“Let me stretch upon your carpet
Let me hear the rain tap on your street
Knowing I am safe on the inside
Blankets wrapped and drifting off to sleep…”
2:30 a.m. The only thing more difficult than trying to type whilst coughing is trying to sleep whilst coughing.
Can’t be done, sir.
So I’m lying in bed, alternately freezing cold and effin’ hot (a problem I’ve solved by losing the pajama pants BUT keeping the fuzzy wool slipper-sock things). Usually I don’t wear socks when I sleep; can’t handle feeling like my feet are too contained. But in the last couple of weeks, I can only sleep if I am wholly contained — we’re talking wrapped in a long sleeve thermal tee, flannel pajama pants tucked into fuzzy wool slipper-sock things, cocooned under two blankets and a flannel top sheet, surrounded by pillows with a Lab squished against the back of my knees contained.
Sleep issues: I’m no stranger to Thee. My whole life I’ve had weird sleep habits, cycles of insomnia followed by easy sleep. I’ve tried everything during the insomnia phases. When I was little and I couldn’t sleep, I would curl up next to my night light and read books (until Mom would check on me before going to bed, catch me out, holler a bit, and I’d crawl back into bed and stare at the ceiling until I finally dozed off). Before that, I tried singing myself to sleep. Seriously. And at other times, Mom would hear me tiptoe out to the living room (I have, and always have had, the world’s most CRACKLY joints), wake up the dog, and force her to come back to my room. Finally Mom asked why I would drag the dog to bed with me some nights and I told her it was because I couldn’t sleep and that I “need to have something ALIVE!” (She still mocks me for this. “I need to have something ALIVE!” she’ll cry, in a dramatization of what was actually a very normal childhood twitch.)
As I got older, I tried other things. I went through a rap music phase for a little while (in 4th grade, which was kind of funny because I was the only kid in my class who knew all the words to “I am a Dope Fiend” AND “Who Shakes the Best”). After rap, it was easy listening (which didn’t make me as cool but Bonnie Raitt still puts me to sleep, for which I will always be grateful), and then alternative/punk, followed by my foray into indie music (which actually was just Ben Folds, but that was fairly indie for a small Texas town). And sadly, in college it was Christian praise and worship, which I would listen to intently as I prayed to Jesus to please just let me sleep, Lord, please just let me fall asleep in Jesus’s name AMEN.
There were other methods I tried, aside from music. There was the noise machine (which worked for about 2 months, but only on the whales or the white noise settings; the wilderness setting scared the HELL out of me because of the crickets. Hate crickets. TERRIFIED of crickets. Didn’t sleep at all that night, stupid crickets.) I’ve tried teas. I’ve tried lavender pillow spray. I’ve tried warm milk, warm baths, warm blankets. I’ve only come to realize that sometimes it just. Doesn’t. Matter. If you can’t sleep, you can’t sleep.
And now? In this moment? I can’t sleep.
When I’m tired, two things are likely to happen. 1) My words get all twangy and the Southern comes to the forefront (I’ve honestly uttered the words, “Ahm tarred, y’all” which actually means, “I am quite tired, everyone.”) and 2) I tell secrets.
So in the spirit of those things, I’m fixin’ to tell y’all a secret. Here it is, so listen closely: I’m scared.
That’s it. Just scared. Thus the need to be wholly contained, I guess. Sometimes the world gets too big to manage and things get overwhelming and I find myself lying in bed and my room is too big and things are too open and my mind starts going so so fast and I have trouble breathing in and out. I have no control over the world, especially when it gets so big. BUT. I do have control over my space. And so I burrow. I burrow and I cocoon and I hide and I make my world as small as possible, shrink it down to a size I *can* manage. I find my crawl space and I make myself as tiny as possible and then I can breathe in and out. Sometimes sleep comes, sometimes not. But I breathe in and out. And I manage.
What am I so afraid of, you might wonder. Or, if you prefer to use proper grammar in your wonderings, you would be curious to know of what am I so afraid?
Hell if I know. But it’s been keeping me awake for almost my whole life.
When I was little I called this fear “the Pit Feeling.” It was so named because the fear would manifest physically in the pit of my stomach. I’d get the Pit Feeling and my fears would roll on top of me, one after another, like dominoes or when you accidentally drop a roll of paper towels and it unravels before you can stop it from rolling away from you. My fears back then were crazy: I was worried about Nazis coming back. I would worry about the Atomic Bomb. I would worry that my whole family was going to leave in the middle of the night and forget to take me with them. I was terrified someone was going to break into our house and steal our dog or my baby brother. I was afraid my baby brother was going to stop breathing and sometimes I slept under his crib, just in case. I was terrified I was going to go to jail because I forgot to pay for my chocolate milk at lunch that day. And the list just went on and on and on.
Now, not so crazy. Sure, my fears are just as irrational, but I’m not worried about Nazis and I’m fairly certain I pay for all my beverages. But still, I worry and I am afraid. I’m scared I’m not doing enough for the people I love. I worry that I’ve overlooked someone during the day, that I forgot something important, that maybe I didn’t listen closely enough to what someone was saying. Sometimes I worry about how I’m going to finish school. And sometimes I just feel overwhelmed because sometimes I get lonely.
I heard recently (or read somewhere, who can be sure right now because it’s 3:11 a.m. and I’m punchy) that loneliness isn’t scary because everyone feels alone, so we are all together in that. Which is sad, if oddly comforting. All the lonely people…where do they all come from, indeed?
It’s kind of fun for me, writing a post in a blog called Pantsless whilst actually being pantsless. And, bless the albuterol, I’ve barely coughed in the last 17 minutes. I considered just now, as I read back through these twisty thoughts, I considered deleting a lot of this. And maybe tomorrow I’ll wish that I had. But you know, of all the sleep remedies I’ve tried, this one is new.
So there you are, World. I’ll put my thoughts out there and let You contain them. And I’ll hide away in my cocoon of blankets and flannel and Lab. Because you know what? Nobody is a stranger to feeling alone. So we are together in that.
And I’ll make room in my cocoon, for you.