I sit and watch looking for signs of trouble like a prairie dog on guard. Except no one ever relieves me from my post. I must stay alert. I can’t relax. Never let my guard down. I startle easy. Relaxing classical music makes me edgy. Soothing piano music blooms my anxiety. I pace the floor. I feel a little trapped. Sleep eludes me, I wake at the slightest noise. Matt does not sleep either. He rocks in his bed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth sometimes so violently that he chafes his face and gets blood on the sheets. My brothers can’t sleep, Matt is too loud. Sometimes Matt is angry or dad fights with him over brushing his teeth. He can’t stand anyone touching his mouth. His teeth eventually rot.
Mom puts the classical music record on at night in attempts to calm us on the roughest days. I can’t relax. I can’t sleep. I have nightmares. I wake at the slightest sound. Every night I wake up and can’t go back to sleep. In the middle of the night I am safe, but sleep eludes me. I can’t clear my mind. I can’t stop thinking. Worry. Hyper vigilance gives me a false sense of control over my environment. I like to be in control. My rules and rigid structure give me a false sense of security. I hate chaos. Sometimes we would make plans to go somewhere and Matt would have a meltdown. Lots of times we turned around and headed back home. I don’t like a change of plans. I accused my mother of favoritism. Why was Matt the god of our world? The rest of us were crying to go, looking forward to it. Why was it that Matt could hurt me and everyone I loved and not get in trouble for that? Why did he dictate every waking moment of our life? Why did mom ask him what he wanted to do and not us? These were all the questions I asked as a sibling. I was angry at my mom a lot even though it wasn’t her fault. I blamed her. I resented her.
I would like to say that I am no longer hyper vigilant, that I don’t wake up to the slightest noise, that I have given up all desire to want a lot of control over my life. I am not sure that this is something that will change.