Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Night Terror

They began when I was maybe 5 or 6; around kindergarten. I am now 28 and still have these "night terrors" at least once a month. Most people who have night terrors will tell you they can't remember details of what frightened them. Most of them just awake with an immense feeling of terror. I, too, awake with an immense feeling of terror. However, I can tell you the details about what has terrified me.
When I was younger, I would awake screaming for my mom or my grandma. I would be in a cold sweat, heart beating out of my chest, tears streaming down my face. My mom or grandma would race in my room and flip on the light. As my eyes adjusted to the light, the images of what frightened me so much would start to fade away. But in my mind, I could recall every detail of what had exceedingly terrified me. I would ask whoever was in the room with me, "don't you see them...DONT YOU SEE THEM"? The "them" were the mice or snakes, but more often then not, bugs and spiders all over my bed; all over me. My skin is crawling now just remembering. It would take a while for me to doze back to sleep. My mom or grandma would sit next to me and stroke my hair, repeating to me, "its OK to fall back asleep now. they're all gone". Invariably, the next morning, I would awake to find bites and scratches on my arms and legs. Everyone was convinced I did it to myself in my sleep or during my frantic wakening. I knew it was more then that. I never knew when the next night terror would be. So, I just had to learn not to think about them, or the effects of, until another night terror would decide to grace me with its presence.
It was a while before the man in the hat showed up. I was much older by this time; maybe 16 or 18. I know I was in high school. It was as if all of the night terrors before him were in preparation because once he showed up, the snakes and mice and bugs never came back. The man in the hat I would see was a shadowy figure. I could make out the curve of his cowboy hat and the shape of his body. The way in which I would awake was much different with him then with my previous experiences. I still felt an immense amount of terror, my heart still felt like it was beating out of my chest, I was still in a cold sweat. But, when I would first wake up, I would feel like there was a brick on my chest; something holding me down. And when I managed to sit up, I didn't scream for anyone. I couldn't scream for anyone. I just sat there and stared; and he stared back, but not in a way that made me want to scream. Eventually I would fall back asleep on my own.
Now I am married. My husband tells me that he will wake up to find me sitting straight up in the bed, rocking myself back and forth, with my eyes wide open. He tells me that I ask him if he sees the man in the hat, but he says he never does. He tells me that I insist the man in the hat is standing only feet away staring directly at us. It takes him a while to get me to lay back down. He says he has to stroke my hair and whisper to me to get me to lay back down, just like my mom and grandma had to do when I was little. Now, none of what my husband tells me, I remember. I don't recall anything that he says I do. But, those same nights that he says he wakes up and sees me like that are the same nights I know I see the man in the hat standing in my bedroom doorway, or in front of our bedroom window. I wake up in the morning and the man in the hat is the first thing I think about. I don't know what he wants, he never talks, he never moves; he just stares. I really hope he doesn't come around tonight. I probably jinxed myself.

_Sara H.

No comments: