Wed, June 4, 2008
Once again I am awake at a very odd hour for me, because I cannot sleep. The storms here are incredibly powerful; I no longer have the sweet rolling hills of Massachusetts to temper their force.
I used to be paralyzingly terrified of thunderstorms. In the last few years I have slept through many storms... but now I am back where I was, ever the barometer, waking up at least a half hour before (if not sooner) and then forced to sit with fear while the storm rages outside. Was I numb these last few years, with exhaustion from vet school? Did the hostel wake up more than just my sense of wonder, but also my connection to the weather? I am pretty damn empathic and sensitive, and it has come back with a vengeance.
I became sensitive to storms as a very young lassie- I think due to a few wild and weird experiences with the poltergeist in our house and a few severe thunderstorms. These experiences were intense, and real (my mom experienced the poltergeist too, so it wasn't my own hallucination) and enough to give me a paralyzing fear.
Paralyzing fear- if you haven't got one, I'll explain: when the storm would start, I would be completely unable to move- frozen under the covers, eyes wide with terror, afraid that if I moved the storm monster or whatever would find me, see me, devour me somehow... I can't really explain. I would barely breathe.
When I got a little bit older, age 7 or so, I grew bold enough to wait until the roll of thunder passed, and I would sprint to my mother's bed and hide underneath. She always had a dust ruffle so I would make sure I was hidden, and wait out the storm there. Only when I was absolutely certain the storm had passed would I brave the trek back to my bed. I don't know if she knew I was doing that (I'm pretty sure she was sleeping) and she never brought it up.
This behavior came to a screaming halt one night (literally) when I was 12, ashamed and way too old to still be afraid and hiding under the bed. My stepdad, feeling bad for me, reached down to pet me... but his timing was horribly, horribly off. He reached down just as lightening lit up the room, so my worst fear came true- a hand! The lightening was going to get me! I screamed in fear and woke my mom up, who started yelling at me (out of her own fear, I'm sure). That was that. After that night I began to creep into my little brother's bed (that bastard slept like a rock, never EVER knew, don't you dare tell him) until the shame of that also grew too much to bear. So I began to wait it out alone again, paralyzed in my bed.
When I was 17 I moved into my first apartment in Sunderland, with Danielle. The first storm in my apartment came when she wasn't home. Dammit! I had graduated to being ok as long as other people were in the house. Well- I was alone in an apartment that (as it turns out) also had some spirit activity (faeries, we think, as things were constantly being misplaced and moved around.) That night I had a life changing experience. I got out of bed because I heard voices, and to my complete amazement, there were people yahooing and hooting, hollering, cartwheeling in the parking lot in the rain, shouting up to the sky as the thunder roared!
What a thought!
Emboldened, I went out onto the stoop and stood under the awning, huddled with my neighbors who didn't wish to get wet but still wanted to holler... with...
Yes, joy for the storm. I couldn't believe it. Since I always felt better with other people, I stayed on that stoop with my new neighbors and began to understand the joy of the storm. After that night, I turned my fear into fascination with an edge of excitement- that feeling you get when you are scared but somehow enjoying it. (I still feel better if someone is within reach though.) I began to be able to fall asleep more quickly after a storm; and in the past four years have even slept through some of them. A barometer no longer, so I thought.
The last few storms, though, I have once again been acutely aware. I'm no longer paralyzed but definitely tense when alone. I can't help it. Having the kitties around helps, since they were sleeping until that one loud and close crack...