Wednesday, June 20, 2007
The Nightmare Before Wednesday
I've been up since 4:45 this morning. I gave in and got out of bed at 6:30, tired of rolling around and feeling irritated. This is not the norm for me; I'm someone who will hit the snooze button five times on any given morning, only because hitting it six times would just be ridiculous. I can sleep, and I do it well. Most of the time.

But lately, it's become a lost talent. It's taking half an hour to fall asleep at night, which is about 29 minutes longer than it usually takes me. If I wake during the night, I'm up for long enough to get mad at myself for being awake. And if I wake after daybreak, forget it.

Last night was particularly bad, because I fell asleep around 10:30 and woke up at 1:04 with a nasty nightmare. Some people have bizarre, technicolor, creative nightmares involving zombies and plushies and blackberry ice cream; not I. I have very realistic and very upsetting dreams involving the people I love in very believable, if unlikely, circumstances. I've had dreams about my kids getting sick, dreams about fires, dreams replaying old traumas... it's very Lifetime Movie in my head, only less pretty and with unpaid real people in the place of campy actors.

Last night's was a long episode of A Life Unraveled, starting with Willem admitting that he had allowed a relationship with some random woman to become inappropriate, and then admitting that there had been another, and another. In my dream, I could picture, with aching clarity, the meetings with divorce lawyers, the packing and moving to a new apartment, the need to send my kids to stay with my mother while I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital with suicidal tendencies. I went through a whole broken life in the space of five or six hours.

I have the extra added benefit, in my nightmares, of having episodes and chapters to it all. When I woke up, upset, at 1:04, it was just after we'd had the initial horrible conversation, in the car, on a specific road near our house. I've had enough experience with bad dreams to know that I shouldn't go right back to sleep; I know to get up, walk around, have a drink of water, and generally wake myself up as much as possible so that I don't just roll over and fall right back into the same dream. Didn't work last night. Each time I woke up and later went back to sleep, I was picking up after the next commercial break and following the same story. So I was up several times during the night, and by 4:45 I was more exhausted than if I had just stayed up until then in the first place.

And I don't know how to convince Willem that having nightmares like this does not mean that I don't trust him enough now. I'm fully aware of where dreams like this come from, and I'm fully confident in the strength of our relationship when I'm awake and conscious (not always the same thing with me, lately). I do not believe that dreaming about things means that I'm actually, deep-down, secretly obsessing over the possibilities. I think it's a topic that would be upsetting to dream about, regardless of our past, and my brain just has some nice, pre-defined pathways all laid out, to know exactly how it feels to live through this stuff because of prior experience.

I've noticed that I've had increasing difficulty sleeping for the past few weeks, and I wonder if it's related to this erythema nodosum crap; perhaps there's a certain cosmic cruelty that makes me drag my leaden body around all day, longing for the next chance to nap, and then revs up my brain at bedtime and afterward. I've certainly noticed more fatigue and achiness since being told by a doctor that I should be tired and sore, and I can't decide if that's just latent hypochondria rearing its ugly head or if I'm more aware of what was already there.

I really need to get better at complaining about my physical ailments; my general attitude is, "Why bother complaining? It doesn't make me feel any better and there's nothing anyone else can do about it." But by not verbalizing it, I tend to minimize or forget that it happened.

So, whatever. I'm tired, physically and mentally, and ready for a nap. Except, whoops, I've just started a 24-hour shift, to cover for a coworker whose brother is dying of AIDS. Sure, I've got an official ailment and could probably beg off work, but in my book, death trumps tired.

Everybody just stay sane for another 23 hours, okay? Thanks.