Sunday, December 27, 2015

The state of things

So this is it: the new normal. Awake by 4:30a, checking the clock periodically before finally admitting defeat and rising in the deep darkness. Not a nightly occurrence, yet. Often enough, however, that I discern a pattern.

Could it be my own fault? That glass of wine last night, imbibed well after the safe time of early evening? Perhaps. Or it might be that helping of leftover broccoli salad that I enjoyed far beyond the dinner hour (unless I am suddenly Spanish and regularly dining late in the evening... but I'm not, and we don't.) I could blame the endless-but-finally waning holidays, too—Lord knows I've blamed them for everything else these past few weeks... Or the oddly warm weather, necessitating far fewer bedclothes than is normal for late December, causing too-warm discomfort.

But the uncomfortable truth is that I wake in wee hours even when I don't indulge myself foolishly in the ways I just mentioned, even when there are no encroaching holidays, and even when the weather is utterly and predictably seasonal. I still jerk into awareness at odd times, lie there, fret, pray, fret again. I am afraid that this frequent occurrence is the new normal. Middle age, cultural concerns, lingering health situations and relationship issues with family--all of it has wrought its resulting and most unwelcome wakefulness in my little world.

I am unhappy about this, to say the least.

I take a tiny bit of comfort in knowing that it happens to others, as well. Cranky conversations with people close to me reveal that they, too, suffer the same frustrations. I am not the only person tossing fitfully, over-thinking situations, attempting to calm both irrational and rational fears, trying to hear God's still, small voice amid the rush of restless thoughts in my ownskull. But mostly? I wish this didn't happen to any of us.

I have never excelled at sitting still, and age has worsened this twitchiness. I can clearly see how that makes the night-time wakings so painful; I can't effectively distract myself with any real busy-ness at that hour, not if I want to be a considerate housemate. I can't clean our home with gusto, I can't clomp up and down stairs with baskets of clothes and towels, I can't sing along with music to take my mind off of the sobering thoughts that spin themselves in my weary, woolly brain: I am old. i am too heavy. I am impatient; I fail daily at basic kindness and compassion, at not gossiping, at playing with and showing patience with my son. I am not as well off as I imagined I would be at this age; I don't have enough money reserved for retirement. Our house is too small, our cars dangerously old, my love too weak and my faith watery thin.

Did I mention that all those thoughts are compounded exponentially in the middle of the night?

Mostly, the sleepless hours remind me of my own powerlessness and helplessness; at all times, but especially at that hour, I am awash in the fact that I can control nothing—except how I respond to any given situation. Even this current uprising, my body's and brain's determined mutiny against me—all I control is how I react.

Not my favorite season. I miss true rest. In the meantime, I think I'll make some coffee to accompany my frets and prayers.


Facie said...

I almost could have written this. It would not have sounded as good; you paint a better picture with words. But, yeah, the sleeplessness. The wanting to do something during that time but not being able to. The thinking about just about all of those things. Things I am largely able to ignore during the light of day. It is a tough time of year, made more odd by this crazy weather, summery around Christmas, quite cold at the beginning of this week, beautiful and early Octobery today, and in another day or two, the cold will return.

Hang in there!

Mel said...

well, I'm sorry for you. like I said, I wish it didn't happen to any of us. still, nice to know I'm in good company. you hang in there, too, OK? I'll look forward to the next Phipps commiseration. : )

Unknown said...

This started happening to me when I turned 35. I remember it happening to my mom and wondering why she couldn't sleep when sleep was the best thing in the world. It used to really annoy me at first because I used to toss and turn and try to go back to sleep. I usually awake between 1:30-3:30AM. As a mom of two, I've learned to embrace it. I start getting things prepared for the day and enjoying this quiet time. Thanks for sharing. Feel free to check out my blog at too. Take care.