Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anatomy of Insomnia

It has been 40 hours since I last slept.

And I'm not tired.

I'm not really worried about it though. I'll eventually sleep at some point.

The dance with insomnia is a routine I know by heart. I've been doing this two-step since childhood. I remember being in 3rd grade and freaking out because the minutes on the clock next to my bed were ticking by while I lay there completely unable to will my body and mind to sleep. With every soft tick announcing another 60 seconds had passed, my mind would launch into a quick calculation of how many hours and minutes I had left before the alarm would go off. Every moment brought a sense of doom. What if I never fall asleep? What if I fall asleep in class? What if I fall a test because I'm too tired from not getting a full night's sleep?

And, of course, the more I worried about it, the harder it was to fall asleep.

In the early years, my insomnia was often cured by calling out for my dad. I found comfort in listening to his soothing voice pray aloud for his daughter to find rest. The lilting cadence of his words were my lullaby.

As I got older, the insomnia aged with me. Instead of worrying about school, my mind would lie awake at night making lists of things I had failed to do that day or ruminating over something that had happened earlier that day. For a while i had a wonderfully monotonous recording of the Bible on tape. I'd just pop in Matthew 1 ("and someone begat someone who begat someone who begat someone else..."), and before all the begats were over, I was usually asleep. I also had learned some mental exercises to help my body and mind relax. Those sometimes helped too.

But the insomnia never left me.

I never liked the idea of taking pills to fight off the sleepless nights, partly be because I never know when it will strike. There are no warning signs. I go to bed. I'm tired. I'm sure I'll fall asleep right away. Then before I know it, it's 1am and too late to take something that's not going to leave me groggy the next day, which is worse than pushing through without sleep.

I start off the night tired and ready to sleep, but just as the setting sun dips below my mental horizon, it starts rising again. By 3 or 4am, I'm wide awake and ready to start the day.

So i learned to live with it. Accept it.

When I had roommates, I used those nights to write. When I lived alone, I'd clean. Now, with a husband and child, i find other things to do. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I just sit in the dark listening to the peaceful sounds of my slumbering neighborhood.

But I stopped letting insomnia rattle me. I stopped letting it have control.

If you can't beat them, join them... Right?

So what if I miss a night's sleep every now and then? Most likely, I'll get a good night's sleep the following night.

And if I don't? Well, then maybe I'll spend that time writing!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Boy and His Sword

Last night, Hubby and I were watching Auction Kings, and they had somebody bring them an interesting little sword to sell in their next auction.

If you haven't seen the show before, basically, it's a reality show that follows a group who work at an auction house. People bring in interesting things for them to sell at auction. And before the auction, they have experts come in and tell them the history of the item and value. Basically, it's kind of like Pawn Stars, but set in the South and you actually get to see the items sold at auction.

OK, so back to my story... we were watching them bring in an expert to tell them about the sword. The expert first pointed out that it was a three-edged sword. He said, "They made it that way because if you get stabbed with a three-edged sword, the wound doesn't heal." Interesting... and brutal. He examined how extremely sharp the sword was and how beautifully made it was. The owner of the auction asked about the size of the sword. And this is where things got interesting...

The expert said that swords like that were often given to princes (basically a smaller version of what dad carried around). We're not talking about full-grown princes like William or Henry, but children! Then he said that this sword was made around the time of the Civil War and would still have been given to a child.


The expert explained that kids back then grew up in a different world and were used to seeing stuff like that every day. The gallery owner asked more and the expert said that kids would have probably played with it!

OK, so this is where my mind goes... I'm thinking about my own 4-yr-old and how he can make anything into a sword - a stick, a drinking straw, even a stuffed animal! He likes to have pretend duels with us. You would have thought that we raised him on Errol Flynn movies.

But now I'm thinking about that same 4-yr-old with an actual sword! Yikes! The damage he could inflict would keep an ER busy!!!

Oh, but wait... don't forget the part about it being a three-edged sword! That's right. So not only did some child have the capability to wound others, but the ability to inflict a wound that would not heal.

No wonder children didn't live as long in those days!

I know that times are different, and that they probably weren't handing out swords to 4-yr-olds back then. But I'm definitely glad that today's kids get to play with swords and toys made out of foam. And I am glad to live in a time where we have safety features and medicines (you know... like Tetanus shots) available. And I'm also glad my son won't be playing with a real sword anytime soon!