I don't like to be alone.
Brian's responsibilities for our church, however, take him away from home from time to time.
And I hate it.
It's not that I begrudge the responsibility, it's just like I said in the beginning: I don't like to be alone.
Last Friday night was one of those nights that he was gone. I gave myself pep talks all night. "You're doing great. You are safe at home. The baby is safe. Cookie will bark if anyone tries to break in. There are no ghosties lurking about."
After bathing the baby and putting her to bed, I checked every closet, every cupboard, every shower, and even the washer and dryer to make sure no psycho killers were hiding. Then I gathered up every phone in the house, Brian's Louisville Slugger, a few knives, and headed to bed.
No, I'm not kidding.
It was around 12:50 that the nightmare started.
I was driving through a town with my mom. We were trying to get out because everyone had turned into zombies. They wanted to eat us.
Alarmed by this dream, I began to wake up. I opened my eyes and blinked a few times.
Then the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
There was something next to the bed and it was very, very close to me. And somehow I knew that it was going to be getting closer.
And then it was on me. It laid on top of me and squeezed and squeezed. I couldn't move. I couldn't breath. I couldn't even swallow. My heart was pounding and it felt like my chest would burst. All I could do was sit there and think "God will protect me." over and over again.
I don't know how long I laid there like that. After a while though, the thing seemed to evaporate and I could breath again. I was hysterical. I tried calling Brian, I tried texting, but he was camping and his phone wasn't on. I texted a few of my brothers, frantic for someone to talk to.
Luckily, my brother in New York was up. I called him and he talked me down. I spent the rest of that night with all the lights on.
Saturday morning I got up and Googled 'something laying on you in the night'. I didn't know what it was, but I knew that it wasn't just in my mind.
This 'thing' was real. And it was absolutely terrifying.
The Google search came up with something called sleep paralysis. It's when you're either falling asleep or just waking up and you literally become paralyzed. You also can hallucinate like I did, thinking some 'presence' was on me. Sleep paralysis can happen to totally healthy individuals, but can be caused by interrupted sleep schedules like, oh, I dunno, when you have a baby.
This has been happening to people for thousands of years, and has different names in different cultures. It's commonly known as 'the witch on your back' or 'The Hag Phenomena" because people, like me, think they are really being visited by some ghoulish creature. Look, Henry Fuseli even painted a picture in 1781 called 'The Nightmare' of a woman believed to be experiencing sleep paralysis.
I'd say that looks about right.
Researches have found that people who think they have been abducted by aliens experience sleep paralysis, and believe it is during these episodes that the individuals hallucinate their abductions. Now that I've experienced sleep paralysis, I can totally see how someone could believe they've been probed.
So, if this ever happens to you, just know that it's not a ghosty or a witch or an alien or anything like that. It's just your crazy brain. And you will eventually be able to move your arms and legs again.
Now go get some sleep.