My Last Post Ever on Sleep

Night OwlOr not.

It’s been one week of the Grand Sleep Experiment, and I have deemed it an epic fail.  It’s been, quite frankly, one of the worst sleeping weeks of my life.  Or has it? If I were to be truthful, then I would have to say that no, it hasn’t been the worst or even in the top ten.  However, because I’ve been so focused on my sleeping this last week, it seems like it’s the worst ever.    In addition, I’ve been so determined to sleep and fix my stupid sleeping problem that I’ve ignored (conveniently) the four main goals I have targeted.

As a reminder, they are:

  1. Be gainfully employed (with bennies) so I don’t feel useless.
  2. Become politically-involved in order to feel like I am making a difference in the world around me (even if it’s to a miniscule degree).
  3. Publish my fiction as it nourishes me and my creativity.
  4. Get back into theatre.  It’s my life.  This one is a distant four because the other three are more urgent/attainable.

In addition, I have these three lesser goals:

  1. Dating.  You know, the whole go out to dinner, see a ball game, have a few giggles and laugh ball of wax.
  2. Sex.  Lots of it.
  3. Lose fifty pounds.

As stated before, 1 and 2 are not necessarily the same thing.

So, anyway, I have had sleep problems all my life.  The decision to tackle them now and solve them had less to do with actually getting rid of my sleep problems and more to do with avoiding the goals I want to achieve.  If I put all my energy into lamenting my failure at fixing lifelong sleep issues, well, then who could blame me for not being proactive on my goals?  In addition, if I am so tired that I can’t focus while driving or thinking, well, then, how in the world could I manage a fulltime job?

I had my therapy session today, and my therapist told me something brilliant.  She reminded me that many people work fulltime jobs while being sleep-deprived, such as parents of newborns.  Now, I can hear you saying, “Sheesh, Minna, what’s so fucking brilliant about that?  That’s pretty damn obvious to me.”  I can hear you muttering uncomplimentary things under your breath at me–don’t think I can’t.

The reason it’s brilliant, however, is because it’s something I conveniently and strenuously ignore.  My therapist is pretty damn good at cutting through my verbal maze wandering and getting at the heart of the matter.  She doesn’t let me get away with shit, and while it pisses me off, it also helps me focus on what I really need to do–not on what I want to do in order to avoid doing what I need to do.

See, my biggest obstacle to success is–me.  My brain can come up with a hundred and one reasons to avoid doing what I need to do, but the rationale always seems so fucking reasonable.  “Minna,” it says; “you need to be rested in order to be able to fully attack your goals.”  Sounds reasonable, right?  Sure, until you realize that I haven’t felt rested–ever.  So, for me to wait until I’m fully rested before applying myself to my goals is a big fucking smoke screen.

My therapist came up with another handy analogy today.  She said, life is like a myth or a fairy tale.  The protaganist goes on a journey in search of something she (I’m using the generic she) wants.  Now, if it were as simple as the protagonist wanting something and going out and getting it easily, there’s no story.  It’d be boring, and no one would ever read it.  Instead, the protagonist is beset by obstacle after obstacle, and she has to think of clever ways to get around the obstacles, or she is aided by unlikely creatures, such as gnomes and elves.

Most of the time, the protagonist (especially if it’s a woman) did not simply slew the dragon, as it were.  No, she had to use her brains and her charms and, yes, her womanly wiles to find her way around the obstacle.  Her path was never a straight line, and she often had to double back.

I latched onto this imagery because I love mythology and because it tickles my imagination.  It’s much more fun pretending that I am on an epic journey of some kind (except if it’s Sisyphean in nature.  That’s no fun) rather than imagining myself plodding along from point to point.  I have a rich and vivid imagination, so I might as well put use it to my benefit, rather than have it be used against me.

Back to sleep.  I have decided to lift my curfew (obviously) and to not focus on SLEEP.  It’s doing no good, and I think it’s actually doing me harm.  I will continue to try things to improve my sleep, but I am not going to let it be the crutch it has been for far too long.  At this point, I will sleep when I can and take naps when I am about to drop dead.  Instead of pissing and moaning about my sleep, I will take one step at a time to accomplishing my waking life goals.  In the end, the accomplishment of my goals may be the answer to my sleep problems.  It certainly can’t make things worse.

8 Responses to My Last Post Ever on Sleep

  1. Ah, yes, I told you that I know this syndrome. Listen to the good doctor (therapist) and focus on other things. You seem to have arrived at a new point in your life where it is truly time to change and grab life by the you-know-whats. That is truly daunting, but as I say to hubby “name the worst thing that can truly happen and then name the best thing that can truly happen”. The good can be very rewarding while the bad seems so much less scary. Good on ya! You have great things in you! Just let them out. The time has come.

  2. Even more important than killing the dragon is making it back home safely (and wiser and more powerful from all you’ve done and seen). That path is also rarely a straight line (or even a circle)!

    Like Jamie sez: Good on ya! (And beware that some of the gnomes and elves aren’t as cute and helpful as they might appear!)

  3. Jamie, death. That’s the worst thing. No, it’s not rational, but then again, fears sometimes aren’t.

    Alex, too true. Can’t always trust the friendly-looking little critters along the way.

    whabs, also true. Trying to do it all at once is another way of avoiding real responsibility.

    Thanks, you guys. You’re the best.

  4. Now, I can hear you saying, “Sheesh, Minna, what’s so fucking brilliant about that? That’s pretty damn obvious to me.”

    Only because I was the parent of two newborns. 😉

    I look forward to reading of your successes in the coming months!

  5. Gregory, you are too kind to give me the benefit of the doubt. I can be extraordinarily thick-headed at times. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  6. J. Michael Neal, I never would have guessed that you had sleep problems! No wonder we keep running into each other during the wee hours of the night over at BJ.

    /snark