Insomnia has been part of my life since I can remember being alive. I can recall being very young, listening to the soft, trilling wake-up sounds that the mourning doves in the tree outside my window made, before dawn was even a faint glow on the eastern horizon. I very often started my day to that sound, and I was never an early-to-bed kind of person, so I have spent a lot of my life on too-little sleep.
Looking outward, unseen and unheard, I take solace knowing that for a while at least, I am safe.
Getting to sleep has always been the hardest part. Growing up as I did in a maelstrom of shouting, fighting, cursing and recrimination, I needed calm before I could close my eyes, could stop staring at the ceiling above my bed. I needed to quiet the loud voices of self-doubt and the softer, more dangerous ones of self-loathing. I needed to convince the anxieties to stop prodding me back to alertness.
Towards this end, I have always used certain bedtime fantasies. Fantasies of sanctuary.
The scenarios differ in detail, but share a common structure. I am alone. I am somewhere that no one can find me; a cave, atop a mountain in a cozy cabin, or deep in the woods, in a tent lost among thick trees. Usually I have contrived some way to monitor my surroundings, to learn if I am needed, or wanted, or hunted. Looking outward, unseen and unheard, I take solace knowing that for a while at least, I am safe. No one can sneak up on me, no one can get to me.
Comforted, I can finally drift off to sleep.
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.