It’s okay with me that there are nights that I can’t sleep. It’s okay that sometimes I have flashbacks and I get too scared to fall asleep because I am afraid of the nightmares. What really screws up my days are the early mornings.
This morning I woke up at 5 am. Every muscle in my body was tense, I was sweating, I was ready to fight, I was terrified. I was back in that dark place. I was getting hurt. And I was completely trapped inside my body with no escape. It’s a very strange thing to wake up because of horror going on in my subconscious. Especially when the horror in the nightmare is something that happened.
I think my eyes opened before I even woke up. It took me only a few seconds to remind myself, “you are here, you are safe, it is quiet, no one is going to hurt you now.” But those were some long seconds. And there was certainly not going to be anymore sleep happening. Thankfully, 5 am is a relatively reasonable time to be awake. Thankfully, I have been through this enough times that my automatic response to remembering trauma is to be grateful. Of course, I feel anger and sadness and frustration. However, anger and sadness and frustration rot me from the inside out. Gratitude, I have found, is the best combatant. And it works. I just started listing things I am grateful for until the noise and the tears and the pain faded away and I came back to my life today.
My life today is not a life lived in fear. My life today is safe. It is secure. Sure, I was a little frustrated that I lost some hours of sleep, but I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I went downstairs with my baby blanket wrapped around me and had a dance break.
I just googled, as I have many times (you never know about new developments), “how long does it take for PTSD to go away.” It doesn’t, really. But my life today is so minimally affected by my PTSD because I have done a lot of work to get through the tough symptoms and come to terms with what happened. I will continue to do that work, and I will continue to be a proud survivor of some tough shit. However, I am exhausted.