Except for the tiniest bit of dim light coming from the master bath, my bedroom is dark. The soft rustle of sheets as I toss and turn, and my own breathing are the only sounds I hear. I try to lay still, close my eyes and take long slow breaths, counting to four as I inhale, holding for four counts, and then exhaling for four more. I repeat this pattern over several minutes to regulate my breathing. Over the course of the last two years I have learned to calm myself, replacing anxiety and worry with a quiet mind. But tonight I cannot make it work. I repeat my prayers and meditation from hours earlier, hoping that eventually sleep will come, no such luck. Annoyed, I reach for my cell phone laying on my nightstand and check the time, 3 a.m. Another hour lost to insomnia, three sleepless nights in less than a week’s time.
Restless, my mind wanders. I consider my sleep habits of the last few years; I sleep only on the right side of the bed, extra pillows stacked on the left, as though I am holding space for someone. Perhaps, subconsciously I am. I sweep my left arm through the cool sheets in the empty space, creating half a snow angel, and imagining a better half. A few throw pillows fall to the floor. I look again at my phone, 3:20 a.m.
After a few more failed attempts at clearing my mind, I give up and give in to dwelling on the happenings of the last several days, parallel events that held such promise and now leave me feeling as though I have taken ten gigantic steps backward on the road to self-love. It all began so beautifully, new and unexpected words. First, a series of unsolicited heartfelt texts from a past love and from my son a beautiful handwritten note expressing regret and a desire to rebuild our relationship; both men have a relentless hold on my heart. And now they are the source of my insomnia.
Initially, the prideful, wounded me questioned the sincerity of their messages. I wanted to dig up old hurt, remind them of the pain they caused me. But they already knew. There was no point in revisiting the past. Hopeful that the Universe had shifted in my favor, I accepted their thoughtful words at face value. My desire to love and be loved was so great that I eagerly responded to their messages, providing validation they did not seek, but I believed they needed . . . yes, I love you, yes, I will help you and support you. I am not sure if I was brave or stupid.
In the days that follow, there are emotional highs and lows, and moments of great clarity matched with total confusion. Each day there are fewer interactions between us and fewer moments shared, until suddenly there are none, as thought it never happened. Finally it becomes evident that their words were simply words. Laying here now in the hours before dawn, sleep deprivation has gotten the best of me as I still try to justify the tired old patterns of my heart, the belief that if people are loved enough they will change, and their deeds will eventually reflect their spoken promises.
Three-fifty a.m., my lids are heavy. Thank God I am on summer break. I stretch the width of my bed and then retreat to the right side. I am exhausted, but won’t drift off to sleep before I find a silver lining or two in the experiences of these last few disappointing days. And while I hoped for different outcomes, I am grateful that my son is clean and that he made a first attempt at rejoining our family with a beautifully written letter. I love that someone visiting a faraway island, wished I was there with him and searched for Wi-Fi so that he could tell me. I am grateful that I can be brave and stupid, it has changed my life.
The final silver lining . . .I am grateful that I still believe I can change people and the world with love. . .
Ps – I’ve changed my mind about the 10 gigantic steps backward. I think I skipped 5 ahead 🙂