When I was younger, I never thought I was an insomniac. I just had trouble sleeping sometimes. Not trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep. In fact, I have always preferred an earlier bedtime. Probably because, more often than not, I’ll be awake in middle of the night. The worst is when I wake up only an hour before my alarm, because I know I’ll be sleepy in about two hours.
I don’t know what started my insomnia. I know that I usually wake up after having a very strange or frightening dream. I can’t always remember a dream waking me up. Sometimes it’s my husband breathing, and then when I wake up, I remember some strange thoughts or images from my dreams and spend the next hour or so wide awake.
My whole life has been sprinkled with trauma and abuse. I don’t remember anything before the age of 3, and my clearest memory is pretty horrific (we won’t go into it, but anything horrific that can be remembered as a 3 year old, while all else is blank… It’s pretty bad) I’m almost certain that whatever causes my repressed memories, causes my nightmares. It’s like my subconscious takes over once I let my guard down.
I spend my waking moments distracting myself. It’s easy when you’ve got a bunch of kids. I also write short stories and do research on various topics that interest me. I play video games and read. I keep busy, because being alone with my thoughts is never a good thing. I even try to facilitate my dreams! I pick a topic and create a dream in my head until I’m asleep. A lot of times, this works and I sleep really good! TMI, but a good romp with my husband will usually quiet the demons down as well.
Sometimes though, nothing helps. You just can’t sleep. Insomnia looks different for many people. For me, it’s laying in bed in middle of the night crying. Wishing you could sleep. Staring at the ceiling in the dark. Up down up down up down. Try some water. Take a shower. Keep the lights low. Read an article online. Write. Do something to escape this brain of yours.
My dad was an incredibly light sleeper who was usually up in middle of the night too. One time, I came out and sat on his lap to watch him work on his computer. That was the last time I ever sat on my dad’s lap. Another repressed memory, this one went away for two whole years. I just stopped showing affection or anything, which my parents never thought to investigate. I still would seek out my dad during my insomnia though. Up until I was an adult and moved out on my own, I would wake my dad up and he’d turn on a movie and smoke some weed with me. After a couple of hours, I’d be sleepy again and go back to bed.
He’s been charged for the things he did to me, and my sister, and four other young girls. Now I can never speak to my dad again, and he can never speak to me. You’d think having justice served, because what he did was wrong, would make it better. No. I’m still plagued with insomnia. I’m still terrible at showing affection. I’m still traumatized. Now I spend my insomnia sad and missing my dad, then angry with him for being the monster he was, then just depressed. I guess I am an insomniac, I just never wanted to believe it.