I punched Kurtis in the face once. Not pee wee punch no return punch, but left hook with every ounce of strength I had behind it right into his eye socket punch. What could he have done to warrant an assault like this? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I was walking down a grocery aisle, pregnant. The tile beneath my feet was an older pattern in a speckled cream tone and the florescent lighting cast a yellow glow down the cereal aisle I was perusing. I didn’t have a shopping cart because I was only there for a few things. As I made my way down the aisle, a sudden dread came over me. Do you know that feeling? It’s heavy and unexplainable. Sometimes it’s justified and sometimes it’s not. I felt I was in danger. Panic set in to the pit of my stomach. I wanted to run away but I wasn’t sure what I was running away from. Also, I was quite pregnant, so running would’ve been waddling. A large man turned the corner and started lurking up the aisle towards me. He was in a gray hoodie and I couldn’t see his face. As he neared, I could see his fist and he was pulling back as if to punch me aiming for my stomach. I covered my pregnant belly with my right arm and, as he leaned in, I punched him with every bit of power in me. Turns out I didn’t punch him. I punched Kurtis.
I sat straight up in bed–rising from the dead–turned and threw a left hook into the face of my peacefully slumbering husband. The second my fist made contact with his eye, I woke up. I was dazed, scared and then horrified. I imagine he felt the same. He woke immediately, covered his swelling eye and choked out a groggy, “WHAT THE HELL.” He looked at me like I was a lunatic. Ok, it was dark and I don’t know what his face looked like, but I assume it was that. I couldn’t get the apologies out fast enough. I’m so sorry! OH MY GOD Kurtis! It was a terrible dream. I’ll get you some frozen peas! Was it a good punch?
This wasn’t my first episode, although it’s the first one where I physically acted out. Actually, that’s a lie…I’m literally just remembering one other time someone was assaulted by me acting out a dream.
We used to go to a little dive resort in Wisconsin called White Lake. It wasn’t ritzy but it was perfect in my eight-year-old eyes. It was small, safe and the essence of a summer getaway just right for our small family. We looked forward to every year. One fateful summer, I fell off 8′ monkey bars and broke both of my wrists. Into matching hot pink casts went my arms for the summer. That year at White Lake, we stayed in a little resort room and I shared a bed with mom while dad has his own. We woke the next morning and mom was mad at me. Not really mad, but mad the way I’m mad at Kurtis when I have a dream he cheats on me. Ya know? I didn’t understand why she was giving me heck. Turns out it was because I was bashing her in the head all night with my casts acting out a dream I never woke from. It’s still a standing joke, but now as I remember it while writing this, it makes my episode with Kurtis all the more intriguing.
For years I’ve suffered from some kind of sleep issue. I’ve never had it tested or been to a clinic but it’s been a constant my whole life. I’ve always talked in my sleep—which lots of people do, so that’s not all that weird. I also physically jolt awake in my dreams if something painful is about to happen—like if in my dream I’m about to fall down stairs or crash into a car I will suddenly jerk awake. I remember once when I was younger waking myself up acting out a dream. In my dream, I was trying to cross monkey bars (there are those stupid monkey bars again) and I kept hitting my head on them. In reality, I was hitting my head against my headboard over and over and over again. I finally woke up after one brutal smack against it.
Things got creepier as I aged. I get what I now believe are sleep paralysis episodes. It’s the strangest feeling. You’re floating between knocked-out sleep and drifting sleep. It’s that muffled in-between that a professional would likely say is transitioning from Non-REM to REM. Usually something scary happens in this dream state that terrifies you. I scream for help at the top of my lungs but nothing comes out or what comes out is muffled like someone is covering my mouth. Half the time I don’t remember what makes me so terrified but a lot of times when I finally wake and can move and talk, I’m reduced to tears I’m so scared and hopped-up on emotion.
Sometimes I do remember that in-between and it’s always the same—I think my eyes are open but they aren’t. Everything is dark grayish brown and I always see a dark shadow lingering at the end of my bed. I can never make out what it is but it’s there and it’s petrifying. According to Kurtis, my screams come out in muffled wails and I shake but don’t really move. Norbert used to get so upset by it he would lick Kurtis’s hand or try to lift his arm to wake him and help me.
Over the years, I’ve tried to figure this all out. You can imagine my feelings when I watched The Haunting of Hill House. Part of me was ready to commit myself to an asylum because suddenly I was convinced I had a Bent Neck Lady in my life. The other part of me was grateful because I totally, totally experienced Nell’s terror. Now, I’m not going to kill myself, it’s not an everyday thing and I never lived in a haunted house (I don’t think so at least), but that show brought to light a legitimate occurrence that people–me– go through. I remember when we first saw the show I was on the davenport like, omg I’m not alone! Kurtis was even creeped because everything described in the show he had already heard from my own personal experiences. Ghosts and demons aside, it is likely a true sleep disorder called sleep paralysis that I have along with a slight case of REM Sleep Behavior disorder. What’s interesting…concerning…is I have symptoms of both. Paralysis you can’t move, REM disorder you act out. So I’m over here all kinds of wiggidy-wack with BOTH. Maybe I should go to a sleep study…
Needless to say, it happens most when I’m overly stressed or tired and what’s odd is it’s worse in some homes than others. I know, totally weird. It was at it’s worst in my home in Canada and our first home here in Dubuque. Those were also during the same period of life, which is also intriguing. I can’t explain it and whether I ever get tested or not, it’s likely unexplainable. In the large scope of knowledge, people actually know very little about sleep–even the experts. Yes, there are lots of studies and theories but it’s still quite an unknown. What I do know, is that my poor darling husband was the victim of my messed-up sleep issues. However, now that I have him thoroughly convinced of it, if I’m ever particularly angry with him some night I have an alibi for “accidentally” socking him in the face again. I kid, I kid…