"Most people do not consider the morning dawn to be an unattractive experience - unless they are still up." ~Ellen Goodman
Today I noticed a sight which stopped me in my tracks. Have you ever heard of a BLACK swan???!!! I'm sure these exist (obviously!) ... but I swear I've never heard of one. I stopped, and I stared. This was like looking at an albino squirrel.
Man, this is all getting out of hand?! I am totally hallucinating now!!! I need to sleep!!!! I rubbed my eyes and looked again more closely. Maybe it was a crane? Or a really big DUCK. Ummmm. No.
Here you go: PROOF.
I've struggled with this horrible affliction of insomnia since I was a young girl. My mother had it - and good ole' DNA passed it right along. The bouts with this hit me at random, with no seeming cause or reason. I've analyzed everything over the past 20+ years to try to understand the pattern, the initiation of insomnia. Doctors have too. I never know. But when it hits it hits hard, and with no mercy.
Hour after hour, night after night, week after week I toss and turn, wondering with deep perplexity why, when I am so utterly exhausted, I cannot sleep. I've done it all for attempted remedy: read, meditated, gotten out of bed to do work or chores, drank warm milk, drank wine, drank chamomile tea to pee for days, drank enough St Johns wort tea to cheer up the whole Russian Army, tried melatonin ... I even met some new-age chick on the streets of Boulder who tried to convince me the problem was my out of balance sexual chakras and I needed to wear orange underwear (and I actually tried this!). I've exercised, but also been careful not to exercise too close to bedtime so as not to overstimulate myself. Then I'll try to exercise to extreme right before bed in the hopes of collapsing in fatigue. Nothing works. Sometimes, in desperation, I give up the fight and pop an Ambien. The nights this works it is sweet, sweet bliss. The fun nights are when my insomnia is even too powerful for Ambien. THAT'S a treat! Then I am drugged out and awake. :)
Sometimes these bouts go on for days .... other times weeks. I am now on night number 8.
Like a familiar friend coming to visit, insomnia will come and sit on my shoulder. I know her well.
"Please let me sleep tonight", I'll beg. "I am so tired."
"Not a shot", she'll respond, almost chiding me. "What will I do for fun if you're not with me?..."
Night after night of this, stemming then to the exhaustion that follows with unproductive days because you haven't slept. But things are about to get better. I've tried to hide but it's no use. She always finds me, the bastard. Now comes my familiar companion: Loneliness. She jumps into the bed and pulls up the covers. I know Loneliness the best, she's shared my bed for years, and seems to have no intention of leaving.
"Please don't stay again tonight", I'll beg them both. "Just one night without you. Please? I really, really have earned it"...
But they are not having it. Insomnia lights up a cigarette as Loneliness moves in closer. They break out a deck of cards. I give up the fight.
"Ok. Deal me in", I say...
I have always felt and comforted myself with the notion that when my body needs to sleep, it will. But as the sleepless nights continue, it's hard not to feel my body has forgotten it needs to sleep.
The silence and still of night doesn't do much to quiet thoughts or conquer fears. When you have good things to think about, these opportunitiess for deep pondering can be a gift. When you don't - added time can be its own prison.
"A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky -
I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie
~William Wordsworth, "To Sleep"