When You Can't Sleep at Night
“Pretty little lady, with your swollen eyes, would you show them to me?” I let the voice of
Austin Carlile flow into my mindfrom my earbuds as I sat on my bed and stared out the window.
The cold seeped into my body through the window that separated my tearstained face from the
snow softly floating to the ground. I shoved my fist into my mouth to stifle the next sob as it tore
it’s way up to my lips from deep down in my stomach.As I sat alone in the dark, I allowed myself
to wallow in selfpity, my insecurities gnawing at my every thought.
Around the time of my sixteenth birthday, I realized that I didn’t just like boys? I liked girls
too.For months after my realization, i could barely sleep.I would lie awake for hours, upset and
afraid because the attraction I felt for men and women confused me and left me feeling wrong,
like there was something inside of me that was messed up and needed to be fixed.
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was able to fall asleep, I was plagued with nightmares.I would wake up in a cold sweat, tears in
my eyes, unable to escape the hateful comments my friends and family spewed at me in my
dreams.“You either like boys or girls, you can’t like both”, “it’s just a phase”, “you’re just
confused”, “you’re a freak”, “that’s disgusting”, “stay away from me”.After two weeks of these
‘episodes’, I not only couldn’t sleep, I was terrified to.The people in my dreams knew who I really
was? I couldn’t hide from them.So I hid from the real life versions.Thewalls I had built between
myself and others grew taller and thicker.Because of my insecurities, around other people, I
became a version of myself I’d designed to hide my sexuality. I chose to satisfy others rather
than stay true to myself. It had been almost 96 hours since I had last slept and I could barely function.I eventually
succumbed to my body’s desperate need for rest, but not even an hour later, I woke up because
of yet another nightmare.“I hate you”, “I hate you”, “I hate you”.Those three words ran through
my mind repeatedly as I tried to calm my breathing and hold back my tears. I was tired of crying.
I was tired of not being able to sleep.I was tired of imagining everything that could go wrong.I
was tired of hiding my sexuality.I was tired of suffering in silence.
So I came out.Slowly at first.I told my best friend, and when he told me he still wanted to be my friend I felt the weight I had been carrying around start to fall off of my shoulders.With each positive response I received, I grew more and more comfortable being openly bisexual.I
was able to force my mind to shut down and I could sleep through the night.The nightmares became less frequent and I wasn’t constantly plagued with anxiety and selfconsciousness.
I still occasionally find myself anxiously scratching my arm, or wringing my hands due to the panic attacks brought on by my fear of rejection, and there are still nights when I only sleep for an hour or two.But that’s ok, the situation I’m in has no quick fix and the more confident with myself I become, the less frequent these events occur.Slowly embracing my sexuality has taught me that accepting myself the way I am should be one of, if not the, most important parts of my life and I shouldn’t sacrifice who I am to please the opinions of others, because if they truly are important, they’ll accept me too.