For many years I was afraid to sleep. I was already a kid who was afraid of what lurked in the dark. I would flip off the light switch in my room, run jump and fly into my bed so whatever was under my bed wouldn’t get me.
Then came the real nightmares came. The nights were long and full of pain. I would fall sleep in class the next day and get into trouble. I literally had no place to safely sleep for years. Then I discovered alcohol and that if you drink enough you can sleep for a bit. In my early adult years I just gave up on sleeping and worked incredibly long hours and sometimes didn’t bother to ever go to bed. Then after 27 years I found a safe, warm place were I could sleep. I fall asleep feeling safe that my husband will slay any monsters that threaten my slumber. Except the ones in my dreams.
Nightmares are the most prevalent symptom of PTSD that I have had to navigate. These long, painful and tricky nights are what gave birth to my memoirs. At some point about 10 years ago I gave up on trying to wrangle the nightmares away. Instead I got up and faced them, I would wrap myself in warmth and comfort, brew a cup of tea and write the hideous dreams out. For the last decade I have purged every insidious detail out of my mind. As the years have gone by I have nightmares less and less. At this point I don’t think I have nightmares any more often than anyone else.
Sometimes I Don’t wake up before the trash truck comes. I hear it in my sleep and wake up afraid. Afraid that my stepdad has come in his semi truck to finally kill me. Then I realize its just the trash truck and feel embarrassed.
Still its hard to shake that feeling of not being safe. It stays with you like a bad smell. The automatic need to constantly scan your surroundings for danger. To always have a plan B, and C, and D. I also know what if feels like to be totally exhausted and feel like you just want to collapse and let the monster that you have been running from just finish you off.