I don’t know what it is about the husband’s out-of-towness that triggers traumatic events in my life, but it’s there. This invisible forcefield of ridiculosity, waiting to pounce. I’m a magnet. Sometimes it feels like one giant test by the out-of-town-juju gods to see what kind of a mother I am. Aspire to be. Or if I’ll survive in general.
When he’s out of the picture, aside from the chaotic factor little ones contribute (cue total moment of embarrassing admittance) I suffer occasionally from… wait for it… paranoia. Every now and then, I’m the human version of a chihuahua hyped on roids mixed with a double shot of that toxic stuff they put in a Red Bull. I’m practically waiting for my attacker who absolutely must be lurking around the corner. Paranoid.
I probably shouldn’t be writing this in a public domain for every Norman Bates wannabe in his mother’s dress standing on our lawn waiting to hack me with a spork to see, (because I probably wrote something derogatory about builder’s beige) but it is what it is. I’m paranoid about weird people following me home from Walmart, Freddy Krueger under my bed, and The Elf on the Shelf strangling me when I turn my back to wash the dishes during Christmas. You know. Normal adult stuff.
Why do I do this? Because things really do happen to me. Ridiculous, hard-to-explain moments that send me half reeling, half laughing half wondering if I’m really living in a movie … and what I did wrong in the universe. See case in point: Yep, I totally took this whilst driving and decided I needed proof of my murder later on Instagram.
After I changed my direction five times in my own neighborhood to make sure he wasn’t following me.
There are benefits to living in a ‘smaller’ home, because I can check all the nooks and crannies in 2.5 seconds (with the plastic Little Tikes golf club I’m white-knuckling for protection). I have a plan if I do actually find someone. I’ll have time to run away after I give them a sampling of my triple spin-move throat punch. At least it’s great in my head because I totally made it up and it sounds like something Chuck Norris would do. I’ve even trained the kids.
I won’t turn my back and close my eyes in the shower, because I’m fairly certain that when I open them, the clown from It will be in my face, waiting happily with a murder balloon. After he laughs at me naked.
Forget about me answering the door in the middle of the day. I hide like a ninja, and can’t decide if it’s because that door-to-door evangelistic lady is secretly a knife-wielding psychopath or because I’m still in my pajamas. We’ll go with C. All of the above.
And when I was younger, I wouldn’t wash my face when I was home alone. I refused to close my eyes and be all confused only to have someone standing behind me when I finally open them. Because it’s always that girl who gets it first in the movies and I’m pretty much her.
I’d like to think I’m the main character, but let’s face it. I’m probably better victim material.
I’m sure all my friends secretly hate me, because I always take potential paranoia to a whole new level or ridiculous. One night in my junior year, up late and hyped on my fifth dose of caffeine from building a church out of balsa wood for a sculpture class (We could choose whatever we wanted so I was the dummy overachiever with a gothic cathedral – Yes, let’s carve a million tiny pieces for the fifty identical balustrades and then forget to purchase wood glue. Winning.) I became convinced that there was a man in our attic. Watching us. Because that’s what happens to college girls in all the movies and I heard a noise, and that’s what common sense melded with too many horror movies did to my brain. So I did what any rational person would do: slept with my glasses on (so I could see him in case he decided to attack me – duh) and placed furniture in front of the door. My roomies were not impressed. Humored, but not impressed.
You think I’d outgrow such childish behavior. (Does anyone?) Because I think it just reappears in different situations. Recently at the beach with a friend, I’m pretty sure I freaked her out when the wind harmlessly blew the gate open on the back porch, and I decided Jason must be standing at the bottom with a chainsaw and we should plan our escape route. Because we were all alone, I shamelessly begged her to leave the lights on. We all know that lights are a total murder deterrent.
