Morning Care

Another disjointed morning to follow a night spent trying to claw my way out of dreams stuck in places I’d rather forget. No one should wake panting like a hiker with a grizzly close behind. Should they? I ease off the bed, my feet sliding into slippers the same moment I set a hand against the bed to steady me, for I’ve stood before fully waking.

Another morning, another repeat performance.

There’s no rubbing eyes for me, for closing eyes risks returning to the dreams. Instead, I settle for moving my fingertips around the eye sockets. A heavy sigh. Cleansing breaths. Rolling my shoulders to loosen them. Am I calming myself or is this an aging ritual? No idea. To hustle my thoughts into the present I hurry out of the room faster than I should, having to set my hands out wide to brace myself.

I turn the corner and there she is. Ragged. Disheveled. Looking like I too often feel. I stop short and suck in a sharp breath. Damn. These encounters, always awkward, are worse in the morning before I’m prepared. There’s brief eye contact before I divert my gaze and shuffle my feet, my lingering slumber slow to alert me to the self-conscious act, which I attempt to cover-up with stiff, meaningless gestures.

Seconds later I surrender to the moment. “Was it a rough night last night?” I ask, my concern an old one, but still relevant.

“I’m okay,” she responds.

“It’s all right if you…”

“I’m okay.”

Hanging my head, I breath deep and nod, my hope that I don’t appear to want to be anywhere else nearly as strong as my desire to be elsewhere. “We can talk if you need…”

“I’m fine.”

I wet my lips, which is an effort after a night spent breathing too hard through my mouth. “You can’t keep on like this and we both know it.”

“It’s hard…”

There’s a tightness in my chest, an old pain. “I know it is.” Chancing a glance her way I can see the glassy eyes and know it’s going to be a difficult morning. Maybe a difficult day. “Maybe I…”

“No.”

“I just want to help.” She looks away and my shoulders sag. “Why is it you can forgive everyone else, but not me?” I shut my eyes. “Why not me?”

“I needed you.”

“I know…”

“I needed you to be strong when I needed it most, when there was hurting…”

“I know…”

Her lower lip trembled and I wiped beneath an eye. “I needed you to be strong, but you couldn’t protect me. It was so hard and I still can’t get it out of my head!”

I don’t want to watch her cry, not again. “I’m sorry. I was there, too, you know.”

Her tears come, her voice dropping to a whisper. “No one else was there, no one else knows, not like you do…they don’t know what it was like. Not really.”

“I know…”

“And the pain, it doesn’t go away. Damn it, it won’t go away and no one understands. I just want it to go away and I’m falling apart, I know I’m falling apart, but it’s too much…”

“I know,” I added for what seemed like the millionth time, each one sounding more feeble than the one before it.”

“I tried to be strong, but I wasn’t strong enough. I should have been stronger.”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“There should’ve been someone…”

“No. You have to own it…we can own it.”

“I just want it to go away.”

“I know you do. If we work together…”

Tears running, she presses the heels of her hands hard against her eyes. “I’d give anything for a hug, anything at all.”

“I know, I know, but you know it doesn’t work like that. I’m so sorry. We’re alone in this, you and I, as it’s always been. But we can work together…do something.”

“I don’t want to…”

“Please…something.”

“A walk…?”

“Sure, we can go for a walk today.”

She lowers her hands and makes eye contact. Her eyes…the pain is so raw, even after all this time. It shouldn’t hurt this long. “Promise?”

My tone is as light as I can manage. “Yeah.” I force a weak, meager smile, but at least it’s a start.

Our words aren’t hanging in the air, were never uttered, but were instead shared inside my head. I turn away from the bathroom mirror, thus completing my morning routine and hoping I won’t be back before another morning comes.

In the meantime, I open curtains and remember I survived what so many don’t survive. Such a thought is a victory even on the days when it doesn’t feel like one, even on the days that feel like one too many.

Maybe, just maybe, one morning I’ll awake to fading sweet dreams and know a smile is waiting for me in that mirror. Until then there’s a walk to take.


Self talk is vital and I know mine is poor, especially the last several months. I’m working on it and that working is what’s enabled this short, internal dialog dramatization. Now though, since I’m through, it’s time for you to wonder about your self talk. Really. How’s your self talk?

