As the clock turns to 4:50am, Raina turns over in her bed for the 4th time. Her eyes gently open. She's awake, and there's no way around it. Her body has already decided.
It's Monday, which means it'll be a slow day at IKEA. Who buys furniture on a Monday, anyway? But slow or not, she'll need a shower.
Raina slowly twists her body out of the bed and plants her feet on the floor. "Successful people get up when they wake up," she thinks to herself, recalling a quote from Terry O'Reilly, her favorite motivational speaker.
Raina has been following Terry's wisdom for 2 years now. When her and Peter broke up she felt like a shell of a person. She would listlessly float between work and home, with no purpose. No reason to feel excited or joyful. Like nothing could ever quite engage her brain fully again.
Then on her drive home one night, she heard Terry on NPR. "We are more than the things that happen to us. We are what happens after the things. We pick ourselves up, or we don't. Our true character is defined by our reaction."
After relieving herself in the bathroom, Raina slumps over to the mirror above the sink. She looks up at her reflection with a mix of disdain and comfort. It's time for her morning affirmations.
"I know who I am, and I like who I am."
"Today is my day. I own this day."
"I am worthy of my greatness and power."
As she says them 5 times each, she tries to look herself in the eye. Deep into the irises. Have you ever looked deep in your own eyes in the mirror? It's terrifying. Terry says you should look yourself in the eye at least three times per day—that you make the most important impression on yourself.
Now on to hair-brushing. 25 strokes, each side. This one's not a Terry O'Reilly nugget but instead a ritual she's performed every morning since she was 8 years old.
It may have to do with her mother, brushing her hair straight out of the bath, with tugs and torture. A child-aged Raina would wince, wrapped in her towel, feeling both annoyed by her mother's rough touch and secretly pleased to have held her attention this long.
As she rounds the corner on the 19th stroke, Raina sees something dart across the floor.
A goddamned mouse, Raina thinks to herself. She drops the hairbrush.
She had spent last weekend plugging all the holes she could find in her cupboards, baseboards and walls. But alas, one last entryway must be left open.
Raina is deeply afraid of mice. But Terry says when we look closer at what we're afraid of we can learn about ourselves. So she gets down on her hands and knees.
There's absolutely no way this is a mouse, she thinks. You're an idiot, you're seeing things because you're tired. And you're tired for no reason, because your life isn't exciting enough to deserve to be tired.
This is how Raina speaks to herself in her head.
And there it goes again! It IS a mouse, she wasn't wrong.
Raina follows the mouse with her eyes as it gets to a recently plugged hole. It has nowhere to go. She quickly runs to the door of the bathroom and shuts it—the mouse is trapped here with her.
Raina has no idea what to do. She can't kill the mouse with her bare hands or something. She is shaking from being so close to it already.
She starts to lean down and spots the mouse again. It's now sitting still in a corner, and surprisingly, it's staring back up at Raina.
Raina looks into the eyes of the mouse, deep into its irises. They are locked in contact. For a moment, everything moves slowly.
She feels like this mouse every day, scurrying from place to place without feeling. Moved only by basic instincts. Trying her best to avoid conflict. Trying her best to hang onto her ideas and thoughts and feelings like they matter, but ultimately knowing they don't.
Raina feels like she's dropping into some kind of trance, so she starts to get up. This mouse's eyes are still locked with hers.
She remembers the hammer in the bathroom closet. She leans back slightly until she feels it in her hand, never breaking eye contact with the mouse.
Terry says we are not the things that happen to us, we are our reactions.
Terry says that in order to become our fullest selves we have to let go of what holds us back.
She brings the hammer up from behind her and the mouse begins to run towards the door. She brings it down in perfect time to land right on its head. It makes a light squish sound. There is a surprisingly small amount of blood.
Raina is still shaking, but for the first time since Peter left, she feels sure of herself.
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