It’s late. Or early. I suppose that depends on where you live or your perception on things. For me– as I start this– it is 2:11am. Early? Late? It doesn’t matter. I am not sleeping. Sleep is something that has always been a battle-zone for me. At some point (my Mom used to insist it was in the womb), my body decided that night-time is not for sleeping. It is for creative thoughts. Worrying about life. Rearranging furniture. (That last one used to freak my Dad out when he would wake me up in the morning and not know exactly where my bed would be.) I am just not a good night sleeper.
I used to be so frustrated by this. I would fight with Sleep and beg Sleep to take over for the night. Apparently, Sleep does not like you to sass it or call it nasty names in frustration, as it will then keep you up at least an extra hour or two. So I try to take advantage of the middle of the night silence and the time I have on my hands. Many of my friends can attest to the fact that several emails they receive are time-stamped well after midnight. Blog posts, as well. My book? 75% of it has been written after midnight. (If my agent is reading this, honest…that is GOOD! My morning writes are pure drivel. Trust me.) However, though I extol the virtues of midnight productivity, it is not always easy to be up, alone and thinking. It is the thinking that gets me every time.
I will give you a night in the life.
By 10:00pm, I am yawning. By 10:30, my eyelids are heavy. I grab the opportunity that I believe Sleep must be giving me and race through my nightly rituals in order to be snuggle in bed before the yawns abandon me. There is a sheer bliss of cool sheets and a Down pillow. Trying not to seem like a careless and rushed mistress for Sleep, I usually open a book and begin to read. It is my little way of saying to Sleep, I am here and waiting whenever you are ready. Shortly thereafter, I’m aware of Sleep’s gentle touch and I begin to feel that softness as my eyes slowly begin to close. I turn off the book-light, bookmark my page and set it on the nightstand. I welcome Sleep.
Sleep then says to my eagerly awaiting mind and body, “Not tonight dear, I have a headache.” Just like that any chance of embracing Sleep in the next hour or so is useless. My mind begins to race. Did I lock the door? Is the alarm on? Did I feed the cat? Wait…I don’t have a cat! That makes no sense! Am I crazy? I must be because why else would I think about a cat which reminds me that I need to make an appointment for the dog at the vet. Wonder how much that will be. Which bill is it that is due this week? I really need to find it and pay it. When is it due again? I am wide awake and thinking. Ugh. The thinking.
It has been especially hard lately It is not the door, the bills or the non-existent cat that my mind dwells on. It is my Mom and my final moments with her. Mom and the way I miss her. Mom and the reality–the hard, cold, brutal truth– that she is gone. Forever. Which leads to that heavy weight upon my chest and heart. As bad as those heartbreaking thoughts can be, when Sleep refuses to snuggle and my mind goes to a place my heart does not want to be, there is another voice that resonates throughout my mind. An insistent voice. That is the voice of the addict in pain.
It is in these midnight hours that I am at most risk of a slip. Or a slide. Or a go directly to addict hell. Do not collect $200. Just slip back into your addiction. I will admit it. Even after 6 years, I can jones for a fix with the best of them. My Addict Mind begins to tell me that there is a way to feel better. Just a little pill or two won’t hurt. You know how to get them and you sure as hell know you can get them this late. You’ve done it before.
At this stage of the game, there are no longer thoughts of Sleep or Mom or anything but a fix to make it better. Yet, I know it won’t give in. Not on this night. So I take my betraying, wandering mind back to memories of rehab. What would so-and-so in group tell me to do? That leads me to think about rehab and recovery. Want to know what I picked up in rehab? Smoking. I have since quit. Several times. But when life kicks me down, Sleep eludes me and my Addict Brain betrays me, my mind goes to the almighty smoke. Why? Because I relate it to my recovery. I relate it to getting through the hardest time in my life. I relate it to not using drugs to numb myself. I realize it doesn’t make a lot of sense to most people. I wish my brain was wired differently. But, alas, it is not. So, now that I am fully awake, I miss my Mom, want to drug it up and need a smoke. Can you see why I might possibly be totally pissed off that Sleep is such a fickle companion of mine?
But tonight–and as any addict knows, I can only give you now– I will not slip. I will not smoke. Instead, tonight, I will blog. I will send off emails. I will make lists of things I need to do in the next few days. Tonight I will not neither fight with Sleep nor pretend I don’t want it. I will simply wait for it to come to me. Ready for me this time. Then–and only then–will I be offline.
Because I know what could await me if I don’t. And that is not a price I am willing to pay simply because Sleep won’t have me yet. I can wait. And I will win.