I wonder what it must be like to crawl into bed at night and just fall asleep.
I could never do that. Not as a child, and not now as an adult. I crawl into bed and lay there for hours, tired, exhausted, yet unable to sleep.
I check the closets. I lock the door. I wrap myself up in my layers and I crawl in bed and wait.
Some days, I wait for sleep. I try to quiet the increasingly loud noise in my head. I think about a million things I don’t even need to think about. After a few hours, I finally fall asleep.
On other, more difficult days, I wait my mother. I lay still in my bed and wait for her to come through my bedroom door, just like I waited for her when I was back home.
So many nights of my childhood were spent laying in bed and waiting. Not waiting for sleep. Not waiting for dreams. Not waiting for the tooth fairy. I was waiting for my mother. I was waiting for her to come in and tear me apart. I was waiting for the pain to be over so I could just go to sleep.
I learned to expect it. I stopped asking questions. I stopped fighting back. I stopped wondering why. I couldn’t do it any more. I knew it wasn’t going to change. So I gave up. And I gave in.
Sometimes, I would stare at the ceiling. I’d talk to Superman, hoping he would hear my thoughts, and asked him to come and save me. I waited for him to fly in through the window, but he never did find me.
Sometimes, I would think about being in a different family. I imagined being adopted. I dreamed I was sitting in a cage at the shelter, waiting for a new family to pick me up and love me, but no new family ever came.
Sometimes, I watched my spirit float away from me, and I followed her. We would sit on the big branch of the tree right outside my window, waiting for the hurt to end so I could come back to me.
It would always end.. If there was one thing I could count on, it was that the pain was only temporary. She’d leave, and I’d come back. I could finally go to sleep, because I knew she wasn’t going to hurt me again. I found solace in that, in knowing that when it was over, it was over.
I wanted a normal night. I wanted someone to read me a story. I wanted someone to check for monsters underneath my bed, and tell me everything was safe. I wanted someone to tuck me in and tell me they loved me. I got none of that. There were no bedtime stories. There was no love or safety. And there were never any monsters under my bed, because the monster was standing right beside it.
Anxiety. Fear. Dread. It all became my nighttime normal. And even though she stopped as I got older, the fear anxiety, fear, and dread never left. They continued to be my nighttime normal. I continued to spend every night waiting for my mother to come back. And I am still spending my nights waiting for her to come back.
I try to remember that she is not here. I know the doors are locked, I know we are miles and miles away from her. She is not coming for us. She can’t hurt us anymore.
But sometimes I forget all that. Sometimes I can’t remember. I am still anticipating something that hasn’t happened for 20 years, but my mind doesn’t always know that.Sometimes it feels like something is missing; I feel like I need her to come in and get it over with just so I can sleep.
I find comfort in familiarity, and all of those nights that my mother hurt me became my familiar. Any deviation from the pattern only creates more panic, and that was true in my childhood and still true in my adulthood.
I feel frustrated, because I don’t know how else to convince myself that my mother cannot hurt me any more. I don’t know how to believe that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I feel sad, because adult me knows that no child should have had to endure the things my mother did to me. Bed is supposed to calming and relaxing, not a place of panic.
I feel ashamed, because some nights, the only way I can fall asleep is to hurt myself in the very same way she hurt me. And then I feel disgusted.
I feel angry, because I want to be able to crawl in bed and night and go to sleep, and have good dreams. I don’t want the fear. I don’t want the panic and anxiety. I just want comfort and peace, and the ability to sleep without a struggle.
My mother stole the night from me. I want it back.