On Breathing Easier and the Battle Ax in the Middle of the Night

apronAt 2:00 a.m., those voices in my head can be pretty loud.

I don’t know who let the battle ax into my bedroom.  She was holding  a cast iron skillet.  I don’t know if the skillet is her trademark, or if she was planning on hitting me with it.  Her hair held spongy pink rollers.  Over her mom-jeans, she wore a food-stained apron in a cherry print that barely stretched over her ample hips.

I’m sure her middle name is Guilt.  Her last name is Doubt.  First name is Jesse.

She barked at me for taking my kids out of public school.  She lectured me for wanting so damn much out of a relationship.  She snarled at me about my choices and the direction I’m heading.

With one hand on her hip, she started her relentless pestering.  “Everyone else seems content to be in a so-so relationship.  Why do you think you deserve to be any happier than anyone else?  Hello, Missy, this is happy.  Look around you.  Everyone is coupled up, and they go about their business just fine.  How much time do they spend worrying about being happy?”

She (my self-doubt) continued to spew these pearls:

  • You’d be in a relationship if you’d quit worrying about being happy in a relationship.
  • Your kids would be better served by struggling to fit in where all the kids struggle every day to see where they fit.
  • Nobody said this was supposed to be easy.
  • Get in line and make the same choices that everyone else makes.
  • Quit your bitching and get back to work.
  • Did you really think making choices contrary to the mainstream wouldn’t be lonely?
  • How much support do you think your going to get, if it looks like your choices mock the choices of others?
  • If you are looking for support, get back in the herd.

Who invited her into my bedroom?

I felt my chest tighten.  I struggled to take a deep breath.  In the dark, it started to feel like she was sitting on my chest.  Her pestering and badgering sucked the air out of my lungs.  The lack of oxygen made my brain fuzzy and I started to panic.  I lost my bearings.  The bossy voices seemed real.

I tried to defend myself with wimpy statements like, “I deserve to be happy, and I’m willing to work at a relationship.  Doesn’t that account for something?  We don’t see that the pros of public school outweigh the cons, ma’am.  My kids are happier and thriving now.”

She had the nerve to yell at me, “Happy, Shmappy.  No one told you to expect to be happy.  Get over yourself.”

I didn’t sleep well, while defending myself against the attacks of the battle ax swinging the heavy black skillet.




Over the first cup of coffee, I was able to laugh at how real the lack of air seemed.  I could see the battle ax for who she was – the embodiment of all my doubts, concerns, and questions.  She was a representation of all my fears – bad hair and all – wrapped in an apron.

She was mad at herself and she was taking it out on me.

I started to feel sorry for her, but thought better of it.  I could have offered to wash her apron.  I could have volunteered to help untangle the spongy rollers from her thinning hair.  But, feeling sorry for her would be an invitation for her to stick around longer.

With my head cleared, I realized the pressure on my chest is my reaction to “getting in line” and making established choices that lead to a marginally fulfilled life.

No thanks.  I’m aiming higher.

That’s how I know I’m heading in the right direction – I breathe easier.

The prospect of making different choices, or settling, or following the herd sucks the air out of my lungs.

I take a compass reading and see that the direction we are heading is right for us.  That knowledge helps me breathe easier.

It’s a matter of silencing the self-doubt and guilt.  I can acknowledge the battle ax, but I’m not asking her to stay.

I could take her, if only I could get her to put down the skillet.




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  1. Sometimes it takes a skillet to wake us up. But I think you’ve already had that one upside the head. You’ll just have to grab your own skillet and have a duel with the battle ax. Your skillet is bigger than hers, and getting bigger every day. You’ll win. You do every time.

  2. Ignore the silly woman sweetie x

  3. Pat,

    The melatonin just isn’t cutting it. I don’t want to go with anything stronger.

    Maybe the skillet will do the trick.

  4. Tina,

    You make it sound so simple.

    I’ll give it a try. Don’t like her much, anyway. ;)

  5. Does the melatonin mean you are having problems sleeping?

    I had problems sleeping years ago, and saw a Dr on a show that said women of a certain age should take magnesium before bed. It’s supposed to help you with sleep, and it works for me.

    Also, I have a friend who never sleeps, and yet insists that the TV she have on for ‘company’ doesn’t disturb her sleep. Oy vey!

  6. Donna,

    Thanks. I’ll try magnesium. I fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow. I wake at 1:00, brain fires up and doesn’t turn off.

    I know a couple who cannot fall asleep unless they have the TV going. Now their kids are the same way.
    I always wondered what they were absorbing – subliminally – while they were “sleeping”.

  7. The key to sleep would be learning to shut our brains off. If you figure that out let me know. I rarely sleep, I can’t stop thinking.
    When you homeschool you will always question your choice. Even once they are grown you will sometimes question if it was the right thing. Even when they score high on the ASVAB or any other test they take. Even when they are getting A’s and B’s in college. There will always be that little voice that says they are missing or missed this or that. We all want what’s best for our kids. If they were in public school you would question if they were learning all they should. It’s what we do as parents.
    I think because we fooled ourselves into thinking our last marriage was normal, everything that went wrong was our fault. We did this for so long that now there is so much self-doubt in our ability to find a nice guy. I wonder all the time if there really are nice guys. I try to imagine what it would be like to have someone who accepts me for who I am and doesn’t want to change me. I know it’s because I have been to hell and back. I know I question every guy’s intentions to the point I say, “I suck at dating.” You know you’re not alone and the scary thing is taking a chance. It’s possible you will get hurt but it’s not the first time. You’re strong, you can get up, dust yourself off, and try again. You have shown the world that you are strong and a survivor already. Life is about taking chances.

    When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap. ~Cynthia Heimel, “Lower Manhattan Survival Tactics”

    One last thought – take some grown up time for you. That doesn’t mean getting up early while the kids are asleep. It means ask a friend to take the kids for a few hours and go do something for you! Go to dinner, a movie, the gym or anything by yourself or with a friend. Just get out of the house and hang out. It’s ok to do that. Your kids are really smart and they will be fine with it.

    Love ya

  8. Kath,

    Your comment was received as if it was a big warm hug.

    I like that quote.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with making a fool of myself. But I do feel more inclined to take fewer chances since I’m dragging my kids along for the ride.

    Have you seen or read, “He’s Just Not That Into You?” I am the gal who puts every emotion out there from the get go. I have NO filters. Right or wrong, it’s who I am. I definitely jump with both feet, when I decide to make the jump.

    And you are absolutely right about needing some grown up time. I miss grown ups. I have fond memories of them. I think I like them.

    love you

  9. The battle-ax visits everyone – but she does it at 2am, so you can’t see their visits.

    Don’t be like everyone else. Why would you want to do that? Nobody interesting ever did that.

    And when you find the people who appreciate that aspect of you, rather than being threatened by it – welcome those people in, quirks and all. They are the ones who will make you happy and give you the support you need.

  10. Sprung,

    Thank you. I needed your comment today.

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