Another day, and another crack at eliminating Xanax from the menu. I did not feel well. Terra scowled and her movements were sharp. I knew one wrong word and she would be slamming dishes down and going to bed, weeping. So far, we had been pretty good at not taking our misery out on each other, but we were both volatile and electric with desperation as we weaved around each other in the kitchen.
“Mason, what would you like to eat?” I asked.
“Mason,” I continued, impatiently.
“I don’t want anything,” he said, continuing to mess with a board game on the floor.
Terra walked to the fridge and pulled out chocolate pudding and began eating it, absent-mindedly.
“Can I have some pudding!?!” Mason was standing at attention.
I looked at Terra and nodded sarcastically. Great. I waited to hear how she would respond.
“Um, no, you have to eat something good for you first,” she answered with disinterest.
Mason retreated in defeat back to the living room floor and refocused on his game. I could feel the anger coming up into my spine, my shoulders and then my arms. Anything could trigger a surge of horrible adrenaline in me during those days. “Did YOU?” I asked quietly.
“No, but I’m an ADULT.” She was zero to 60 livid as well.
“Man, I don’t like that. Double standard. I don’t think that’s fair,” I snarled.
“Well, I’m not you.” Terra rose and stomped into the other room.
I continued to hover over the table shaking with rage. Mason was just a few feet away. Breathe. I quickly walked myself through some rational thoughts:
"This is complicated. We get through these moments however we can. It may be hypocritical and cruel, eating chocolate pudding in front of a 4-year-old who can’t have it, but at that moment, maybe that chocolate pudding was keeping Terra from turning the table over and screaming."
I concentrated and kept this thought in my head to avoid turning the table over myself.
I walked outside and Mason followed me. He spoke exuberantly as he poured water from a discarded plate into a plastic cup. “Look Dad! Look! That’s all the water there is!” “Yes,” I said, blank and smiling. I pulled Mason onto my lap and he continued his water experiment. I placed my cheek against the back of his head and I sighed, deeply. "We’ve got to get it together", I thought.
After 20 minutes, I approached Terra who was lying on the living room couch. She had been crying.
“Did you get your records release faxed?” I asked her, changing the subject.
“No, I forgot to bring it in here.”
“I’ll do it for you. Is the fax number on the sheet?”
“Yes, at the bottom.”
I started the fax machine, and punched the numbers in, listening for the right kinds of beeps and boops. I sat down on the floor in front of Terra. I looked at her but I dared not speak.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you,” she said, finally.
“That’s okay,” I answered. “You don’t really think that way, though, that it’s okay to do stuff like that in front of him when he can’t, do you?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Good. That’s what matters to me.”
After a couple of quiet, sad hours in front of the television, Mason had gone to bed. The withdrawal continued to grow worse and worse inside me. Darkness all over the sky. I paced around my house, irrational, frightened and wild. I felt my eyes dilate and dart. Breathing again became a conscious process. Reminding myself, I would gasp and squint. I smoked and smoked. Teeth chattering, feet pacing... I had not anticipated that after just one month of daily consumption, Xanax would be so brutal to quit. Or maybe this was just how my body FELT when my senses weren't dulled. I tried to read a newspaper. Couldn't. Couldn't write either. My thoughts scattered like cockroaches, and I could not get a handle on them. There were hundreds of words in my head, pushing and shoving, trying to get to the front of the line. I could HEAR them, but not quite understand. Oh god, the thing's coming again. SHE was coming. Roxy. No, no, I couldn't handle that, no. No, no, no, no. Block it. Block it. I was so afraid.
“I feel really terrible,” I said to Terra.
“Why don’t you try taking Ambien?” she asked. She didn't have the energy to babysit me while I flipped out again.
“Maybe I should.”