This is a post about morning chasing the shadows away, about nightmares and milk tea flavored French toast. I’ve noticed a curious thing about myself in contrast to my husband. I wake up nervous, almost in a panic, nearly every morning. Many mornings the first words off my lips to him are a bleary “Is everything ok?” I need to hear that everything is okay. While he dreams of singing lullabies to our daughter the day she’s born, I thrash through drownings, fighting tooth & claw, and a writhing sort of pain in my heart that’s almost limb rending. I love to rest, to sleep, but waking each morning to this glorious and still yet new world of placid waters, mundane worries, and a husband that I love and loves me in return is more like a dream than any sleep I’ve known as an adult. Morning is sweet. He brings me coffee, we make breakfast or take it out, and the black water recedes again into my subconscious. Living is a good remedy. So here are my thoughts on the fear & a recipe for chasing it away, namely a recipe for an earl grey & lavender scented French toast topped with sweet summer blueberries.
It’s no great mystery as to why my sleep is disturbed. I amassed a decade of disturbing during my twenties, enough to fuel a lifetime of nightmares. I was a master of compartmentalizing, a common survival skill amongst the compulsively ill advised. Now I’m likely up to the same psychological tricks. But there are only two compartments: then and now. Then is in a shoebox on a dim, cobwebbed shelf. Now is out on my dresser, the first thing I see when I sit up in bed. But in some somnambulant state of self torture, I take then off the shelf and rifle through it’s contents. Maniacs are in there, and the maniacs tormenting me, if dream interpreters are to be believed, are all—no matter the face—myself.
My husband doesn’t seem to have this fear. I’m sure he has a fair human amount of fear; we all do. But not this dark mass I carry around. It makes sense that he doesn’t. The bags I carry, the skeletons—whatever cliché you want to assign to my distasteful (to put it lightly) memories and experience—he simply doesn’t have them or at the very least not the sheer volume or degree. I’m tempted to fall into a narrative of seeing myself as the “dark one”. I laugh less & worry more than he does, it’s true. I’m less friendly, less optimistic. Not to say I’m not those things, I’m a reasonable amount in my estimation. I just don’t possess that same effervescence & light. I’m an introverted, internal sort.
Over the past few days, I’ve made a little down time since we returned home from 5 weeks abroad, and in that time I’ve found stillness. Stillness leads to thought. And my thoughts have turned to wondering whether my daughter will grow up and see us the way I see us. Whether she’ll see him as the light one and me as the dark one. Whether she’ll see sadness and fear in me. Or whether she’ll see me like he sees me, introverted & sensitive, but not dark. My hope is the latter. And my hope is that the rays of the morning, of our family & the daily moments we share from breakfasts to afternoon swims, of good work & real friends will, over a lifetime, chase away those shadows, and that I will consistently see myself the way the people who love me see me: as different but not worse.
Without further introspective rambling, here’s a recipe to beautify your waking world: thick brioche French toast infused with earl grey and topped with the sapphire jewels of the season, plump blueberries tossed in a homemade lavender sugar & lemon zest. Add a cloud of powdered sugar and syrup if you must (I skip the latter, personally) and you have a meal that will make you smile no matter what the night brought.