Insomnia, Self Torture and Other Hobbies

Insomnia is a regular part of my life, as you can see from this page from my journal.

Of late, it's been particularly bad - I konk out anywhere from 9:30 - 11:30pm without problem, then find myself with bushbaby eyes around 4am, listening to the sounds of my family snoring and critters of various sizes skittering (rats) or lumbering (raccoons in pursuit of rats) across our roof until first light.

My anxiety about insomnia usually breeds little insomnia babies - and I'd be trapped in a no-sleep loop for weeks, transforming into a black-eyed addled-brained harpy until finally the cycle would break with a random full-night's sleep. After that 8 hours, I'd be left disoriented, refreshed and gasping, remembering what the mind of a rational, rested woman felt like: Look! I can remember the names of my friends! That the trash goes out on Wednesday! That I have a gynecology appointment at 2pm! Wow! Look at me!

Something's changed, recently, with regard to my insomnia battle. No, I'm not chugging handfuls of Ambien, sucking down Valerian root tea or taking leisurely baths before bedtime. Nope. I'm embracing it. Most often, I'd lie awake, worrying about my brother, or our investments, or how we're going to have reorganize the house to manage another kid... And I'd roll like a crocodile, trying different positions, trying to get comfortable, berating my neuroses, my lack of discipline, my personality in general as the cause of it all.

Then, one night, I just said, "Stop." And instead of dutifully trudging down Worrywart Lane, with sidetrips to Self-Loathing and Flagellation Streets, I just stopped. I turned on the light. Drank some water. Took a pee. Grabbed a book and started reading.

And guess what? After an hour or so? I'd get sleepy. I'd turn off the light. And I'd fall asleep.

DSC_1592Basically, I stopped trying so hard. I accepted my insomnia, and instead of fighting it, decided to look at it as a middle-of-the-night opportunity for some alone time. When else do I get a full hour to myself to luxuriate in a book? I'm taking naps during the day more often - nothing I've ever enjoyed before, but times change. I'm rested. And a helluva lot happier.

This life lesson, coming as late as it has, has given me new perspective and a fresh option for when I feel I've exhausted every option: Acceptance is an action in and of itself. A choice to be made, yes. But not a passive one. And for me, not an easy one.

I find myself wondering: What other places in my life might letting go make a difference? How about in yours? Ever had an experience where acceptance was not just a solution, but THE solution? I'd love to hear about it...


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >