Weary

Weary

If you read last week’s post, you know that sleep has been an “issue” for me lately.  Generally speaking, exhaustion has been my constant companion.  At first, I chalked this up to the aforementioned backsliding on sleep hygiene.  But…in my heart I knew there was more to the story.  There always is.

There is a popular metaphor about the frog in boiling water.  The story goes that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water, set it on the stove and turn on the heat…the frog will stay in the water as it continues to get hotter.  Apparently, the gradual rise in temperature is not something it notices and eventually, it will literally boil without ever jumping from the pot as it is free to do.  Now, let’s put aside the very reasonable question of who discovered this awful truth and why.  The point is, it illustrates how we can get so normed to dysfunction or negative circumstances/emotions that we remain oblivious to its dangers.

As I pondered this season of exhaustion and wondered what in the world was wrong with me, I realized that my daughter’s birthday is March 2nd.  Those who know me, realize exactly what that means.  Words cannot describe how much that little girl was the center of my world and what trauma it meant to lose her 22 years in.  How could my body not remember the process of giving life to this central figure?  How could it not mourn the absence of whom it had birthed?  You see…that’s the thing.  The body remembers.  Often, when sleep is elusive, it is absolutely connected to emotional traumas.  What that means is that sleep hygiene becomes even more important as a means of tender loving care for these wounds.  There is no healing without rest.  At the same time, there is no rest without healing so facing the emotional traumas is a must.  And so, I make space to hold.  Wednesday morning, I will head to Sholom Park in Ocala with a dear friend.  It will be a time for reflection.  A time to honor Christina’s memory and to check in with my own grieving process.  It has been five and a half years.  It would be easy to take this process for granted.  To be that frog in the ever hotter water.  To flip the auto pilot switch on which – to be honest – I do much of the time at this point.  However, grieving a child never ends and I must set aside time to reconnect with it.  In the meantime, I treat myself with grace.  I value my imperfection, my brokenness and I seek out people and environments who do the same.

Your sleep difficulties are probably not related to the loss of a child.  However, I am willing to bet money (and I am not a gambler) that you have your own unique story of pain and longing that lurks beneath the surface of insomnia.  Take the steps, yes, to develop a better bedtime routine but do not be fooled – attention must be paid to your emotional health so give some thought to how you will address that.  Keep in mind that you may not remember the relevant factors right now.  Just this morning, I remembered another crucial anniversary that is absolutely contributing to my exhaustion.  One associated with much heartache.  How the heck could I have forgotten that?  I am a therapist…I specialize in these connections!  So there you have it, none of us are immune to these dissociative habits that we develop to keep ourselves protected.  The brain is an amazingly complex and tricky son of a gun.  Venturing into its depths is not for the faint of heart and seriously not a journey to take alone!  If you’re ready to get to the root of sleep difficulties…enlist a qualified wilderness guide.  I promise it is one of the scariest, yet best decisions you’ll ever make!

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