This story begins by Joel telling us about a bully on his peewee baseball team and how that helped stir up his insomnia. He said he went up to Pops, (the bullies nickname on the team) and tried to give him a high-five. Pops grabbed his hand, turned it around, palm up, and hacked a luge on his hand and walked away. Since this, his fear of Pops doubled and said that he never wanted to be near or interact with him ever again.
He then listed off some of the other fears that led him to extreme insomnia, those being the kid who didn’t do perfectly in school, the kid who did perfectly in school, hobos, afraid of his father having a heart attack because his father had one and died from it. He said all this led him to train himself how to stay awake at night and just think over his anxieties so it’d scare him enough to not fall asleep. This escalated into insomnia and not sleeping or barely sleeping to the point of it being extremely unhealthy.
One big contributor to his anxiety was when his baseball team made it to the finals in Long Island and how he had to stay with one of the opposing team’s families. The family picked him up at the destination in Long Island and apparently on the way home the brothers sat on either side of him and the older brother only talked when wanted to mock him and his younger brother. He was terrified to sleep at someone else’s home because he couldn’t fall asleep total strangers’ house, let alone his house. When the time finally came to sleep, he tried to stay up with the brothers in their room and talk, a few hours went by but the brothers then fell asleep. The mom said to not hesitate and come down the hall and wake them up if he wanted something. He was nervous about it so he went to the bathroom, fully aware of them being awake and made noise to see if the mom would come out and comfort him. Nothing. He then walked to their door and slowly opened it. He happened to walk in on parents having sex. He and the dad made eye contact and the dad did nothing but a smile. He shut the door and ran back to his bed.
He said his brother, who is a senior in high school was his best friend. And he was slowly watching their relationship fade as he was getting older and older. That is something I never got over he said.
I had problems like this when I was younger, I thought about the obscure things and scenarios at night that it would keep me up for hours. None of what I thought would happen became reality but it hung over my head day after day, and something I could never forget. I too had really bad anxiety as a kid which made me less talkative to others and made me sit in my room alone doing nothing and staring at the fan. The way I coped with it was through music. When I was listening to music I felt like nothing could happen to me, that life was perfect in every way. It helped me clear my head of bad thoughts and scenarios that I always thought would be my reality.