The insomnia amplifier (and safe spaces).

Have you ever noticed how everything experienced through insomnia is amplified?

It’s not only the after effects in the following days, but also everything experienced in the middle of the night while I’m lying awake.

Tonight, the cat food smell is bothering me. It’s turning my stomach, and it’s the only thing I can smell… but do you think I’d make a move to throw it out into the kitchen trash? Nope. Because making such large movements would not only “wake me up more”, but it would also wake the animals up, who would then get restless… at least, that’s my excuse. I really just don’t feel like crawling out of bed when I have a mere 30 minutes left here anyway. It would have been 2 hours if I simply did it when it started bothering me, but it was easier to smash my face into the pillow than it was to move the trash. Now I’m regretting it…

It’s not only smell that gets amplified when I can’t sleep. It’s any sound or extra light. It’s textures and temperatures and thoughts…

I could text any number of friends who also deal with insomnia, but that would require a conversation, and I’m not sure I’m up for that just now.

It is also in the middle of the night when, before I think too much about the ramifications, I feel like I might want to talk more about the things my body remembers… before my brain kicks in and I worry about reactions and fall-out, before the shame and secrecy set it, I sometimes think it might be healing to talk about the sexual abuse stuff with someone other than just Dr C… it might be validating to have some honest and uncensored conversations about it.

Then my brain kicks in. I think about what might happen, who might react & how they might react… I think of all the invalidation and scrutiny I would get for it, and the lost relationships… and it no longer seems worth it.

I prefer anonymity. I prefer the safety-net of confidentiality… and my heart sinks a little. I feel defective. Even just thinking of talking more openly about it makes me feel like a bad person. The guilt and shame hit hard.

On the one hand, I know it wasn’t my fault; I know the guilt and shame shouldn’t be mine (but they are). I know they should belong to the person (people) who did those things… I know this, but I also can’t fully accept it.

What if I’m remembering wrong? What if I’m exaggerating? What if I’m really just doing this for attention? What if I’m just that horrible, spiteful child the voice in my head says I am? What if I’m just plain wrong?

The ramifications for the named people wouldn’t be huge, but they’d be there. The ramifications for me would likely be worse. If I mentioned someone, and they didn’t actually do anything, I’d lose friends and family (it’s not like I have proof. It’s just my word against their’s, and I have a history of mental health issues, so… gotta love stigma). I’d be branded a liar & attention-seeking by those closest to me. I’ve already gotten that label from some people, but they are not really people that matter to me; providers I’ve seen only once or twice, family or friends I choose to no longer have contact with…

It’s just easier to talk around it in anonymous circles, or to keep conversations in the safety of the therapy office. That might change some day, but right now, it’s all I can manage. The fear doesn’t exactly stop me from longing to connect more authentically with others, but it stops the actuality of it happening…

I miss the csa group Dr C ran. It was more structured, but we still had chances to connect around the experiences of having gone through what we did, and many of us having dissociation around it… it was a safe place to be vulnerable, and we seemed to share understandings around it all… I don’t really know how the group would work in the long run though. Part of the safety came from the structure and the limited time commitment… but some days I really wish I could sit again in a room of people who understood the struggle without having to search so hard to explain it; and to know it’s safe to give voice to some of the memories.

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