Sleepless Insanity


Sleep eludes me once again.

Every night, it seems, it’s the same thing. I want to start getting ready for bed around 8pm – because that gives me enough time to do a few things like finish up anything that’s lying around, and be under the covers no later than 8.45-9pm. This means I have a solid hour to read or do whatever and still get plenty of shut-eye before getting up somewhere between 5.30-6am.

In an ideal world, that is.

I hate sleeping late – even on weekends, we’re usually up by 7am, 7.30 at the latest. If I sleep any later than 8am – regardless of when I actually fell asleep – I inevitably end up with a headache, general grogginess and a feeling like I’m wasting the day. I like to be up early because it means that, by the time 10am rolls around, I’ve already done a bunch of stuff.

In an ideal world, that is.

Lately, my sleep “schedule” – picture me snorting derisively here – has been so erratic that you’d think I was on uppers AND downers. I hope it goes without saying that I’m not on either – though, honestly, I’d kind of be grateful for some potent pharmaceutical help lately. My brain is constantly on overdrive – and, somehow, never seems to be the bearer of good, happy thoughts these days. If hope is elusive, happiness has become a rare commodity that has almost reached mythical status. I feel like my heart has taken so many beatings that the overarching emotion these days is resignation.

Ironically, resignation is sometimes the (slightly) better of two evils – the other side being crippling anxiety and fear. Fear of a life without children. (Did I say fear? I meant abject terror.) Fear of things that used to not even cross my mind or that I gave little importance to. Fear of…life. Of being lonely. Of having lost any spark, any social skills, of even losing my few remaining brain cells that haven’t yet succumbed to the doldrums from being beaten into submission by the incessant chatter about All The Things That Are Wrong With Me And My Life.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have more and more trouble concentrating. I’ve become more forgetful – not just in the sense of going somewhere and forgetting why, or of looking for something only to forget what or where it was last seen; no, more frighteningly, I feel like I’m forgetting words. I’ll be in the middle of a train of thought, and a word eludes me – not because I don’t know it or because I’m trying to think of some unsual, complicated word. No, rather, a word or turn of phrase I use or am, at least, very familiar with, suddenly disappears. I feel like a bat, trying to sound it out – but hitting a wall. (This, btw, may be entirely unfair to bats – if memory serves more than a passing diversion and receptacle for pain and trauma, I think I actually heard somewhere recently that, contrary to popular perception, bats actually can see, just not very well. Fascinating, I know.)

You see…I’m not an unusually proud or vain person – never have been. There are a handful of things that I felt were attributes – qualities worthy of time, effort and – I daresay – praise. I’m sure you won’t be the least bit surprised when I tell you that I feel like most if not all of these qualities seem to have vanished in the quicksand of IF. I used to be funny. I used to laugh all the time. I used to have a social life. I used to enjoy being around other people. I was witty! I was vivacious – effervescent, even!

Now, I just feel like a sack of potatoes – dull, drab and lethargic. I have a closet full of beautiful clothes I never wear because I don’t have the energy desire interest in putting together an outfit anymore. I occasionally open the door and peek inside – but I feel nothing. The clothes aren’t calling to me because I feel like they don’t even belong to me – they belong to someone who’s happy and full of life, someone who has friends, someone who knows how to have a good time and get the most out of life. They certainly don’t belong to the sad, hapless shadow of a woman hovering in the doorway, tentatively reaching out to run her fingers over a silky summer dress or a bold floral tunic. She’s not the one who’s going to be wearing the expensive penny loafers that were bought many years ago for a special occasion; or the elegant high heels. No, Ms. Frumpy has no business in this closet.

In our master bathroom, there’s a drawer with makeup. I think it’s mine – but whenever I open the drawer, I just find myself staring at its contents. I keep thinking I should just throw it away. Clearly, I’m not using it – but it seems so incredibly wasteful to just throw away brand new, unused products. I keep thinking, maybe I’ll come back to them. Maybe the fun girl who bought them is still hiding somewhere beneath the rubble. But I feel like I’m lying to myself. I think that girl has run off to a tropical island where she can actually have some fun.

For some reason, all of this is making me think of that movie You’ve Got Mail – the part where Kathleen Kelly’s book store is starting to go down and one of her employees says: “This place is a tomb – I’m going to the nut shop where it’s fun!”. I’m sitting here kind of chuckling to myself because this is so incredibly apropos, on so many levels. I feel like I’m a shell of myself – hollow and lifeless – and then the idea of going to a nut shop where it’s fun makes me think of being medicated into a state of blissful oblivion. I don’t know why that’s amusing to me – maybe just because I like the idea that, somehow, my mind can still run off on a tangent rather than being completely stagnant.

I know that my story, my feelings, aren’t all that unique. I’ve read countless posts and stories from other IFers who echo many of the same sentiments – the feeling of hopelessness and of living inside a stranger. You look in the mirror and it’s sort of the person you know…yet you don’t really recognize her anymore. Her hair is matted and her complexion is dull. But the worst part is how her eyes look sad – so incredibly sad. You search for a glimmer of hope. You might even give her a pep talk – just like you would for a close friend, a beloved sibling. Yet the words sound fake to your own ears. You know you have to keep going, somehow, by any means possible – but it’s getting harder and harder not to feel like throwing in the towel.

No matter what your personal experience is, or what the particulars of your situation are – infertility sucks. It’s unfair. It drains the very life and soul out of you. It keeps you from living a full life, from smiling and laughing unreservedly like you used to.

I’m at a loss as to how I can turn the worst part of it around: the loneliness that seeps into my bones like the icy hand of a blizzard; making you feel frozen to the core. I don’t know how to get back to how my life used to be; how to meet people and make new friends. It’s pathetic, I know – but I feel completely inept in this. Me, of all people! It’s ridiculous. I’m so battle-scarred and bruised at this point, so overly sensitive about anything and everything connected to our struggle to create a family – and all the crap we’ve endured at the hands of people who we should’ve been able to count on for support – that I’m scared.

There you have it – I’m scared.

If we lived in a major city, I would just find creative ways to “put myself out there” and stay busy – you know, the ubiquitous museum visits, cooking classes, etc. But the truth is that I don’t even know how to act around other people anymore because I feel so incredibly uncomfortable and awkward in my own skin. I feel like I’m branded – like the mere fact of leaving the house without a child or five in tow is immediately a signal to Everyone that I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. I’m not a mommy. I’m not a Fertile Myrtle. I’m a Wannabe.

I know it’s totally in my head – people constantly assume that I have children. Of course they would – at my age, the only way you wouldn’t make such an assumption is if I looked like I’d just come from a board meeting and was ready to crush some unsuspecting barista with my stiletto heel. But since I no longer even put on makeup – yes, pathetic as well (you see why I’m feeling so crap) – it’s only “logical” for people to assume that I have children. Clearly – since I obviously must’ve been kept awake by a baby or harried in preparing to send off the apples of my eyes to school to look so worn out.

I’m torn between wanting to sell all my worldly possessions – and thinking that if I start selling all my beloved clothes, it’s like saying that I’m going to be this sad, lonely person for the rest of my life. So the truth is that, sometimes, when I open the door to my closet, it’s because I need to see the life I had, the life force that is still – hopefully – hiding somewhere beneath the detritus of my shattered dreams. I need to feel like I still have something to hold onto – that I don’t need to or shouldn’t give up…Not yet, not ever. Because no matter where this road leads to or where it ends, I need to stop wasting away like a rotting banana peel.