“Attack Her in the Dead Of Night.”
Sleep paralysis— like winning prizes, and at one point, having great skin, was one of those things I once considered beyond me. But as it happens, I’ve now experienced it twice within the space of two weeks. Does that mean anything? 2:41am, 27th July: I was about to wake up, so I was going to do that thing where I stare at everything in my room before closing my eyes to think of something I want to think about so that I can jumpstart a new dream. Somewhere along the way though, I got stuck. I became trapped in the space between asleep and awake, so that I could see the dark haze of my room, as if I were sitting up and looking at it, but I also knew that I was still laying on my side facing the wall. So I say to myself, maybe just sit up? I never sit up, not at night, it’s too much commitment to consciousness. I had the urge though; it was particularly strong, like when you have an itch, but your acrylics are deep in acetone. Oh look, you’ve done it, you’ve sat up. I hadn’t. Rather, I’d imagined I had, and these visions were not stretched out like the depictions of reality, like when you need the toilet at a similar time of night and imagine you’ve summoned the strength to. No, it was as if the imaginations were overlapping each other, not chasing one another, but happening all at once. And now enter: the pronounced presence of something evil. It was beginning to feel as though something wicked had its palm on my chest, resting there, commanding me to be still. Now here’s when it all kicked off (no, it hasn’t yet kicked off): I say to myself, or rather I admit, something is in here. The thing that is in here must hate me, I presumed, because it felt like it. The thing didn’t want to be acknowledged, because the darkness begun to pulsate, and the paralysation became thick, all the more unnerving. I thought of what my mum would do if she were there. She would recite Psalm 91, or Psalm 23, or both. So I recited Psalm 91, and Psalm 23, and shockingly remembered it verbatim. Maybe I was ignorant in my surprise that the NHS has a webpage for ‘Sleep paralysis’. Until this moment, my understanding of sleep paralysis was downloaded from its brief stint on social media, memes and all. So naturally, I discredited it. So happens though that my brain had paralysed my muscles, like it does every night, during every dream. I’d slipped out of consciousness before it had the chance to abort mission, and if I was able to speak, I would’ve said ‘gotcha!’ NHS describes it as: “Sleep paralysis is when you cannot move or speak as you are waking up or falling asleep. It can be scary but it’s harmless and most people will only get it once or twice in their life.” 3:40am(ish), 7th August: This one happened after a dream that I spent a rough hour decoding when I was finally able to move. But at the end of this dream, I was in my bed facing my wall, wanting to be awake, but unsure of whether I was. Then I heard footsteps carried in on a mighty gust of wind, in fact I could see them, as if I was sitting up, yes, like last time. Whatever had come into my room jumped on me, and I was struggling with my breath. But this one didn’t last as long. I decoded the dream mostly because both the dream and the paralysis made going back to sleep feel like I was signing my own death warrant. The NHS lists a collection of do’s and don’ts if you would like to prevent sleep paralysis. Do get between six to eight hours of sleep. Don’t sleep on your back. Do go to bed at the same time each night, and do awake at the same time each morning. Don’t eat, drink or smoke before bed. I choose to be of the view that sleep paralysis can’t be instructed by what we choose to do when we are conscious to choose. I choose to be of that view, because the strange power wielded over you during sleep paralysis feels out of man’s league, and the tools of man therefore sound a fool in this instance, like when man shoots a bunch of arrows at a dragon, or when man sends bullets after the hulk. After reciting the Psalms, after reliving a symbolic dream, I was eventually okay with returning to sleep, it was alright with me. And I’ll be honest with you, I considered myself exempt from such scary stuff— a result of my conscious decisions. But I know that something is to be learnt from the things that are let through to you. Since we’re talking about in-the-dead-of-night spiritual warfare here, the obvious position to take would be the presumption that I am a threat, goodie.