Monday, June 11, 2012


 Like nearly every morning since about my 40th birthday, I woke this morning at 3:33 am.  I once tried to figure out how much sleep I was missing compared to the doctor recommended 8 hour a night people.  The math was too complicated for my addled, sleep deprived state of being.

It did take some time for me to adjust to this not sleeping. I had no choice. I did at first try everything and anything that anyone suggested.  Melatonin, Valerian, Benadryl, even Excedrin PM to name a few.  I tried journaling, reading before bed.  Nothing worked.  I have no trouble going to sleep, I just don't stay asleep for very long.

I obligingly  tried some sleep medicines prescribed by my doctor after my husband begged him to do something to make me 'normal' again. He wasn't too fond of the new me.  This man, who falls into bed like a sandbag, already asleep before he hits the pillow for a solid 8-9 hours was losing his grip.  Men of course, like to fix things.  I had become broken in a way that was ravaging everything in our lives.  I was becoming rather Mean.  I actually started to stomp about, constantly angry and frustrated, unable to find a solution and not at all happy with the situation.  I was all kinds of scary.


Some of you may remember the commercial for the Army that came out years ago. It went something like, We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day!   Inspired by this strategy of productivity and adopting it as my own, I would wake, know it would be hopeless to get back to sleep, and fling myself up.  I would clean the house and do the ironing.  I would scrub the kitchen, the doors and floors, the baseboards and even dust imaginary cobwebs.  You could find me on a ladder, swiping the leaves of my banana tree at 4 am.  The only thing the husband-unit requested was that I resist the frenetic urge to vacuum.  That's really not hard to understand.

In the beginning, I seemed to flourish in the fervor of Accomplishment.  I was so proud!  This only lasted a little while as once it's clean, it's done and housework is really not my life's passion.  Mornings like this would be followed by a full day at the office, cooking dinner, maybe some laundry.   I must have exhausted my adrenaline, because I soon began to wane, a total crash immenent on the horizon.

After about a year of this, I moved into a new state of being.  Friends at work would find me at some point in the day, very still, eyes staring fixedly.  It was suspected that I was moving into a new state of daily mundane existence, which they called wide-awake-asleep.  Only I knew I wasn't asleep, only drifting in some sort suspended animation. I heard every word of the conversation when my friends Monika and Julie pronounced me 'coma-tized'.  

After watching my struggle for three years and still wanting desperately to help, my husband purchased a lovely new computer replete with writing software.  He pronounced me ' witty' and thought I should write a book.  At first I was just angry thinking that he was trying to get me to write a best seller and earn money so he could retire!  That was silly and untrue, but my thinking on anything was less than stellar and more often completely irrational!  To this day, I am amazed that he did not bury my body one cold night in the backyard. I had become beyond awful and what was worse, I knew it but seemed to just be losing control of everything.

I tried to write. I came up with ideas, made notes, read how-to books. For about 6 months I threw myself into it, every morning.  Only I couldn't remember from day to day what I had written or where the story was going.  The best character I could compose was addled,  grumpy, sleep deprived and made little conversation.  Not the fodder for a best seller, it bored even me.  And it seemed so familiar.

 Then I heard Wayne Dyer speak to the issue once on a PBS special. This fabulous motivational speaker surmised that if we are being awakened regularly at an early time of the morning, then Spirit was trying to speak to us and we should get out of bed and pay attention!  He was so enthusiastic, I had to try it.  If praying is talking to God, then meditation is listening. I started listening. I still listen, every morning. It's a wonderful thing to be still and silent and be aware of my own heartbeat, the rain, the dog snoring, the owls hooting or to begin to hear the birds at breaking dawn, all carrying messages of the Creator. It did not help my sleep, and if God had an in-your-face message, I was on the wake up call but seemed tuned in to the wrong station.

There are times when I have a feeling I've done this before, and not from some long lost previous incarnated life, but from This One.  I've wondered if this new affliction is because I don't actually sleep long enough for things to enter my long term memory storage.  We took a weekend trip to Charleston and I ate shrimp and grits for what I thought was the first time and loved it.  What I could not escape was the feeling that it really wasn't the first time.  I mentioned it to my husband whose memory clamps on things like a steel trap.  He was quite certain it was not the first time.  He promptly rattled of the name of the previous restaurant, the year, the city, the state. Everything about the meal.  It was hard not to get annoyed with him for being so detailed or with myself for only having a vague feeling of familiarity! 

 So what if we of the sleep deprived don't always remember everything?  All things are made new again in a most unusual way and maybe it becomes a little easier to laugh at ourselves and enjoy the adventure of life.  Certainly there are things that are so delightful that it is a treat to get to experience them again, for the first time.

The years have passed.  Rounding the corner on 51, it seemed to me recently that I had lost something.  I began to understand the gift of this state of the minimal sleepers.  If you ask me about my life, you will hear funny stories, snippets of memories and flashes of insight into a fertile craziness, most from a very unusual point of view.  

I used to be able to remember everything in detail, high definition as it were, maybe better than my husband.  Now things are more selective and I remember best the events that were filled with Love.  Times of great joy and merriment, where people are kind and caring about each other are what I remember best.  The events of the world that carry a freshness, a brilliance and the promise of hope are what fill my memories now.  My perspective has changed just as the struggle and adaptation have changed me physically.  The dark circles under my eyes have lightened, and more laugh lines have cracked the surface of my face.  I see better in the darkness of the wee hours now too, and rarely trip over the dogs, who appreciate this immensely.

So too, the harshness is gone from my memory, all painful experiences somehow are eased with time or forgetfulness to make room for the laughter and the smiles.  Misspoken words, mine or theirs fall away to a place unknown or unrecorded and I no longer carry misery or wounding as those things just are not able to be contained in my mind or heart.  It is easier to just let them go with the short sweet darkness of limited sleep than to save and thrash them about, with me every day.  My memory is not failing, but has become proficient in knowing what matters and making the most of the processing time it is allowed.  In this way I have become more efficient, a product of the long stalemate between the longing for sleep and the morning charge of the awake well before sunrise.


My lingering appreciation is that when the days are so long there is just so much of the world to see, to find, and to explore that it becomes exciting, even overwhelming!   The sheer beauty, the infinite grace and the boundless Love are magnified.   Once I released my sleep frustration and surrendered to this way of being, it opened my heart to receiving the world in a new way. The endless hours of time spent awake transformed into fodder for Inspiration, Creativity and Passion to begin bursting at the seams! 

I don't lie in bed anymore fighting this 4 hour cycle.  Now I wake, filled with excitement and the knowing that I will have more time to do all the things that I want to accomplish in my life.  Once accepting this state of affairs, I also found a new wonder.  Naps! 

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