Every night is a battle to go to sleep. It has been since grade school that I had issues sleeping. Most of my issue has always been about Wanting to go to bed. Stopping what I was doing to actually get ready for sleep has always been the issue. The final battle was getting to the bed without being distracted. But actually falling asleep has never been an issue for me since I was a kid.
But everything is different now.
For hours before I go to sleep, my anxiety races higher. At some point in the early evening, I become frozen with fear because i realize i will have to go to bed soon. Somehow time races away from me, and I lose time- 3 hours goes by like 30 mins. Then I finally get up to brush my teeth and change for bed, but it takes me another hour, literally, to accomplish those tasks. Part of the issue is fuguing- where I have a dissociative experience from my body and time slips away without me remembering (dissociative is like being asleep behind the wheel or another way of saying it is your brain is detached from what your body is doing). The other part is the anxiety- I am afraid to go to sleep. The nightmares are uncontrollable and reliving the wake up fro when I was raped, is equally traumatic since I do that multiple times per night.
These are the long-term gifts that only a rape can give you.
So, when I finally lie in my bed, my heart races, fear hits me and makes my chest hurt, my eyes well up with tears, and my mind begins to unwind from hours of build up. Every night I have to relive the story before I can go to bed.
Sometimes I just want to go to bed, damn it.
When I try to think about other things, focus my mind on other thoughts, it somehow incorporates the rape into my thoughts, or the other rapes, or the abuse and neglect that I have suffered. I end up being a crying mess. One time I cried so hard I woke up my son. The fact that it had scared him, made me feel even more helpless. For hours I have to lay there crying before I can fall asleep.
That's when the nightmares start.
My ex fiance is almost always in them. It hurts to see him even in my dreams. He usually calls me a whore or tells me he hates me. I continue to relive the rape, or some trauma in various dreamlike forms- either exact reenactments, similar reenactments, or archetypal dreams. My body profusely sweats like I am running in a marathon, and I twitch uncontrollably, sometimes waking up either from the sensation of an internal twitch, or the sensation someone is shaking me awake. By the time a normal person is supposed to wake up, I am more exhausted than I was when I went to sleep. Then throughout the night and morning, I wake up about every 45 minutes, sometimes hours later if I'm lucky, startled and in full fight or flight mode, or frozen terror. I'm glad I am not screaming anymore when I wake up, but that first month and a half was a full on horror shop for me. But the worst is the physical sensations- I can actually feel my skin crawl, or someone touch me, or the air move by me as someone walks towards me. No matter what I do I cannot get away from it.
I wake up either in terror, or depressed when I finally do wake up for the day. Totally exhausted, I try to put on a happy face and make sense of my life. My ex was so kind and sweet to leave me without any support system. I lost my best friend, lover and life mate all in the same moment. I moved here to be with him, and now even he is gone because of this rape, so I trudge along via Facebook and this blog hoping for connection. Turns out that the social support system is one of the most important factors in a person's recovery from PTSD. Yup. My ex even took that when he left me.
Luckily I have the best friends across the country in multiple states that I can reach by phone or internet. Otherwise I would literally have killed myself.
But let's be direct here. I get up- in the afternoon because of the exhaustion- and put a smile on my face and believe that good things are going to happen. Why? Because if you don't change the way you view the world, you are stuck in the world you have. So I struggle to create a piece of happiness each day I can that I can call my own.
That's all I have left.
But by the time I am done with it, it will be a magnificent encompassing reality. I cannot wait to share it with the world! This is not the first rape I have endured, so I know what is in store for me. It is only going to get harder before it gets better. I am holding on.