Oh, hell. There are so many things I want to post here. But it seems I never even have 15 minutes of free time anymore to sit and collect my thoughts. Mia demands every second of my attention when I am with her, every millisecond of it, to the point where I sometimes feel I am in prison. She is an amazingly sadistic jailer. And then there is my damned job I have to do, and the chores, the meditation attempts, the trips to the gym. And always, always, the dinner, the dishes and the grocery shopping. I love to cook, but sometimes it feels like keeping ourselves fed is an endless grind. On top of it all is the Spanish class I'm starting this week, and the applying for jobs (yes, I'm at it again), and the developing of business plans, and then becoming discouraged about said business plans, and the wasting time on the computer. Oh, and the time spent worrying about whether I'll sleep at night. That's a lot of time these days, a lot.
Years ago, it feels like, I was planning to write this post called "Overcoming Insomnia." That was probably more than a month ago, when I slept for 12 straight nights without any pharmaceutical aids, and I thought I had a shot at sleeping like a normal person again. But that is behind me now, so far behind me. And the idea that I ever thought I could give advice about coping with insomnia is laughable. But, BUT, maybe writing some of that stuff down would help me remember it. Maybe I should give myself a little talking to. So here goes, in the brief stolen moments I have right now.
The other night, as the old nighttime anxiety crept in, these words flashed into my brain and took hold: Lower the stakes. Lower the stakes! When I am in a bad stretch, it feels as if not sleeping is the end of the world. It means that my life is ruined, all of it, that I am officially damaged, broken, living a life that is not the one I wanted. "It's like having a chronic disease," I tell myself, "having to feel like shit from lack of sleep several days a week. This is as bad as cancer. I might as well go ahead and die!!!" But with those words — lower the stakes — I felt a flash of reason creeping in. What does it mean to get a crappy night's sleep? This is not life or death stuff. It's just one day of feeling tired. It's not that big a deal, forgodssake. Get a grip.
I have survived many tired days before, and most of them aren't even necessarily worse than well-rested days. On tired days, I don't allow myself to stress about my larger goals. I don't tend to fall into funks about the meaning of life. I focus on accomplishing the necessary tasks, and I am often rather productive, because I become a sort of cheerleader for myself. Anything I do is a victory on tired days. And the feeling I get in the evening, when I have made it through, when I know I've done it, is close to bliss.
I also need to get out of the rigid mindset of "must sleep from 11:30 to 7:30." If I am awake during that time, I make it a misery for myself, worrying about how many hours are left, how tired I will be the next day. Instead, I should be thankful, for a bit of the alone time I crave during my busy days, for time to read a book, to write on this blog, to sit quietly in the dark and breathe. Yes, there may be a small price to pay the next day, the no-sleep headache and the heavy tired body, but if I play my cards right, I could make my wakeful night hours a lovely time that is worth the sacrifice.
And lastly, there is always the sleeping pill. I need to lower the stakes on that too. If I need them to avoid getting into a crazy cycle of not sleeping for days, I have them. I have gotten myself into this stressed out cycle of worrying about their cost, and telling myself that I cannot take them, and then freaking out about the idea of not being able to sleep without them, and then freaking out because I cannot afford them... It goes on and on. But the fact is, even if the only option is to buy them at full price (and that's not the only option) and take them every single night, it's $75 a month. No, I don't want to spend $75 a month on fucking sleeping pills. But if I have to, I can. It's just $75 a month. That figure feels so much less powerful when I see it on the page. It is not a number worth sitting up nights worrying about.
I've always thought of my life as completely linear. This moment leads to the next, and so we spend every moment worrying about the next, until all our moments have passed us by. Really, it's all just a succession of moments. And we can choose to embrace them for what they are — to accept that there will always be problems, that things are not supposed to be be any certain way — or we can spend them wishing for some mythical existence in which everything is as we want it to be. When I put it like that, the choice seems obvious. I choose to lower the stakes.