Nighttime is the Worst
Being a survivor of childhood abuse is the gift that keeps on giving. At this moment in time, for me, that “gift” is nighttime. Nighttime is the worst time for me. I don’t like going to sleep. But I LOVE sleep. It’s getting to the part that I sleep that is the challenging bit. Even when I sleep, it is not restful. Most nights, I toss and turn.
It doesn’t seem to matter what I do before I turn off my light and roll over to find a comfy spot. As soon as my head hits the pillow, I am AWAKE. In that time of attempting to sleep, I had a panic attack not too long ago. Mm. Could there be a connection? Yes, I am sure there is a connection.
It is how I have become a voracious reader of pretty much anything. Books were always my safe place. They provided a portal into another world—a world that didn’t suck as much as mine. And when I stopped drinking, I went back to the books as a way to calm my mind so that I could sleep. But sleep still eludes me.
“We’d better get back, cause it will be dark soon, and they mostly come at night…mostly.”
~ Newt (Aliens, 1986)
They Mostly Come Out at Night
I recall a line in Aliens (one of my favorite movies). As the fiery remains of the Colonial Marines dropship burn in the background, Newt turns to Ripley and says, “We’d better get back, cause it will be dark soon, and they mostly come at night…mostly.”
From the first time, I saw that movie, that line resonated with me so much. It resonated with me because, for me, it is true. Although, my monster was and is not a xenomorph using human bodies to incubate the next generation of xenomorphs. I mean, there were times that alien abduction was a more favorable option. But, no, that was not the case.
My monster mostly came out at night too. Mostly.
Nighttime is Dangerous
That is why nighttime is a dangerous time for me. It doesn’t matter to my mind and body that my monster is nowhere near me (and never will be); the fear is still there. Even though I have fragmented memories, it is those fragments that haunt me.
That is what makes child abuse so insidious, and it continues to haunt us long after the abuse has ended. No matter what we remember or don’t, there is that need to protect ourselves, continue to survive, and fight.
Even though the person or people we have to fight are no longer in our lives, that need is ingrained within us. And it is the reason I don’t sleep well. Oh sure, I eventually get to sleep sometime in the wee hours of the morning.
A Drink or Several
I used to drink to help me sleep. I used to drink to “help” me with a lot of things. One of the things that I didn’t realize alcohol helped me with until I didn’t have it was sleeping. If I passed out, alcohol drugged my mind and body that I didn’t have the capabilities to keep me awake.
How I think, ‘I could pick up that bottle of wine or that beer and sit in the fog of ignorance. How nice that would be. Even though I know, I could forget for a bit. And then I think, if I do that, I will never be able to sleep. Passing out is different than getting good sleep.
When I drank a lot, I could sleep, but as research shows, we do not get the deep sleep we need when intoxicated. But it was what I needed to do to sleep. And even then, it was tough for me to get to sleep. And that kept the cycle of alcoholism going.
The Truth of It
I had to poison myself to get to sleep. Whoa, as I wrote that, I realized what that means. I had to POISON myself to be able to sleep. To put me into a situation that would force me to sleep, but what I had to do to get there put my health at risk.
Without sleep, our health declines too. Either way, my health was declining. I was choosing between the lesser of two evils. I didn’t know it when I was in the middle of it, though. And that is why it’s 20/20 hindsight. Oh, the clarity looking back brings!
Looking back helps me to realize how far I have come. Yes, I am still working through many things, and yes, I am still struggling (mostly in silence). I know too that I will work this out too.
Nighttime is the Worst…For Now
For now, nighttime is the worst as sleep continues to elude me. I am working on trying some different ways of approaching bedtime. Perhaps not reading before I fall asleep? Or some sleep stories? These are a couple of the options that my therapist and I have discussed.
Most importantly, I continue to remind myself that this is only a moment in time. I will move beyond this too. For now, I will work on sleeping. Even though my body and my brain remember a time when things did go bump in the night. And when nighttime was the worst time for me. Mostly.