It’s been awhile since I was awake in the wee hours. I woke in tears with no recollection why I might be crying. I got a drink of water and ‘checked for monsters’ (walked through the small apartment quietly drinking my glass of water and assuring myself all is well). I went back to bed. That was more than an hour ago. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and the tears just kept sliding across my face. So.

It’s been a long while since I was awake in the wee hours. It wasn’t so long ago that it was a frequent thing, destroying my rest, throwing me off-balance, and fatiguing me well beyond any healthy sustainable point. I’m glad it isn’t every night any more. I’m appreciative that it isn’t even every week; it’s become quite rare… But I’m awake now. Tonight I am not sleeping through the night.

The wakefulness itself causes me no great stress. The feelings of insecurity and doubt, on the other hand, drive anxiety. On top of existing work stress, and common enough life stress,  I add stress in a valued, critically important (to me) relationship that suddenly feels far less secure than I generally take it to be. I am unsurprised that I am awake, or that I am overcome by waves of emotion attached to the thoughts about my experience: sad, insecure, doubtful, angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed… did I mention sad? I did not get out of bed at 3 am to ‘enjoy’ the experience more intensely; I got up to reduce the intensity. I was not finding much success with distracting myself and getting back to dream land lying there in bed. My thoughts kept carrying me back to sad.

There is no miracle pill for sad wakefulness, or the tears that won’t quit at 3 am. There are a great many practices that ease my suffering, though. I get up and do some yoga; the focus on my physical body, and easing physical stress feels good. I drink a glass of water; crying makes me thirsty. I meditate, nothing fancy, no soundtrack, no light – just sitting in the stillness, in the darkness, focused on my breath, no timer – just time. I write. With just a few words in the night, I pause the flood of emotion to look at things from a more abstract observational perspective, giving myself a little distance from the hurting, and a chance to ‘edit the language’ as I see it in text on page instead of lit up boldly in the chemistry of my brain. It actually does make a difference [for me] to take the time to remove or change the adjectives and adverbs, correct the syntax, re-evaluate the thinking. So much easier to do that seeing it in written words [for me]. I read my experience from the edited perspective. I read it again. I am no longer crying.

Tomorrow is a work day. I haven’t set myself up for success there by being awake during the night – but being awake during the night and crying generally has an even less desirable outcome, emotionally. I feel valued to take the time with myself to ease the suffering I am experiencing, however much I can. I am definitely having my own experience. There is no lover here to hold me in the darkness and tell me everything will be okay – and maybe it won’t be. It generally will be, though, for at least some values of ‘okay’.

Small stressors keep piling up. The loss of aesthetic beauty of my wee home. The loss of day-to-day quiet here. The increasing tension and discontent in the workplace. The increasing insecurity and doubt in an important relationship. The lack of personal skill at coping with it when solitude becomes loneliness. The loss of intimacy and physical contact in my every day life. The chaos brought to my life through the exterior work being done in the community – it’s actually stressing me out to see paintings stacked differently for the convenience of contractors, or to see the A/C just sort of …sitting, no good place to store it, and such a small apartment. Lingering bitterness – not over old hurts themselves, but over the lack of being understood, the lack of consideration – or even awareness. I guess this is when I get to put new emotional resilience to the test, and find out whether all of the time and practice invested in emotional self-sufficiency will be enough to survive on. I’d like to thrive. It’s on my list of nice things to do for me. Maybe another time.

I feel very alone right now. Oddly, I notice the ticking clock – and realize there is no additional stress to being aware of the sound of it. I find some comfort in that. It’s a small thing, but it is meaningful that the ticking of the clock does not cause me stress, or anxiety. You know… sitting here in the darkness, at 3:34 am, that’s enough. It’s at least something – it’s incremental change over time. I think I’ll go back to bed.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.