the recovering insomniac
I used to be so good at sleeping. Well, I have to qualify that. I was good at sleeping in. I was never good at going to bed.
There are photos of me, and when my Mama was alive, there were stories about me. About how I thought my bedroom was haunted and how, as a shy five year old, I would drag my Daddy’s threadbare pepto bismal pink blanket into Mama and Daddy’s bedroom and ask them if I could sleep with them. Because the dead children in my closet wanted to whisper to me. Creepy, yea?
I still believe they were real. Mostly because of things I found out later. And mostly because I’m apt to believe in the things most people don’t.
There were stories, too, of Mama flipping the shades in my bedroom and then walking away–downstairs to the kitchen where she had my breakfast ready–leaving me to wake up in an angry squint. 7 am was not my friend, and I was not a fan of sunlight. I’d pull myself out of bed and yell at her from the top of the stairs, “FINE. I’m awake! Are you happy now?”
Oof. Such a handful. This was the story my Mama told people about me–along with her stories of my miracle birth and how I was the smartest kid in my class. Even if I could never seem to keep those damn knee high socks pulled up. Even if I came home covered in mud and bugs, some days.
In the summers, I would sleep all day sometimes. It was glorious. Sometimes, I’d just lay in bed, watching tv with the fan on me full-blast. We never had AC or even anything close to it. Or cable. Sometimes, I did this because I was hungry and there was nothing to eat. It was easier to get through those days doing that. It distracted me from the pain of not enough and made me feel like I wasn’t actually sort of starving.
I got really good at not sleeping in college, when I worked three jobs and double-majored and volunteered and left my home at 4 am only to return around 1 am. And then I went from that to working nights, and my body clock was forever wrecked. But losing her is what made me stop sleeping altogether. And I’ve never quite bounced back. Sometimes, I even resent my body’s inability to truly rest. Even when I find sleep, I don’t actually rest. So I am always always always tired.
Lately, though, it’s all I think about. I get up in the morning planning to nap at lunch and to go to bed immediately after work–wake to feed kitties and give medicine–and then go right back. So lately, I’ve been awake at 1 am–wide awake–having slept my normal amount in the evening. Which makes for quite a lonely life and makes it hard to actually do things I actually want to do. But once this pattern begins, it’s hard to stop it.
What started it? I hurt my leg. So I didn’t sleep. I slept whenever I could–which was usually when I took my pain med–which I couldn’t take while working. But it wouldn’t last too long, so I’d be awake five hours later–aching and uncomfortable. So, I’d give up and just watch tv. Hoping I’d pass out again eventually. Sometimes, it would work.
And now–well, I’ve just been doing way too much. Work, while usually great, has been challenging lately due to new people. I am too impressionable. I allow others to rule my self-care, and when that happens, I get run down. Standing up for myself takes even more energy, so I often choose not to. Especially because I just want to make everyone happy. But I can’t do all of it. And what I do is more than anyone else does–so I get angry with people who ask for even more. Because it isn’t fair. It just isn’t. But I know that I get this shit because I let them do it–because they know they can lean on me and I will bend. And I fucking hate that about myself. And that makes me hate them–hate my work–want to stick a lighter up their ass and leave them on fire. But I don’t because that’s not who I am. Instead, I scramble and deliver and then have to go to bed at 5 pm because I’m falling asleep at my desk. That’s got to stop. Like yesterday.
It would be one thing if this thing I do every day was my dream–if I was saving lives–if it lit me up. But it’s not. Not that it doesn’t light me up sometimes. Not that I don’t hold on to it for the self-worth I do have. But in the end, it’s something I’m going to leave. So why am I giving my life away to this thing that isn’t my everything?
It has to stop. I know, I know. But I don’t know how to stop when I’m this exhausted–when my entire life this year has been something to endure. When every day, I’m just holding my breath that I won’t have another vet bill. That I’ll not have to do something I don’t want to do. That my life won’t be just another day after day of looking forward to my next nap.
I know whatever is happening this year will pass. It always does, and maybe this year is here to show me what’s important–here to show me that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for–that I survived all of that shit for a reason. But in the muck of it, I’m just so tired of being the one who holds it all together. Because I really am not that strong. I am just unbelievably stubborn. I just won’t stop. I just don’t know how to stop.
It would be easier if, in my insomniac nightmares, I just had someone to lean against. Just someone who would help prop me up–or at the very least distract me till morning.
I started this wanting to write about HRC. But I guess this wanted out instead. Maybe next time.