There was a Val Kilmer movie in the mid-90s called The Ghost and the Darkness about some man-eating lions in Kenya in the 19th century. I loved that movie, probably because I thought it was cool that the movie’s stars—the lions—are in the Chicago Field Museum. I look forward to seeing these dumb stuffed lions every time I go to the museum; even as a kid, long before the movie, a trip to Chicago meant going to see these creatures.
Well, my current home is plagued with ghosts when all of the lights are shut off for the night. And it is seriously, uncool. There are no lions, but there might as well be a whole pride of them living here. Hope has started having bad dreams, she’s refusing to go to sleep until just a couple of hours before she gets up. She’s freaked out about all kinds of things around the house. Yesterday we went to Walmart to buy night lights and a clear shower curtain to help her feel safe. Meanwhile I was on EBay stocking up on sleep masks because I have issues with light sensitivity at night. #Ihatenightlights
Suddenly, she is consumed by fear, and it just bubbled up unannounced. She’s dreaming about people who hurt her. She’s dreaming about people she doesn’t know possibly hurting her. She freaks out if I walk Yappy after 10pm for a quick No. 1. When the sun goes down, the fraidy cat comes out.
I know that we are beginning to really wrestle with some of the hardest memories. We’ve managed the bug phobia, but new fears are emerging all the time. Sleep disturbances abound. It’s tough to experience as a kid and as a mom to this kid.
I’m glad she told me—incidentally, my new mood decoder ring-thingamajig is one of these:
Very helpful and I can usually get to the bottom of things a lot sooner.
I’m sure all of this stuff has always been there and that this probably some way of us making painful progress, but oy, this sucks. I feel like there’s not much I can do to make her feel safe.
I bought all the things she asked for to help her so far. I make a point of letting her know when I’m retiring for the night so she can turn on or off lights in the main areas to make her comfortable. I make a big to do about locking the front door and making sure that the balcony door is locked; even though it’s 30 degrees out and I don’t think anyone is going to break in via balcony 8 floors up. I let her know that I’ll check on her in the middle of the night. I wake her up in the morning and make sure she is ok.
I’m hoping that time will bring Hope some peace and push off the ghosts that plague her in the darkness. I’m hoping that I can just walk alongside her into the light, step by step over the next few months.