To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

This famous phrase is from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet.  Its literal meaning is that death is a better choice to end the sufferings of one’s life. It implies that unconsciousness or dreamless sleep, after death, would be ideal to be rid of troubles and sufferings in life.

For those who have been sexually abused as a child there have been many times when that seems the only solution to the suffering they are going through. Many times I longed for death; many times I attempted suicide only to be thwarted in some way. Now that I’ve gone through recovery and am a very happy person, I often, with a certain amount of humor, ask my Higher Power, “Please disregard previous instructions.”

But there is nothing humorous about child sexual abuse. The first night my father raped me I fought back as I screamed and screamed for help. My mother, a sound sleeper, finally came into my bedroom. By then my father was standing in the hall holding his robe closed. In response to my shrieks for help my mother kept saying in a firm voice, “You had a nightmare, you just had a nightmare; go back to sleep.” She finally left my bedroom and I sobbed, hiccoughing and hiccoughing. I remember that night with vivid clarity. But my mother’s admonitions crept over that clarity and settled in my mind as the truth. I buried all that happened for the next five years until I ran away from home at the age of 18 after a beating from my father that almost killed me. I kept it buried until I was 45 and life with my 3rd abuser, a sadistic, violent man, who had himself been sexually abused as a child, forced me into recovery. For almost 30 years I had suffered from terrifying nightmares and woke up screaming and clawing at the air, shrieking for help and shuddering with fear. It always took a long time for me to settle down and catch my breath. The nightmares ended when my father died.

Sleep is the greatest healer of all. To have your sleep interrupted by a violent and criminal act causes sleep to now be a fearful thing. I suffered from insomnia most of my life and still have occasional bouts of it. Melatonin works great. I still love nothing better than a good night’s sleep. During that time the cells in your body are busy repairing and replacing themselves; your problems retreat into the background and you wake feeling strong and ready to go. Many times I’ve been troubled by something that I couldn’t find a solution for but once I had a good night’s sleep I’d wake and find that the problem wasn’t that big a deal after all and discover the best way to handle it.

Most survivors of child sexual abuse suffer from sleep deprivation. It is a dreadful problem and so difficult to deal with. Only going through recovery is the best way to resolve it. Sleeping pills work for awhile but in the long run it’s so much better to REPAIR your life and find a natural sleep. I’m convinced that most suicides would not happen if the person committing it had had a good night’s sleep. A large percentage of car accidents occur because someone is suffering from sleep deprivation.

If this is you, get help. If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse and have not dealt with your trauma check out the Lamplighter website at and read the REPAIR Your Life book page and the program page. It works. Get started. Become the happiest person you know.



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