The old sleepless in Seattle was way better

President* Trump,

You know how some nights are just miserable? Can’t sleep, can’t get comfortable, don’t want to move too much and wake others up, don’t want morning to come too soon because it’ll mean no sleep will be had, want morning to come so the ordeal will at least change. Last night wasn’t one of those nights for me, but the night before was and lately a fairly sizeable proportion of other nights have been “one of those nights.” Newsflash (not) – turns out it’s hard to settle down my brain and convince myself that things are ok enough to risk being asleep when things are actually not ok even though the rains haven’t flooded our basement (yet) and none of us have contracted COVID (yet) and we are still employed (for now).

I know that last sentence won’t win any prizes for pithiness, but hopefully you get the idea.

It used to be that the stuff that would keep me awake at night generally fell into one of two categories, things that were immediate and real in my life that weren’t going the way I wanted or things in the outside world that were upsetting but that I knew would never impact me directly and were far beyond my ability to impact at all. Those two insomnia vectors now seem like luxuries – the first being characterized by situations that I could actually have at least some direct impact on and the second being of the sort that I knew I had to simply accept. They were both sides of the Serenity Prayer coin….

May I have the grace to accept the things I cannot change.
May I have the courage to change the things I can change.
And may I have the wisdom to know the difference.

I wasn’t always successful at remembering this helpful advice in the moment and definitely lost many hours of sleep spinning over things that were within my control or that were absolutely not within my control. But at least during my waking time I could usually step back and do some self-coaching and get more or less back on track.

Actually, there’s a third insomnia vector I miss, which was the one where I’d find myself worrying that some out-there thing was going to befall me or people I love. Those nights were when the classic worry/anxiety monsters visited and generally lent themselves pretty well to a “What are the odds? What’s the worst that’s likely to happen? What could you do, oh grasshopper, if the worst were to come to pass?” type of self-coaching and usually didn’t persist for more than a night or two.

Now, not so much.

Now the shit that keeps me up at night could realistically happen to me and to people I love and the worst that could happen is really quite terrible. Now the shit that keeps me up at night is stuff that’s already happening to me and to people I love (to include all of us) and feels like a steamroller that’s inexorably crushing all the daisies we finally got to grow in the rocky soil. Now the shit that keeps me up at night is listening to the new-normal rain overwhelming the makeshift drainage system meant to keep our neighbor’s basement dry (they don’t have a sump pump or French drains). The list goes on and on and on.

Yes, there are things I can do to mitigate the personal threats and there are things I can do about the immediate drainage situation. And yes, this all got tripped off when I realized that here in WA state our ballots aren’t set to arrive tomorrow and that we have to wait until the 16th. And yes, actually getting to (finally) vote will probably help some, but really – this new normal isn’t sustainable. We seriously have to come together on a hard reset.

May we be safe in our beds and in our heads.
May we be willing to do what it takes to make sure we all have safe places to sleep.
May we stay strong by taking care and being gentle with ourselves and one another.
May we accept there are more things we can change than we might think at first.

Tracy Simpson

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