**Trigger Warning** Sexual Abuse is the topic of this article.
I am afraid to go to sleep. I actually don’t sleep very often, I more like pass out. I force myself to stay awake so long that eventually I will fall asleep on any floor in any room I am in, the kitchen included. I actually find the kitchen quite a safe comforting place to be. I have ever since I was a little girl. I was always watched over the most in the kitchen. It doesn’t help that I am an alcoholic. I’m what AA calls an “all day sipper”. I don’t drink to get drunk. I drink to stay calm. I drink to stay awake. I drink to hide from my own thoughts and feelings.
I was molested at night for the first eight years of my life by one of my older brothers. So sleep is hard for me. It used to be a defense mechanism. I can sleep through almost anything. Once I slept through my sister-in-law falling down the stairs which were practically right over my head, the noise didn’t wake me. I had trained my body so well to stay asleep to avoid knowing what was happening to me, like a little kid hiding under a blanket… the monsters aren’t there if you can’t see them.
So I’m sure you can imagine how terrifying nighttime is for me when I think about being in my bed where once I was so vulnerable. Bed is supposed to be a comfortable soothing place but for me it is a nightmare. I get night terrors. I dream about being raped and molested. I dream about incest and being unable to protect my children from predators almost every night. The dreams are very vivid too. I dream in color and it feels so much like reality. I fight a lot in my dreams, I’ll punch my brother in the face and he will just laugh or feel no effect and just go about doing the awful things he’s doing. And I fight against an uncaring audience in the rest of my family. They don’t believe me or they don’t care or the worst is when they see nothing wrong with what is happening. They act like my children sharing a room with my brother who molested me for eight years is totally fine. They act like my brother’s and my marriage is a happy ordeal. They just don’t understand why it is wrong. And all of it is so wrong. I’m screaming in their faces, telling them to never let my children around my brother. I scream to be not near my brother myself. I scream and scream and scream and no one hears me or cares! My control is taken away from me and I don’t know what to do other than to try to fight and the fight feels so useless. But these are just dreams.
However, this type of sleep effects my waking hours as well. I usually have a harder day after a really bad rape dream or molesting dream. I dreamt once one of my brothers raped me then forced me to kill myself so I wouldn’t tell. I couldn’t focus all day the next day and just was so lost in my head and felt so disgusted and anxious I couldn’t function. These are the things I deal with at night. My husband at the time once tried to wake me up by kissing me… I screamed in his face and started to cry. He learned never to do that again. You just shouldn’t wake up a woman with a sexual act no matter what. She’s sleeping not agreeing to sex. And for me, it is reliving trauma so just don’t do it.
So almost every morning I wake disgusted and terrified. I wake and go hold my children and thank God these are only dreams and that I have way more power than the dreams lead me to believe. I have power! That is a wonderful thing to realize after a traumatic childhood. When you are a child you feel like the world is done to you and you have no control or at least I did and I hated it. I wanted some sort of say so badly but was never given it. So I went with what I thought was normal even though I didn’t like it. Until I was just done.
I have PTSD, GAD, Severed Depression, Agoraphobia, OCB, I’m a cutter, and have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder all because I had such a rough childhood. And now as a somewhat healthy adult I still have flashbacks and night terrors that take me back to that little powerless girl and I want to hold her and protect her and I can in a way kind of. I’ve learned drinking and not sleeping are not how to do that. I have been put on a few medications that help me sleep and that help with the night terrors. I’m on Prazosin, Topiramate or Topamax, and Gabapentin. I’m on other medications too but these are the ones that help with the sleeping and compulsive things that I sometimes do when I have flashbacks. They help me stay asleep longer and sleep better. My dreams are less horrific but still very vivid. I still find myself playing the “real” or “not real” game just like Peeta in Hunger Games. I’m less anxious when I wake in the morning and not as likely to immediately go on the attack or the defense. I just get to enjoy my coffee and snuggle my boys and some days not even remember bad dreams.
Sometimes the memory of the dream pops up later in the day and that always take me back but it is still a lot better than having it all day. I also just handle it better when that happens. I think to myself oh yes that was horrible… moving on!
I’m a mom and I love it! I like inviting people in to my world and making them feel as comfortable as possible. I love all things cheese, jokes included. I’ve had a pretty rough life but therapy and a good attitude have really helped me make the best of things. So welcome to my world, make yourself at home!