I woke up in the middle of the night last night, as I commonly do anymore. And as has become a far too frequent dilemma, I find myself unable to go back to sleep. Because I start thinking about things. How I’m not making enough money to pay my bills and also I’m terribly in debt. So the hole keeps getting deeper. About how many things that I own are old and nearing the end of their life. How I don’t have money to repair or replace them, even though they are necessities. How I am tired and want to retire soon, but can’t because I don’t have any money and I have too many bills. But how much longer am I going to be able to work, realistically? I’m getting up in years now. That’s terrifying in and of itself. Which leads me to thoughts about how I’m so alone. That when I die, there won’t even be a funeral because, seriously, who would come? And how am I going to die…other than alone…with no one to care for me? No one to hold my hand. No one to ease the transition. Will it be hard? What if I can’t breathe? That’s the worst nightmare to me. Worse than pain. What if it’s prolonged? What if I suffer horribly? Who will the anonymous caretaker be who watches me die? Will they care at all? Will I even be able to afford a caretaker? Before you know it, I’m jumping out of bed and pacing, trying to rid my mind of all the tormenting thoughts. Night terrors. When I can’t keep reality at bay any longer. That’s the real problem. The real issue. These are not nightmares that you can wake up from, panting, panicking…they can’t be shaken off. Your breathing isn’t going to return to normal after you have been awake long enough to realize what you were experiencing was just a dream. Your heart rate isn’t going to slow. Because it’s not just a dream. It’s actuality. Fact. With all of its challenges. The truth. And you can’t escape the truth. Not really. You can ignore the truth, bend the truth, lie about the truth, refuse to look at the truth, only look at part of the truth and deny the truth. But you can’t change it. It is what it is. And when you find yourself in the dark part of the night looking that truth right in the eyeballs, it’s utterly terrifying. I don’t know how to change my today so my tomorrow won’t be so bleak. I don’t know how to mold the nightmare into a better reality. All the indicators are that what has been will continue to be. The isolation. The lack of money. The impact of my abusive childhood hasn’t lessened. My soul is still destroyed. And that makes it all the more difficult to change. It makes it ever so much harder to have hope. So in the middle of the night, when I am assailed by my uncensored brain and all the thoughts I normally squelch, I can’t filter or deny the reality of my world any longer. There will be no happy ending. There will be many, many more sleepless nights. Nights of torment. Of abject, stark, endless fear. The terrors of the darkness are my reality. And in the middle of the night, they overwhelm me and I can’t ignore them any longer. What they hold for me, where they are leading me, can’t be avoided. There is no way out. I can’t wake up. Because for once, here in the bosom of night, I am fully, completely awake. And it’s petrifying.