It’s easy for the victim to blame the victim.

Be kind. Be compassionate to yourself. Forgive.

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11 Replies to “Morning Care”

  1. Pingback: Morning Care | Christina Anne Hawthorne

  2. Christine I wish I could give you a hug, so instead I will say this is a very brave share. We all have that internal dialogue, but some of us carry more burdens than others. I admire your strength, you are stronger than you know. Keep walking, talking and pushing those dreams forward. Thank you for sharing this moment. I have my positive days and then some. I think when I get busy my anxiety leaves for awhile. Walking is good, keeping active or doing something nice for someone else always helps me and above all else using positive thoughts and images is the key. I am looking forward to seeing you smile like you have never smiled before.

      • Ha ha ha…you’re one among many. I don’t take offense. Though I prefer the full name, I understand that it’s one hurdle too many sometimes, in a syllable sense. Please don’t get sick from a lack of rest, though. 🙂

    • Thank you. Working on that smile, which has (mostly) taken a hiatus. Those efforts are those you’ve mentioned, plus I’m investigating other possibilities to combine with those. A highly recommended book arrives tomorrow. Though it’s early, spring is dancing around the edges of my vision and that means the ability to spend more time outdoors. Always welcome. I’m also building my own standing desk that will be healthier and help reduce clutter. Other projects wait in the wings, waiting for me to find myself again. 🙂

  3. I am sorry you have mornings like that, Christina. You so right about self-talk. Most of the time it’s so programmed in that we hardly notice them. I have lists of phrases that I say to myself when the negative thoughts come. Sometimes all I can do is just keep repeating the same words to myself over and over to drown out the negative ones, Then eventually the negative ones stop. Someday I believe the positive thoughts will take over, until then I’ll have my routines. Each night I try to program my mind to be geared to what I want and more importantly what I need. As always you’re an inspiration, Christina. Knowing that you are out there fighting so hard gives me courage to keep on fighting. In the end, I have no doubt that we will beat them all! Until then I like to feel like we are fighting together even though our experiences and struggles are not the same.

    • Thank you, Laurie. What is so vital is knowing that we fight together. No two situations will ever be the same, but in having a “situation” we can more easily sympathize, understand, support. Sometimes it’s easier than at other times and there are triggers that can undermine my efforts, as happened last October, but I continue to not only fight, but to find the way to fight that works best for me. I’m learning so much, not just about what helps me, but what might help others, for our methods, too, can differ and that’s okay. It’s being “okay” that matters most. Keep repeating your positive thoughts, for that at least serves to strengthen those positive pathways in your brain. Stay strong!

  4. I’ve never thought of allowing the person in the mirror her own character. I’m fascinated by this idea.
    On a more real note, though, it sounds as though the mornings are rough on you. I hope you find a way to keep getting through them, and to learn to heal the breach with your reflection.

    And on a third note…fantastic storytelling. I was gripped.

    • Thank you. I have to admit that I hesitated to post this right up until the instant before I clicked “Publish” because I worried (which I do well) readers would believe I have multiple personalities. Well, okay, it is sometimes easiest to think of myself that way when attempting to describe my life, but I do think of myself as a singular entity. Likely this all developed when I started compartmentalizing at a young age in order to survive in a hostile environment. Then again, I’m thankful for the imagination that developed at the same time. I do have my little conversations and sometimes they happen in front of the mirror, but they’re not quite this formal. 🙂

      • I for one am glad you posted it, Christina. You’ve really got me thinking about my morning dialogue and how it goes. I have become pretty good at doing positive self-talk before bed, but waking up in the morning is a whole different story. I know it usually starts with thinking, “Oh, God, I don’t want to get out of bed!” Most days because I am just so tired and don’t feel well in the morning especially when the house has been filled with the neighbors wood smoke all night. In fact, I don’t remember that last time I wanted to jump out of the bed in the morning. The only time I jump out of bed is when a sick kid is calling me and has woken me from a sound sleep. I am going to have to change the way I wake (when it’s not by a child) and what I think. Got to get a handle on that. Many mornings when I wake up early I just start to get stressed and have to spend the next 20 minutes or so calming myself down! Thanks again, Christina!

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