Sleep is the enemy again.

Again, I find myself terrified to sleep. The nightmares are back with a vengeance. The other night, I dreamt about my ex, again, making me do all sorts of horrible stuff I didn’t consent to.

I’m trying not to let the nightmares win, but I climb into bed and fight to keep my eyes open. I want to sleep, I really do, but there is no way that when I sleep, I won’t have a nightmare.

I want to be able to cuddle the puppy, although she’s quite a big girl now! Thing is, she’s solid and warm and reliable, and makes wonderful snorty-groany noises when she’s tired and settling down to nap on your knee. Just having her near makes me feel calmer.

I’m also going sober for October, but I’m donating the money to a local women’s refuge. They’re being shut down across the country, and I want to help. I want to extend protection to those who have literally none, because the minute they go home, he will be there to make their lives a living hell again. Shelters save lives. That’s a fact.

I’m going to attempt to sleep now, I hope that my sleep app will help. Just please let there not be any more nightmares.

Nights like this…

Tonight I’m sleepless and trying to exorcise the demons in my head. J and I have just talked and I love love love the smooth, sweet drawl of his voice. That voice anchors me whilst I’m feeling strange.

I’ve been a little dissociative tonight. I’ve been at Saturday family tea- the whole clan, aunties, uncles, cousins- the lot. My auntie was babysitting her best friend’s daughter, who is a shining gem of a seven year old. She played with the puppy, a rare event- Juno puppy is not the world’s biggest fan of children, but this little girl is an old head on young shoulders. She let me read to her. She cuddled up with me and the puppy, her on my knee and the puppy beside me. I felt very safe, but somehow a little sad.

I think what’s triggered me a little is talking about my ex to her. My auntie was married to her abuser, and this little girl knows a highly edited version of that story. She calls him Naughty, so we all do too. We had gone upstairs in my nana’s house to see one of the many family portraits hanging on the walls, and she mentioned to me that she knew that Naughty was a bad guy because HIS smile was not a good smile. All the other people on the picture had big, happy, truthful smiles, she said. Only Naughty’s wasn’t right.

That really hit me hard. SHE could see, through our eyes, the flaw in him, the defect that ate at his core and caused such harm to my auntie that she ended up in hospital, too. She knew, this seven year old, that there was a man not to be trusted- and she could see that through his smile!

She asked why my auntie had even married him in the first place, so I explained that sometimes, the scariest baddies are the ones that pretend to be your best friend. I said that I had been with a naughty man, for six years.

The wise, innocent little face formed an expression I’ve mostly seen on adult faces: she was appreciating how hard that was for me.

“Whew,” she said, “that’s a long time.”

I said that yes, indeed it was, but he hadn’t started out bad. He’d pretended to be one of the good guys, and I had never seen the badness coming at all. He’d added the bad stuff in, bit by bit, until I didn’t know that he was all bad.

Looking at those feathery blonde brows rise in shock, I was struck with an intense desire to protect her. I would have jumped in front of a bullet for that child, and I still will. I would right now. I didn’t want that angelic creature to have to face what my auntie and I have faced- the sleepless nights thinking he is perfect and I am not, the agony inside as he breaks up with you and demands you back only for the cycle to repeat. I felt something tearing inside of me in my chest- my heart was trying to reach through my chest to keep her safe.

Talking to Dr K, my therapist, on Thursday may have stirred a lot up- I was trying to tell her about some of the things I’ve had to endure under him- but this has made me remember long nights waiting by the phone, worrying about ringing him in case it ‘wasn’t convenient right now’. I’d get yelled at if I didn’t ring at bang on ten pm. I feel like time is slipping backwards, like having a rug pulled out from under your feet. I remember the feeling in arguments, that bad feeling of ‘I’m losing you and it’s my fault and you knew I was going to say that, oh god why?!’

I’ve found a song that sums it all up. He never drove, but the car keys are symbolic. They are the keys to my heart, my freedom, my life. They are the things that drove me and the things he took control of, bit by bit. Those phonecalls I tried to make that he aborted with one stern word. The threats of all sorts, the demands, and finally go to sleep silly girl, we’re getting nowhere tonight. I would try not to get too upset but tears inevitably burned my cheeks, that acid tang, and the feeling of being about to throw up came when he called me pathetic. I was trying so hard. I was. I promise I’m trying so hard to be different and more like the girl you wanted me to be, the girl I was when you met me. I promise I won’t go to anyone with my problems, definitely not you, I’ll solve them myself. I know I’m weak and need to stop being such a little girl I promise I won’t do this again I swear I’m not going to hurt you I didn’t mean to oh god don’t say that to me I’m not like that I swear I’m not-

The loop plays on and on, and I drown it out with other things. But, in the background, it’s always there, along with his replies.

Hello insomnia, I fucking detest you.

