I’ve done my time with sleepless nights.
I used to lay in bed,
Afraid to fall asleep because my own dreams scared me
Or excited me so much that I was wide awake.
I stayed awake wondering what life would be like if…
Some of those ifs came true, but not the ones I wanted to.
I laid awake in my bed,
Afraid to fall asleep because vigilance was all I could do,
Even if it didn’t help me feel safe.
I mapped out every possible exit route should I ever need to escape,
Which I did once.
Every now and again, I still dream about making that great escape from my childhood home.
Wading through the mess of the “junkyard,”
Using what I can to scale the fences and chart my route to freedom from a higher vantage point.
Sometimes I think I still live my life like that.
Forever navigating the litter, always trying to gain higher ground,
Getting out but never getting free.
I’ve done my sleepless time crying in the hallways of my college dorms,
Sobbing underneath the communal showerhead,
Making my bed on friends’ couches because the ocean noise, solitude and unfamilial surroundings were a respite for my weary mind,
Which begged my undivided attention.
Tend to me.
Are we out of danger yet?
“How are you, Shayne?”
“We’re all tired.”
Not like this, you’re not.
I’ve done my time with sleepless nights
On twin beds for two or three.
With people who say they love me
But couldn’t possibly grasp the gravity of my being.
Dozing off and being startled awake by a brain that never got the all-clear.
I was never sure if we were out of danger yet.
Alone at night with my headphones in and a screen in my eyes to stop the thoughts from aggravating my pulse and squeezing my muscles like an unwelcome hug,
A forced “I love you.”
Whiling away the hours, consuming stream of content to stop the tears from drying out my skin and carving lines in my brow,
I have done my sleepless time.
In another new bedroom,
Avoiding the nightmares that came true,
Wondering if or when it was all going to work itself out
In the end.
Dozing off to horror sounds and city noise,
Spasmed awake by a brain that doesn’t trust its own skull to protect it from irreparable harm,
And why should it?
The pressure only keeps building, and my tiny self finally feels vindicated after fearing narrow bathroom stalls and jumping out of moving elevators.
An intricate machine millennia in the making,
Passed down through the insomniacs of the ages
Who fought against their own cages – and I suppose you could say they won –
But can’t possibly discern whether or not we are out of danger yet
Isn’t really all that sophisticated, now is it?
A brain that will not be wrested from consciousness by the benzos of the world
Because vigilance is all it can do
When the message never got through that we finally made it to safety.
Did we, though?
Did I have a great day just because I made it to dusk alive? Is the bar really so low?
Maybe we really are all one puppy pic away from self-actualization.
I’m still suspicious, though.
But please rest assured when I tell you that
I’ve done my sleepless time.
I’ve done the rise and grind.
Your glamour nights do not impress me, and I won’t be put off from rest just because your sentence isn’t served yet
(Though who your time serves, I’m loath to fathom).
Let me lay here, dozing off to murder sounds and urban babel,
Imagining what life might have been like if…
Dreaming of the undead I can never outrun,
Wrested to consciousness by a brain that stays vigilant
While the rest of me is paralyzed in
May she rest in ease.