“My hands are locked up tight in fists
My mind is racing filled with lists
Of things to do and things I’ve done
Another sleepless night’s begun”
~ Barenaked Ladies ~ “Who Needs Sleep”
Insomnia is a bitch. She creeps up on me most nights, curling her long, cold fingers around the root stem of my brain. I try to fight her off, using all of my Ninja skills: deep breathing, happy places, self-hypnosis. If I know I am winning then all is lost. Mid-yawn, my body insists on gasping for more air. I hold my breath and hope for the best.
The fluffy bunnies, running on the wheels inside my head, Chug! Chug! Chug! their Red Bull and power up the mental generator. The inner screen flickers to life; it’s time to start the show. My worst moments of the day run on continuous loop. There is only one way to stop the horror: my eyes snap open. I am wide awake now. The sleepless witch pokes and prods me; I feel every ache and pain as if it were a new wound. I am too stubborn, or perhaps too stupid, to take anything stronger than a handful of NSAIDs. I struggle to remain silent. My bed is not empty tonight and he needs his sleep. Slipping out from the warmth of body and blankets, I steal his bathrobe and sneak away.
Something will amuse me, somewhere. I scan the Internet, read my e-mail, and wonder why no one else is updating at this late (or is it early) hour. The television gives me nothing but infomercials and bad porn. I am interested in neither. However, the sound of a human voice is comforting, lulling. I leave the garbage on. It is with supreme effort that I do not turn to my video game. I am not that pathetic. The sexcapade is still on; people are making animal noises. I have my own bathroom down here in the basement. The potential release of a languorous bath springs unbidden to the surface of my thoughts. If only I had some bubble soap and knew where my towel was.
I realize I am lonely, alone with only my thoughts. I surf the channels from cries of passion to lies of fashion, settling on QVC. There are not enough hours between now and morning to take a drink or pop a pill, so I will stay awake until bedtime comes around again. I pull my laptop desk to me. I write the rant I won’t post, with gripes about people I don’t know and defenses of the ones I do. I listen to the voice in my head who warns me I might want to rethink being online. I give in, and I turn on my game. After a while, I watch a virtual sun rise in real time. I prepare to head upstairs to greet the new day.
He will ask me, “Did you sleep ok?” He knows that if I go too many nights without good sleep we are both screwed. My moods are so brittle, I can flip from the safety and security of what passes as normal to something far more dangerous with the loss of only one night. Slumber is my strength, and my salvation. Take that away from me, and soon all is lost.
“No, but I will be fine,” I’ll tell him. And I will be, eventually. Meanwhile, the muses sing to me in their songs of color and light. Their words dance like inverted fireflies on my screen. The annoying twin sisters of nightmare and fantasy will have to wait another day before we three meet between the sheets, while their bastard cousin hallucination plays gentleman-caller. The lich insomnia has failed at sucking the life out of me tonight. On the contrary, she has shown me a new, beautiful, and deadly truth: I could stay awake forever, if forever felt this good. G-d help me when the end of forever comes. It is going to hurt like hell.