There’s prescribed drugs available for this, I’m fully aware. It’s just that somewhere in my formative years I watched one too many scary movies and now I have this unhealthy love/hate relationship with them. I’ve slowly filtered them out because I’m pretty sure it’s like a lethal creative cocktail for my brain… it only fuels the paranoia.
It’s like roller coasters. Once upon a time they were fun and awesome, and now they just hurt my neck and make me want to vom because I’m old. I don’t have time for this and I kind of need to wash my face.
Jamin will occasionally humor me by watching one with me, and then ruin it by laughing at that person who “had it coming”, or saying things like “the blood wouldn’t spurt like that” because, duh, he’s a CSI expert on the side. So I do what any other good addict would do, and I have my very own special group of friends that I go to see scary movies with. We’ll be all, want to go see it as soon as we spy the freaky preview. Because it’s been a while since we’ve had our fix. And it’s all fun and games until our husbands are out of town and then we’re crying and stuff because a box of cereal fell in the pantry and so there must be a demon.
In the past when Jamin was gone for a while, I let the offspring sleep in our bed. It starts with Emerson trying oh-so-not-secretly to mumble something about it, thinking she’ll be the only ‘chosen one’. But we don’t play favorites, so Aiden catches on with a “No fair!” until I acquiesce and then Malone is sauntering into the room with fifty of his favorite lovies so the bed looks like this:
Before I know it, we’re in some super awkward sleeping configuration, because even though I love our sofa, I kind of prefer sleeping on our bed. And sofas are scary.
sleeping on the couch – via
There’s something about being surrounded by loudly snoring, teeth gritting, booger smearing sleep that’s kind of nice when Jamin is gone. Except the mornings when I wake up soaked in my three year old’s pee with a toe in my nose.
I could write my own horror story scripts.
But this time was different. Because Jamin was out of town and Emerson is finally (for the love of all things sanity saving unicorns and butterflies) sleeping in her very own bed. I think the secret is colorful striped bedding and gold stars, but digression again. My plan has worked. I’ve now performed quite a few exclusive invite-only solo I-told-you-so victory dances. It’s a cross between Roger Rabbit twerks and the 80’s snake, in the kitchen for Jamin. I’m his favorite high school dance team reject.
So I was solo in the bed, because I didn’t want to break our lucky streak. Which is a victory on it’s own. Doors closed. The kids’ sound machines on – I dare not sleep with one so I can hear the ghosts – We were all drifting into blissful sleep. Once my head hits the pillow, and I get past the what-was-that-noise-I’d-hardly-notice-if-Jamin-was-here, exhaustion takes over and I’m in a certifiable coma.
You know when something happens to you that is so bizarre, you’re not sure you can form the words later to explain it? Stay with me, and fast forward a few hours.
I’d been asleep for some time when a thunderstorm loomed in the distance, the bass sounds rumbling against the windows. Something stirred in the room. I opened my eyes, and then closed them again, only to have them lurch open as my mind was able to register a blurry, sleep induced sight.
There was a figure, looming just inches from my face. And suddenly the television snapped on behind the silhouette that wavered in front of me. As if on cue, a commercial in full blast with loud jovial voices and bright lights filled the previously dark, quiet bedroom. There, in the middle of this muggy Alabama night, I couldn’t decide if that chick from The Ring had just jumped out of the television, or the zombie apocalypse had begun.
I had bigger problems. I was about to suffer actual fear induced heart failure.
Emerson was in one of her sleep walk/night terrors again, whimpering slightly at the side of the bed while I tried my best to compose myself. I have no idea how long she’d been standing there. I fumbled around for the remote, as apparently there’s a short in our dinosaur of a television that now causes it to jolt on at inopportune times a-la poltergeist.
Very inopportune times.
And this night time episode was a first.
I unplugged the TV, for fear I might die of fright, and pulled my little zombie into the bed. She rolled over, in a deep sleep of her own.
Sometimes the movies are just movies… but racking my now-retired scary movie trivia nerd brain, children can be the most frightening subject matter of all.