When I was 19 years old and living in my first apartment one evening a man in a ski mask broke into my little studio apartment and attacked me while I was taking a bath. He hit me hard and held me under the water and began to assault me further. I briefly left my body (passed out) and apparently it scared him enough to make him flee before he could do anything more. I spent a long time unable to shower or bathe without having someone stay in the bathroom and talk to me the entire time. But more than that I lost something, I lost a fearlessness I had always had. A security in myself.
Years later in college one evening I awoke to a man in my bedroom. I shared an apartment but my then roommate was asleep. I had told myself for years I would beat the crap out of anyone who ever tried to harm me like that again, or at the very least scream loudly as I had been unable to do under the water that night. But instead I found myself faced with frozen terror and could not bring out any sounds. My mouth agape trying in vain to scream and unable to even make a whisper, and unable to move I lay there in sheer terror and burning frustration, shame and fear. Thankfully the man was a lost drunkard friend of my upstairs neighbours and had entered the wrong apartment. My roommate was never left to lock the doors at night again. The incident understandably caused a lot of resurfaced trauma, but with time I got past it. But still, that sense of ever feeling totally secure was never really there.
I lived on my own many times since then, and I healed a lot. But then I had children, and one thing that happens when you have children is this very real sense of vulnerability. This awareness at their complete dependence upon you as their parent. It is awe inspiring, and amazing, and terrifying all at once. But for me there was something more, a sense I could never fully protect them, because I knew all too well what could happen, at any time. I lived with my fantastic chosen family/roommate by this time and she worked nights and on more than one occasion when Bliss was an infant I bundled him up at night and whisked us off to her work to feel safe. And on more occasions than I want to remember I sat bolt upright in bed listening to every sound in the house waiting for first light to go to sleep, or waiting for her to get home, whichever was sooner.
But with time I got better, and with more time the roomie switched to days and time went by. And then we moved to rural Canada, a much safer environment, and I had another child and all was well. But recently she began working nights again, and again I hold vigil, awaiting her key in the lock so I can sleep safely. And it makes me so angry, and so sad, and feel so helpless when I should be fearless in caring for my young.
So please, do not ask me why I am up so late, or why I don't sleep. I am doing what I have to, and trying to get by as best I can.