I don’t know why I’m writing this. There used to be a time when the only way for me to stay sane was to write out my feelings, get them all out on paper so they wouldn’t bottle up inside of me and explode. I haven’t felt this… need, is the right word for it, in a long while.
I can’t sleep. No, that’s not what I mean. I can’t sleep at night. I’m plagued by feelings of anxiety and fear. Mostly fear. This is not anything that I have had to deal with before. When my roommate is home, it’s not as bad. Some nights I still feel like there is a darkness around the edge of my bedroom, creeping closer to me every time I close my eyes. But when there is another person sleeping next to me, it is easier to quell the terror. Easier to pull the blankets over my head like I did when I was little, like a magical shield to protect me from what I know is only in my mind.
It’s when my roommate is away, that I realize the depths of my… problem. She spends each weekend at her boyfriends. He lives about 20 minutes away and they aren’t used to being apart for such long periods of time. The weekends are their reprieve, and my Hell.
Alone in that room, for it is just that room that frightens me these days, I revert to the little girl in an old scary house who saw skeletons in her closet and monsters behind the shower curtain. I hear things in the shadows. I see things flittering around in the dark. I know these things are not real. I know that they are only in my mind. I’ve felt the real things, seen it, experience that fear. There is nothing in my home for me to fear. Not anymore. But alone in that room… it doesn’t matter. My fear flies in the face of all logic and too often, I find myself in tears, hugging myself for comfort.
I don’t know what is happening to me.
It’s Sunday night. My roommate might come home tonight, or maybe she won’t. I spend my nights alone in the living room. Currently I’m welcomed by the warm light of the mini Christmas tree on our TV stand that doesn’t have a TV. It’s stupid, but I feel like I have nothing to worry about as long as those lights are on. I feel safe here on this couch.
Last night, around six am, I decided to go to sleep. The sun would be up soon, the Christmas lights were all on inside and outside the house. I was not afraid. There was nothing to be afraid of. I took out my contacts, turned off my lamp, and settled into the cool pillows and blankets for the night. I was so tired.
Suddenly I was jostled awake by a sound coming from the corner of my room by the bookshelf. The sun hadn’t risen yet and without my contacts all I could see were dark splotches of shapes here and there, most of them familiar. I couldn’t immediately recall what woke me up. Just that it had been a sound. Like a crack or a snap of some kind, quick and quiet. My heart pounded, but I laughed at myself. This old house settles. It creaks and groans, the icicles outside sometimes fall and shatter on the concrete below. There was nothing to be afraid of. So I snuggled back into my comforter and closed my eyes. It was a pretense at this point, but one that I was determined to keep up.
It was hardly a moment later when I heard the sound again. Two raps this time, exactly in a row, and closer to me in the darkness. My eyes flew open, but I did not move. I could see the bookshelf from where I lay still. A basket of clean clothes that I hadn’t put away yet lay on the carpet next to my bed. A few items of clothing were strewn about. Mostly socks.
My heart was going wild. My breathing was ragged, but my mind was still my own. It’s just the house! Every inch of this floor creaks when you walk. The temperature is dropping like crazy outside, it must have some effect on the wood inside the house. There is nothing in the world to be afraid of.
I waited in the dark, eyes wide, ears straining, for an amount of time that I couldn’t tell you. Forty seconds? Five minutes? Ten? I heard nothing. The sound was not repeated. I sighed to myself, groaning internally at my own paranoia, and closed my eyes. My imagination called up images of people standing over me, their faces in the darkness. These were nothing unusual. I had grown accustomed to such visions. I could ignore them. For the most part.
The moment my muscles finally relaxed, the moment my heart began to calm, there it was again. Three raps this time. I heard them as if they were at my side, waiting next to my bed for me to hear.
I sat up instantly and dove for the lamp.
“Fine!” I shouted to the empty room which was now bathed in a pleasant orange glow. “Fine I won’t sleep! You win!”
I checked my phone. It was six forty two. The sun was supposed to rise at seven twenty eight. I could wait that long. I had no choice.
I waited in my room, fighting tired eyes, refusing to relax until the tan curtains covering my windows began to shine a light blue. I was exhausted, but I wasn’t allowed to sleep. In my delirium, I imagined that there was something there in the darkness that delighted in my torture. It would never let me rest as long as I was alone, as long as the sun was down.
At seven thirty I sighed. I pulled my phone to me once more and turned on some music so that I could sleep. And sleep I did.
This is my life these days. When I am alone, I do not sleep at night. I can’t. I stay up until the sun rises, and then it is safe. Then I can have peace.
It’s in my head. There is nothing in my house. Everything that was here before is gone now. It all left. We took care of it! But even when I do sleep I have nightmares. In my dreams it’s all come back. In my dreams I’m stuck in this home again, tormented by something that never was human. Something evil.
I thought that I was going to die in this house. I couldn’t stay, but I couldn’t leave either. I had nowhere to go. There was nothing I could do. I was powerless and afraid. I had my roommate, but she wasn’t scared. She was angry. Whenever things would move, whenever we would hear the whispers or see faces in the mirror that weren’t ours, she got pissed. She would shout and scream and curse at the house and whatever darkness it held. I was afraid. Truly, deeply afraid.
I thought that when it was all over, when our house was finally ours, the fear would stop. It hasn’t.
I guess what prompted me to write this was an errant thought I had, sitting on this couch in front of our little Christmas tree. One of the other girls I live with here has seen me at my worst. I had an emotional breakdown in front of her when one of the things that I saw, one of my nightmares, wouldn’t go away. She couldn't see it, but I could, and it wouldn't go away. She knows that I don’t sleep at night, and she is as sympathetic as she can be in the face of something that neither of us really understand.
She joked with me today that I was subconsciously trying to turn myself into a vampire. It was funny. We laughed about it because it’s no secret that I have a villain complex and a not so secret wish to live forever. But sitting here on the couch, with snow falling persistently outside for the third night in a row, I’ve been thinking. I have a long night ahead of me. It’s not even seven o’ clock but it has been dark outside for an hour or so. This is my life. I don’t get to live forever or be powerful and strong. I get to be human and vulnerable and afraid every night for the rest of my life. I cannot sleep in the dark when the dark things, or at least the darkness in my mind, is very much awake. I have to be alert and vigilant and ready. And alone. This house is filled with people, all asleep, but I am alone.
Suddenly, the fifty odd years I have left seem like a very long time to be alone. I don’t think that I want to be a vampire anymore.
I don’t know if writing this out helped at all. Maybe I’ll post this on my blog. Who knows? Maybe someone has already gone through this or someone else is going through it now. Maybe writing this will help someone else more than it did me.
All I know is that there is a long night ahead of me.
Goodnight everybody. Sleep well.