I have the same ritual every night.
If the television is on, I turn it off. If I’m cross-stitching, I place my work on the side table. I get up off of the couch and tell the dog, Zero, to go to his bed. His real bed and not the cat bed. I change the wooden calendar on the television stand to the next day’s date. I turn off the lights. I check that front and back doors to be sure they are locked.
I walk up the stairs and into the bathroom. I’ll spare you those details. I emerge, GLORIOUS, grab a Benadryl, and pad into my dark bedroom. After taking the pill, I turn on the noise machine. Rain. It’s always rain. I take off my wedding rings and set them on the nightstand. I turn on the alarm if I feel like it, since I no longer have a set wake up time.
Then I open my iPad, which is probably not the best idea. I turn on videos that relax me and I turn the brightness down very low. The cat, Peter Parker, always attempts to lay on my chest before settling for my right or left arm instead.
I watch relaxing videos until my eyes grow heavy and then turn off the iPad. I place it on my dresser and then I return to the bathroom, never turning on any lights. I go back into my bedroom, remove my contact lenses, and throw them in the trash can by the head of my bed. I put in my mouth guard (SEXY!). I put on my sleep mask (FANCY!). I snuggle into bed, allowing my Deadpool pillow to cradle my noggin.
This is where I should fall asleep. This is where a lot of other people fall asleep. I never fall asleep then. I’ve never fallen asleep immediately after getting into a bed. The reason? Oh, my brain won’t shut the hell up. Ever.
You know when people talk about relaxation techniques and they tell you to empty your mind? My mind has never been empty. It’s never been able to think about nothing. Honestly, I wrote the first draft of this whole damn thing in my head before getting out of bed and typing it out right this second. And do you know what my asshole of a brain did as I made that decision?
It starting singing “WRITE IT DOWN! WRITE IT DOOOOOWN!” like June Diane Raphael did in the Sucker Punch episode of How Did This Get Made. Literally just happened. Crap, now it’s singing I Just Had Sex by The Lonely Island.
Where was I? AND THAT IS THE OTHER THING. I have tried multiple times to count sheep, but lately they end up being the sheep from Shaun the Sheep and then the fat sheep on that show gets stuck on the thing they’re jumping and all hell breaks loose. Another time I just tried counting. Just going through the numbers and hoping I’d bore my brain into sleep before I hit 100. Instead, I lost my place several times because I would count “thirty-seven—“My girlfriend sucked thirty-seven dicks!” “IN A ROW?”—forty…uh, wait.”
My insomnia isn’t as bad as it was prior to medication being in my life. I would sit bolt upright in bed, sick to my stomach, and then rearrange furniture in the middle of the night. Several times I would hear my husband get up in the morning for work and then “HURGH” as he ran into a couch that hadn’t been there the previous night. Other times I would vomit with anxiety for hours until I passed out from sheer exhaustion. Another time I rocked back and forth in the bed, violently wringing my hands together until my husband physically restrained me. I actually injured a tendon in my hand that time.
You would think that I would be used to the whole not sleeping thing at this point in my life. I cannot ever remember a time when I could go to bed and actually fall asleep in less than an hour. I can’t remember ever sleeping through an entire night without the assistance of medication. Sleep is a normal, human requirement and I’ve never been able to do it correctly. I don’t know how to sleep. It’s just something that eventually happens without any warning or any sign I can use the next time I’m ready for it. It just eludes me for hours as I struggle with my brain’s incessant chatter that increasingly turns into panic because PEOPLE NEED SLEEP AND I CAN’T SLEEP AND WHY CAN’T I SLEEP.
It is yet another aspect of life that I cannot control and it makes me furious. Control is all I’ve ever wanted since I was a child. Control over who I live with or where I go. Control over who can touch me and where they can touch me. Control over the house I live in. Control over my life. But the insomnia makes it very clear that I don’t have control where I need it the most: inside my own head.
And I probably never will.