This is going is going to be a different kind of post. A very personal and open one. I’m not at liberty to talk about details, but I need to somehow express my confusion and sadness and disappointment in myself. I do this because sometimes it’s better to clear the air in a public way than to continue to stew in my own doubts. I don’t do this because I need validation or words of comfort. I am not looking for sympathy; I simply think it’s important to acknowledge my flaws and face them head on.
Recently I did something wrong. It was a mistake. A big mistake. I did something that I never even imagined I could be capable of. I hurt someone, and I didn’t even know I did it at the time. They had to tell me, and I felt not only shame and guilt, I couldn’t fathom how I had managed to so royally fuck up. I thought that all that time I had been careful. I thought I was being sensitive, and gentle, and kind.
But in that moment I was only thinking of myself. I didn’t think about what was happening outside of myself. And that sucks. That super duper sucks. Especially because of what it meant to someone else.
And then things fell apart. I’m still not really sure why. I thought we had talked about it. I thought my tears and apologies showed that I acknowledged what I had done and I thought we had been moving forward, or at least moving along. I did focus on how it affected me. I got defensive, and while there were many complicated elements to this narrative, I had a very difficult time reconciling what had happened with my character. I would like to believe it wasn’t all my fault. I would like to be able to say there were other factors involved, that it was a fluke. But I can’t decide how others react. I can’t decide when someone else forgives me. I don’t get to choose if someone feels pain or anger because of what I did. I can only do what I can to make up for it.
The thing that is so difficult for me to let go of is my sense of self. I know I am a good person. I know I have a good heart, and that I am compassionate and empathetic. I know that. But it is difficult to have someone who you love and trust tell you otherwise. And even though it was a mistake, even though I know it is something I can learn from and someday forgive myself for, it still keeps me up at night, the feeling that I am fundamentally different than who I thought I was.
This is something everyone has to contend with at one point or another. They make a mistake, they choose to do something wrong, they confront their privilege. As a white person, I am living in a time where I am continually facing my bias and the things I’ve taken for granted in a white supremacist culture and society. And that is uncomfortable. It is natural to feel defensive, and to want to seek blame elsewhere. But I have to confront the reality of my bias. I have to own up to my mistakes, no matter how uncomfortable. I am beginning to be used to being uncomfortable. And that is necessary for growth.
But for all that, for all the rationale I can immerse myself in, for all that my logical brain is telling me that while I may make mistakes and I may be unintentionally racist or agist or ableist but that it is all part of the learning process, the rest of me, my heart, my soul, is crushed that I didn’t see this sooner. That I didn’t know myself well enough to realize that what I was doing and saying was hurting someone else.
And of course into the mix comes depression, anxiety, insomnia. Human beings have a tendency to remember either the good or the bad, not the complex composition of both. And we focus on the bad. We have all lain awake at night, remembering that time we said something idiotic in front of someone we were trying to impress, someone who probably forgot that it happened by the end of the night. We remember every time we cut someone off in traffic. We remember all the times we did something mean or insensitive, convincing ourselves that we are garbage humans, that we are the sum of our mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you are actually a good person. Depression and anxiety have a way of making you feel that you at your lowest is who you really are.
I am sorry for what happened. I am sorry for what I did, and for what I didn’t do. I know that it is my responsibility to be accountable for what I did, to learn from my mistakes, and to be better in the future. I can do all I can do mend my mistakes but I can’t wait for others’ forgiveness to be better. They may never forgive me, but that’s no excuse for failing to learn and improve.
It doesn’t mean I don’t still feel like crap though.
Sleep has always been difficult for me. Or, if at one point it came easily, I don’t remember it. I know that I’ve had continuous issues with insomnia since at least high school. It’s not only difficult to fall asleep, but it’s very difficult to stay asleep. One night last week I felt as though I would never get comfortable and my FitBit can attest that I only slept for about 4 hours. (I do not fully trust the FitBit, because I know it records as “sleep” times when I am just lying quietly, waiting for my alarm to go off. It has even recorded my “wake up time” as after my alarm goes off, which I am almost always awake for anyway. So I usually take about an hour off the estimate it gives me.) I am definitely a night person, and I’ve found I sleep the heaviest between 7:30-9:30 in the morning. If I slept well the night before, my natural wake up time is around 8:30am. Ah, the woes of work schedules!
I know I’m not the only one with sleep issues. But like depression, insomnia is totally unique for every person that experiences it. Some people fall asleep easily, but then are restless during the night. Some people just can’t fall asleep no matter what they do. We have all experienced times when we lie awake, thinking about everything we need to do the next day, every time we ever did something idiotic, or every way in which our lives are slowly crumbling apart. I tend to experience constant weariness during the day, but no matter what time I go to bed (9pm, 11pm, 12:30pm) I almost always feel more alert at night than I ever did during the day. It doesn’t make any sense.
One issue that I experience is that even when I DO sleep, oftentimes my nights are filled with incredibly vivid dreams. Sometimes they’re pleasant, sometimes they are terrifying, and most often they are somewhat in between. There are often many different scenes and some I can remember better than others. I will wake up with a vague feeling of anxiety, or the desire to remember something that seemed important. My dreams are cinematic and filled with the smallest and most mundane of details. And those details sometimes linger. I once dreamed I was lying on my back in the sand. One of my hands was resting on my chest and the other was in someone’s lying next to me. But as I started to wake up, I could distinctly remember feeling my arm both in the dream position (my chest) and in its real location (by my side). I can remember hearing bells while walking along a rocky shoreline, or seeing red train cars lined up in an indoor station, the platform filled with children in school uniforms milling around. I have created elaborate situations and backgrounds in great detail, populated by friends and family and strangers. And I wake up feeling like I didn’t get any rest, because my brain spent the entire night coming up with this meaningless nonsense.
Why, brain? What is going on? I do believe that some dreams do have meaning, and can reflect things that are going on in our real lives. Anxiety can pop up in our dreams and lead us to discover something we may not even be aware of in life. The same goes for fear, sadness, or even joy. I know not all dreams do this, but many give our brains a way to work something out in our subconscious that is not immediately obvious. But just like I believe in SOME astrology and SOME planetary influence on mood and behavior, not everything is going to be revealed or dictated through our dreams.
So then what is the purpose? Some people never remember their dreams, but mine are almost always vivid enough for me to remember details throughout the day. And why is it necessary to remember these trash dreams that have nothing to do with anything? Not only is my memory affected by lack of sleep, it is also hanging on to worthless details about a dream I had ten years ago rather than the title of the book I wanted to recommend to someone. (I know there are differences between short term and long term memory, but I know too little about neurology to speak with any authority on any of this.) It just seems as though my brain could be spending more time and energy on things it actually needs to be used for, like work and reading and writing, and less power on junk dreams.
I’m not really looking for suggestions here. I have tried most of the remedies that health and science recommends, and haven’t yet found a good solution. I’m working on tracking my sleep so that I can hopefully find patterns in the data.
In the meantime, I woefully await the days I can sleep in and finally feel a little more rested.