As I dive further into the deep end of this apocalyptic year, I’m now grasping at just about anything to find relaxation or to relieve the stress or to turn my brain off. I’m not sure any of it is working – although some have turned into well-intentioned fails laced with giggles, which works in its own way. I have always had a hard time sleeping, for example. The greater the stress, the less sleep I get, making me tired and cranky and super fun to be around. This peaked when I moved to Virginia – to a point where I sought help and was given a prescription for Trazadone. Funny story, I was given the prescription and never told it could become both addictive and less effective over time, thus requiring an increased dose (a) or a companion sleep helper (b) or a downer (c). There was a point about a year ago when I realized I was taking 100mg of Trazadone, 3mg of Lunesta, and a Clonzepam to get to sleep. Granted, this was also when menopause hit (or peri? does it matter?) and I was waking up with sweaty panic attacks – causing Rich to often wake up at 3:00am and wonder why I was in a fetal position, naked, in front of the tower fan. That routine caused me to start dreading bedtime (again) as I’d feel growing anxiety as soon as the light went out wondering how long I’d get to sleep before the panic awakening. But really? That’s a lot of meds to hand over to a person and send on their way with no action plan to not make it a permanent addition. Late last year, I spent months weaning myself off it all – weeks and weeks of lying awake every night – eyes the size of saucers – wondering if I’d ever ‘learn’ to sleep again – often staring at Rich, willing him to wake up and keep me company.
A non-pill-pushing counselor presented me with a super logical approach to the retraining which solved it almost immediately. Who cares? she said, So what if you stay up all night? Pick up a book and read. So you’re tired the next day – who cares? And just like that, the panic was gone. And within a week of I’ll just read a book, my brain was like well, this is awfully boring and sleep returned. I do listen to some lowkey Lemongrass to sleep – it helps my thoughts focus on something other than a to do list if I wake in the night. On a side note – I’ve been listening to “My Soundtrack” on Amazon Music a lot (a lot, a lot) during my drives back and forth to North Carolina. This Amazon feature pulls music it thinks you would like based on previous listening and creates a road trip worthy playlist. The downer is that more than once I’ve found myself driving in a state of total space out – realizing that My Soundtrack had picked up my sleep-music preferences and thrown it into the mix. So there I go…bringing it down to a relaxing 45mph on 95 South…a Pavlovian response to relaxation tunes. Sorry people who thought the left lane was for passing…
I recently started going back to yoga. In person. I’ve been doing it via the Peloton app since quarantine started fairly sporadically but always in my bright office with dogs running in and out. Not very relaxing. Being back in an in-person class reminded me immediately that yoga is meant to be done quietly, in a dimly lit room, eyes closed – that same genre of music playing softly in the background. It felt great. Except for one thing. No one told my brain that this was a quiet place, so its response was something along the lines of oh, hey, back at yoga? Quiet? Because this seems like the perfect time to thing about…and off I go…What are we eating when we get home from the gym? Do we have fruit? Vegetables? Will Zack like ti? How long will it take to make? Should I do any arts and crafts later? Why can’t I ever sell anything on those local cyber-garage-sale-sites? Am I overpricing? Under pricing? Do people just prefer spending money at Hobby Lobby rather than a custom made craft? What if I really turned it into a business? Would I quit my job or try to do both? I feel like my job is finally going better now that I no longer report to the-worst-boss-ever. What’s my day look like tomorrow? Do I have any meetings? Are any of them mandatory? What projects am I working on this week? How are they looking? I bet if I do the Fidelity project and the same time I’m working on thing project for Sam, I’ll be able to knock them both out by Friday. Will Zack be here Friday or does he go to his (bio)mom’s? Where are his glasses? I feel like I haven’t seen them on his face in weeks. I wonder if that’s why he’s having so much trouble focusing on cyber-school. I can’t believe I don’t even know his teachers’ names yet – that is so unlike me – by now, I’d typically have met them all, dropping off boxes of Chlorox wipes, papertowels, and Kleenex AND I would have taken a few rounds at the copier. I wonder where his glasses are?
