Torturous night

Last night is the worst night I’ve had in a long time. I’m feeling groggy and dizzy but I need to write it out because I’m worried about my sanity and I don’t want to call on friends.

I couldn’t sleep for ages, even though I was tired. I cried on and off and surfed the web to waste time. After 1am, I thought I better try, I was plunged into sickening nightmares. Graphic and violent. I was a child in these dreams, vulnerable and terrified. I woke up in a panic attack. I felt really scared and vulnerable. I checked the time, surely it must be getting towards morning and the light will come to reassure me? It was 1.45! I couldn’t believe this powerful, debilitating nightmare that felt long could only last for half an hour!

I went to the loo, took some diazapam, tended to the fire and tried to get back to sleep. I felt restless but too afraid to take a walk. When sleep finally came I was thrust again in nightmares, painful and terrifying. Abuse, neglect, fear. I awoke in a panic, twisted, damp sheets. For a moment I worried I’d wet the bed. I stumbled to the loo, slightly disorientated. In my blundering state, tended to the fire again. It felt bitterly cold. But I couldn’t stand to have a shower, I felt I’d be vulnerable.

3am, lying in bed. Emotional, exhausted, terrified of my own mind. Feeling painfully alone, unsure of myself, suffocated by the never ending night.

Finally giving into the lure of sleep. And thrust back to a medley of terrifying nightmares. My mind reaching for something. Recreating my history, seemingly checking every corner of my mind, reliving but with a twisted abstract feel. Me, young again. No control. The dream being my reality. Seemingly lasting for hours.

4.30, bedsheets soaked. Disorientated. Dizzy with tiredness and a shortness of breath as though I’d been running. Acid in my throat. Feeling so sick, feeling alone and confused. The fire no longer a priority. Every noise sounding like a threat.

Alone in bed. Wondering why. Unsure what to do. The child within me feeling traumatised. 

So long until sunrise. Night is playing an awful trick. It’s blanketing me and never ending. I have no way of switching off my tired mind. It’s active, it’s thinking while I’m awake, trying to make sense of things.

Succumb to sleep again. This time I’m witness to my own insanity. The breakdown. My mind and body unable to process the pain, the stress. I’m lost in a world that exists only to me. I’m locked away. I’m feeling claustrophobic in the dream. I want to get away, I need to be free. But I’m both physically trapped and mentally lost in my own mind. I can see myself going through the motions, but I can also hear my brain. I’m desperately aware of the pain, of the confusion, of being lost and being held against my will by people that want to ‘cure’ me.

I’ve just woken in a panic. Restless like nothing I’ve experienced in a long time. Scared of the images, and scared of losing my own sanity.

I’m dizzy, my headaches, my mouth is dry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I need. 

Thank god it’s light now. There is safety in the light. It’s so quiet though, as though everyone else has ceased to exist. I’m alone with this turmoil, the thread of sanity.

I don’t understand why I suffered last night. I’m scared of a repeat. I don’t know how to start the day from here.

I feel physically and mentally tired. I feel afraid. I feel disoriented and caught between my dreams and my nightmares.

I don’t know what to do. 

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Did I see my inner child?

Last night I had the most vivid dream. Seeing inside a small attic I was watching a variation of different personalities. Some male, some female. Different clothes, different styles. Assertive, submissive, angry, feminine, individual, flighty, arty, professional, controlling, even a drunk in the corner that didn’t want to be part of any of it. In my dream I was aware that these were representations of the different parts of me. I have no idea how I knew that, I just did, and the attic was my mind. I stood, unknown, an unseen, listening and watching these characters all that I could identify with living in the attic, becoming strong at different times. Being needed at different times. Sometimes becoming uncomfortable to watch.

Then the attic began to clear out, and I was left in the apparent emptiness. I stood for a while considering all the parts of me I had witnessed and then I heard a voice, strained and slight.

There curled into the foetul position was young adult. Naked aside from a dirty blanket, too small, part covering her. She was bloody from old, untreated injuries. She was terribly malnourished, her skin almost transculent. Her eyes dark and sunken. So weak and frail. A bony arm tried to reach out. She saw me. And I realised in that instance I had forgotten her. I crouched next to her and knew her chances of survival were slim if barely at all. 

I wanted to apologise. I knew her degraded state was my fault. Her sadness was breath taking. 

I knew that this must be the representation of my inner child.

There has been a lot of talk in the group therapy and in my counselling about the inner child. At first I was cynical. But gradually I have warmed to the idea and it makes a great deal of sense to me. Over recent weeks I have tried to connect more with my inner child. To learn about myself, my tantrums and fears and to an extent where I have become emotionally stunted to an age where the trauma and my upbringing had stopped me from growing.

This dream is the first type of it’s kind for me. I found it harrowing to say the least. 

