Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I don't sleep much these days.  Did I mention that?  

I had finally fallen into a fitful sleep close to dawn when my body felt a noise, a slight vibration in the house like when our front door slams. A jolt of adrenaline and I'm awake in the dark, heart knocking in my chest and that familiar vice-grip clamped all the way down on my stomach.  

I lay there, every cell awake and rigid and waiting for another clue. Had I dreamed it? Were there footsteps? Is it Kyd come home to throw a drunken temper tantrum because his life isn't what he planned and it must somehow be my fault? Or some new threat? A stranger?

It was Lexi getting up to use the bathroom.  

She went back to her room, but I still needed to check.  

Turn the lights on one by one, check each room, check the lock, peek out into the driveway, the front yard, and listen. 

Finally I was satisfied enough that my rational mind could get in a word edgewise and tell me to go back to bed. It was nothing. It was Lexi. Even though it felt like the front door, it couldn't have been.

Then it dawned on me. THIS is why when my anxiety or depression is peaking I sleep on the couch. I had been beating myself over the head for this while simultaneously coming up with good reason to do so -- I fell asleep while reading or it was too hot in my room. Secretly I thought I was just being a bit of a depressed bum who couldn't get up off the couch and sleep in her bed like a normal person.

But as I stood there in the living room listening I realized that this room was the best vantage point for maximum awareness of what was going on in my house. From the living room I can hear the front door and the side door, I can hear what's going on downstairs, and down the hall. I can see the road, the side drive, and the back driveway and yard. And suddenly I was outside myself, seeing myself standing there in the dark and how I resembled an animal who's just heard a twig snap, or caught the slightest hint of scent and freezes -- listening, watching, sniffing the air.

Night is when the trauma had always come to my house.  


  1. sometimes I wonder about you, things you write about are so parallel to my experiences...its just odd.

    I've been sleeping on my couch since...2007? And for the 18 months prior, I was sleeping in my recliner with my infant/big baby.

    Now I tell myself, I don't like to sleep in my bed because I don't like to sleep alone...and on the couch, I don't feel alone.

    But the reality? I know that if something happens, its gonna come through the front door, and I want to be between it and my son.

  2. When my anxiety is lower I sleep in my bed just fine, like a rock even. It started in 2005 when Kyd ran away right after his therapist of a year signed off on him and said "he's fine".

    I think then it was a matter of putting myself between Kyd and the door so I'd know he was staying put.

    Then it got better, then it got worse, then it got better.

    Last night I tried sleeping in my bed after two weeks on the couch. Lexi was giving me hell for it.

  3. I did the same thing from the time the boys were two and one, lest my ex come in drunk and kidnap them or kill me. I did not own a bed for 8 years after the boys father and I separated ( I rented one for a few months, thinking I might use it one day- the boys and I did have a slumber tent party in it!).... Now that I live with N, I sleep in our bed. I feel safest and I sleep the soundest when I am wrapped in his arms. When he is not here, the ritual locking of doors, windows, investigating of creeks and thuds keep me awake on the couch, waiting for him to come home. I think that now Stevie is an adult and his father is dead, what keeps me snared in the whole PTSD is the fear that if I go to sleep I will miss that call telling me Stevie is hurt, in jail or dead.

    Pretty pathetic actually.

    Welcome back! I missed you!

  4. Pathetic? Hardly. No one but those who live this understand what all this trauma does to the brain. Just between you and me, I don't think most therapists get it either.