“I can rest when I’m dead!” My mother’s words still ring in my head, a martyr’s call to arms from earliest childhood. Long after she stopped working and started spending every day in her recliner, she was still the most tired and unhappy woman I’ve ever known.
No matter how much I think I know about the conditioning and beliefs that were neither healthy nor true, I still find them cropping up in my life.
More accurately, I am deeply amazed when they are suddenly resolved. Just as a fish doesn’t notice the water it swims in, I am so accustomed to my own beliefs that I don’t even notice them, even though they can be drastically unhealthy.
I fought sleep most of my life. As a child, I would wander the house in the dark rather than stay in my bed. In my teens, I blamed it on the dreams that I just didn’t want to have. Each night I was afraid I would have another dream of someone dying. I could tell when they were the kind that would come true and felt powerless as there was nothing I could do to prevent the people from dying. I hated those dreams.
As a young adult, I would lie awake for hours, worrying. My favorite worry was how we would replace the washing machine if it broke. I stopped worrying about the washing machine the day the dryer caught fire in our basement. There was a sudden knowing that no matter how much I worry, I’ll never cover everything that could possibly go wrong.
I’m now 51. I’m not even going to call that middle age. It certainly isn’t old. Whatever I am now, I’m finally sleeping better.
The shift started a few months ago. I’ve always felt terribly guilty about taking naps during the day. There is always more to be done; another article to write, another load of laundry to wash, another meeting to prepare for, another meal to cook, and on and on. Mother’s voice tolled in the dark distance; I could rest later.
Except, I was chronically tired! The Sweetheart’s alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. and he’s out the door by 5:30 with a hot lunch and cold snack that I take immense pleasure in packing each morning. The problem is, I’m never asleep before 10 p.m. We’ve both been running sleep deficits and I felt guilty for sleeping when he couldn’t.
Ah, the first misguided mindset to address! I was holding the illusion that by sleeping less, I was somehow helping him. Egads! I can never be poor enough to make someone else rich, low enough to lift someone else up, miserable enough to make someone else happy, or tired enough to make someone else rested.
On the other hand, I can endow others with my wealth, lift others when I claim higher ground, spread joy from my own happiness, and inspire others when I am fully rested.
That shift was awesome! Then guilt found a new way to show up.
I was peacefully napping on the couch when a terrible energy showed up near my feet, demanding I get up and get to work! It frightened me and I was about to jump up when a gentler energy appeared at my shoulder (I swear, I have the most interesting experiences! If this wasn’t the embodiment of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, I don’t know what would be.) The gentler energy invited me to simply stay where I was and be curious about what that terrible energy would do. I was scared, but I trust the gentleness. The angry energy expanded and threatened. When I did dropped my fear and watched it in curiosity, it got confused and began to fall apart. Apparently, the only thing it could do was bluster. All that ferociousness was nothing but a bully, intimidating me until I decided to be curious instead of afraid.
Quick inquiry: Where does blustery energy show up in your life? What would happen if you decided to be curious about it?
With all threats gone, I fell into a pattern of taking morning naps. I don’t even set an alarm clock, preferring instead to allow my body to let me know when it’s rested. It feels delicious!
Except when it doesn’t. I woke up in a panic last Wednesday, convinced that it was after noon. I stopped for a moment to assess what it was that made it such a bad thing and realized that it was conditioning, not my current state. Dropped the panic and checked the time. It was only 8:30 a.m. I felt really silly after that!
The next day, I really did sleep until after noon! The most amazing part was that I woke up feeling refreshed and not at all guilty. No. Guilt. At. All. LOVEly!!! It took time (many shifts do,) and I’m so grateful for the awareness.
I’m also grateful that it’s trickling down. The Sweetheart has been sleep-deprived since long before we met. He’s an excellent mirror for me and reminds me of many of my old mindsets. He keeps me in the loop for the changes that I’ve forgotten. I’m incredibly grateful for him.
This thing is new, though. Instead of mirroring something from the past, he’s giving me the real life experience of what I believed was possible, but hadn’t seen in practice. He didn’t set an early alarm on Memorial Day, nor did he set an endless list of tasks to accomplish. He rested, played, relaxed, and enjoyed the day.
As I am more dedicated to making sure I have proper rest, he’s shifting in that direction, too! I can’t be poor enough to make another rich or tired enough to make someone else rested. What I can do is lead by example and show others that it is okay to take care of themselves.
Breaking the patterns, one bit at a time. There are benefits to being Nicer to Me!
Inquiry: Where can you lead your loved ones by being Nicer to YOU?