Howling Sea Lane, Lancient History

Night Terrors

So I finished the Jenna Jameson book. It never got any happier. It’s one of those, “It ends as well as you can expect,” kinds of stories. God bless her.

I started Love in a Headscarf and am enjoying it so far. Snow days make for excellent reading. We’ll be having another one tomorrow.

I’ve had very bad nightmares the last two nights and don’t want to go to bed tonight. Normally, I love sleeping! I have very vivid, entertaining dreams, so being asleep is like going to the movies. But when I am on a nightmare tear, it’s difficult. I will probably end up sleeping on the sofa because I’m afraid to get in my bed. That’s silly, isn’t it? But I need the bad juju to go away first.

When I was growing up, my father was frequently overseas, or working nights, or away from home for weeks at a time as a consultant. When he was away, I would sleep in my mother’s room, and she would lock the door, pull the dresser in front of it, and keep a loaded pistol between the mattress and box springs on her side of the bed. Not infrequently, Mom would hear something and come up out of the bed like a jungle cat. She would scramble into her robe, grab the pistol and hiss at me not to move, and not to make a sound. And, like Bambi’s mother, she would instruct me that if something happened to her, I was to run and not look back.

Then, she would creep out of the bedroom, pistol hidden in her housecoat pocket, finger on the trigger, and prowl the hallways. If she was sure she’d heard something outside, she would go walk the perimeter of the house.

Once, when I was around 12, Dad came home early from working a night shift, and didn’t call first. When Mom heard someone rattling around in the house, going through my bedroom, she got up with the pistol. She agrees with the assessment that if my father had not said her name, she would have shot him.

As you can imagine, I grew up to be something of a scaredy-cat. For years, I had to have the sheet pulled up over my ear before I could sleep. I could not have anything hanging off the side of the bed. I could not have my hand over the top of the mattress. Once I had started refusing to sleep behind Mom’s locked door, I had to be centered, and surrounded by pillows, and I was pretty much terrified.

When I was fifteen, I was dozing in bed one night, and to this day I will swear I woke with two things in my room. I fully realize that Occam’s Razor means it is most likely that I was experiencing what was a very vivid nightmare, but I thought I was awake. Something was sitting at the top of my head, a small body with long arms and legs, my head between its bent legs, its calves against my ears. It was leaning over my face, with its long arms cradling my head. The other thing, same size and shape, same dusky gray, was sitting on my chest with its arms wrapped around its bent knees, peering intently at me.

I was too afraid to scream. Too afraid to move. Too afraid to breathe.

I did finally puff out, “Help,” in this tiny voice, and I guess that was enough to wake me up fully because the things disappeared.

The next day, I had to go to work with Mom. It was spring break and she wasn’t about to leave me at home alone, when my boyfriend lived a block away. Probably wise of her, considering. When I went to work with her, I had to sit down in the safe deposit vault of her bank. Emelil, the usual vault teller, wasn’t there, and they had a temp working.

I was still so horrified about what had happened, I told this complete stranger about it. Valerie, was her name, and she was Pentecostal, and she told me I had been visited by demons. Pentecostal Valerie commenced to praying. This was my introduction to Tongues, by the way, and I wasn’t so sure it was me who had been visited by demons. But she seemed very sure of herself, and was very certain she knew how to pray a hedge of protection around me to keep those inky varmints away, so I sat still and let her slap on my forehead as much as she wanted.

None of those particular night terrors since, although, I had another one of those waking dreams where I would swear that I woke to a man standing at the foot of my bed–same bedroom, same year. I see how people think and really believe they have had demonic visitations. I believed that of myself for years. I finally realized that when I have good dreams, where I wake up wondering where the fluffy puppy went, that I don’t think I was visited by an actual puppy, and I put two and two together. But still.

(I am very superstitious about it, to the point that I worry just talking about it will make it happen again, but I decided a long time ago not to be so spooky about everything and I just let it all hang out.)

I was 22 years old before I started forcing myself to hang a naked foot off the side of the bed at night. I still don’t like doing it, but I spent a few years forcing myself to confront that particular fear, so I will do it. Whenever I feel the fear creeping in again, I use the same tactics. I refuse to be afraid of something like that. Anyway, should something ever grab my foot, I have bigger things to worry about than that something grabbed my foot, if you know what I mean. Right? Might as well be comfortable.

I still haven’t stopped barricading my bedroom door when I’m alone at night, but I do wait until Thor is asleep, so he doesn’t see it. I know that’s ridiculous. The last time it happened, we were still in our old house. I lay awake for a long time, deciding whether or not to do it. I had to figure out if it was worthwhile. Because, if the intruder came in the bedroom windows, I couldn’t get out. But the likelihood would be the intruder coming in the back door, and then the barricade gave me a few more seconds of time to get Thor out of the house. But what if the intruder wasn’t working alone? I wished for a big, mean dog. Or even Seamus, who was like a muppet with fangs. Poor puppy!

Working on that one. But I figure that I am doing very well for myself, considering my socialized night fears. Now if I can just get over that fear of sharks in the swimming pool…

4 thoughts on “Night Terrors”

  1. I have those same problems, only my logic is drowned out by my fears. Ever since my episode in Portland with the icey hand touching my foot, I have new problems with sleep. If I am not exhausted I will hear every creak and any whisper of movement and no amount of logic can calm me.

    Bless you for being able to keep the naked foot over the bed. I still can’t do that. No hand, no foot, no appendage of any sort. I’m nearly 47 and still have those same fears.

    BTW — for whatever reason, having the TV on while I drift off seems to keep the boogeymen away. Silly I know, but I HAVE o have it on when I sleep alone. Thank God for timers.

    1. I like to have the radio on, but B can’t sleep if there is any sound.

      Look at my new post. Stephanie directed me to information about sleep paralysis, that I wish I’d had years ago!

      1. I did read the new post about sleep paralysis and it made sense. I still cannot convince myself COMPLETELY that something freaky didn’t happen in Portland, but I hit all the symptoms she wrote of. Strange place, anxiety before bed, alcohol …

        Wayne can’t sleep with anything on either so I have to time it til I am JUST about to fall asleep and then turn the tv off. Having him there though generally means I’m not too scared.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s