For a while now I’ve struggled to sleep. Well, ok 2 months. It seems longer. It started on Halloween. Well, halloween eve/morning really. We’d taken the kids to a carnival we go to every year. We’d gotten back late, about 11:00. By the time we’d gotten the kids all ready for bed and tucked in, had a chat about whatever and D1 was collecting his stuff, it was midnight. As he was getting ready to go I heard a noise on the front porch. I knew exactly what it was, it’s the same noise I always hear about a second before someone rings the doorbell. One of the wonky stones being stepped on. I stood up and rushed to the door even as I started to whisper-shout “Someones outside!”.
I flung upon the front door and sure enough, there was some hoody wearing yob on my front porch in the process of stealing my kids carved pumpkins and some of our halloween decorations. I shouted at him, I don’t remember exactly what but I’m sure it was something terribly intimidating like “HEY!”, and he ran off, pumpkin and decorations in tow. I ran after him but he disappeared down the path, though he dropped his loot about halfway down, relatively unharmed, so we were able to collect it.
I felt a bit shaken, but my husband dutifully inspected the path and surrounding area with a flashlight and was sure they were long gone. So, we went in, had a moan about the state of society in this country and he once again prepared to go. Into the kitchen for a quick glass of water. I stood just outside the kitchen door saying something. Suddenly, from behind me, a tremendous crash. I screamed. D ran out behind me. What was it? The window? Yes, the window. Call the police. Even as I was picking up the handset, D had grabbed his flashlight and ran out the door. Helpfully, leaving me terrified and alone.
The woman on the phone was lovely and helpful, promised me the police were on their way, would be there soon. I stood in my doorway, calling for D, crying to the woman on the phone. Eventually I hung up with her and D returned, having chased the bastards until they had disappeared and he couldn’t breathe anymore, being asthmatic and fairly unaccustomed to mad sprinting sessions in the middle of the night. We inspected the damage. Both panes of glass, shattered. A brick lying on the grass a few feet away. While it had shattered the window, it thankfully had not come through into the house, had instead bounced back and landed on the grass. I called the landlord. D taped cardboard over the window. We waited for the police.
And waited. And waited. Around 2am I called and asked if someone was indeed coming out. I was told no, of course not, it’s Halloween and they have more important things to deal with. Someone would come in the next 3 days to take a statement.
Terrified for my and my kids safety, I had called 999, in tears and practically hysterical. I was assured the police were coming, were on their way. So, I hung up. And… they didn’t come.
So, now I struggle to sleep. Any noise panics me. I jump out of bed, fumble for anything I can use as a weapon and burst out of my room. I stand at the top of the stairs for ages. Just…waiting for the noise to come again. Waiting for the intruder to show their face. Wait to be murdered. Wait to protect my kids. I contemplate waking my kids up, and escaping with them onto the roof of the garage outside my sons window. So far I have managed to hold onto enough sense to keep myself from going that far, but it’s not easy. I talk myself down. Finally I went to the doctor. She referred me for counselling and gave me sleeping pills. Bloody strong ones. I took a pill, rushed through my bedtime routine ( after spending 20 minutes cursing myself for taking the pill. Can’t protect anyone if I’m asleep, can I?! ), then lay in bed. I’d just manage to work myself up when “bam”, I’d be out like a light. This worked. I slept great for two weeks.
But, those pills are addictive. I switched to over the counter ones, which also work. Then, I stopped taking them altogether. Christmas was upon us, I was busy, distracted?, whatever the reason, I was able to go to bed, and fall asleep without any stints at the top of the stairs with a wine bottle gripped in my hands, let alone repeated stints with a hammer. Yet, I find myself drifting backwards again. For no apparent reason my ten o’clock bedtime slips past me. I’m not ready yet, there is something else to do. I’ll go to bed in a hour. Yet 11 o’clock fleets swiftly by, followed closely by 12:00, and 1:00 and 2am. If I am lucky, I’l fall asleep on the couch sometime around 4. If not, I’ll stay up till 6 then drag myself upstairs and fall into bed where I’ll sleep until 9:00. (I can do this, I have a teenager who will occasionally feed his 4 year old brother before turning on the tv for him and disappearing back to his room*)
Frankly, I am afraid to sleep. Terrified. If someone will sneak onto my front lawn and throw a brick at my living room window, then really, would they have a problem attacking me? Breaking into my house and stealing our things? Hurting myself or my kids or even my cats? And, when it’s 2am and I’m in the middle of a noise induced fit of terror, my mind preys on me with these thoughts, above all it plays for me on a loop “When it does happen, Erin, when they do break in and attack you, even if you can get to the phone, noone will come. The police won’t come, noone will hear you and noone will come.”
And so I stay awake. I worry I won’t be productive in the morning, I will collapse into bed as soon as it is light out and I will sleep until it is time to leave for school. They will be late, they won’t have proper lunches, I will be exhausted and stressed and in a foul mood. But, at least we will have made it through the night, right?