The Bright Side

Happy catI’ve always been a silver-lining seeker. I believe there’s good in every situation, no matter how bleak it may seem. And trust me, with insomnia, things can feel pretty darn bleak.

Though we ‘somnis often get extremely down about our sleeping issues, insomnia does have its perks. A recent post in an insomnia support group asked us to talk about the “bright side” of not sleeping. I loved reading the responses—some deep, some funny, some laced with sarcasm. Here are a few of my favorites:

Marcie W: “I get alone time. The only alone time I get.”

Jailyn B: “My husband is a disabled vet. Sometimes the insomnia is a blessing because I am able to jump up at a moment’s notice if he needs me, or I can stay up all night if I need to and take care of whatever needs to be done.”

Laura P: “I get special late night texting time with my dad, he is a trucker, who works nights.”

Elizabeth J: “I get to cuddle with my cat more often.”

Amnee J: “At least I know if anyone tries to break in or attack me, I’ll be awake to defend myself and see the attack coming in advance.”

Robin D: “I have had insomnia for decades. I have learned to love the night … I can see the beauty in the darkness.”

Moriah J: “I will die sooner.”

Alone time, yes! Being more available for those in need, awesome. Cuddling kitties, obviously a fantastic benefit. But of these responses, the last one resonates with me most.

I’ve talked about our clingy relationship with physical health in a previous post. We get far too attached to the here and now; we ignore our purpose on earth and abandon beliefs that life goes on after death. The reason I love Moriah’s blunt, honest response is because it forces us to face the reality of death, and choose to view it as a positive or a negative.

I believe we can find comfort in death. After dying, we will no longer experience mourning, crying or pain, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). On the particularly terrible insomnia nights, I cling to these words and allow my anxious mind to soak them in. I try to imagine the beauty of a new world without suffering, and where perfect contentment will make a home in all hearts.

This may be the greatest benefit of insomnia. It puts death right in our faces, and it reminds us not to live our lives going through motions without a real purpose.

Beauty in Darkness

I excelled at ‘going through motions’ 10 months ago. I would drag my grumpy insomniac butt out of bed in the morning, work a job that demanded more from me than I could ever give, try to squeeze in a half-hearted workout for health’s sake, then barely have time to scarf down dinner before attempting another night of broken sleep. I didn’t allow adequate time for my marriage. I didn’t even attempt to see friends or develop relationships. I rarely picked up my guitar, read a book just for fun, or anything else I once enjoyed.

Insomnia—as a blessing in disguise—pushed me to my breaking point. I couldn’t do it anymore. I felt miserable, and I worried my friends and family who thought I had dropped off the planet.

Fortunately, I married a compassionate, self-sacrificial man who helped me make a plan to get out of the rut. We readjusted our budget and made major lifestyle changes so I could afford to quit my job. My husband told me the most helpful move I could make was to take a step back, let my body and spirit rest, and do what I could as a full-time homemaker for the time being (or “domestic engineer,” as he likes to call it.)

Insomnia hit me like a slap across the face, but I’m finally learning to adapt and even appreciate this season of life.

Robin’s response above, the one expressing a newfound love for nighttime, also gave me an important reminder: we are designed to adapt. When we lose something—a limb, a loved one, a relationship—we go through a mourning period and eventually learn to cope with the loss. Memories remain of the way things once were, and sadness over the loss may creep in throughout our lives, but our new reality eventually sets in and we learn how to find joy in it. Humans are made to be highly resilient beings.

I love how Robin says she finds beauty in the darkness. That’s what life is about, isn’t it? The darkness, the brokenness, the sadness—it will never go away while we live in this world. But we can still find beauty in it. We may lose our mental/physical capacity to hold a steady job, but we gain time with loving friends and family. We may lose the ability to travel, but we’re humbled by the people who come thousands of miles just to visit us. We may feel exhausted 90 percent of the time, but we learn to appreciate that 10 percent of “normal” more than any human ever could.

Cuddle your cat, text your night-owl friends, enjoy your alone time, and learn to find the beauty in darkness. If you look hard enough, you’ll always find a silver lining. Even with insomnia.

Peace and blessings,

Kat, (semi-professional) insomniac

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