Although I haven’t suffered severe neglect or malnourishment, my body has been treated brutally. As a child I wasn’t  given the affection and consistency that a child needs in a healthy environment and I struggle with the possibility of abuse in childhood. Being raped as a young teenager took its toll on me physically, mentally and emotionally. In my abusive relationship I was physically hurt, sexually hurt and humiliated, locked in rooms, stripped of my clothes, my dignity, feared for my life. 

The toll of this trauma has been self loathing, self harm, breakdowns, relying on various medications.  I have been in so many states of depression, numbness, psychosis, denial, anger, confusion, fear, mania-the whole spectrum that I sometimes doubt my true mood.

The only truth I know is that deep down there is a little girl inside of me. And she’s terrified. She’s lonely. Her tears – when she’s allowed to cry, her painful and unrelenting grief. She’s confused. 

But I have stifled her. Like so many others have.

So I consider in that dream I saw a representation of her, of me. The forgotten. The left behind. The dirty, shameful secret.

When I woke up I was in a cold sweat, wrapped tightly in the feotul position, presumably for some time, my back ached painfully. My limbs felt like I’d been on a long car journey. I had to get up and walk around, properly stretch myself out. The image of the girl still strong in my mind.

Sleep was hard after that. I felt anxious. Haunted. Uncomfortable.

I’m not sure how to move past that dream.  It might all have just been a meaningless dream, but my instinct tells me there is more to this.

Looking in the mirror

A therapy day. I had been reluctant to go today. I questioned myself for the root of that feeling. Simply I didn’t want to feel exposed again. I have been busy, I have been plodding along and stopping to open up my heart and soul and pick apart the painful bits seemed too scary. Too overwhelming. Why not stick a band aid over the wound and ignore it a bit longer? 

But I owe my therapist more respect than that, and I committed to working at this. 

As usual I set about my day’s plan in my head, allocating time slots. I successfully managed to complete my tasks and arrived on time for therapy. She has slowly raised my awareness about my tendency towards my obsessive compulsiveness. The way I do things in order. My routines, my planning. I’d never considered it before. But now I find myself becoming more aware, and my husband agreed with the therapist without hesitation which surprised me.

We started off with me highlighting examples of where I’d realised this was in fact an issue, whereby previously I’d never even considered it before. Obsessive people just wash their hands a lot or worry about germs don’t they? But looking over at the way I plan, my daily routines, the way I do things, the need for control, and my inability to respond well to unpredictable changes does show some unexpected obsessive tendencies. 

I made a passing comment about how Christmas is always a nightmare for me because of the mess and lack of order with the kids. I’m always scurrying around with a black bag to collect rubbish and trying to keep presents in a ordally fashion. The kids just want to play and are excited. My husband wants to be laid back and watch the moment. But I’m never truly happy. It’s a period of time I endure. It’s messy chaos with pressure and expectations. I try to keep decorations to an absolute minimum because I find them tacky and suffocating. 

Growing up my parents decorated the house like Santas grotto. It was always bright and tacky. Overwhelming. As a kid I loved it. But my parents were just two bitter drunk people, that dragged us around to see relatives we hated who gave us horrible presents out of a forced sentiment. Christmas Day was always my mother playing the martyr, and dad being waited on. While my sister and I entairtained each other. In retrospect Christmas wasn’t a special time. It was never warm or real. It was suffocating, it was forced politeness, it was drinking, it was self absorbed, it was tradition for the sake of it. By the 12th day, the pine tree was was almost dead, the tinsel was coming off photo frames, lights were dead, candles melted and everyone was fed up with each other. 

I guess I have inadvertently pushed miserable Christmas’s onto my family. But my therapist felt it ran much deeper than that. As my fondest Xmas memory with my husband and kids is when we stayed in a back in KeriKeri (north of the North Island). We had a fantastic time. My therapist offered that perhaps it was because I was out of the house. Perhaps at Christmas I live in the past not the present.

And this started a conversation pertaining to my childhood and some uncomfortable feelings I have around that.

It’s the first time I’ve really spoken so openly and unguarded. 

She listened and then suggested we talk in more detail the following week, concerned at how much I could handle saying in one session after I’ve been struggling with proper down time recently and bad bouts of disassociation.

I left her and drove on to get my hair done. Although I found it difficult to be in the moment and seem cheerful. I just felt drained and the beginnings of a migraine were warning.

It’s been snowing here. It’s bitterly cold, dark, miserable. I’m feeling worn down. 

But I’m glad I talked to the therapist. I offloaded. I feel that she’s giving me good insight about myself and gradually not only am I learning more about myself but I’m wanting to learn more. Like looking in a mirror for the first time after surgery, I am both curious and terrified. But better to look in the mirror then catch your reflection off guard.