“Sir, I will eat no meat; I’ll not drink, sir; If idle talk will once be necessary, I’ll not sleep neither.”
– From William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra and Lesley.
So, here’s the thing. It’s bad enough that I don’t eat meat (mostly), and I don’t drink (which is about to change, pronto), but this not sleeping business really is a tragedy.
I can’t figure out what is going on. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that at least once through the night, I get up to visit the loo. There’s nothing unusual in that at this age. But what is miserable is returning to bed and not being able to go back to sleep.
This is happening every night. Last night I woke up at 3:30 a.m., and do you think I could summon up a drop of drowsy after that? I kept peeking at the clock at 10-minute intervals, and then at about 4 a.m., the stupid birds started chirping. Now normally, I love birds, but it was all I could do not to yell, “Shut your face!” out the window.
You get very cranky when you can’t sleep. And what’s even more irritating is listening to someone else snore away, blissfully unaware of your dire situation. You get very resentful when you can’t sleep. Why is hubby allowed to sleep when I’m wide awake? Shouldn’t there be a wedding vow addressing this situation?
“I promise to love, cherish and keep you company in the dead of night when you have insomnia, so help me God.”
When you can’t sleep, you make lists in your head about things you should be doing and how you’re a terrible person if you don’t.
Clean the tub. Make hummingbird food. Water the plants. Clean the vacuum filter so it will actually turn on. Muck out the bungalow. Do your foot exercises. Spray that stain on your shirt. Make up questions for a book promotion your publicist asked you to do last week. Answer yet another email regarding that foolish column I wrote two months ago about backing into a parking space! Vow never to write about parking, or driving, or cars, or men drivers, or parking spots, or insurance claims or highways, or driving safety, or backing up or pulling forward or spending time behind a wheel or ANYTHING to do with this miserable subject ever again!!
Sorry. This is what happens to a brain deprived of sleep.
The phrase ‘tossing and turning’ is a very good one. It describes exactly what happens when your brain is on fire with parking scenarios. I heave from one side of my side of the bed, to the other side of my side of the bed, and the flopping gets more and more violent as your fed-up self gets really fed-up.
Oh dear, that last heave brought hubby out of his blissful slumber. “Umm….mmm….hhhh….what’s wrong?” he mumbles.
“Wrong?! Nothing’s wrong. I just can’t sleep. I’ve been lying here listening to those bird ninnies you insist on feeding.”
“Relax your tongue.”
This is his answer to everything. The first time he said it, I was 20. I almost stopped dating him then and there. It was the dumbest thing I ever heard. And now that I’ve reached the iconic age of 64 (thanks to Paul McCartney), I still think it’s dumb. (Please don’t write to me about how this is marvelous advice. I can understand the science behind it. It’s just not what you want to hear when you’re upset.)
But I’m desperate, so I try and relax my tongue. I picture it wrapped in a white terry-cloth robe, having a massage and sipping on a pina colada.
“It’s not working,” I bleat softly into my pillow.
“Turn over. I’ll rub your back.”
And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I still love this man who married me 43 years ago, tomorrow.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband. Since all her pets have now died, she's very cranky. Her 11th book, Are You Kidding Me?! Chronicles of an Ordinary Life, (a collection of her various columns over the past 20 years), will be available in book stores in September 2019.