At zero-dark-thirty, night-after-night, my brain, functioning against my orders like a disobedient child, would defiantly start cranking out thoughts, repeatedly reliving incidents of the day, inventing possible tasks and scenarios for the next day, and urging my heart to quicken its pace, so that eventually I had no choice but to admit defeat, roll over and turn on my bedside lamp. 

Oftentimes, I’d lay there for a while, feeling a deep loneliness.  Something about being forced awake at an ungodly hour makes me feel as if the entire world is somewhere that I can’t reach. It also makes me feel betrayed by my own body. I want to be asleep. Why won’t you let me sleep? I need to sleep. I would always struggle with what to do with myself once I would be forced to be awake. Sometimes it seemed that the smartest thing to do would be to get some work done since I was up, but that’s the true torture of insomnia: you are too weary to do anything productive; yet too awake to submit to the weary.

I would take sleeping pills, long baths at night, spray my sheets with lavender, turn off screens hours before bedtime, force one of my sons to play in my hair (something that has always relaxed me) in attempts to fall asleep or try to have a night where I remained asleep. It took me some time to realize that the key to addressing the physical weariness was to deal with the mental weariness.

What was making me mentally weary? What was plucking my last nerve like a string on Bo Didley’s guitar and chronically blocking my sleep?

After my mother died, I couldn’t sleep well, for a year.  When my kid was suffering from several developmental delays, I would stay up all night reading article after article falsely diagnosing him and terrifying myself with unfounded prognoses.  I couldn’t change those situations but because I suffered through them, I really try to change the situations that I can. When a job or a relationship has caused me far too many regular sleepless nights, I make a change. 

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be open and to think freely about what we want in our lives or what our resolutions should be – because we are so mired in our current day-to-day lives.  So it may be easier and more helpful to start by thinking about what we know we don’t want.  What is that thing that is keeping you from sleeping well, causing you to drink an extra glass or three of wine at night, making you snap more quickly at loved ones or eat some crap that you know you shouldn’t?  What is on your last daggone nerve?  Is it a friend, a lover, a job, a club? Whatever it is, Fam, it’s got to go. 

I’m not talking about those unchangeable obligations. Don’t chall start trying to drop off your 9 year-olds at adoption agencies (because Lord knows we all lose sleep over children and other family members); but about those things that you can change  – though you hadn’t really thought about it or that you know will be difficult to do so.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 

the courage to change the things I can, 

and the wisdom to know the difference.

There are almost always other options than staying in situation that makes you miserable.  You are deserving of so much more than miserable. Oftentimes, there are so many ways that you can make minor or major alterations to a situation so that It becomes more pleasing and you can stay in it. Or you may need to decide to leave the situation. Either way, address the root of your weariness instead of self-medicating and self-sabotaging. Listen to your body, your heart, your gut. What is it telling you. Listen; and then make the change.

2 Responses

  1. Taking a shower is one of life’s basic functions. If the water is too hot or cold you make adjustments; plain and simple, right? It may seem crazy to decide never to bathe because you can’t adjust the water temperature, right?
    Oftentimes we may find situations that may cause mental weariness and find it difficult to resolve. We can distance ourselves from it or turn our backs. One problem unsolved can create another; thus, compounding the problem, masking as another.
    We can adjust the water temperature, we can also adjust the temperature in our lives. We step in the shower by choice. Sometimes our weariness is caused by choice without us realizing it. We can choose to never bathe, what a smelly situation and not an option for most.
    “If I could turn back the hands of time” is an old R & B song. We know we can’t do that. So, what do we do? We choose to learn from it. We learn to make right choices as a result. We know it is not as simple as adjusting the water in a shower. What we do know, We can learn from it.
    Mental weary, to me, is not an issue that is caused by other people, places, or things. Mental weary, one reason, maybe caused by our lack of understanding of adjusting the water in the shower, right?

  2. Okay Randi B. I consider you amazingly insightful, love your wicked sense of humor and delight in learning with you around the world. Now you have revealed a new superpower: the ability to be in my own brain in my own house in my own bed in my own nights of exhausting insomnia! Howdyadoit?!

    I completely agree that it is a special purgatory to be too exhausted to work or sleep. Awful.
    And it can be very challenging to develop the wisdom to know the difference between that which we can change and that which we cannot. Even more confusing for me is how much of what I think I cannot change (and therefore must endure) is my perception of what others expect me to endure. Aackk!

    Doesn’t everyone have a difficult job? Isn’t everyone expect to figure everything out all by themselves, and “enjoy the journey” while doing so? Doesn’t everybody have to have a friend that is narcissistic and draining? Part of my loneliness at that bewitching hour is a toxic mix of self-pity and self-doubt. And why is my husband able to sleep so soundly through my endless night?!

    Thank you for your shared experience, insight and inspiration. Next time I’m in purgatory, I’ll fire up the tablet and dive into the blog and read until laughter (drunk Aunt Randi is my fav!) and world travel flip the demons into dreams. Happy 2020!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

stay connected

join the family

black-owned businesses

on the blog

join the family

sign up and receive the latest info each week