My eyes pop open in the middle of the night, I’m yanked from sleep by the feeling of being watched. There is something in us that awakens us when a malevolent presence is watching and waiting. Whatever that something is, it triggered me from deep slumber to high alert.
“…no, this is our secret, just for us, you can’t tell anyone….”
Only my eyes search the darkness as my body was frozen, I could feel waves of malice flowing over me. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I saw the shape in the corner. A flickering streetlamp outside was struggling to provide a light in the darkness, and just enough of that light broke through the shades to provide an outline to the huge and angry shape so still in the corner.
“…hey, don’t look at the magazines in this drawer, they’re just for adults…”
Fear dried my throat and thumped in my heart, but a new emotion was fighting for control. Anger swelled from my belly and filled my heart and mind, anger that fed a hate that was already there. My mind raced to my defenses, gun in safe in bottom drawer of nightstand (take too long and too noisy), knife in top drawer (still too noisy to slide open the drawer, mag-light under bed…perfect! no noise and a smooth grab.)
“…it’s just a game, a little wrestling game….”
Fear and caution temper my anger so I slowly and carefully slide my hand down to the large and heavy flashlight under my bed. Sweat beads on my forehead despite the cold air of the November night. Colder still is the aluminum of the flashlight as I wrap my fist around it, the weight of the four D cell batteries inside felt like power. I form a plan to hit the ground in a roll and come up right in front of my watcher to drive the heavy flashlight right into the throat…
“…ssshh, it’s just a special wrestling move…”
Silently I roll out of bed and drop to the floor, I stay in a crouch so that my silhouette won’t show against the white wall… white wall…something about a white wall screams in my head, I feel nauseous and have to breath deep to keep from vomiting. In a panic I look at the figure in the corner. The dim light shows it hasn’t moved… a calm voice speaks in my head, “Bob…”
“…well if you really want to see the pictures, I guess you can, but don’t tell anyone, it’s our secret…”
“Bob,” my inner voice calm but pleading, “Bob, there’s no one there, it’s the fan…. there’s no one there.” It’s very strange to have your own voice in your head, trying to convince you that there’s no danger, especially when your eyes are telling you there is an eminent threat right in front of you. “Breath… Bob, get it together… breath, it’s just the fan.” I squeeze my eyes shut and whisper an “Our Father” and open them and stare with fierce focus at the evil force in the corner, my brain clears itself of the dream and the shape in the corner that wanted to do me great harm dissolves into my floor fan.
“…this is just between you and me, don’t TELL!”
I collapse as flashlight slips from my sweaty palm and hits the floor just before I do. Closing my eyes causes tears to stream down my cheeks and onto the carpet. I’m in a hallway, bright white with a powerful light that brings the white walls into sharp relief against the dirty corners. Dirty corners of my mind. I hate the door at the end of that hall, I hate myself for opening it….. My voice speaks inside my head again. “Bob, you’re not there, it’s over, you’re not there.” I open my eyes and see my ceiling fan spinning, a cold sweat indicating that I’m back in the present. A couple of deep breaths and I get up and splash water on my face. I shuffle back to bed, exhausted but knowing sleep may not come.
This little story has played out in my life several times, the scariest was when I thought someone had my first wife and was trying to take her from the house. She was, of course, alone and didn’t understand why I was moving so menacingly with such aggression toward her. I saw an assailant clutching her from behind and kept screaming at him. I was trying to maneuver into the kitchen to get our big butcher knife when I came out of it.
As scary as these times are I’m even more terrified to hit “submit” on this story. I feel so ashamed to be a victim…. Words dry up for me to describe the fear of admission. If you’ve ever wondered why people wait to come forward about abuse wonder away, but don’t judge. It’s scary, when survivors talk about the abuse it brings them back to the moment and it becomes real all over again.
I pray that all who hurt can find healing in their heart and I remember Psalm 9: 9,10 when my fear is too much to bear.
Psalm 9: 9,10 “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
*o.k. I know you all want some comedy in my stories so I’ll also admit that sometimes during these episodes I can’t remember the “Our Father” and have to rely on the Catholic dinner prayer to ask God for help. I’ll list it here as it has brought me out of several tight spots and terrors.
Bless us oh Lord and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive. From Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.