I don’t always remember my nightmares. I know I’ve seen one when I’m hot when I wake up even though the room is cold and the sheets are soaked with sweat.
Need to change them.
I don’t bother turning on a light. The torch on my phone lights up the entire bedroom.
It’s the second time this week.
All my bedding are things I had growing up. Finns have come up with an ingenious invention of putting holes into the corners of the duvet cover. You just put your hands through the holes and grab the the duvet. I don’t understand why Brits don’t do it. Or maybe Finns can’t take the credit for those holes either. Maybe it’s just a Nordic thing.
I hate changing the sheets. When I was really ill I never had the energy to do it and my sheets were so disgusting that they were about to get up and walk into the hamper by themselves. Now I just get on with it. Progress, I suppose.
Progress in mental health sense is measured in the most boring things imaginable. Changing the sheets. Washing your hair. Making a phone call.
We don’t have test results to wait for but I managed to send an email I had been putting off. Cue the fanfares.
I don’t get back to bed yet. I sit down with a glass of water. More water to release through my pores.
“It’s good that I live alone”, I catch myself thinking. “I don’t need to wake anyone else up.”
In a way it’s true. It’s embarrassing as it is to sweat this much. It would be horrible that somebody else would also have to endure it.
I’m not good at bothering people. Some people are excellent at it. Those people who are the last two in a restaurant and pay no attention to the fact that the staff is awkwardly shuffling around them cleaning what they can. To most people it’s a social signal they catch up on immediately and start gathering their things.
Not to everyone though. Some people completely ignore it and go about their fascinating conversation or whatever’s on their phones. In a way it’s almost admirable, that sense of entitlement.
On the other hand nights are the worst. When I wake up from a nightmare (mass executions, I look in a mirror and maggots start crawling out of my nose and mouth, corpses rotting in the sun) and I’m alone and need to calm myself down enough to get back to sleep.
“How do you do it?” everyone always asks.
Whatever’s necessary. You just get on with it. What else there is to do?
Sometimes people say that they couldn’t do what I do but that’s not true. People are surprisingly resilient. You will do whatever it is that you have to do when there are no other options left.
I wouldn’t had described myself as a very resilient person a few years ago.
I can’t really imagine somebody else being there when I wake up to be honest. Anything they’d do would probably feel like too much. I’m so used to looking after myself.
Is this healthy? Thinking how it is good that I don’t have anyone I trust enough to sleep in the same bed with me to avoid the potential inconvenience of waking this person up so I can change the sheets?
In my imagination I’m still the one changing the sheets even if I wasn’t sleeping alone. I’m not good at asking for help.
Oh don’t worry, I’ll do it.
Doing things myself serves two purposes: one, I know things are done proper when I do them myself.
Second, I don’t need to be disappointed if I ask for something and they say no.
Apparently trust issues are a part of CPTSD.
A lot of things are a part of CPTSD apparently.
It’s funny but whenever I think about sleeping in the same bed with someone else, I think about someone other than a man.
Me and mum always share a bed when I’m over. My parents’ new flat is so small that I can hear everyone’s sleeping breaths: hers, dads, cats, the dogs. It’s almost a primitive space, a nest. So safe that I feel like crying. It’s funny because I miss my family the most when they’re right there. The same with my friends. I might suddenly find myself sniffling just because how much I miss my bestie who sits at the opposite side of the table.
“Dick”, she says tenderly and strokes my hand.
I’m really good at driving with one hand because in my family we always hold hands while driving.
I shouldn’t complain. I have a lot of love in my life.
Just not the kind that people usually mean when you say the word love.
I just haven’t been very successful in that regard I guess.
I serve in a lot weddings. At least one a week. My counsellor is always worried about how a wedding might affect me, with my rapist having been my partner and all.
“It’s not about me”, I just shrug. “I just get on with it.”
It’s not about me and it doesn’t involve me either. Things like weddings are things that happen to other people. I act on those occasions as a mere prop. I actually quite enjoy being invisible. When a wedding guest addresses me by a name and asks what I’m planning to do once I’m finished for the day, I open and close my mouth like a fish.
I thought I was invisible.
‘A person with CPTSD might feel that they are fundamentally different than other people.’
“That’s silly, they shouldn’t feel that way”, I retort. “It’s just me who’s fucked up.”
There is a line in a Finnish song that I think about from time to time.
“I always hoped for a lot /
but I got even more.”
That’s how I feel whenever I find myself thinking about how it might be nice to have a boyfriend.
How can I think I have the right to ask for that when I’ve already been given so much? It seems greedy. Not even greedy. Downright preposterous.
There are people who get married and there are people who serve at the weddings. The name tag will tell me which one I am if I were ever to forget.
I honestly thought he loved me.
That’s what I’d always think when everything else seemed lost. At least he loves me. At least I have that. That at least.
Of course he didn’t but now the fact that I ever even thought that just seems sick. What sort of love is that exactly? What the fuck is wrong with you?
I guess it’s an easy mistake to make. He’d always say that during or after. Like clockwork.
It almost felt worth it because I got to hear that.
After we broke up I drank a lot. I’d always been almost annoyingly good about drinking water and looking after my limits. Now I just didn’t care. I don’t remember anything about one festival. I had a ticket and everything but I don’t think I ever even made it in.
A person I didn’t even know that well at the time and her boyfriend carried me home. I could’ve got molested or murdered had they just left me to it.
None of those things were even a vague concern. I just didn’t care.
I didn’t know then why I didn’t care. I thought I was just sad about the breakup.
But I know now.
What does someone who already has had the worst happen to them got to lose?
I look at her now, the drunken embarrassment sleeping it off on a dirty sofa, still in her going out-clothes with one shoe hanging off.
I’m so sorry that happened to you. That wasn’t love.
It was so humiliating to admit that I had loved somebody who so obviously thought me worth less than a fucking house plant. I clung on to that love, what I thought was love, because I needed something to cling on to because every moment was a nightmare with the difference that this one I could never awake from.
I thought I’d never fall in love again. Like a nuclear catastrophe that not only completely destroys everything that once was, it also poisons and taints everything if something were to grow again.
I realised I was in love with someone when I found out that we both always ended up being narrators at school plays.
A narrator is a curious part to play. It’s not really a proper part, not in a school at least. It’s given to the unpopular kid. They are present in the beginning and the end, two most defining moments of a play but nobody ever remembers the narrator. Nobody ever leaves the theatre saying ‘fucking hell, what an amazing narrator.’ Narrator is the only person on stage and still not the main event.
Out of all the things it could’ve been it was this detail that lit that tiny warmth in the pit of my stomach.
This person is my kind.
It didn’t work out at the end. But when I think about that girl on the couch, I’m so grateful she got to experience that spark of humanity.
I get up, leave the water glass on the table and go back to bed.