Stained Glass & Thunderstorms: Cringey Pillows, Debt & Traumatic Brain Injuries

Stained Glass & Thunderstorms is a new CRAZY SAD BABES CLUB series by poet/writer Meredith Aristone. THIS IS PART 6. Click here for PARTS 12, 3, 4 and 5.

I always hated those pillows that are like, “I can’t adult today!” Fucking cringey, I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the unironic defiance being stitched into fabric or the use of “adult” as a verb — either way, it rubs me the wrong way. But right about now, I need one of those fucking things to scream into, or punch or set on fire. As a veteran of catastrophic thinking, I’m feeling completely fucking inadequate right now, and naturally, it’s severe, like edge of a cliff, brink of avalanche, my feet are stuck in quicksand and I’ll never be able to remove them severe. 

I also always hated lists, thought the idea of writing all of your obligations down was ominous, and wedding registries were tacky and unspontaneous. Actually, no, I just wanted to think of another reason for detesting lists — I’ve genuinely never thought about wedding registries. But, I’m gonna make a list and talk about being a fucking “adult” or a ghost of one, anyway. I don’t know why I stopped doing Adderall. Side note: it’s four in the morning and I have class in five hours. I’m painfully sober (although I’m proud of it) and my insomnia coupled with a pesky restlessness turned nicotine addiction are ensuring that I sit here and type this, so that I can do something because even my ugly, whiny, rambling stream of consciousness feels better than sitting alone in my skin with the knowledge that I’m behind in life. 

And I’m not, really, I mean, I’m probably going to graduate with my undergraduate degree at twenty-one only a few months late this summer. Not that doing anything late should be rewarded, but fuck, I’ve spent so much time being programmed with the knowledge that life is a giant deadline and the pace at which you complete it dictates your worth as a person, that I should be excited that I’m finishing at a normal-ish time. Also, every semester has presented itself as its’ own form of psychological warfare for me, from a teacher telling me that it’s “time to start showing up for myself” to sitting in many puddles of my own shame after missing classes due to hangover or panic or both. I always make above average grades, but my apathy often leads me to miss all of my advising appointments and not actually make it in time to research or sign up for classes that I care about. This is a pattern, even more of a pattern since the birth of Zoom school. So, now I guess it became, who gives a fuck, let’s just get through this. Sometimes I perform well and I feel good about it. Most times I panic and cry and hope that I will survive.

Everything is and always has been life or death for me. Especially before Zoloft, but that’s a different story.  This feeling that I’m sitting in right now, of course, is arriving on the heels of being evacuated from a foreign country in a global pandemic after suffering not only a life-threatening pregnancy, but COVID-19. I still lay awake with torturous panic attacks and my days are ruined by the slightest sore throat. I’m so hyper-aware of my own mortality that it often becomes all consuming enough to trivialize other things that I should be experiencing and/or completing. Then, I panic when I haven’t. It’s a vicious, terrifying cycle. I don’t think there’s enough therapy in the world that could fix it. My last therapist basically politely called me a whore, and the therapy program before that kicked me out because I was a “liability” due to my alcohol consumption. I thought you were supposed to be brutally honest, I wanted help for the anxiety, not the alcohol. I was clearly medicating the anxiety with the alcohol, but maybe that’s what Amy Winehouse said. If you asked me last week, I’d probably tell you that my anxiety was at its’ worst last summer, when I was too debilitated to drive five minutes home from my sister’s graduation, so afraid that I pulled into a random neighborhood to sob, where some health guru lady approached me and tried to give me her business card for guided meditations. The thought was nice, but it’s not so fun when you’re so visibly a trainwreck that wellness “professionals” are targeting you on the street.

But, three nights ago, on Saint Patrick’s Day, a holiday that doesn’t really go well for anyone,  I got so black out drunk in a neighborhood that I’d never been in, with people who have never been my real friends that I smashed my face on the concrete. I blacked out, stumbled over, and sustained big, disgusting, gnarly gaping wounds all over my puffy, drunk cheeks. My companions were, and still are, black out drinkers — people who consume alcohol with the intention of losing most of their consciousnesses. I’d like to think that while my intention is typically to alter my consciousness (I still don’t understand having “just one” — waste of calories, much?) I don’t usually want to lose it. I don’t plan on blacking out and forgetting everything, I just want my numbing agents to make life burn less? Thankfully, my best friend, the only one who gave a fuck, drove me to the emergency room, bought me a hoagie, and weathered the storm of drunken selfies I made him take with me once I realized, holy fuck, I’m back in the hospital and this time it isn’t even panic-related – how fun. They did a cat scan to make sure my dumb ass brain wasn’t bleeding, and sometimes i think, shit, maybe I’d be better off if it were. A little dulling, if you will! That might not be funny, but seriously, there’s not enough room in here for all of this genius AND all of this alcoholism, one of em’ has to go sooner or later. 

Consequently, I missed alchemy class for the upteenth time, putting me in a danger zone that I may not be able to charm myself out of and I look like a disgusting zombie troll, and now I’m in debt to the hospital again. I don’t even know if I’m allowed back in Germany because I owe them thirty euros that I never figured out how to pay for that one time I had a panic attack and went to the clinic over there just so some young, hot doctor in Vans could make me breathe in a tube and offer me Celexa. Actually, fuck, no, that’s a lie — I went to the clinic there twice, because I thought I had appendicitis, because my FALLOPIAN TUBE FROM MY LIFE THREATENING PREGNANCY WAS HURTING. This might sound self-pitying, because I guess all of these things are my fault. I could’ve just used condoms and not abused substances and maybe, as my asshole professor said, “shown up for myself’ in more ways than one, way earlier on, but there’s a back story to this, baby. Not one for right now, but a backstory nonetheless. I don’t believe that people’s present behaviors,  if they’re toxic are justified by a toxic past, but this stupid spinning rock hosts so many things that are out of our control and life works a lot like dominos. 

I digress. My throat hurts and I’m worried it’s cancer. I can never go back to the doctor or the hospital to find out anything ever again though because I owe them my soul, and my dad, who I’m financially supported by still, owns mine. I’m scared of debt and deadlines and the fact that I have to go to the dentist because my nasty fall also chipped my tooth and I don’t brush my teeth enough to begin with — that one will get me laid. I’m scared of weird, new foods and anaphylaxis and forgetting all of my passwords and vaginal health and never finding love or employment. I’m scared of my apartment lease ending in June, I’m scared that I might belong to alcohol for an eternity, or maybe worse, I’m scared that my writing sucks, I’m scared of real jobs and real life and….. Adulting (there, I said it.) 

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