Partially this is my fault, I think, buy also I’m not sure if it is. I am awake because I was reading the courageous posts on Project Unbreakable, but that has two effects on me. I feel supported to start with, and usually disgusted at what some really evil people have done, but today I am triggered as fuck and hating it.

I remember every fucking word. I will always remember. I remember that stupid “I am a rapist” joke, which wasn’t a joke, because it was scary and not funny. I remember dissociating- the lush rainforest would appear and I would be there, away from pain and hurt. I even remember the barbed comments made about how you liked my “love handles” and how you didn’t like it if I wore jeans that colour, or if I wore that eyeshadow…

I feel disgusting too. I want to scrub myself clean until all this has gone for good. My skin is trying to crawl off my bones in loathing…

I will always remember, even though I never want to remember again. Always.

I’m alone at three in the morning. I haven’t rung J to let him know I am feeling awful: too much programming in the way. I’ve lied to my mother about feeling “ok” now, and that I will get up in the morning and “face the day”. I have been on an online counselling service, which wasn’t great.

I am out of options.

What can I do next? I don’t have a clue. My usual method of writing hasn’t worked. My efforts to calm myself down haven’t worked. I don’t want to wake up my flatmates, because they have enough on their plates already.

I am feeling very unsafe.

I want to do something really stupid. I want to neck a whole bottle of alcohol, or slice my arms and legs with the sharpest knife I can find, sitting in the bath, until I can’t lift the knife. I want to cry again but all my tears are gone.

I want to die again.

I don’t want to die…. because I should be here for my friends and family and for J. However, today I am not me. I am in pain. I am programmed, I am listening to my stupid fucking dark passenger, and I want to cut.

I don’t know what to do to feel better. I don’t want to relapse. I want to sleep and forget and not have nightmares or paranoia or flashbacks any more.

I am exhausted but there is no chance of me sleeping.

What if I just cut a little?

That’s cheating. I am four and a half months clean. I would break my record.

Who am I keeping it for? Me? J? My family?

Tonight I don’t know. Tonight I feel unreal.

I just want to know everything will be ok. I suppose right now it isn’t, and it never will be.

Therapy in four months? I could be worse by then, or dead or something. I feel emotionless typing that. The only thing I feel is the guilt and unease that my ex used to cause when I couldn’t contact him: that saving up of anger for the big storm.

I’m getting sick again, and I want to be how I was in America with J.

Apparently I’m not allowed that. All I am allowed is pain and death and anxiety and paranoia and hallucinations and PTSD and whatever mood disorder I have on top of that and the fucking voices and memories of abuse that go on and on and on and never let me rest.

I am sick of life like this. I just want to be better. Is that too much to ask?

 

Programming sucks.

I hate my illness. I hate it so much. I have had enough of it.

The programming I went through with my ex has left it’s fucking mark. I have been ok during Christmas apart from being positive that J was angry with me, and a quick phonecall disproved that. Right now, I want to reach out, I want to connect and tell someone, anyone, and also him that I’m feeling bad and want help. The voices are not letting me. They want me to go back to suffering and feeling awful again.

Why can’t I tell the people closest to me, the people who have told me to ring them time and again, what is wrong?! Why can’t I say I feel bad and need help?

I don’t think I will sleep tonight.

Bed, sleep, and J.

Bed is the enemy. I never thought I would say that, but it’s now a truth in my life I wish I could avoid. I used to love sleeping, and long, lazy mornings in bed, but that was in the days before I remembered my assault.

Now, I battle paranoia, sensory hallucinations, skin-crawling body horror and the everpresent voices of the dark passenger, each and every night. Worse, I also have to contend with flashbacks and pain from my back injury, and of course, my unpleasant bedfellow, insomnia.

Usually, I take herbal sleeping pills to combat the insomnia, but I’m not at my house and I forgot to bring them. I talk to J when I’m lying in bed, so I can feel safe and reassured, but the WiFi in this house isn’t good, so I couldn’t. Already I’ve been dissociating, my insomnia is back without the benign sleepiness of my pills, and my skin is already crawling in horror.

It’s at times like these I use my memories of America and J to pull me through. I miss the reassuring weight of his arm slung protectively over my waist, his sleepy voice in my ear, the slow, steady thump of his precious heart. I miss hearing him tell me to go up to bed, and he would see me in the morning. I miss the slow, sleepy smile on his face when I used to come and wake him up in the morning.

Most of all, I miss him in general. I’ve been craving his hand in mine for weeks, and I wish he was here so I could wrap him close and lie there, protecting him and he protecting me, from both of our demons. Soon, he said to me last night, soon.

I want to feel safe and comfortable in bed again. I miss being able to feel sleepy without worrying about that shadow in the corner being my ex. I like how I was starting to feel when J was with me in America, and I want that feeling back so much.

Hurry up world, I miss my American, and I miss feeling safe at night. The two, I think, are intrinsically linked.