It wasn’t all that long ago. I stayed awake with anxiety, a hot laptop leaving red wormy marks on my stomach. I only noticed them when I got up to pee. I was in too much pain to feel pain. The way I felt then is how I sometimes feel now, quite frankly. It’s the sort of emotional pain that kind of sits and rocks, like the lapping water in your canoe. It’s the type of pain that makes you feel small. It’s childlike.
I know this is odd, but it’s the only way I know how to explain the feeling. It’s as if you’ve boarded a ship, and you know you should be looking out at sea, watching gulls, or learning knots, but you can’t stop noticing the mate’s hands. They’re stained a kind of navy, as if they’ve been cleaned with plastic wrap, scrubbed several times, but it’s no use. You know you should be intrigued by all the people boarding, asking questions about the charted path, but you’re just staring at his green boots, and their gummy soles. And you wonder who taught him to mop and if he sleeps alone.
Someone’s talking to you all the while– asking "child" questions, saying things like, "Oh, boy, do you see that? Do you know what part of the boat that is?" But you don’t really hear them, just the words strung together with an overeager inflection. It makes you want to never look up again.
It can feel like the moments you’re living aren’t quite as real because you’re not paying attention to them. This isn’t the real you. This isn’t who you are, this quiet, this isolated, this stranded. Soon everything that’s happening to you isn’t even you anymore. They aren’t your sleepless nights because it’s not your problem.
When my nights were sleepless, not all that long ago, I felt lonely and worried. I didn’t want to turn off the lights and have to face the night because it would only bring morning. If I stayed awake, it meant I never set the feelings aside for rest, so I never had to wake up to them again. I’d write on my white screen, play speed word games, read, and hope that maybe there was someone online to talk to, a lighthouse in my night.
I’m having sleepless nights again.