Night Terrors


All of Monday I had the strangest feeling. I felt unsettled and uncomfortable. I assumed this feeling was due to the stress I have been experiencing with my finances as well as the apartment building I live in, my work life, and my love life. I haven’t been able to focus on my story telling or anything that I typically do to keep my creative mind active. I stayed up until around ten last night fiddling around with ideas of what I could do while my children are away for the week. I couldn’t settle my mind on anything so I turned everything off and went to sleep on my sofa. I woke up around two in the morning. From there I still did nothing. I surfed the net for two hours; scrolling various threads on Facebook. My brain was still clouded so I called my children’s father.

We talked for about thirty minutes until I decided at 4:13 AM that I should probably lay down. I wake up at five AM everyday to get ready for work so trying to take a nap after a fairly sleepless night was a bad idea but I did it anyway. My alarm went off at five and I, of course, hit the snooze button. Then I heard shuffling across my floor. That’s not very unusual, I’ve been hearing just about every morning since I was a kid. My mom’s slippers have always been too wide so they slide across the floor when she walks.

I continued to lay on my stomach but cracked my eyes. A wave of panic rinsed over me because I was supposed to be at home alone. My mind raced through possibilities of who could be in my house as the shuffling sound grew closer and I heard my mother say, Jay, it’s five AM honey, it’s time to get up.

All at once I could feel my body getting heavier and I couldn’t breathe. My face felt as though it was being squeezed and my mouth was sealed shut and my chest, arms, and legs were pressed firmly against my couch; I could feel the imprints of hands holding me down. The entire time it was as if someone was standing over me watching other people hold me still.

My phone’s alarmed sounded again and my eyes searched for it wildly. It was there above my head. I could see it lighting up. I could see the red and orange images prancing across the screen but I could not move. The presence standing over me remained as did the hands holding me down. I began fighting against my immobility. I tried to rock my shoulders but did not move. I tried to reach for my phone but was unable to do that either. There was whimpering in the distance, whimpering I could only assume was my own.

I felt like my body gave up and my breathing had grew to be more labored and then it stopped. I was able to roll to my side and sit up but I felt the presence sit next to me. The hands that held me forcefully to my couch felt as though they were still hanging on to me. My chest hurt and I was dizzy. The presence that moved to my side was fading away. I closed my eyes to get my bearings but I dared not to fall back asleep. Each time my eyes closed, I could hear a clanging sound. Coming from the darkness in my eyelids there was an ice blue mask with cracked lips surfacing through a pool of black.

The mask had no expression and there were no eyes; only a face that appeared to have weathered a violent tempest. Sleep was over coming me again but I would not allow my body to succumb to its grasp. I opened my eyes wide and slid off of my couch. I could not let this happen for a second time.

My chest has felt heavy most of the day and I haven’t been able to catch my breath. Sleep paralysis is the mystery that entered my home early this morning without provocation. Sleep paralysis which is noted to have no cause in particular yet plagues millions of people. What do the people likely have in common? Weary hearts, heavy minds, and likely low energy levels. I don’t believe this is simply a random affliction that can happen to anyone.

Has this happened to you?

Love thy Melanin

I read a personal essay about a dark skinned woman that envied her light skinned friend. I found the article when researching different ways of describing Black women with lighter skin. Anyhow, this essay was so very important to me. One, it noted the banality of best friendships between dark skinned and light skinned women (something to consider when writing). Two, and more importantly, it spoke for me. The essay spoke for me and said something I had hardly admitted out loud unless I was holding private discourse.

It’s true, on a scale of one to ten, I am probably a steady five with pretty teeth. I went from lamenting in this fact as a high school student to reveling in it as a college dropout. I can’t be attractive, so I’ll be smart, witty, over sexualized, and hilarious. This worked for a long time until it didn’t. It worked until I had my first child and being the succubus I had grown to adore was no longer acceptable.

In transitioning from party girl to working mother, I had lost sight of the beauty I had learned to see in myself. Then all at once, during my self-examination, it occurred to me that what I once saw was superficial beauty. It was beauty I mainly found in my sexual parts. So I dug deeper.

Outside of having a dislike for my skin tone alone, I also had the misfortune of having non-European features. This would be a wide nose, broad forehead, and round cheeks. Now I’m seeing my color from a different perspective. Now I’m noticing that it’s okay to have such bold features with fair skin and dainty features with darker skin. This discernment caused the scale to further tip against me, or so I thought.

The more I researched the many different colors of the human race, the more I  have learned that there is no such thing as non-Euro or otherwise African features; that long before America’s melting pot, there was Mother Africa in all of her diverse glory. So if it’s not my skin that makes me dreadfully unhappy with my appearance, then what is it?

Am I a victim of deep seeded self-loathing, a long term result of the Lynch Letter? It’s possible. Is what I am experiencing closer to self awareness rather than self hate or self pity? That could be it as well.

Is there anything wrong with knowing that you didn’t win the gene lottery and yet you are still priceless? I don’t think so.

I think if I am able to feel like it’s okay to not look like a sun kissed goddess but still feel like a million bucks then where does that leave me? I’m not sure but it’s the closest to resolute that I have ever been.

It’s funny because I believe my children are terribly beautiful. There was a time when I had a hard time believing that they came from me. I don’t want them to feel inferior based on their appearance which is why it’s even more important for me to find the answers.