When I was 13 my first counsellor asked me what animal I thought I was most like. A mouse. A dormouse, I said, because I sleep a lot. She laughed, and I laughed, and everyone in the gallery agreed how funny it was. It was true. I sleep all day because sleep is the natural anaesthetic and the only way I could numb the nerve endings crackling their anger through my brain.
No one ever asked me again. No one ever asked me why I was late for school every day, why I ignored alarms and never ate breakfast. They told me to buy a clock, buy another clock, buy a better clock. I did what I was told, like I always have, but it didn’t make a difference because at the end of the day, at the start of the day, I’d rather be asleep. Awake and arithmetic had nothing to offer me, just give me sleep. I’d skip classes and parties, miss birthdays and brunches, just give me sleep.
My friends were used to it, I ran on my own timezone, it became a personal joke. They laughed, and I laughed, and everyone in the gallery agreed how funny I was. I worked so hard to make people laugh because when their eyes crinkled up in the moment of amusement they couldn’t see my face.
They couldn’t see frown lines through my fawning, I made damn sure of that, and if someone got close enough that they might actually notice my existence I would run. Run and find a new hole to nest in, scutter beneath their feet and live a life of feeble-hearted fear. I ran. (slower) Ever the dormouse.
Ever the dormouse trying to hibernate whole seasons of my life away in the hopes that the faster I skipped through them the sooner the end credits would roll, all I wanted was sleep. I grew up and started seeking sleep directly, dropped class, left school, stayed home, slept. Opened my eyes each day and thought - “Damn, this again”.
This again? Another day of living with a body throbbing with the lab-rat diseases injected in me at birth, with depression and disorder and karma and chaos. Another day of “Please not me” and “Please, God, Please” and trying to please people who ultimately never noticed that although I ran around all day trying to appease them they never saw me. Trying to deceive people who thought they knew me, think they know me, thought they owed me. They don’t owe me for my friendship because that friendship is freely given, as I try to buy the affection I don’t think I deserve. I try to beg and steal my way into hearts, and sometimes I might habitat, temporarily, but the day always comes when I run, and they don’t follow. I curl up small and wonder how to answer if someone asks me what’s wrong, but no one ever asked me. So I just pray for sleep.
(pause) No one ever asked me why I’d rather be asleep.