Insomnia Induced Epiphany
From a very young age, I was extremely scared of the dark. . .even in the middle of the day. My dad left a vacant spot in my mom’s king size bed when I was only five years old. I quickly claimed dibs on sleeping in the big bed by my newly divorced mom’s side. No need to face the monsters under my bed or the boogeyman hiding in the closet, I got to sleep safe and sound, snuggled up close to my mother. Perhaps this is when my struggle with aloneness began.
In my teen years, my mom worked full-time not getting home until after 5:00. My school was just a few blocks away from our little two bedroom house. I would take my time walking home because every step brought me closer to the empty house that I would have to enter. By the time my hand would reach the “never-locked” door knob, my heart would be pounding so hard I could barely breath. My rational mind would buckle under the weight of my deepest fears. Many times, I would just sit on the front porch and wait because I was too scared to go inside in the middle of the day by myself. Aloneness, for me, was a lonely isolated island filled with scarey predators, darkness and extreme anxiety.
My senior year of high school, my mother was diagnosed with bone cancer. After surgery to remove her cancer-feeding ovaries, she required full-time care and went to live with my sister in a different city. Suddenly, I was all alone in our apartment, in a city where I had no family. I had no choice but to abruptly face my fears. It is this part of my journey that remains most prominent in my psyche. Many nights, I fell asleep with the T.V. turned on – Johnny Carson, Joan Rivers and guests, my late night companions. 3:00 a.m. I would wake up to the frozen Indian face staring at me accompanied by an irritating noise piercing my dreams. All programming was over – no cable, no remote, only three main channels. “Aloneness” during this time of my life, resembled a deserted island…I felt abandoned with no rescue in sight. Staring out the window was my perch, my guitar was my solace and favorite distraction from the depths of my loneliness. It is then, I began an ongoing internal dialogue with God.
Soon after my mom passed away, I got married. My aloneness, quickly replaced with domestic activities, in-laws and very close neighbors who I could reach out and touch. Not long after that, I had my son to hold in the quiet moments. Aloneness became the blissful moments in the quiet of the night highlighted by my newborn son nursing with his tiny hand gripped tightly around my finger. Fears of being all alone, a distant memory from my past life. A few years later, another child, a new city and my husband traveling around the world led to yet another phase of my exploration of aloneness. Yes, I was alone in my bed for nights on end in those days. But my children were sleeping across the hall, so fear no longer colored my quiet moments, and complete mother-fatigue left little time for deep contemplation.
Now, here I am. My children’s bedrooms are lifeless shells which hold their favorite photos, yearbooks and accolades. Once again, on the occasion my husband has to travel (which is much less these days) I am left to discover where and who I am in my aloneness evolution. Maturity and life experience has squelched my fears (as well as a trusty alarm system), loneliness is no longer a pain in my soul – what remains is my ongoing inner dialogue with the creator, which of course are just my own musings taking place in my finite brain. I ask a lot of questions in the quiet moments. I retrace my spiritual journey in my mind seeking to understand the meaning of it all. Questions…not so many answers.
This journey of aloneness has taken me from trying to escape it at all costs, to actually embracing the moments where I am left with my own thoughts to explore self, soul and spirit. Once a remote frightening island, “aloneness” is now my oasis of calm, where the skies get ever clearer and peace can find my soul.