You’ve had a late night knock before, right? An unexpected knocking on your door at an hour when nobody should be knocking? Or perhaps a phone call. At some hour of night when you initially think, “Who in the world would call now?” and then you think, “it must be an emergency to call now!”
And so you jump out of bed and rush to find your phone. As you move, each passing second is an eternity as your brain plays its game, trying to figure out what the emergency could be, who could be hurt, “what if (loved one) died?”, and on and on, until you find your phone (hopefully it just a wrong number).Have you had this happen?
My Late Night Knock
Last night I had something similar happen with me. While Julie and the kids watched a movie (Boss Baby), I went to bed early, around 8pm, because of a really bad nights sleep the night before.
I was vaguely aware of Julie climbing in bed and Bella jumping up near my feet. I was sleeping soundly enough though that I was back out again just as soon as they settled down.
At some point later I had woken from a nightmare and was laying in bed. I had started to drift though. You know that hazy part of sleep where you think you are awake but your dreams are real to you too? That is where I was lingering for an unknowable amount of time (this is common for me).
So I was just lingering in that haze when I thought I became aware of someone moving down the hall next to our room. I was aware of it, but not acknowledging that it was real of course. Then came a knock, hard and loud, on our bedroom door.
Because of that haze, my brain hadn’t fully registered someone being awake and in the hall. So when that knock came I almost jumped out of my skin. Bella was instantly up as well and barking as if there was an intruder. While my brain knew it was just a child, my body didn’t care. My heart started pounding in my chest, by fear level was amazingly high, my muscles seemed locked and frozen.
Julie, also startled by the knock, started to get out of bed to check on her child. I wanted to scream at her not to open the door, to tell her that HE must have found us and not to let him in, that we needed to hide. But I was too frozen even to do that. I didn’t say a thing.
I’d like to think that it wasn’t entirely fear make made me freeze, that my brain was also acknowledging that it must be a child needing it mom, and therefore let Julie get up and leave without me saying anything. Julie opened the door and called out.
A Sick Kid
It was Kristie. Poor angel had knocked on our door to wake us and then ran into the bathroom to puke. Julie found her with her head hanging over the toilet. She had knocked just once, apparently not trusting herself to open her mouth in the hallway. She knocked as she hurried past.
Julie tended to her for several minutes as a good mother does. I, like a lazy father, just lay in bed. The panic passed within 5 seconds, but it could have been 5 hours for as long as it felt. During those minutes that Julie helped Kris, I was trying to calm down and find sleep again.
No luck though. The panic was short lived, but the seed had been planted for nightmares to continue throughout the night. Even falling into the hazy awareness was intimidating to me. Having already woken from one nightmare early wherein I had been taken captive, I wasn’t eager to sleep again.
Night Time Games
So for help with nightmares I turned to one of my ‘prescription drugs’ – a video game. I had a therapist give me a ‘prescription’ for them anytime I needed an escape from the trauma or stress. When my thoughts turn dark or ugly, or when I have moments like last night, then they are a great way to just shut my mind down and be distracted from the trauma.
I’m not proud of telling you that I played on our XBOX from midnight until after 4am. When most people think of the type of person who would do that it probably involves a lot of unflattering adjectives and thoughts of uselessness. You know how they’re portrayed in TV and movies.
I like to think that I’m different though. I’m not hooked on the game. I don’t “have to complete that quest,” or “need to get that level,” or “I can’t get left behind,” or whatever it is that drives most ‘gamers.”
The distraction is necessary for me though. I need an escape from mental images of my kids being tortured. I need to escape from thoughts of hurting myself. A distraction from the pain coursing up and down my back. So I think I’m a bit different in my gaming. For me it isn’t an addiction or disease, for me it is the medicine.
I guess I could have been out shopping on Black Friday instead, but honestly, that just seems like the nightmares brought to life.
So… I guess the point is this, if you’re going to wake me at some ungodly hour with a phone call, text, or a late night knock, then someone better be dead or dying. Anyone other than my kids doing this to me had better have a good reason, or we’re going to “have a few words”.