As a teenager, I didn’t sleep. I was too afraid to sleep. I couldn’t sit in the dark alone. I couldn’t sit in the silence of night. Some nights, I just sat in the center of my bed and rocked back and forth in a pathetic attempt to calm myself. Sometimes I would cry. Most of the time, though, I just sat, silent and rocking.

The paranoia started in my mid-teens, but the insomnia took hold of me much earlier. Around the time I was three years old, the night-terrors began. Livid and suffocating night-terrors. To coincide with this, of course, I also had a sleepwalking problem. Practically every night, I would physically act out whatever I was dreaming. Especially the night-terrors. I’d scream, run through the house, try to get out the door, and even sit and cry. I’d frighten my family and friends. Luckily for my parents (as well as my friends’ parents), I couldn’t undo a lock in my sleep.

It’s unnerving, though. I could recite the details of nearly all my worst nightmares, but I couldn’t tell you what my last pleasant dream was about. What is the psychology behind that? Or maybe the question is in the science of it. Did something in my childhood disturb me to the point of these habits being instilled in me? Or is it some sort of imbalance in my brain? I honestly couldn’t tell you. It seems like I’ve just always been this way.

I still feel this way today. Not as severely as I used to, of course, but the anxiety is still there. The fan has to be on for me to be able to fall asleep. I can’t sleep alone; my husband has to be in the bed with me. Even then, it can take me hours to fall asleep.

It makes me feel…broken. Like there’s something wrong with me. A grown woman shouldn’t be afraid of the dark.


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