Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet Dreams

It’s called PTSM – Post Traumatic Stress Management. Not that I ever read up on it. This is a fancy term used nowadays by many to help those who have had a trauma in their lives that, well, basically they can’t get over.

It’s the domino effect. The ripple that never ends. I’ll tell you, it’s one helluva pebble in the water.

Sweet dreams are made of this

Who am I to disagree?

I was about 8 years of age. I remember my bedroom being cool, so I am thinking it was autumn or spring but I am not really clear on that memory.

The reel of that night keeps playing over and over. I am used to the sensations now after decades of deciphering, brooding, and burying.

I can clearly say I haven’t slept like a normal person since I was a teen, possibly longer.

I was floating. Everything around me was white. All I could hear was a booming voice that shattered my skull and shook me to the core. It was my dad’s voice.

I had to save something. What it was, I can’t remember. I probably never knew in the first place.

The voice boomed. I screamed to shout above the thunder. Nothing works. All I know is that I have to save ‘it’.

I remember waking up screaming. The dream had faded to the edges of my bed but the waves of terror never really left.

I was surrounded by my family. I had been screaming for a half hour or more. My mother talked me down and I can still feel the thrumming of my heart back then to this day. Some have called it night terrors.

The next day, I arrived back from school and promptly went to my room. A wave of haunting familiarity flowed over my skull. I swooned a bit, heavy with emotion, all of it tugging at my brain like so many rats eating something dead on the side of the road.

It was surreal in every sense of the word. Black art. It wasn’t the last time that my night would be plagued by such sleep patterns but it was one of the most memorable.

I have long ago faced these demons and such dread hasn’t infiltrated my sleep for some time. But demons never fully retreat – they recede. Always on the edges, always watching, and always waiting for your moment of weakness.

I don’t sleep. That has been well documented. I am forever in search of a formula and my patterns have gotten better.

I understand the demons and I find some solace in that. You know the tracks so you know the animal.

As a young boy in a hospital, like most patients, I was awakened constantly for testing. 1 am. 3 am. Stabbed for blood. “How are you, hun?”

Some of them want to abuse you

Some of them want to be abused

I still can’t sleep on my back for some innate fear of being stabbed. Silly but an 8 year old mind has difficulties wrapping around nights filled with a cacophony of machines beeping, whining, and patients moaning for a nurse to come help them.

Brutal? By today’s standards possibly. It’s mine to deal with. No one else’s.

It was years of staying up all night. No college partying. Just staring at a TV test pattern.

Too many nights turned into dawn. So tired I trembled from exhaustion.

I remember feeling comforted by one prevailing thought – I lived through the night.

It’s been decades of working on sleep hygiene. Ambien. Melatonin.

Nothing really is a silver bullet cure. Like any sculptor, I have to keep chiseling at the stone. Hammer and hammer until the flecks pile up. I know there isn’t an end to it. This is what I have to do to get by.

Mornings can still be very rough. I try to be anti-caffeine but the body and mind are forced by real life to charge up. I carry a glimpse of what a war veteran may go through. Just a peek anyway. I keep breathing. I keep moving. When there is some sleep, the difference is quite discernable.

The dominos have fallen long ago. The ripple effect continues. There is progress, albeit microscopic at times.

There are days of sweet dreams. Not many, but I savor them.

I’m gonna know what’s inside…


  1. I can relate. Although I used to brag about how well I slept up until a few months ago. Now it's either nightmares or insomnia. Healing is a process and it's hard to stay positive. Thanks for sharing :)


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