Over ten years ago I had a bout of insomnia that knocked me to my knees. Actually, that felled me to my face. I don’t need to go into details, but I was hurting.
I remember saying to my therapist, who told me about her two-year bout of insomnia, “I can’t do this for two years.”
I also got better, with a lot of giving up, letting go, CBT therapy (and then a lot of giving up and letting go after the CBT therapy set off my “anorexic thinking” and I became way too rigid about the CBT therapy). It was a huge learning experience. It made me stronger and, perhaps more importantly, since I am pretty strong and I don’t need to be much stronger, I learned to allow myself to be softer, less perfect, and more flawed. I learned to love my days and my life even when I was hurting. I learned to love myself even more.
After that, sleep became my Achilles heel, I guess, and I would slip into small bouts of insomnia now and then, especially when I would perfectly try to stop all the remedies and “crutches” I used to ease my sleep. But it always went away.
Then in early 2019, I had what I have to admit is a relapse. It was not as bad as it was during my first bout, but it was tough, and, honestly, it’s been on-and-off tough since then. Tougher then I like it to be. I went to see my sleep doctor when it first hit, and she said, “Anyone would not be sleeping with what you have going on.”
And that was before I had all this going on.
I was amazingly lucky that I slept well (for me) through the cancer and chemo. Then, just about as soon as chemo ended, my sleep got whacked again.
When I don’t sleep enough/well enough, it hits me hard. I feel sick – mentally, physically, and emotionally. It has negatively affected my work, my relationships, and the way I show up on a daily basis at times. It is not my happy place. Especially now. Especially as I heal from chemo, feeling sick from lack of sleep feels so unfair. So so so so so unfair. It has made this healing process longer and harder. And that is damn tough.
I also find I blame myself for this. As if it’s my fault that I’m not sleeping well enough. This is old behavior, a scar from my cult childhood. When I was on that podcast a few weeks ago, it was blatant how we had been taught to take responsibility for everything. To see our challenges as “letting Satan inside of us.”
I can need to be reminded that I didn’t cause my sleep challenges. That it’s not a result of something I’m doing wrong. It’s actually, in many ways, out of my control. Especially now with everything that has been going on and that is going on. Especially now as I await my next surgery, and I can’t really do anything to hopefully make my sleep better and easier before then.
I’ve learned to breathe through it. To (for now) nap to feel better. To love myself first, most, and always, even when I’m so not at my best. I actually did let go of all of the remedies I used to take, which is way cool and probably healthier for me, and I let myself admit that not sleeping well sucks – really sucks – as I find ways to be as okay as I can be on the days that I’m not. And then I let it be okay that I’m not.
I do believe it will get easier again. At times it has already. I’m writing about it here so that I’m out with it – as I’m out with pretty much everything else. So that anyone else who is facing sleep challenges and disturbances can possibly say to themselves, “Of course you’re dealing with this. Anyone would not be sleeping with what you have going on. And this is really, really, really hard.”
For today, I don’t blame myself. Right now, I slow down and be even more gentler with myself. In this moment, I love myself, First Most and Always.
And I let it and me be okay enough.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!
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