Writer’s Workshop: Somnambulism

Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay

One of this week’s prompts is

Share a story about a sleepwalker.

My mother, who I loved dearly and miss more than anything sometimes, could tell that someone was crazy. She had a degree in psychology, which I guess qualified her to identify psychosis. She used this skill on many occasions, telling me that I shouldn’t hang around with certain kids because they were “goofs,” and I think she was convinced that I was a few crayons shy of a full box. For example, I talk to myself. I think everyone does to some extent, but most people keep it to themselves. She was worried about this, and consulted my uncle, the neurosurgeon, on what to do about it.

He asked her, “Where does he talk to himself?”

“The bathroom,” she replied.

“That’s terrible!” he said. “I talk to myself in the basement!” She never brought the subject up again.

Apparently, for a short time after Dad died, I was a sleepwalker. The story goes that one night, Mom woke up and heard someone trying to open the lock on the back door, went to investigate, and found me there. She asked me what I was doing, and I told her that I was going to school. She led me back to bed, and that was that.

I got up the next morning (I think it was Saturday), totally unaware that any of this had transpired. When Mom got up, she said she wanted to talk to me. In her usual calm and loving manner, she gave me the third degree about what was bothering me, because (in her world, anyway) “people just don’t walk in their sleep for no reason.”

This was a little upsetting, because number one, I had no idea that I had done it, and number two, nothing in particular was “bothering” me. In time, I was able to convince her that nothing other than losing Dad (which had happened a year and a half earlier) was bothering me, I had no current stressors, and really, I was fine. She seemed to accept that, and I figured that the matter was effectively resolved.

A couple of weeks later, I got up one morning and was informed that I had, once again, walked in my sleep. Again I was able to convince her that all was well and that I had no explanation as to why I would get out of bed while still asleep and attempt to go to school (or wherever) in my pajamas. Again, I figured the issue was resolved. Which it was, to a certain extent. See, the phone in the house was close to the back porch, where we spent a lot of time watching TV. One day, I thought I heard her tell someone, in what passed for sotto voce, “Johnny walks in his sleep, and he says he doesn’t know why.”

Just as quickly as it started, it stopped. Crisis averted.

From 1959, Santo and Johnny Farina… the beautiful “Sleep Walk.”

24 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Somnambulism

  1. My mother was a sleepwalker as a kid and always tells me she’s glad I wasn’t πŸ™‚

    At my office, my male boss has pointed out to all of us that we all talk to ourselves. He’ll tell one of us, like, “Sue talks to herself, you know.” I responded, “I do know, I do too.” And he has literally said that to me about every single person in the office. We just discovered he has said that about each of us to all of us, singularly. I have never heard him talk to himself, but if I did, I would make sure he knew, Hah!


    1. Your mother was probably worried you’d get out of the house. Mom put another lock on the back door to make sure I wouldn’t, because I know me, and I’d probably wander off somewhere.

      I think talking to myself kept me sane all that time I traveled. It also allowed me to blow off steam when I’d have a bad day.


  2. I think most of us talk to ourselves. That was a cute story! πŸ™‚ Interesting about the sleepwalking episodes. They must have been a little nerve-wracking as well. You’ve picked the perfect tune to compliment your post; one I haven’t heard in a long time. Thanks for the memories!


    1. I really had no idea that I was sleepwalking. In fact, I didn’t believe her when she told me.

      I think everyone talks to themselves at some point, even if they aren’t actually speaking out loud. I didn’t appreciate being told I was strange, even if it was a little odd. Mom had these guidelines for what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior, you know…

      “Sleepwalk” is a beautiful song, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Most Moms had these guidelines, nevermind their own quirky behaviour. πŸ˜€ My mother used to talk to herself so loudly, I thought for sure she was addressing me! She likely didn’t even realize she was doing it.

        “Sleepwalk” has quite a few cover versions. Might make a good BOTB!


