I do not speak of my childhood abuse here because it’s an ugly subject and I hate talking about my experiences with it. It is my demon to bear as best I can while continuing to live a happy, contented life. Besides, I have way too much other real-time, happening now, thinking about it and wanting to dissect it stuff to bring that up and make it part of my day-to-day reality and permanent record. What happened, the mental, emotional, physical scars I bear have stolen way too much from me to give them another second of time and energy.

That said, forgetting is impossible. Sometimes I have to let a little leak out to clear it from my system.

When M and I first met, I still had night terrors regularly, where I would thrash around nd wake up gasping or making these alarmed chirping sounds. Screaming was not allowed when it was happening. Screaming got me into trouble with my sibling and my parents. As the years  have passed so have the nightmares and the times I wake up terrified and have to remember I am no longer a child, no one hurts me, no need to be afraid.

What brings them back when they happen now I have no clue. As they have faded I thought it was stress-induced or too much caffeine leaving an opening for disruptive sleep. But even when I am completely at ease and sticking to my decaf diet I have them from time to time. My latest theory is that I have not completely mastered my self-esteem issues. I do not think I know anyone who has mastered their self-esteem issues completely, so I’m not somehow deficient and failing.

Yesterday, this whole week have been good days. I am enjoying working from home, because I have a lot more control over my time and can spread my energy and use it in ways most appropriate to be efficient. While yesterday’s interview was so not for me, it was not something I am worried about. I had confused my timeslot with my trainer yet had a good conversation with him and set-up the immediate future with at least 20 hours of learning. One of my regular commenters shared her success with fitness and inspired me to keep pushing forward and learning with my trainer. Another shared a hiring story that reminded me of the mentors I have had in my life and career and how they contributed so directly to any success I enjoy right now. The kids are coming tonight with a couple of friends in tow to bbq and swim and catch up on life, so M and I were at Costco last night doing our regular grocery shop as well as selecting meats to cook and buying produce for salads and sides. I have lunch with the law firm partners I met on Wednesday and feel completely turned on by the possibilities buzzing (yeah, I know – geekette personified).

I am happy. I feel energized and excited about whatever comes next. My brain is churning with thoughts and ideas and very interesting “what if” scenarios. Choices are nearly always a great thing.

Into such a happy time my demon resurfaces. In the depths of sleep I could smell his putrid breath and feel it on my neck, his hands roaming over my little girl body. The words of affection and love I so longed to hear and wanted desperately to believe, yet make me want to throw up and knowing from experience how much more it hurts if I do vomit.

In the dreams I break away, and I am running away and into the darkness of night as quickly as my bare feet will take me. He is larger, quicker, more sure-footed. Every time I stumble and I fall, and he’s on me, his hands pulling my hair and then around my throat, shaking me, choking me. I cannot beg or sob, I cannot breathe, I am so scared, and my vision slowly fades to black ….

Which is when I wake up gasping and disoriented.

After all these years, M is accustomed to and in tune with my sleep habits. He is a very light sleeper most of the time, and if he senses or sees the signs, he tries to wake me, to distract my brain from completing the endless loop circuit. When I wake up from one of these, though, he does not ask me anymore what is wrong, he just scooches closer and enfolds me in his embrace, not a word spoken, and perhaps not even awake. It was just a dream, his steady breathing says to me, and I calm and fall back into restful sleep.

I do not give M nearly enough credit for what he does for me, how much he loves me, loves us, how he makes me feel and know safety. Mornings like this one, where I feel bleary-eyed from this reminder of misery in another chapter of my life, I know how rich and how blessed I am. And I made sure to tell my husband that so he knows I know.

4 thoughts on “My demon resurfaces

  1. In situations like this, I’m not sure what to say. I’m sure you’ve heard it all. But I will say flashbacks to any traumatic experience are gut-wrenching. The year after my Mom unexpectedly died (in her 40s) I had constant flashbacks that caused severe anxiety. Even now, it pops up on occasion. It takes every ounce of determination to re-route those thoughts. I imagine your memories are much worse considering it happened directly to you. My thoughts are with you.

    1. After this much time, I’m okay that there are no words, more saddened when I cross paths with another who can directly identify. Real compassion does not need words, only the desire to understand and offer sympathy and comfort. For that, TLC, I thank you with all my heart.

  2. I love this post on the back of similar thoughts I have been having about what I think love is. This is the kind of thing I imagine from a true love, the person who makes you feel safe – I think I may just add that too my list…it’s such an intangible thing, but so real at the same time. I’m so happy you shared it with M too, no doubt he is happy to hear it.
    The old memories, I never know where they come from, but they do haunt…I think the most important thing I always take away from your posts is the strength and support you have in your family around you today.

    1. I actually should have credited you and your post. I was thinking about your question – “What does love look like?” – last night and pondering the things I know it doesn’t look like. But I’m in a happy space and got caught offguard when I woke up from the same old nightmares.

      The old sayings about you don’t get to choose your family? I completely agree – how could I not? So I have taken it upon myself to build the family I want, and I would truly be so dimminished without them, all of them, even those who do not know I have secretly adopted them.

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