Shower around 9 pm. Grab my robe to brush teeth and prepare my bags and clothing for the day to come. Pick out a clean pair of Pj’s. I lay in bed and beg myself to sleep. Beg myself to look past the terror that I know will fill my nights. Beg myself to close my eyes and dream of a place that I will be okay. As the hours come and go, I toss and turn until finally my body breaks. I cannot force my eyes open any longer, and sleep takes over. Every night the rest defeats my body’s tedious battle. Every night the same nightmare fills my unconscious mind. My mind screams for an escape. It does every trick it has ever been taught. If you close your eyes in your sleep, you wake up. If you die in your sleep, you will wake up. If you realize you are dreaming, you wake up. While useful at times, they always seem to fail. In my dreams, I find myself closing my eyes 1000 times to find myself trapped in this eternal damnation. The faces of my past terrorize my mind. I hear their voices muttering my greatest fears. I watch memories I cherish more than life itself be soiled by my own psyche. I listen as these voices tell me that I am mistaken. That this memory is not what it seems. I am manipulated as they tell me how the people surrounding my cherished memory were miserable. “Look at their faces. Look how they look around. They want to run. You’re nothing.” Other nights my mind recalls the moments that were filled with the terrors of my past. I witness myself making the same mistakes as I once had; watch as the horror unfolds around me. I watch, unable to help. Unable to do what I so wished I had done many years ago. I hear their voices echoing through my soul. “You did this.” “This is who you are meant to be.” “See, from a young age, you knew your place.” “Why do you act like you are worthy of more.” And every night, I wake up panicked. I wake up frozen as I can be, afraid to reach out and feel someone there. When I do reach out and touch someone, I panic that the life I have built for myself has been the fantasy. I never escaped my past. I have punched, kicked, shoved those who lay next to me. Tired of not fighting. Yet, I am matched with strong arms holding me, protecting me. Whispering that I am okay. I am never met with resentment or hostility. I am reminded that I am safe. I have escaped these terrors in my conscious life. Sadly, terror still haunts my dreams.