So my wife had to go to her brother’s wedding over the weekend, and I stayed behind. It wasn’t a very long period of time – she left Friday evening, and then she came back Sunday morning – but it was kind of grueling all the same. It was the first time since we got married in 2008 that I slept without her next to me.
I didn’t want to be that guy. You know, the guy who has to be a Daisy Downer because his wife is out of town. The thing was, I’m pretty sure I was gonna be that guy. And there’s good reasons for it.
You see, I’m not very good at being alone at night. I’m not sure why; I blame it on some of the traumatic and terrifying experiences I’ve had as a child. I have sleep paralysis; it happens more regularly when I’m stressed out and sleep deprived to begin with, and it happens more often when I’m trying to take a nap than regular sleep, but it does happen. I have very vivid memories of terrible nightmares as a child, frozen, accompanied with auditory hallucinations anywhere from explosions to demonic laughter. I was terrified of the dark, and I was especially terrified of being alone. Most of these pathological fears are very much downplayed now, but if my wife ever read my blog (she doesn’t; she thinks I write too long of posts), she would begin to understand some of the really bizarre requests I will sometimes ask for (which she gives gratefully, like waking her up in the middle of the night asking if we can cuddle).
In short, even with my wife around, I can be an absolute neurotic mess. And I guess what I’m trying to say is, despite the fact that I am 25 years old, you could say that I’m still afraid of the dark.
Okay, not afraid. Well, sort of. Okay, maybe. Most of the time, it’s just this feeling of foreboding dread. It’s awful. Sometimes, this builds up into full blown panic attacks. The panic attacks are rare; the sense of foreboding dread? That’s actually pretty consistent. And it’s not necessarily just in the dark, either. If I’m alone in a room, sometimes that feeling comes out (though less and less as I’ve gotten older).
Of course, this is completely unacceptable as an American male, and so I’ve coped. Sometimes, I cope pretty well. Sometimes, not so well. And that was one of the huge blessings of getting married – I had a best friend around all the time. I was rarely ever alone. In our first year of marriage, we would follow the other into the bathroom and chat while the other one takes care of daily bodily functions. I’m pretty sure the only reason why we ceased doing this was because we have a roommate now.
In short, I had become very comfortable always having a loving, warm body next to me while sleeping for the past two years.
Sleeping alone again would be a challenge.
Luckily, it was over the weekend, which meant that if I didn’t sleep, I’d be okay for the most part.
Unluckily, that Saturday night, I would be watching Let Me In.
On top of sleep paralysis, I have a very vivid imagination. I also know how to scare myself silly. This has bred a very, very strong aversion to horror movies of any kind. However, my friend Quinton had begged me to go see it with him because of its depth and he wanted someone to discuss it with. He was right; it was an amazing movie. Scared the crap out of me, but good nonetheless.
All in all, despite my lack of sleep, I was fairly functional. I socialized with Quinton, James, and Kimberly well into the night. I worked on the Mormon Folklore Project, writing up twenty stories and queuing them into the website. I studied and did homework. I was productive, because as long as my mind was occupied, sitting in my chair at night in the dark alone didn’t seem so…disconcerting.
Friday night, I didn’t sleep until 12:30 pm Saturday, and I slept until 5 pm, when I woke up to get ready for the day’s activities.
That Saturday night, I didn’t sleep until about 7 am. I got a good hour of fitful sleep before I woke up to pick up the wife at the airport.
But that night, with the wife snuggled up next to me by my side, I slept 12 hours straight. I haven’t done that in years.
All in all, I’m really hoping that for the weekend, despite my wife not being by my side for the first time in over two years, I did not act too much like that guy. You know, that guy. Me.