I found the most amazing app last night, and the result is that although I feel wiped from internal flashbacks and memories yesterday and a mild fibro flare up, I also feel refreshed after an actual night’s sleep.
Whilst in the ring, the thing that reassured myself and the children the most was hearing each other’s heart-beat. Not only did this reassure us that we were still alive, it also meant we could determine they weren’t abusers (especially useful in blind-folded). What I mean is, the abuser’s heart rate was frequently very fast….adrenaline from what they were doing, I guess. A fast heart beat therefore frightened us; we related it to anger from the abusers, and expected a high amount of pain. At night-time, when myself and the children would curl up together to sleep, our heart beats would be slow and steady and therefore reassured us. Whenever I woke up, I would feel their heart-beat…still slow and steady, and would be reassured and go back to sleep. If, as I stirred, I couldn’t hear a heartbeat….I’d jump wide awake. Often it meant a child had been taken somewhere, or had absolutely “fallen asleep” in the night.
Even now, when I’m very upset and a friend might be hugging me, I will listen for their heartbeat as a way to soothe and calm me down. When I’m upset I’m even more wary of an abuser just appearing out of nowhere and punishing me for talking/feeling. So hearing my friend’s steady and normal heart beat grounds me and helps me a lot.
I am no longer spending most of my life in a ring. This is, of course, very good. However, it means I fall asleep without the reassuring lull of the children’s heartbeat. It also means when I wake up during the night into total silence, I either wake up in fear than an abuser is about to come in….or I wake up with a sick cold wash of panic. No heartbeat….the child/ren has died or been taken. It’s only for a couple of seconds because as I properly come to, I remember I’m not in the ring anymore. But it’s a terrifying couple of seconds, and means I end up wide awake and it’s much harder for me to fall back asleep.
Last night I found an app which plays a slow and steady heartbeat as a method for helping babies sleep. (Don’t laugh!). It worked wonders. I played it, and left my phone next to my pillow. I fell asleep within a few minutes, where I would normally lie awake for quite a long time. I fell asleep feeling calm and safe. I woke up a couple of times in the night, but instantly heard a slow and steady heart beat…not one of panic, stress, or anger…. just steady and calm. Before I even opened my eyes, I was falling asleep again…the cold wash of panic not able to reach it’s intense point because it had already been countered by the heartbeat. Therefore, there was only one point in the night where I woke up wide awake. Normally this would happen anything up to 7 times.
Hooray! Best app ever and easily the best night’s sleep in years. I woke up this morning without painful eyes and a cold queasy feeling in my stomach from too much disturbed sleep. I woke up and it was light, but the heartbeat still gently playing on my phone. Consistent. I think this is what was reassuring about it years ago. Consistency. I would fall asleep with the children, and wake up…and their hearts were still beating… we communicated via rhythms, and therefore our heart beats were the most effective form of communicating without even needing to be awake. From their heartbeat I could tell they were alive, and know if they were sleeping calmly or having a nightmare. I felt much safer and calmer with that consistency.
I’m so glad to have the consistency of a heartbeat to keep me calm and safe at night-time back.