic from earlier suddenly didn’t matter). I log into a scheduling system – active in my current hospital …. I click on my name…. and….
The dream ends here, in a blood curdling cliffhanger. I wake up, in my own bed.
I mean! Sure, Sundays are tough to get through sometimes, but you tell me, do I really need a shrink to analyze me when a five-year-old child could write an essay on the psychological patterns of this dream?