When I was a child, I used to have a hard time getting to sleep. I was haunted by stories of the holocaust, and when the lights went out and everyone else went to sleep, going to sleep in my own room, and I would wonder what if it happened again? What if mormons were the target this time? I only had a vague idea of what happened then, that they had been taken off into concentration camps, killed in gas chambers. It was what I feared most as a child, though. A swastika was a symbol of terror for me. My grandma gave me a book when I was about ten called Three Against Hitler, and I never got past the name and the swastika on the front, afraid of what might be revealed within its depths, thinking it might be too much for me to handle. I was scared of that book.
You see this with a lot of children, though, and I don't think children really know how to express it. Children know about the world we live in. They don't know everything, but they know that there are things to be scared of. I never really voiced my fear to anyone, not until I was much much older did I even mention in passing that I had been a bit scared about the holocaust.
The other thing that used to scare me was listening to the news, and always hearing about someone being murdered. There were always stories of people killing each other, and I used to be scared to go to our basement alone, worried when my mom was taking longer than normal to get home, worried that someone might come in the house, or worried something had happened to her. These were the fears I faced: murder and holocaust.
I had to confront my fears by myself, because in the darkness of night, I was left alone. It never even really occurred to me that my sister was in the room next door to me, and I probably could have gone into her, or that my mom was across the hall, and I could have gone in to her for comfort. Everyone slept in their own beds, and so I figured that is what you did. It was just what was done. It was what was expected of me. I eventually figured out that I didn't have the same fears confront me when I was listening to a story going to sleep. We had Powertales tapes, stories of real life heroes, and I used to listen to their stories as I went to sleep. Then eventually I started taping the audio of tv shows, and listening to that when I went to sleep. If I had a tape, I'd go to sleep very quickly. I used to think that when I got married and lived out on my own, I'd have to have a tape player with me then, and my husband would hopefully be okay with listening to tapes going to sleep.
When I moved in with my dad, I was so happy to be with him, and having come off the most depressing year to my life that point, just after my mom getting remarried, I was really afraid of him dying. I was afraid of what it would mean for my life if he was gone. I had him tell me stories going to bed, and I used to record them, every night, because I wanted to know I'd have them to listen to, if he did ever die.
Going to sleep listening to my dad did a lot for me, in that regard. And then making friends with my best friend, and us sleeping next to each other, arm in arm oftentimes, brought a lot of comfort, and I lost the reliance I had always had on a tape player to be able to sleep. It was also around this time that I began to confront my fear of the holocaust. I read the book my grandma had given me, and really quite enjoyed it. My dad gave me a play to read that was similarly based on the people mentioned in the book. The fear about murder had slowly dissipated as I began to realize that no one showed up to murder me or my family, and that I didn't hear about it happening to anyone I know.
But as I think about those experiences I had as a child, I wonder two things. I wonder why we have a society and social convention setup where our children are separated off to sleep in their own rooms. Now don't get me wrong here, I loved having my own room as a child, loved having my own space, to direct what went on, to have some place that was my own, but I think I would have loved to also have spent lots of nights with my parents and sister. I remember Saturday mornings when we would wake up, and all go into my mom's room, and just lounge around in bed, talking to each other, and enjoying each other's company.
I know there is a large push for cosleeping with young babies, and I highly support that, but I also wonder if our children might benefit, and us as adults too, with sleeping more often in the same room. My grandpa recalled a night he spent with a family, which sounded rather large, and they all slept in the same room, him as the guest included, and it sounded like he really enjoyed the experience. There is also this perception as adults that as soon as we put children to bed that they should be ready to go to sleep. I see this with my dad and my niece, him thinking that she is trying to get away with something when she comes up repeatedly and asks for a glass of water, or for something else. Perhaps I shade it too much by my own past, but I see it as her not knowing how to ask for what she really wants: comfort and not to be alone.
The other thing I consider is that maybe I was wiser before I overcame this fear. I basically overcame it by coming to the realization that I don't live in a segment of society where that is likely to happen, at least at present, and so I personally will be okay. But you see these things happen, genocide and killing, all over the world. And I'm simply not afraid because it's not happening to me or anyone I know. I feel like I should still be scared, because it still exists in humanity, because it is something that still happens, but not so much in the childish, not being able to sleep way, but confronting the world I live in, and that it reaches beyond the bounds I set to consider my “personal” world, but then also with that that perhaps the scariest and worst person I have known is someone who I used to take comfort as being a warm body next to me in my own bed.
I was scared of Janardan for a long time after he left. That's what happened when I was in Australia in December and posted that entry. I was afraid of him again, of what he had done, and that he might be able to do it again to me. I was afraid of losing myself again. It was part of the process, after I decided to stop having contact with him, coming a realization of what life was like when I was not within his mental clutches, but at the same time, not realizing how it had happened in the first place, and sometimes straying to the edge of terror that it would happen again.
But once I felt my own worth and value again, as I felt a pull in another direction, away from his view of me, and into others' view of me, I began to confront the demons of those four years, to question everything that had happened, to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt as I had for so many years, to question his intention in everything, and realize the possibility and probability of the depth of his mistreatment of me, for with emotional abuse, it is difficult to tell always, just how deep the bruises went, just how many lashes there were.
And now, as I go to sleep next to the man who healed me to completion, not really by showing me his view, but showing me a view of myself that is most accurate to the person I really am, to felt seen for the first time, and to see myself for the first time, and to see how to see myself, rather than always depending on the views of others, I am not afraid. In some ways, I know the world is a worse place, more personally than I did when I was a child. I know that bad people really and truly do exist, and that they can be lurking anywhere, that there are mini-hells being created all the time by these people who would don't fit the murderer bill. But I also know there is good in the world too. I know that true love really and truly does exist, because I see it every single day, multiple times a day in my love's eyes. I know that goodness exists, because I have seen so many people. I know the world -can- be a good place. We just can't let the Hitlers rule us. May the good people of the world rule themselves.