I have bad dreams. Often. As a 12 year old, it wasn't unusual. But I'm 24 now. Although I hadn't had any problems for the last two years, after moving into my own place a month ago, they started again.
At first, it was just nightmares. I'd wake up, remind myself I was OK, then fall back asleep. But it got worse. After a week of isolated nightmares, even when I woke myself up, when I fell back asleep the nightmare would continue right where it left off.
I live in a mother-in-law suite that is attached to a main house, but is its own entity. So I'm all by myself, except for my lop-eared rabbit, Dexter. I live in a rural part of Atlantic County, New Jersey, close to the shore, but I am completely surrounded by woods. I am typically pretty brave; I attended school in North Philadelphia and lived a block away from what was at the time one of the top 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. I don't scare easily. Even though the woods creep all the way up to my driveway, and my porch and front door are right off the driveway. My front door and my bedroom window face these woods. But, again, I don't scare easily.
This week the nightmares have been accompanied by night sweats. I've had to wake up several times in the middle of the night to change clothes, and two nights ago, I even had to lay a towel down because of how badly I had soaked through my sheets. I'm a relatively skinny girl and in relatively good shape, so in general I don't sweat much.
Last night was different than the few nights prior. I didn't want to go to bed, and stayed awake texting my long distance girlfriend about how I wish she was here to sleep with me. Miraculously, I never have nightmares or night sweats when she's there. I reluctantly closed my eyes around 12:05am and quickly fell asleep, but awoke after quite some time. Or so I thought, until I looked at the clock. It was 12:19. In those 14< minutes I had a long dream that I didn't recall, but felt like it had gone on forever. That was when I knew it was going to be a long night.
I woke up to change my clothes for the first time a little after 1:00am. My neck was soaked, which was weird. Who sweats on their neck? Subsequently, my pillow was soaked. I decided to go back to bed nude. It was 2:26am the next time I woke. (I know this because I texted my girlfriend asking her to 'come save me' from whatever nightmare I had just experienced.) This time I put clothes on- a tee-shirt and sweat pants. This is unusual for me, since I typically can't get comfortable laying down in pants. But I figured the clothes would soak up the sweat and then my sheets wouldn't get wet.
I'm miserable at this point. My heart is racing from the nightmares, I want to cry because I'm so tired, but I'm afraid to sleep. At another point not too long after that, I awoke screaming. I roll over to face my window, because my alarm clock is on that side of my bed. My back is to my bedroom door. I'm half-awake now, exhausted but watching the clock trying not to fall back into my nightmare. It's 3:00am.
All of a sudden, I hear something, feel something. Someone is in my apartment. My first thought is "Where is my gun?" But I don't have a gun. I'm wondering if I should scream for my landlord in the attached house, if I should hide, if I should confront the intruder- but I'm paralyzed with fear. My bedroom door opens. I close my eyes tight. Is this how I die?
There is a weight on the bed, and I can tell it is a female. I am partially relieved, thinking maybe it is my landlord checking on me after hearing me scream. She is very motherly and has been good to me. But she surely would have knocked, I would have heard it. I heard the door open, after all. Then the mysterious woman lies in bed with me, and I feel her lay against me and drape an arm around my waist, and one under the pillow my head is on.
I stop trying to understand; I relax, and enjoy the comfort and the peace that having a body in bed with me pressed up against mine brings. This is what I miss my girlfriend for; embracing me in my sleep so that I know the demons in my nightmares can't harm me in my sleep. All I can think is "Thank God I put pants on and am not naked, otherwise this would be awkward." The woman let\'s me know that I am okay, I am safe, I can go to sleep. So I do. After a little bit of time, I wake up to a light tapping on my arm, the arm I have underneath my pillow. She asks if I am okay, if it is okay for her to leave. I say something along the lines of "Mhmmm" and feel her get out of bed, hear my bedroom door open and then close. Then quiet. I quickly fall back asleep.
Then I jolt awake, terrified. It's 3:25am. Who was that in bed with me?! I check my phone, because surely before someone would come into my apartment they would try to get a hold of me via call or text. Nothing. I realize that I only heard my bedroom door open, and not my front door or the door that connects to the house, so I realize she must still be in the apartment. I get up, turn on my bedroom light and rush out into the main part of the apartment, expecting to see whoever she is asleep on my couch. Nothing. Just my rabbit, happy to have a playmate at such an unusual hour, running circles around my feet and honking. I check the locks on the doors, they're all still secure. I am still terrified. Mostly because I don't know if I am crazy, or if someone really was in my apartment. I'm not sure which scenario I would prefer.
I stay awake until the skies start to brighten around 5am. I consider calling out of work, since I have to wake up in 2 hours and haven't slept yet. But I don't want to be alone in my apartment.
Now I am left to wonder who tried to comfort me from the terrors of the night, but left me even more horrified and questioning my sanity. Was it the elderly woman that died there? Or someone from my life? I haven't lost any nurturing, affectionate woman that would comfort me like that. Could it have been my beloved dog in human form that had heartbreakingly passed recently?
Or am I just crazy.