Nightmares.

November 28, 2010
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A bottle of vodka in her hand, scissors on the floor. The flashbacks aren't as strong, she sighs in relief. Her fear starts to go away...but her guilt is always there....Too many secrets that she has not shared with her friends. But it will always have to be that way...She glances at herself in the mirror. She does not recognize herself. She never recognized herself anymore, she was never the little girl she used to be...before the nightmares, before the fear, before the paranoia...for she had lost something inside her...

A little girl lies awake in her bed. She is five years old and is haunted by nightmares. Her mother is away on a teacher conference, and she is scared. She grabs her blanket and tiptoes through the hallway to her parents' bedroom.

"Dad?" She says, "Can I sleep in your bed tonight? I don't want to be alone."

This is not the first time her mom has been gone overnight. This is not the first time that the little girl becomes so scared that she can not sleep without the comfort of her mom's smell.

Climbing into bed she lays far away from her father, but he pushes her towards him and she can smell the booze on his breath.... Almost an hour later she can hear her father snoring, a sign that she can finally close her eyes and take in the comfort her mom has left behind. That is not the first or last time....

The next morning, she is awakened by a loud thud. What was that noise? Oh right...she is not her room...she is not in the bed either...she is on the floor.

"Why were you sleeping in my bed? I had to push you out to wake you up!" The little girl says nothing....

She knows her father loves her. Maybe that is why he acts so strange at night? To show his love? Maybe everyone's father shows the same type of love?

And so this goes on for years. The little girl starts to grow up and see that her father is not showing love. He is hurting her. Finally, the little girl sees an ad on television. Except she is not a little girl anymore, something was stripped away, and the little girl is gone forever. She knows that she has been the victim. And now there is a name for it: sexual abuse. She is a victim....it is weird to call herself a victim, when after so many years, she blamed herself.

She understands what she must do, and so when her mother gets home the girl tells her all that went on for years. She knows now that it was brought on by a change in him. A change that took place at night, the alcohol started it all. That night she slept in her own bed. The girl tossed and turned, flashbacks haunting her even though she had told her dark secret.

Six years later, the same girl still sees her father drink every night. He promised he would change, even though he admitted nothing. He remembers nothing! Nothing! He denies it all, and never brings it up. He experienced the same pain when he was her age, and yet he says nothing. And so she learns what hatred feels like...he does not remember, and she is the one stuck with the pain.

Six years later, she still has not said the words out loud. Sexual abuse. Victim.

Even though her mother says it will never happen again, she is still afraid. Now the girl sees her father as two different people: Day Dad, Night Dad. She avoids Night Dad, knowing she can never trust that one. Six years later, the flashbacks haunt her every night. Glimpses of what she experienced creep into her dreams...certain smells, discussion topics, movies, even the most common sounds or names trigger the memories, and she can do nothing but hide in her bedroom, immersing herself in books or other things....The past leaves her with nothing, strips her of her self-esteem, takes away her ability to trust. Perfectionism and fear now drive her life. She avoids even the most simple of emotional talks face-to-face, for it only brings back the memories...

Today, she has learned to fictionalize the relationship she has with her father. She tries to convince herself that she over-reacted, her brain is only making things up to scare her. The reality is too painful to bear, so she drowns her flashbacks in alcohol and self-inflicted pain. For a little while, she can deaden the painful memories. She feels guilty and afraid. She is afraid to trust anyone, feels that she is selfishly absorbed in the past, but she can not help it. She can not relate to anyone else, it is almost too hard for her to forget and act like her life is normal, but even the most simpliest of conversations trigger the nightmares.

Six years later, she lives in fear. Fear that every new day will bring new flashbacks. She wishes she could share her experience more openly. But she is afraid that her first confidante remembers nothing, and she does not want to worry her. She is fine, and if she keeps telling herself that, maybe it will no longer be a lie. She wishes she could write down the whole story, but she is afraid. She wishes she knew people who experienced everything she had experienced. She wishes she could forget everything, but she is forever changed. A part of her is lost, and she will never be the same. From the outside she looks like a normal girl. Her family is happy. And at times, she is happy. But the events in the past eat her up inside, and she knows she will never truly be normal or happy. She wishes she knew more people like her. She doesn't want to be helped, she doesn't want to be pitied. She only wants to talk it out with people who can relate to her. She knows she can not change the past, but she has the hardest time not dwelling on it...





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