It has been so long since nightmares used to scare me to the point of sleep deprivation and tears. During my teen years, sleep was something I never prioritized. Every time I closed my eyes, images of my abuse and perpetrators haunted me. If I was lucky, I could at least get a complete three hours of sleep before an anxious feeling woke me up. The sleep deprivation lasted until I met my husband. That first night was the first time I was able to sleep in tranquility. I never thought I would have nightmare like that again.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday night, I woke up at 2:48 am gasping for air and shedding tears. I was holding my breath.
Was I trying to unconsciously kill myself?
My body was shaking entirely and my clothes were soaked in sweat. The images were entering one by one. I looked to my side and saw my husband and kids sleeping. I stayed quiet. I did not want them to see me in such a state when I couldn’t even understand why my body reacted the way it did. I was scared. For the first time in a long time, I was truly scared. I lay back down and stared at the ceiling while my mind replayed the scenes back to me.
I had just clocked out and started to walk home. It was past sunset, so I was nearly jogging to get home as quickly as I could. A white truck approached from behind me, coming to a halt next to me. As I looked back to see who the mysterious figure was, I realised it was one of our regular client. He stepped out and greeted me with a smile. We conversed for about a minute until he offered me a ride home. A few seconds passed until I agreed. I didn’t think much of since he came to my work place nearly every day and was well known by everyone. He drove for a few minutes until I signaled my stop. He ignored me.
Did he not see me?
I tapped his shoulder and told him that he had missed my stop. Instead, he glared at me and yelled, “Shut the fuck up! Don’t you understand that I am not taking you home.” He placed his focus back on the lane. I could feel the fear consuming every inch of body; I couldn’t move or respond, so I stayed quiet. It wasn’t too long when we arrived to his town house. I quickly un buckled my seatbelt and tried to run free, but he grabbed a hold of my hair and pulled me back. Tears ran down as I pleaded for my freedom. He pushed aside my pleads and took me inside his house. The inside was filled with mountains of trash, clothes, food, sex toys, mannequins, and furniture. The appearance of his house did not resemble the character I thought I knew. With each push, he guided me to his living room and ordered me to remove my clothes. I tried to escape, but was unsuccessful once again. He beat me until I gave in.
As I lay on my bed, staring at my ceiling the tears were rushing down. I couldn’t find an end to this horrific story. I was terrified.
The whole night, he beat me and raped me numerous times until sunrise. He threw my clothes to me and said, “Get out. I’m done with you. GET OUT.” I did what I was told.
After that, the images of the nightmare were vivid.
I wandered the streets naked and aimlessly until my husband found me.
I can’t remember much of what happened after that. I only remember how it ended.
I ran away from my husband. The thought of having him see me in such a state was unbearable, so I ran away.
I couldn’t go to sleep. By the time I realised how much time has passed, my kids were asking for breakfast and my husband was washing his face. I was numb. I didn’t know what to make out of what just happened to me. I was having difficulty controlling the fear that was trying to pushing itself out. After a few hours, I decided to tell my husband. He was very comforting. He didn’t say much, but he said the right things, yet, I felt anxious and scared. That Saturday went by so fast and I wasn’t able to enjoy it to the fullest. That night when my husband decided to go to sleep at 10:00pm, I stayed in the living room and distracted myself with anything: food, Netflix, reading, and YouTube. I didn’t want to go to sleep. When I knew the yawning was becoming unbearable around 1:30 am I knew that I had to at least try to get some sleep. I quadrupled check that everything was secure and locked before heading to my room. Before I crawled into my sheets I doubled checked that my kids and husband were okay. I even got to the point where I checked if they were breathing. Even after crawling into my sheets, I couldn’t close my eyes. I stared at my ceiling, while glimpses of images unwillingly haunted my every thought. My legs were cramping, my body was shaking, I was sweating, and a tight-like feeling overwhelmed my chest making it hard to breathe; I was afraid. The emotions that I felt when I was younger and the memories of my abuse flooded my mind. I was drowning. I cried, uncontrollably. I woke up my husband and told him, “I’m scared. I’m scared…” He didn’t question my behavior. He grabbed a hold of me and held me tight and reassured me, “I’m here to protect you. Relax.” Thanks to his care and love I was able to get some sleep that night.
That nightmare brought back so many unwanted feelings and memories all at once that it shredded me. I felt like I was that same eight year old girl who was abused all those years. The fear, the guilt, the disgust, the betrayal, the ignorance…everything became alive again. I was broken again.
To tell you the truth, I felt like shit days before, the day of, and the days after that nightmare. I felt like shit and I still do. I am mad because I allowed myself to be swallowed by my negative thoughts. I am scared because of how I reacted. I haven’t had a breakdown like that in a while and it’s upsetting. Due to that experience, some old habits have successfully broken through the cage while other are still trying to find another escape.
I know things will get better, but I have to constantly remind myself that I will be okay, so I can continue my day without falling into my abyss.