I should be leaving for my thrift shop gig right now, but I am here, sittin' at the old computer looking for recipes to make a marjoram tincture or oil infusion. I am tired, but I cannot sleep. I am hungry, but I cannot eat anything without risking nausea or at least an upset stomach. I have a small headache.
My downstairs neighbors had another of their fights this morning. Someone started it at 3:10 a.m. It woke me and I got up. The floor must have been creaky, because the shouting stopped immediately. As long as I was awake, I did what all old people do, I went to the bathroom. When I returned to bed and settled down, hoping that the very brief fight would somehow, miraculously, not keep me up, the fighting began again.
It did not last long, but there was not any way that I could go back to sleep. PTSD triggered in that way, and this kind of fear-induced adrenaline takes a long time to metabolize. When we are frightened, adrenaline is produced for the flight-or-fight response needed to protect ourselves from danger, and if there is no immediate risk, it is absorbed/or something in just a few minutes.
When released, triggered by an experience that returns us to previous trauma, the adrenaline sticks around for a long time. For me it can be more than an hour. It used to last longer, so an hour is a real improvement, and I am grateful.
But, the fighting from downstairs prevents me from going back to sleep. I rarely assign responsibility to the triggering event. It has been more helpful for me to take on all of the responsibility for my feelings and, most especially, my responses to what happens in my life. But, I make an exception for the couple in the lower flat. I have spoken to them a few times, explaining the problem.
The first time we talked, I shared my issues with their fighting, a tiny bit of my experience and a bit more of the work I did with our women at the domestic violence shelter. Lots of blah-blah, but I told her, the wife, that I was a readily available resource for them and either one of them could come upstairs to take a break and/or cool off. Any time of day or night was fine, and one of them was always welcome to sleep or just hang out by her/himself. I have been criticized for making the offers to them, but they do not have any other places to go except for their friends, who most likely would be as intoxicated as they would be. Too bad. They can use my flat if need be. I just do not want anyone to be hurt or scared or die. You know?
A bit of background is that the fights have been happening since I moved here, which means that they were happening long before I arrived. In the first six weeks that I lived here, there were ten big fights. Like, really big. A few lasted for hours. I stopped counting after ten, but there were a few more. One involved another couple.
After that two-couple fight, I tried to talk to them, but no one answered the door and I discovered several days later, during another conversation with the wife, that they were most likely sleeping off an adult-beverage-fueled evening, as they had made the other couple stay the night, being unable to safely drive home. Alcohol seems to be a large factor in these fights.
So, once again, no sleep and I had to manage to stay awake (no adult beverages) to make my morning appointments and all that jazz. After a few hours, I called our landlord to share what has been happening. Interestingly enough, he called their cell phones to read and remind them of the noise prohibitions in our leases before he called me. This is when he asked me to call the police. I apologize for the lack of coherent continuity; I am tired.
So, anyway, after that big fight, she initiated the conversation, explaining in a snotty manner that they are young (emphasis) and they like to go out. In fact, they had so much fun that they made their friends stay overnight for safety. Then, she looked at me the way old, fun-crushing babes like me deserved to be visually chided.
I asked her if she was talking about regular people noise and she just stared at me. I said, "You know, regular people noise, the kind people make when they are having fun." Still facing that stare, I continued to tell her that I was concerned, tried to talk to them and finally had to call our landlord because of the fighting, and that we had previously talked about that problem, you know, middle of the night, PTSD triggering, inability to return to sleep and the problems it causes for the next couple of days.
I reminded her that my health issues are not her concern, but that they are mine, and that all of this was not so much about the two of them, but about me and that I would not be able to continue to live there if I could not sleep. Seriously, I told her, this is only about me. Although I think you are nice people, what you do or do not do is your business, I have to take care of this aspect of my health.
Lots more blah-blah-blah from me, but I still find it interesting that she/they think that I am just being an old, cranky and nick-picking neighbor that is trying to interfere with their fun.
She initiated another conversation about this a couple of weeks later, sharing that they had some serious conversations about their relationship and were considering separating for a while to see what happens.
That was three weeks ago, three really nice weeks of good sleep and decent relations with them.
Well, until last night/this morning.
I am hoping that she did not answer the door(s) because she is sleeping. Even if she simple does not want to talk to me or face me, that is fine, too. But, I would have liked to go to work today. I would like to have slept and not be tired and unable to nap right now. I would like all of that very much.
My fear is so much less disabling now. I am upset with myself that I cannot control the triggers when they come. I hate having to interfere with the lives of other people. Everyone should be able to do what they want, even if other people do not like it, even if doing whatever it is is not in their own best interest.