Nights used to comfort me, but something shifted a few weeks ago and now every evening as the sun sets I find myself gearing up to do battle.
It is somehow easier to be busy and occupied. But after Olive goes to sleep the stillness descends and my mind starts turning over and over, this perpetual motion machine that simply keeps churning away even as I lie there, willing to give almost anything to be blissfully unconscious.
The days knit me together and the nights pull me apart.
Everything looks different in the dark, shadows form and things become magnified and distorted. I am finding it painful. I don’t feel like saying more than that. I know vague blogging is generally frowned upon, but I also feel in my bones that there has to be some measure of grace in this whole thing. There must be some willingness to offer space and support without requiring a bloody sacrifice in exchange. So I am trying to parse out what is helpful to say, and what is not.
So far, all I have got is that it feels as though it would be helpful for me to say that right now I am struggling to accept something very painful. I want to acknowledge that because to not do so feels duplicitous, but also I think I need to simply admit it. Why is it so hard to admit that things aren’t easy? That pain happens and life disappoints, we experience unimaginable loss and we struggle? We all do, at some point or another, but a large chunk of our lives seems wrapped up in slavishly constructing elaborate artifices to prove to everyone that we are fine.
Perhaps because we so desperately want to be. Or maybe because we don’t feel that things should be this hard at times, or we believe that they are not this hard for others (because of all the artifice and “I’m fine!”-ing, you see), so we sit alone in silence, we shoulder the blame and lie there, stomach clenched and thoughts churning, night after night.
It’s not always easy, it’s just not. And would you want it to be? This place I am in feels desperately uncomfortable, but it also feels like stretching and breaking and reaching. It is not a fun process, or one I would have chosen, but I am trying not to run from it because as prayer-hands as it sounds, I think I can learn a lot more if I choose to feel everything and go through it, rather than around it.
I am reading a book written by Pema Chodron that speaks to this directly, how our hunger for stability and safety does so much harm to us, because nothing is ever safe or stable. You think something will bring you happiness, but it might not. You feel like something will break you, but it might be a beginning instead. We expect things to unfold in an orderly manner in the way we planned, but being a mother the first time around I quickly realized that you can not plan life. It is easy to trick ourselves into thinking we can, and are, with schedules and investments and five year goals, but we have no idea. We have no idea.
The tighter we hold on, the more painful it is when we do experience loss or upheaval. And man, was I white-knuckling this thing.
I feel like life is cyclical and perpetual and it comes in waves. I had some rough years in High School, and then a chunk of many many happy, easy, exciting years, and now I feel that I am coming out of the tail end of a few challenging ones.
Quotes have come to mean a lot to me right now. You know, all the old favourites:
The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
The world breaks everyone, but afterward many are stronger in the broken places. (Hemingway. Of course, right?)
All that is gold does not glitter/ Not all those who wander are lost. (Tolkein)
Sleep helps you win at life (Amy Poehler)
At this rate I am probably three days away from sticking motivational post-it notes on my bathroom mirror. I always said I would never be that person and now suddenly I woke up and I might be that person! Because I might need to be. And I finally understand why those people were those people and now that I may be one of them too it finally makes sense.
Unlike this post. Which I am writing to postpone going to bed. Ha.
I am going to take Amy Poehler’s advice (one should always take advice from Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Caitlin Moran), take one of these magical sleeping pills I have procured (because it is okay to ask for help sometimes), and hopefully start sleeping again and therefore winning at life (and winning doesn’t always mean doing battle, sometimes [like right now] it simply means surrender).
Namaste, y’all. Namaste.