I would like to say, “This issue finally came to a head today,” but the truth is, it has come to a head many times before, nothing changed, and I have no reason to believe anything will change tomorrow.
The issue? I cannot, for the life of me, go to bed at a reasonable hour. You may laugh, and blow me off, and think I just have myself a little bad habit. My own mother makes fun of me for this issue, so go ahead, I can take it.
The thing is, I’m thinking you have no idea. For the last four years or so, I’ve been stumbling through life in a fog, living on caffeine and the anticipation of Saturday morning. In the last year, I have had one stretch of about 5 days in a row of getting enough sleep. Otherwise, I only really get a good 8 hours here and there, never for more than one or maybe two nights in a row.
The cause, I think, is my discomfort with being alone. I am never more alone than when I turn off the lights and try to go to sleep. I will do anything and everything to avoid that moment when I actually have to turn off the lights and lay my head on the pillow. By myself.
I had a conversation with some friends tonight about “alone time.” I think everyone needs some measure of alone time in their life, but everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum. I need very, very little, and certainly not at night. Growing up in a big-ish family, a shower was often enough alone time for the day! (Four kids, two parents, one bathroom. That’s a big-ish family, right?) These days, I get plenty, overdoses, of alone time! You might think the dog would make it better, but he doesn’t. In the beginning, he actually made it worse, because I had to be very conscious of coming home regularly to take care of him, home where I was alone.
Tonight, I came home late, around midnight, took the dog out, brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, and then just stood there looking at my bed. To my horror, tears started streaming down my face, and I dreaded that moment of getting in bed and turning off the lights, and all I could do was just go back in the direction of the living room. Two things: One, it wasn’t that I wasn’t tired. I was exhausted! When I’m tired, all my emotions, good and bad, want to express themselves as tears. So obviously, it wasn’t that I don’t need sleep right now. Two, despite my tiredness, nothing about my own bed is appealing to me. Do you see the beautiful picture at the top of this post? That is the most beautiful, inviting bed I can imagine–sunset, on the beach, imagine a warm breeze, fresh, outdoor scent… And yet, nothing about it is appealing to me if I have to lie down alone.
In case it’s not obvious to you, this issue has nothing to do with sex. A houseguest sleeping on the couch, a roommate in a bedroom down the hall, a sister sharing my room, or a man laying right next to me…any of those options would fix this for me. Of course there is one of those options that would be the preferred solution :), but this is not about that.
People have said, “You just need to get to a place where you’re happy, all by yourself.” And the thing is, I am getting sort of good at that balance between being happy in my life alone, while still hoping that God does have marriage in His plans for me. It is good from the time I wake up until about 9:30 p.m. After that, the discomfort with going to bed alone in my home manifests itself as loneliness, far too often. Does that mean that I actually am very lonely, and I just don’t see it the rest of the day? Because I don’t feel lonely. More often than that, I feel busy and happy and just saturated with things to do and people to spend time with. Of course I’m hoping for that one person to commit my life to, but I don’t feel lonely in the mean time.
Even tonight, looking at my empty bed with tears of exhaustion and dread streaming down my face, I didn’t feel lonely…I just felt alone.
Is there a difference?
Can I fix it?