It’s time to go to sleep, but it can be hard to relax. I close my eyes and slide into my imagination. The setting changes, but it’s always related to a setting I’m currently involved in (graduate school at one point, workplace at another). The details change, but it always involves violence and sometimes kidnapping and/or rape. If there was kidnapping involved, it was always in a white van.
For many years, this was how I lulled myself to sleep. Strange, I know, that this would put me to sleep. But for a long time, I never even questioned this pattern. It was just what I did. Later, I started to connect it to my own past but I still did it. And over the last year or more, I have mostly let it go. Instead I read until I am nearly asleep or I visit the girl in my “house.”
And then it came back. It was time to go to sleep, and as I settled down, I felt like I needed to go to this violent mental space again. I didn’t know why, but it felt necessary, so I let myself go, in explicit and painful details. And I fell asleep.
Am I the only one who does this? I have never heard anyone else talk about it. I can’t imagine that it’s a healthy behavior–it seems like a way of re-traumatizing myself.
And yet there is something soothing about it. I have wondered about this a lot. Sometimes I think I am soothed because if I imagine going through a violent assault, then it’s over and done with, and I can relax. Other times I think it’s because I usually include a piece where someone finds out and helps me get to the hospital where I am cared for. Perhaps the idea of having the attack noticed and my need for care recognized is what relaxes me. Maybe it fulfills my desire to be rescued. If that’s the case, maybe I can remold this into a story of being loved and cared for, and leave out the abusive piece?
There’s also the question of why I felt I needed this now, after not using this strategy for a long time. I am in a pretty decent emotional space, miles away from where I was this past spring and summer, so I can’t really explain what’s going on. Time, perhaps, to restart the journaling.
Tomorrow I’ll have my first therapy appointment in a month. That means I can start to move emotionally from the remote Amazon to the more remote parts of my psyche.
Artwork by loish, available here.