The pattern has repeated itself night after night for almost a week. I need to figure out how to disrupt it and clear the debris. I can only hope that my scorched psyche will heal once I empty the crazy in my mind. Writing has always been my cheapest form of therapy. For my sanity and the sanity of those around me, let this process work.
The usual menopause ritual has been the same for months. Night sweats and hot flashes spring on me, with regularity around 2 am, to disrupt my precious slumber. While not the loveliest way to wake up, I can usually get out of bed, change my jammies, drink some cold water, and return to my priceless slumber. The dogs occasionally add a step or two to this ritual, but I get more sleep. For the past week, the 2 am menopause wake-up call has marked the end of my sleep cycle for the night. What the heck is up with that? I blame it all on Karin Slaughter. Damn her.
I protect my mind and emotional well-being by avoiding watching anything scary or disturbing. I just don’t do it because it sticks with me. You will not catch me watching a horror film unless forced, and I have been forced, or at least coerced. (Thank you, Christy, for insisting we watch Carrie in my room when we celebrated your birthday. The boutique hotel had a weird, retro vibe. Did I mention the room had creepy ceramic clowns everywhere? When the movie ended, Christy returned to her room to sleep—I stared at the ceiling until sunrise.) I try to avoid anything that is going to disrupt my inner peace.
While I avoid watching horror movies or gory shows, I read books in every genre, including thrillers. Last year I read a couple of Karin Slaughter books. I read Pieces of Her and Girl, Forgotten.These books were graphic and full of gore, and I read them without damage. I have a gift, call it a superpower, that emerges when I read graphic novels. My mind does not absorb the horror on the page. My psyche is protected in a frosty bubble that glosses over the horrific scene the author describes. I can tamper down the images in my mind and dull the impression. This superpower has allowed me to enjoy the occasional thriller without trauma.
Thrillers and murder mysteries, especially ones with graphic violence, are few and far between in my reading queue, yet, something in Slaughter’s writing calls me back for more. Her characters are well-developed, and Slaughter is a great storyteller. The latest novel I read, False Witness, was Kryptonite to my superpower. (I want to curse like a sailor or my mom, but I will do my best to suppress dropping an F-bomb.) I finished this novel over a week ago and haven’t slept more than 4 hours a night since. I might lose my sh*t if I don’t figure out how to reclaim my inner calm in the chaos.
Every time menopause has knocked me from my peaceful slumber this past week with flames of fire, freaking Karin Slaughter’s mind-twisting, disturbed, tortured cast of souls has come along for the ride. I mean what the actual H-E-double chopsticks Karin?! These sisters and the twisted serial killer (a boy the girls used to babysit) have hijacked my mind in the middle of the night. For some reason, this novel hit home and struck a chord. Slaughter’s characters are relatable, and I find a hint of my younger self in the sisters. I babysat at a very young age, grew up in extreme poverty, and experienced abuse as a child. Any parallels end here. The extreme pain, heartache, depth, and depravity of their suffering are next level, and I cannot shake off the lingering uneasiness.
I keep reminding myself it is just a story. The girls aren’t real. The serial killer and his evil father are fiction! I wonder if any of the kids I babysat became serial killers. I did watch neighborhood kids whose father was a homicide detective. The dad was odd, but after reading these damn books, I get it. I understand why. Did his kids witness things that screwed them up for life? These are the thoughts stealing my slumber.
Last night, I never fell asleep. My husband is camping, and my son texted me at 1 am to tell me he was staying at his friend’s house. Like a Garth song, I Ain’t Going Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up. Tonight, or this morning, I would be awake and waiting for the hot flashes to visit. I sat in bed, opened my phone, and searched for information on Karin Slaughter. I had to find out more about this woman who stole my superpower. It turns out she had a typical upbringing, or so she says. With the stories she tells, can I really know for certain? One article talks about her ability to write stories that are not easy to forget. You think about the characters long after the story ends. Heck yeah! Karin sure as heck does.
At 5 am, it was 4 am yesterday (dreaded springing forward foolery), I decided to take the senior poodle outside to potty and then try to catch a little sleep. Isn’t some sleep better than no sleep? Sleep never happened. After tossing and turning for another hour, I grabbed my freshly charged-up iPad (my favorite place to write), refilled my glass with water, completed the daily Wordle (gotta keep my tired mind fresh), and decided to start writing. I will write to clear my mind. I am hoping it will help remove the scorched soil. I will then plant fresh seedlings and guard them against the elements. My reading choices will contain fluffy romance novels and self-development books for the unforeseen future. Sorry, Karin. While I love you, like Ross and Rachel, it is time for us to take a break.
2 thoughts on “Scorched Psyche, Slaughter, and Sleepless Nights”
Great blog Billie !!
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Thank you Patti!