In the Middle of the Night

No, I’m not going to recite all of the lyrics to a Billy Joel song here, even though I have to admit, it’s a pretty catchy tune. You’re welcome, by the way, for putting the song in your head. This is more about the thoughts of a chronic insomniac. That would be me, in case you’re wondering.

Maybe it’s my age bracket, and we’ll get to that, or it could be that I haven’t had 10 good “sleeps” post cancer treatment (but who’s counting). The truth of the matter is sleep can be “elusive.” At least that’s what the lady says on my meditation app. I usually fall asleep somewhere during the meditation, but lately I seem to be hearing it in its entirety and saying to myself, “That’s it? It’s over?”

Then I change to a different meditation by an English gent who begins by saying, “You must not listen to this meditation whilst driving.” Whilst driving? WHILST? Isn’t the point of a SLEEP meditation to listen to it while you have the hopes of falling asleep? This guy says things like, “You’re going to sleep,” followed by this weird whisper of “sleep, sleep, sleep” like some kind of subliminal message. Instead of buying into it, I find myself counting how many times he says “sleep.” Another epic fail at a meditation and the continued “elusiveness” of sleep.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep, I get thinking too much about “things,” especially at 3:30 am when I have an important meeting the next day at 9 am. Or rather, that very morning. I look at the clock and think, “If I can fall asleep in 30 minutes, I’ll have 3 more hours of sleep.” You know how this goes, right? I look over at the clock and the “countdown” for lesser sleep begins.

Recently, during one of my in-the-middle-of-the-night pondering sessions, I thought, “Holy crap! I am closer to being 70 years old than I am to being 30!” Or 35, for that matter. It was quite a “smack in the face” epiphany. Wasn’t I 30 just yesterday? I mean, I even remember my birthday dinner out with my friends! We had a cheese fondue with all kinds of food to dip in it. It was delicious, by the way. How the hell did I get HERE already? Now, I can’t even remember what I had for lunch yesterday or where I was two Saturdays ago at noon. Some crime witness I would make!

The police, “Ma’am (this is always an awesome greeting; like hearing your age through a megaphone), where were you on the 20th of last month?”

“Sir (some respect for authority), I don’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning.” I figure it would go something like that.

Since we’re on the topic of not remembering things, we might as well touch on the hearing issue as well. I barely have one ears’ worth. I’m officially middle-aged, the proof being tinnitus in one ear, along with all of the rock concert ticket stubs I have in a box that I can’t find because I’m unable to recall where I put it. Fun times.

Is this proof of middle-age and a life well-lived? Battle scars that provide proof of existence?

“Now here’s a woman who has lived! She has a multitude of scars all over her body from a plethora of surgeries, she can’t hear out of one ear, can’t sleep to save her life and clearly has a serious case of CRS (Can’t Remember Shit)!”

I have two kids in their twenties who, I often can’t believe, I’ve kept alive and well all this time. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive unless it is attached to a hydroponic garden that buzzes when it’s out of water. Come to think of it, I somehow still have a little cactus plant that I knocked over and destroyed, but was able to put back into the pottery it lived in. LIVES in. It’s still alive, miraculously.

Both of my kids talked me into getting another dog when my oldest was heading off to college. “Mom, Callie (our yellow lab) will be so sad when I’m away at college. She needs a friend.” Am I not her friend? And also the person who feeds her, picks her poop up off the yard, and somehow, keeps her alive as well?

Enter Milo, the Shorkie, who I love, but is also a contributing factor to the “no sleep” issue. He is the dog we got when I was in my forties. When we took him to the vet for the first time, my then teenage son pointed to the lifespan chart on the wall and said, “Hey Mom, you’re going to have this dog until you’re in your sixties,” followed by uproarious laughter. His, not mine. Apparently, the less a dog weighs, the longer he/she lives. Who knew?

He’s a small dog, super cute (I’ll give him that) and insists on sleeping on my bed. This only takes place after he plays a five minute “cat and mouse” game with me. He comes to the side of my bed and cries to come up. I get out of bed (a high bed that I once thought was awesome that now feels like a catapult is necessary to mount), bend down to get him and he hides under the bed. “I’m too old for this shit,” I often think. This goes on for five minutes of my life I can’t get back and, finally, I get him up on the bed.

Milo likes to lay/lie (whichever, since I’m no literary genius) in his little bed ON my bed. It’s the mattress version of nestling dolls. During another of my in-the-middle-of-the-night pondering sessions, I look down near my feet to see him laying/lying (please don’t rat me out to one of my high school/college English teachers for this) on his back, like Snoopy on his dog house, snoring so loud he sounded like a grown human. The dog weighs maybe 8 pounds.

My boyfriend is quite the trooper. I mean, he puts up with me of course. Even he cannot believe the sounds that emanate from such a small being. We look at each other like we can’t believe we are witnessing such a sound. Then he rolls over, snores and now I have a human-canine cacophony of snoring. Someone please shoot me.

As we age, the challenges change, of course. How often have we all been up in the middle of the night distracted by, or worrying about, something?

Are my babies ok? When they actually WERE babies, I would think this, get up 3 times in the night and check on them. Did I wash the right soccer uniforms for tomorrow? How am I going to get two kids to two separate soccer fields and somehow watch them both play? Are the kids safe and well at college? Did I get this done, that done. “Blah, blah, BLAH!!” yells the mind.

Like the Dos Equis guy would say, “I don’t always sleep, but when I do, I sleep.” Ah, the challenges we face as we age. I’ll take it, I guess. Finding my “off” switch is an ever-evolving process. I’m sure I’ll get through it like I seem to get through everything else – in the middle of the night.


Connie Bramer
Connie Bramer
Connie Bramer is an entrepreneur, mom, breast cancer survivor, and author of “How Connie Got Her Rack Back,” her comical spin on the journey of cancer. Connie’s mission to help others through her own experiences drove her to found Get Your Rack Back Inc., a not for profit organization that provides financial assistance to cancer patients in Upstate NY. GYRB assists patients – men, women, and children with varying types of cancers – with gas and grocery gift cards as well as medical copay assistance. Connie has been featured in several magazines including Her Life New York and Womenz Straight Talk. As a cancer survivor, Connie was awarded the Hyatt’s prestigious Portrait of Understanding Award. In addition to her inspirational blog, gyrb. She also shares her everyday antics with a snarky sense of humor on her blog, The Humor Of It All. Connie is a contributing author to the inspiring books; Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change and Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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