credit: Alyssa Miller
I’m in my thirties and I am afraid of going to bed.
I fight sleep – I fight going to sleep – but it isn’t the sleep I fear. I’m afraid of going to bed, laying there in quiet, alone, vulnerable…
Going to bed is a lonely act. No one else is there to bring you comfort, just you. I was eight when he snuck into my room at night, never when I was asleep, always just before in that time between sleep and wake where truth becomes blurred. He left me alone to comfort myself, but I was always unable to do so.
I go months where I am fine, then something happens and the fear comes back. I want to sleep. I know how necessary sleep is, but it scares me to lie there in my room. I pray for comfort, I pray to be able to relax, I cry wishing I had someone to sit and keep me until the safety of sleep arrives. I want someone to hold me, protect me and let me know that I am safe now.
Shadows dance across the walls and floors creek. I know he’s not there, but the fear returns. My heart races, I tense up…relax I tell myself, you are alone I say, but he stole that from me. He stole being able to go to bed from me. He stole the safety of my room from me. He stole my ability to sooth myself to sleep. He stole the last of basic human comforts from me.
I lay awake finding comfort in electronics that I know physically keep me awake longer. TV is on, check email that one last time, work until I am so physically run down that I don’t need to put myself to bed, I fall sleep with exhaustion.
Dreams wake me and I begin again. Wanting sleep, but too scared of the process of going to bed. I need to be safe, but I know I’m not and never will be.
Twenty-five years later, my biggest fear? This is what is. I am a damaged child fighting bedtime, never anything more.