This is a pretty regular glimpse into my brain when I’m trying to be mentally quiet. Did I say my brain? Here’s a PSA for every man in America…this is a glimpse into the brain of every woman you’ve ever met or will meet when she is trying to be mentally quiet. We spend so much of our lives doing and running and being the magician behind all the ‘things,’ that we never have time to organize our thoughts – until the moment when we are ready to shut it down. And then, hello….so glad you came to my Head Talk. We have eye doctor appointments coming up – I need to figure out when those are. Maybe I’ll get new glasses. Or new sunglasses. Or both. Or maybe just lens transplants so I can ditch them all. I wonder how much that is? Why do I always schedule a family’s worth of eye doctor appointments in the same dang month when I know at least two of us will need at least new lenses. Why can I never remember to spread them out? I can’t believe we have to have another summit with Rich’s mom. How is it that nearly a decade in she STILL doesn’t trust us to be parents. Or me. It’s nearly twenty years for Rich. I wonder when we’ll be good enough or smart enough or worthy enough for her to let us just be. Maybe through a compliment our way once in a while. I wish it wouldn’t bother me. It goes in cycles. Cycles. Oh! We need a new bike rack for Disney! We have until February.
PSA part deux (Dad, just skip ahead one paragraph) – prime time for a cerebral stroll? It’s that 3-5 minute period at the start of, well, being marital. Getting busy. Intentional Cuddles. Why don’t women initiate more? Because we all know it will send a signal for the Train of Thoughts to leave the station. Why do our engines take longer to engage? Because the second that kind of kiss hits our lips it’s I wonder if I’ll have time to go to Target tomorrow? Do Chip & Joanne have any new items in their line? Have I started a shopping list for this week? Did I sign up for the next tennis league? I wonder if I need new sports bras. Is Lorraine still mad at me? I wonder if I’ll fart in the middle of this. Oh! The groomers! I need to make the dogs an appointment at the groomers! Did the kids do their chores today? If a cow sits on a couch, does it become a cowch? How much snow will there be this year? If we’re lucky and very controlled, none of these thoughts exit those lips you are kissing. Because nothing says intimate buzzkill like, “Oh! We need to get your mother a birthday card.”
Of course, in a year that includes a pandemic, working from home, washing our hands, racial everything, kids and adults with extra anxiety, a toilet paper shortage, masks to match our outfits, and, well, you get it – it’s even worse. All the thoughts seem to matter more. The whole am I even doing any of this right? obsession seems especially critical because if I’m not, then we could become a number – and there are so many options for numbers… a covid number, a profiling number, a kids failing at virtual school number, an I had to wipe my a$$ with a dirty sock number. Still, there is joy in keeping the family globe spinning – the reward for capturing all those random thoughts into a basket of organization, production and completion. With one off to college, I’ve become aware of how many of the ‘things’ really do just seem like magic. We spent months (also years) prepping Zoe for the big world – but still, so many things we never occurred to us. The magic things. Doctor’s appointments – wait, we initiate those? Yes – we make the calls, we describe our symptoms, we pick a time to attend (And take a mask. And you can be right on time now because you wait in the car for your appointment. And doctors aren’t late anymore). Networks – I never thought to explain to the kids the insurance difference between in-network or out – until it came up in the form of a ridiculous treatment estimate. It’s just not something anyone else would need to know – until it pops into your head after your 4:00am potty break. Oh, hey, going back to sleep? Do the kids know how to schedule appointments? Do they understand insurance? Just wondering. No, no, you can just go back to sleep. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. But, also, what about bills? Do they know how to budget and send payments – is there some new fangled way for them to do that? Do I need to know what it is? Right, not now – just go back to sleep, no biggie. What’s Venmo?
I have gotten better.
The famous ‘hobby,’ for instance, provided by my husband nearly two years ago in the form of a Cricut and all the side dishes to go with it. When I can slow down enough to design and create and paint and cut and iron, my mental space does take the hint. Although I’ve learned that I need to stop arts and crafts time about an hour before bedtime, lest my brain pays me back for its timeout by then summoning me at 2:00am with an idea for another project. Yes, this is the thing I’ve found most useful in turning it off. This is my time, goopy head stuff – I don’t (mostly) care if this is presentable to the general public or not, this is my time to be without you. But what if the general public loves it? What if this is the wooden ghost thing is what puts me into the orbit of HGTV and Martha Stewart? What if she introduces me to Snoop? If we all become best friends and I’m a bajillionaire will we have to move? Build a new house on the same property? Where are Zack’s glasses? Right.
Well, I said it mostly works.