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  • Writer's pictureeschaden

To Sleep or Not to Sleep...A Question of My Life.

It is raining outside, or at least threatening to rain and I am cozy in bed with my daughter and the cats.  I slept in until 8 am this morning which feel especially decadent because I went to bed at 8 pm last night.  Of course, I didn’t sleep all the way through because that is NOT the kind of sleep available to me in middle age.  

I rarely sleep through the night anymore.  My sleep is punctuated with momentary awakenings all throughout the night.  It sucks.  I am, however, immensely grateful that I am usually able to go back to bed.  Occasionally my mind wakes me up at 1 am to think through a problem that I didn’t know was a problem for me until that moment at 1 am where I wake up completely consumed with the gigantic problem that I was completely unaware I had when I went to bed the night before.

I have just surrendered to them.  I mean, if I am up at 1 am, I might as well just do the deal and ruminate and see if I can’t meditate my way into some reasonable solution to this newfound problem.

I have been sleep deprived for most of my life really.  My childhood was filled with late bedtimes (my wish) and early risings because I didn’t want to miss a thing!  And it always seemed my parents were up to a great deal of fun things.

Then adolescence hit and again I was up late partying and then sleeping the day away in some misguided hope that I could repair all the damage to my mental and physical health with day time slumber.  It kinda worked.  Kinda didn’t.  

I am happy to report that my liver has made a full recovery...but I am pretty sure that has to do with me not drinking anymore, and not because I slept the day away.

Anyway, I got sober and started to surmise that morning time was not just the time one arrived home after a night on the town, instead morning was something you could experience after a full night of sleeping.  And so early sobriety introduced me to early wakings that stretched the whole day out in front of me...which was absolute torture at the time.  Not so much today.

Then there were all the years of child rearing which required me to get up earlier and earlier in some sort of misguided attempt to rise before my son.  It was like he had some string tied to his toe that was long enough for me to slumber in my bed, but the second I got up and tried to move about, he was up too and then the battle for control was on.  I just wanted to get up and be alone for a little while.  I wanted to drink coffee, write, meditate...all things that were hard to do with a little one demanding every single second of your attention.

So for years, I attempted to get up earlier than him and every time he would foil my attempts, which I will admit, made me feel totally crazy. It made me feel consumed by my role as a mother.  I had a lot of love to give, but I just wanted a few minutes each day to sit with myself as just myself, not as wife, not as mother.  But that life did not provide or allow for me to have that.  Which is why I left the role I could...the wife role and muddled through with marginal success in the mother role.

I wish I would have known how much would be required of me as a mother.  I didn’t know that the price I would pay would be all of me.  And I am glad I didn’t know this, because if I had, I am not sure I would have ever allowed that to happen.  It was a great cost, one that I can say I am grateful for, but still believe that the cost to me was a little too high.  I needed things too during those years that I didn’t get and we all suffered because I couldn’t even have ten minutes of time to myself at 4 am.

Then my kids were teens and I was a single mom and I was able to structure my day so that I would rise early and have the me time I needed so that when they rose at the crack of noon, we could enjoy the day together.  Each faction having the run of the house at different times.  It was my dominion from 4 am until noon.  Shared until 9 pm.  And then all theirs from 9 pm until way later than I thought reasonable or appropriate.  But it was what it was.

Now one child is out of the house and other almost there.  And the house will be empty and lonely, except for me, perhaps not so much.  I like living alone. I like the quiet.  The peacefulness of being the only one here.  I am sure I will miss the family time and request it far more often than they will acquiesce.  So I enjoy the time I have while I still have it.

And sleep is still something that evades me all too often.  I fall asleep just fine, in fact, I can’t really stay awake.  But then, in some sort of cruel twist, I am awakened by nothing frequently through out the night.  Often, I am able to return to sleep with no issue. But there are times I have to trick my mind into returning to sleep by watching a show on Netflix or reading or something.  And sometimes, no matter what I try, sleep evades me.

So it appears that I will continue this life long battle with sleep, either getting too much or not enough, or the sleep I get is punctuated with periods of lack of sleep.  I am not sure if this is insomnia or just my relationship with sleep over time.  Who knows?  Would a label really make it better?  Would calling it something definitive make it any less bothersome?

Probably not.

So getting like 12 hours of sleep makes me sleepy.  Like I do not want to get out of bed today.  I want to remain here, contained in my bed, listening to the rain falling softly on the roof. Snuggled in with my cats and dog and daughter.  Not really sleeping but being ready to drift off at any moment.  Today just feels like one of those days that I spend more time prone and drifting than I do of being productive and busy.

Foul weather seems to grant me permission to be stiller.  To be quieter.  To be lazier.  To just be, than when the sun is shining and heating me up for all that activity.

And even as I write this, I know that I will not spend the day slumbering...because sleep and I continue to do this ever illusive dance with each other.  And so far, all my attempts to control, manage and reign sleep in, sleep still kicks my ass no matter the time of life, the season or my futile attempts to gain an upper hand.

I know how important sleep is but I am gaining a working knowledge of how important the lack of sleep is, insomnia comes like some sort of messenger from deep within my psyche, showing me where I am afraid, wrecked, destroyed, renewed, fearful and unreasonable. 

And after all this time, I have become more willing to accept the sleep when it is here and to understand that the absence of sleep has messages of its own to impart its gain insight into things about me and my life that tend to be wasted when I gain a good night’s sleep.  Allowing me the delusion that all is well, when often it is not.

And that too could be a theme for my assumption that all is well, when in fact, it often is not. And so I implore sleep to find me once more, the only vehicle of escape left so it would appear as I do my best to live and lead a life from which I do not need to escape from.

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