        1. It might, at that! Did you want to do it?

          As they used to say in a commercial (for Band-Aid bandages, I think), “Mothers are like that (yeah, they are).”


  3. I never was a sleepwalker. I talk to myself but not out loud and I talk to the cat out loud. My hubby has some lengthy conversations with himself out loud. But then, he is a chatterbox anyway. Great song to go with the subject of your post, John.


    1. If your cat is anything like all the ones we’ve had over the years, they just pretend to listen until something more fun comes along. Although we did have a Siamese that would talk back.


  4. There is always a reason and maybe you were stressed without realizing it because you internalized it. I love what you Uncle said to your mom who was probably overprotective after you dad passed away becus a year and a half is nothing when you lose a loved one. What would your mom say about my dreams…I have very strange dreams..the other night I dreamed that I was hanging out with George and Amal Clooney and Amal had bought the remains of Michael Jackson. I saw his mummified remains in a coffin wearing his sequinned, red Military jacket. They travel around with it. There was more to the dream but that was the biggie


    1. As far back as I can remember, I’ve talked to myself; I think Dad was still alive when Mom asked my uncle about it.

      There might have been something stressing me when I started sleepwalking. I’m just saying I wasn’t aware of anything and have no explanation for it.

      Mom would have heard your dream and thought you were nuts, but then Mom was kind of like the Faulkner sisters in the movie “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town,” who thought everyone in town was nuts but them…


  5. High five from a fellow sleep walker. Oddly enough, mine started up sometime after my Dad died too! Maybe there is something to that. I actually pulled open a bathroom drawer and peed in it one night. Never have lived that one down. πŸ˜‰

    Sidenote, is there a way to enable something on your site that notified commenters when you have replied to them? I have seen you comment back to me on previous posts of yours, but I only discover it by accident if I revisit a post. Too bad your comment doesn’t send the person an email notification. Are you able to add plugins to your site?


    1. There’s a checkbox under the comment box that says “Notify me of new comments via email.” I think that’s what other people use. I’ll see if there’s a way to automate that.

      I didn’t get a chance to do anything strange while sleepwalking, unfortunately…


  6. It’s not uncommon for a stressful event to trigger sleepwalking. When hubby came back from a remote tour while in the military I found myself standing in the closet, staring out through the doors toward the bed. Unlike many sleepwalkers, though, since I’m a vivid dreamer, I also happen to be a vivid dream walker and have a vague awareness while I”m sleepwalking that I am sleepwalking and I remember it all pretty well. It’s like watching myself from far away, like I’m my own movie or something. I used to sleepwalk from my bed to my sisters bed a couple times while a teenager. (we shared the same room.) I think I was perhaps cold. I recall both incidents in every detail.


  7. John,

    It seems like our youngest daughter did a little sleepwalking but luckily she never tried leaving the house. What bothered me was after she moved out, she did it. She told me some stories that left my hair on end and all I can say is God kept His hand on her. I shudder thinking about it still. I talk to myself and it drives DH crazy. He hates it when I do it. He says, do you want people to think you’re crazy? Of course not but when you’re home alone all day then it gets kinda lonely. That’s my excuse but I’ve done for years and years so that’s not the real reason. I guess, I just need expert advice a lot. πŸ˜€


  8. While I’ve never walked in my sleep, I DO talk to myself constantly.
    I also talk to the dog, but she’s a terrible conversationalist.


  9. I love the conversation between your mother and the neurosurgeon. Priceless!

    My daughter had a period of sleep walking. In her case it was during a time of great stress. I have never been a sleepwalker as far as I know.

    I love the song, but honestly never knew it’s name. Always learning something new from you!


    1. Since the neurosurgeon was married to one of Mom’s sisters, I’m sure she told him to humor her…

      That’s just it: there wasn’t anything stressing me, at least not that I knew. It was summer vacation, so it wasn’t school, I was getting along fine with her and my brothers, no issues with any of my friends… Hm, maybe that’s why: lack of stress…

      Liked by 1 person

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