My Story, My Head, My New Life
by John Baumann
(Colorado Springs, CO)
All journeys start with the first step, so I thought it appropriate to start at the beginning, almost. No boring stories from my childhood, as they are mostly uneventful. However, about twelve years ago, something happened that would change my life forever. It was simple enough. I simply wanted to dream, just dream when I was asleep. Most people dream without consequence. It seems like when I do something it is like Texas Hold Em, I'm all in. Well this one night the unexpected happened, I actually had a dream. The dream, non eventful. The consequence, a trip to the emergency room. I had actually swiped something off my face, not only in the dream, but also in reality. The result was a fairly nice cut on my eyeball, just missing the iris. I had to wear a patch for quite a few days. It was funny, it was the brunt of family jokes for weeks to come. It made me laugh, along with everyone I shared my story with.
Well, that was just the start of this journey. My dreams kept getting more violent by the night. Some nights I would simply hit the walls with my fists. I would wake up and my knuckles would be bloody and there would be blood spots on the walls. Some days I would knock the nightstand over and wake up and have to put that stupid nightstand back in place, with all the pictures and the clock and the books and the, well you get the idea. I was a sleeping time bomb.
As time progressed, so did my Parasomnias
. I started jumping from my bed and landing on the floor. Now that in and of itself does not seem or sound so bad; however, if you take into account that I sleep 4 feet off the ground (I actually have to jump up a tad to get into the bed) it is a long way down. I hurt my shoulders, right arm, both legs and flew out and landed head first a few times. Enough for now; I believe you can see the direction of this thought.
I am an Army Veteran of 23 years, retired Sergeant First Class, and retired form the civilian sector due to disabilities that preclude me from holding any type of meaningful employment. I was born and raised inner city Chicago, South side 57th Street and Laflin. I was abused at home as a child, bullied on the streets by my so called friends, and skinny as a rail. My only respite was playing basketball. That is what I lived for. I played on my Grade school and High school teams, as well as playing in the public Park leagues throughout the city. I mostly played guard as I could handle the ball fairly well.
Growing up inner city, you quickly figure out that there are only two choices to make. Stay in the city and survive or leave the city and take a new path. Many people stay in the city and do very well for themselves and wind up making a difference. Some stay in the city and do not do too well. The same can be said for those of us who chose the other path. To quote Dennis Miller, "If you make a difference in just one persons life, well that's just not good enough is it?"
Teachers make a difference in hundreds of young peoples lives. The same can be said for the soldiers life. Young people need to be shown, be led to making the right choices in their lives. It takes caring people to influence and mentor them. That being said, if you decide to leave, you are leaving friends, some good some bad, but you are leaving them behind. If you stay away long enough, can you still call those people friends? People change, some for the good and some not so good. The point is that you can never really go back. Too many things, places, and people have changed, so you have to live the life you chose. That is what I did,
and I do not regret a single moment of time.
December 9 2009, a night I will never forget because it changed my life so dramatically.
I was walking on a bridge that spanned a raging river. It was cold and misting, and the wind blew like a small hurricane. I was about a third of the way across the bridge when I saw her. She was a young blond woman, maybe 25 or so, with short hair that was wet from the mist. She was alone, standing on the outside of the bridge railing about twenty feet in front of me. She did not notice me, nor did she hear my footsteps because of the howling wind. She never looked up, only down into the rushing waters below. I stopped to watch, trying to see what she was doing. It was apparent that she was doing nothing, just standing there looking down. I took a few steps toward her; she did not move and I did not make a sound.
Staring at her, I could now see she appeared content. I managed a few more steps toward her and in the softest voice I could muster, questioned her with a quiet "Hello?" She immediately turned and looked straight into my eyes. I could see that she was crying, her eyes were swelled up and red. She told me, "Please don't come any closer." I told her I wouldn't, but in the same breath managed to ask what she was doing out here all alone in the night. She again asked me not to come any closer, and said she did not have anything to live for so she was going to jump.
I began a conversation with her, I do not remember what we talked about, only that every so often I would move just a bit closer to her until I was less than five feet away from her. It was then that she noticed that I was that close and she became agitated. Not knowing what to do, I lunged at her and reached for her arm. At the same time she jumped. I caught her arm and pulled her over the rail and she landed on top of me.
Enter reality. I woke up lying on the ground and my head hurt. I reached up to feel what I expected to be a bump, but my head felt wet. I brought my hand down to see why it was wet and saw it was all red. I started to moan and say out loud "Oh no, Oh no". I stood up and kept my hand on my head. As I walked out of my bedroom, my wife came running out of hers and she saw me, blood flowing from my head down my chest and stomach. It must have looked like a scene straight from "Carrie". I ran into the bathroom and put a dry washcloth on my head wound and applied pressure. My wife turned around, went to the phone and called 911 immediately. She then came into the bathroom and helped me as best she could. We went through 5 wash cloths before the paramedics arrived. It was only a matter of minutes.
The paramedics saw the wound and immediately decided I needed to go to the emergency room. The strapped me into a gurney and to the ambulance I went. My wife followed shortly thereafter as she had to calm our dog and take care of herself. She also called my eldest daughter and they both arrived at the ER at about the same time. I took 50 stitches that night, the result of the parasomnia. My life has not been the same since.
I have been having these types of Parasomnias for over 10 years, have seen a shrink every other week for the past 6 years, and I am still no closer to being whole than I ever was. I have learned inner peace and how to live in the NOW even when I wake up screaming my heart out. You can check me out at Sleepproblemsanyone.blogspot.com
. Maybe you can help me.