Through the course of the past 8 months of my sobriety, I have been rediscovering certain things about myself that I had forgotten about, or had been completely oblivious to because I was intoxicated or passed out cold. One of those “things” is sleeping. Most nights I sleep like a baby, and by a baby I mean a really good 12 hour sleeper baby! Oh I love sleeping so much, I missed it! All those nights of passing out drunk were not sleeping! I was just simply in a temporary coma. Every…single…night. It wasn’t until I completed a set of 12 steps, that my restlessness, irritability and discontent (otherwise known as the squirrel inside your head) had finally gone away and I could sleep peacefully again.
I have extremely active dreams every single night. Now that I have been sober for a (small?) chunk of time, I remember as a little girl, I always had very active vivid dreams as well. This is why I always enjoyed sleeping, because each night was like a new storybook or a new movie being played. When I was a little girl, my days were spent listening to screaming, yelling, slamming doors, fowl language, and trying to be ever so quiet in the midst of it all because if I had dared to ask for even a small, tiny glass of juice, all hell would break loose. So, I looked forward to sleeping. It was my escape from my reality. I was safe there. He couldn’t yell at me, flick me in the head with his fingers, or spank my ass with a wooden spoon. I did not have to hear my sister cry while taking her turn. I didn’t have to listen to the awful words he called my mother. There were no doors that squeaked in the early mornings that made me clinch my face and pray to god that he did not wake up. I did not have to worry about eating too much because he wasn’t there to comment on how I “shouldn’t eat that much because Ill be chubby like my sister.” In my dreams I was free to fly like a bird. He was not there to tell me my ideas were stupid, or that I should be quiet because strangers could be listening and then they would think I was weird. “Because it matters what they think!!” In my dreams my sister and I were always together. I had numerous dreams where we would wake up at night and sneak out of our bedroom window. My sister went first, always in the lead, and she flew out of our bedroom window and whispered, “Come on Amanda!” This was pure happiness! My big sister is saving us and we are flying through the sky. Those dreams would often end in me falling, with me trying to wake myself up, but I couldn’t. I was getting closer and closer and closer to the ground, about to smash in pieces and I couldn’t wake myself up. But of course the inevitable would happen and I did wake up. Disappointed. This is how I felt every morning waking up for school. I could see it on my sisters face as well and also my mothers. She was so beautiful but yet she never smiled. I would watch her apply her makeup in the mirror, while she answered every single one of my questions. It was the only time that I had her all to myself. He was not there yelling and calling her names, so she was not shaking and crying. She was just my mommy and I loved watching her apply her makeup. I also loved to watch her sleep. She would often “snooze” for an hour here and there on the weekends ( I always hated that word, snooze. Its such an old granny kind of word!) My mother always had a concentrated look on her face while she slept. I used to watch her and wonder what she was thinking about? Is she escaping too? Is she trying as hard as I did to dream at night? Does she feel safe where she is? Is she happy? I hope mommy is happy there.
The giggles would start when my sister and I would whisper to each other, “Look how stiff she lays, she looks like a mummy!” And then she awoke eyes WIDE open, startled! We held our breath, and she rolled over and fell asleep.
But the giggles never lasted long, because he was bound to come home. As soon a we could hear the foot steps on the back stairs, our backs stiffened and our anxiety levels soared. It was time to be quiet. Speak when asked to and say the right thing. Its all we had to do if we wanted to go to bed without fighting. It was rare, but those quiet nights were fun for me. I drove my sister nuts whispering and chattering her ear off while she tried to sleep. I had been quiet all evening and I needed somebody to listen to all this noise inside my head! Who needs a bedtime story when you have a chatty little sister like me!?
It is no wonder I used alcohol to shut the sounds off when I grew up. I just wanted to fall asleep and dream because that was my safe place. I didn’t have to be perfect there, and no one was there to make me cry. I didn’t feel stupid, afraid or ugly there. I didn’t have to deal with anything. It was my own world, and whatever I created it to be.
I just wanted that damn fucking squirrel to shut up so I could sleep!