alexithymia

Don't try to wake me up
Even if the sun really does come out tomorrow
- Alexithymia, Anberlin

when school let out for the summer, one of the first things my wife and i had plans for was to see anberlin in sacramento for their first tour in five years.

my wife, not entirely familiar with the band’s catalog, didn’t seem to mind the constant barrage of anberlin songs at home and in the car during the week preceding the show. she had some of her favorites, and the others were recognizable enough for her to hum along to by the time we went to the concert.

fast forward a few months — this morning, instead of dialing in to the local rock-alternative radio station, i let the compilation cd play.


It's alarming how loud the silence screams
No warn, no warn, no warning

for years, i haven’t slept well.

they say you’re not supposed to remember your dreams if you’ve had a good night’s rest, but i tend to. i have dreams about driving cars down a hill that lose their breaks for no other reason than my needing them. no matter how hard i try to get the car to stop, pushing the squishy break as hard as i can against the unforgiving metal floor, i end up smashing through a row of cars in slow motion.

i have dreams about being chased up and down a towering set of stairs or getting into screaming matches with hostile students. i have dreams where my teeth fall out, or i’m at college and i’m failing a class i don’t remember ever attending.

in others, i avoid beautiful women trying to break up my marriage. once, in a dream, my wife and i went as far as getting divorced. i woke up in complete panic and despair.

i’ve had elaborate dreams that played like full-length movies. there was the black and white dream where i rescued a jewish girl from nazis. we boarded a boxcar train and hid, hoping the soldiers who were searching car to car would somehow miss us. at the end of the dream, the camera panned out until a sign could be seen.

we were headed for a place called auschwitz.

there was the dream with the noir setup where i was a private detective working out of an office with my name on the door. i had a trenchcoat and fedora. there were at least three plot twists, and the woman who hired me ended up being the villain.

she shot me.

i woke up feeling awful.

awful and tired.


With downcast eyes
There's more to living than being alive
With downcast eyes
There's more to living than being alive

on a morning when i didn’t skip past the song alexithymia, i felt compelled to look up the song’s lyrics.

i always thought the song was named after someone, possibly named alex, who inspired the lyrics like some of stephen christian’s other songs. but alexithymia is a real thing — a condition in which a person cannot explain or describe the way they’re feeling.


Don't try to wake me up
Even if the sun really does come out tomorrow
Don't believe anything I say
Anymore, in the morn, in the morning

when i wake up in the morning, i feel like i’m crushed by this unbearable feeling of dread. my thoughts usually go to something terrible i’ve done in my past or to a person i’ve wronged back in college or some long-lost time.

like the time i stole some books from my babysitter back in elementary school. or the one time i hit a parked car and didn’t leave a note. (to be fair, i checked the car, and there was no dent or any other mark. no harm, no foul. right?)

i can still remember the face of the woman walking by. her expression didn’t change, even though we made eye contact. she just walked away as i dashed out of my car to check on the one i just hit.

i don’t know whether i’m supposed to make amends for these wrongs, but i’ve felt compelled enough to act on some of them. a phone call out of blue to a friend i haven’t seen in a long time or a quick text to an acquaintance i might have offended at a gathering with an offhand remark.

i’m awkward. i’m bumbling. i’m prone to bouts of stupidity. i’m working on it.

sometime last night, when it was dark and completely quiet, i woke up and got out of bed to go to the bathroom. as usual, i felt that pressure — something weighing on my conscience.

i recognized it, and i questioned it in a way i hadn’t before.

the guilt. it felt as if i had murdered someone.

but i’ve never murdered anyone.

without anything to pin my guilt on — as real as it could be felt — it seemed simple to dismiss it because it had nothing to anchor itself to.

i crawled back into bed, being careful not to lay on my two cats. next to me, my wife lay still except for her deep breaths.

i closed my eyes, and i slept.