Nightmare or night terrors, which is worse?

The twilight hour is that place your mind travels to when you’re between awake and asleep, and the body refuses to move. It’s the place where the nightmares come to life and consume all rationality. I fear this place the most. It’s where he always finds me.

I remember that day as though it was yesterday. As a child who still took naps, I nestled myself in my bed, safe and warm from the world around me. A barbie doll rested on my pillow. At that age, those were my best friends. I remember all too well that I would become lost for hours in that make-believe world of dolls and dreams. Barbie land was where I escaped when the fighting became too much for my little mind to handle. Little ones don’t understand when Daddy continually threatens to leave forever. I know each time I waited for the door to slam and my final goodbyes to come. It did a year after that.

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I didn’t hear the crash of the window, but I felt the shower of glass hitting my face. Many tiny fragments fell as though the ceiling opened, and pelts of hard rain hit my body. Crying out, it was not the shards of glass that scared me but the hand that came with it. Through that broken window, the hand of a man searched for my sleeping body, grasping the fabric of my nightgown the moment he found me. Blinking, the glass threatening to enter my eyes, all I remembered was how dirty his hand looked. Dirty hands were a pet peeve of mine even at that age. His were calloused, stained with what looked like grease. Was this man a mechanic? The tighter his hand wound in the soft pink gown, the more I tried to force that scream out. It stuck deep in the pit of my stomach, and though I tried to push, it only came in squeaks.

As the door to my room flew open, so did my throat. Screams of fear forced the man to drop me back down to the bed, tiny pellets of glass once again blanketing my body. “MOMMY” I remember screaming that. It was always my mother who made sure the world around me was safe and that I felt loved. My father had more interest in the bottom of a bottle than his only child. I understand that was a sickness, but I never understood how you could choose one over the other as a child.

Rest assured, the only visible damage done to me was minor lacerations due to the glass breaking. Neighbors who heard the scream chased and held for the male for police to arrive. He was a registered sex offender, and I was one of the lucky ones. You would think this is where it all ends. The bad man was put away in jail, so I would feel safe to sleep again. I wish that were the truth.

Have you ever had a night terror? That is what twilight sleep feels like to me. I am neither awake nor asleep, and the terror that fills my body is paralyzing. I still scream in my sleep, and the dream is always the same. I am being grabbed and taken, but I can’t fight my way out of the dream. More times than I care to remember, everyone in the house reminded me that it happened again. Some laugh, others are concerned, but none understand that even though this man is gone, the memory of that one event will never go away.

As a writer, I’ve found a lot of my writing has to do with the boogyman’s arrival. So in hindsight, was this a blessing or a curse? I guess I will never know.

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Wikipedia: Night terror, also known as sleep terror, is a sleep disorder causing feelings of panic or dread typically occurring during the first hours of stage 3–4 non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and lasting for 1 to 10 minutes

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