Let me start by saying I have a wonderful life. My child is beautiful and joyful. My husband is caring and trustworthy. I have a charming house in a great neighborhood. I get to eat out and take trips and drink good beer. I have work, not quite as much as I want right now, but enough. We own a sailboat, for god's sake. I am fine. I know that if the only way you knew me was through this blog you would think that I was a whiny miserable person, and maybe that is how people perceive me in real life. Who knows? But for the most part, I really do try my best to be cheerful and kind and grateful for what I have. But this is the spot where I work through the stuff that drives me crazy. So, with that caveat ... let's talk sleep.
Yes, the insomnia continues. And it probably will for the rest of my life. I have accepted that now, two years and three months after it struck me down during what should have been a blissful family vacation. But what I cannot accept is taking an increasing amount of sleeping pills to get to sleep every night for the rest of my life. I have written here before about trying to get off the pills, but I have never achieved it. The fact seems to be, I cannot sleep in bed with my husband without sleeping pills. I have had trouble sleeping with my husband on and off since the insomnia started, but recently it has become more severe.
As I'm sure I've mentioned before, it is a baffling problem. Mr. SOC doesn't snore or thrash around or insist on falling asleep to FOX News or any of the things that seem to drive married couples into separate beds. We go to bed about the same time, we have a comfortable queen-sized bed and he has no problem with me leaving the light on and reading for as long as I need. There is no reason why I shouldn't be able to sleep beside him, and for many years we slept happily curled up together in a very small bed. The problem is completely psychological. I can lay there without touching him, with ear plugs in and not a single sound or motion disturbing me, and the same thing happens almost every time. I fall asleep for a few minutes and then jolt awake, and then lie there becoming increasingly anxious while the hours tick away. (For context, I should say that this isn't entirely out of the blue. I had similar problems at sleepovers as a kid, and I still can't sleep on planes or anywhere where strangers might look at me, and I did have one previous serious relationship where I had trouble sharing a bed.)
A few weeks ago, I was taking three to four times the lowest dose of sleeping meds to get to sleep, and even that wasn't working anymore. Every night that I tiptoed out in the dark, carrying my pillows to the guest room, felt like another failure. I felt like I was hurting my husband and ruining my marriage, and I couldn't fix it. Needless to say, when you have those kinds of stakes riding on whether you can fall asleep each night, it doesn't really help your sleep. So after one particularly bad night, I decided that something had to change. I didn't want sleep to have this kind of power over my marriage. So I decided to throw down the white flag and sleep in the guest room indefinitely. I told myself I would wean off the sleeping pills, get myself back into a more normal sleeping pattern and eventually ease back into sleeping like a normal married couple.
Mr. SOC was not at all happy with this plan. He sees sleeping in the same bed as a basic expectation of marriage, one of the building blocks upon which solid unions are built. And I don't necessarily disagree with him. Climbing into bed together at the end of the day is an act of intimacy for which there really is no replacement. It felt sad heading off to our separate rooms each night. It felt like a loss, and maybe one that would lead to other losses. I felt I was doing what I needed to, but not without a significant amount of guilt.
So, when he acted morose for most of the day yesterday and then, at bedtime, asked me how I thought this was ever going to lead to us sharing a bed again, I was struck with a powerful guilt and doubt about my best laid plans. I insisted on coming back into our bed, on toughing it out no matter what. I don't want to be the cause of this hurt. I don't want to make him feel unwanted. I don't want to endanger the most important relationship in my life. I so don't want any of that. And, of course, the night went horribly—even more horribly than usual. At 3 a.m., I had slept only a couple brief snatches, and he retreated into the guest room. I slept until 6 and then woke with a feeling of despair. Our life together is ruined, and it's my fault. And my stupid plan of sleeping separately for a while will probably only make it harder for me to return to our room. Maybe I have screwed things up even worse.
We are a normal married couple with a good bit of stress resting on our shoulders. We have been through a particularly tough patch recently with my mother-in-law, and I have spent a couple months feeling a little low. We have a spirited (and very draining) 5 year old. We are sometimes crabby or stressed about work. We are often wrung out by the end of the day. And like any people who see each other every day, we sometimes take each other for granted. No, we're not the carefree passion-consumed people we were when we first met. But are any of those reasons not to be able to sleep in the same bed?
Of course, the worst part of all this is the fear that it's a Sign. Something is wrong in your marriage!!! it screams. But you know what I want to say to that Sign? Hey, you stupid fucking Sign, could you be a little more specific? Because just being tired and sad, with a side of ominous foreboding? It's not really helping me figure out what needs to be fixed. In fact, if you are a Sign, then you are the most pathetic and mean-spirited excuse for a Sign that has ever roamed the earth!