Falling Asleep

My hearing is the first sense to awaken. I am dreaming, and then I hear a very quiet whimper on the inhales of my dog Mia’s breaths. I am awake, then asleep for several cycles. Mia’s whimpers are becoming louder and soon I am awake and hearing each whimper. Mia has to go outside and pee. I want to stay under the covers, but I have to respond to her need to pee. “Okay, okay I hear you.” I say this every morning but I doubt she cares. Roscoe wakes and winds up for the day. There are mornings when I need to peel myself off the sheets and make a super human effort to throw the covers off. Does anyone really jump out of bed completely awake, ready to face the day? If so, I hate them!

I have always been fascinated by the mystery of sleep. Awake one moment and asleep the next, how does that work? I think sleep is not turned on and off like a light switch, but is on a dimmer switch. Muscles relax, breathing gets slower and deeper, the mind wanders into mazes and the next thing you know you wake up and it is then you realize you were asleep. My emotions seem to happen in the same way–slowly, growing with intensity and soon I am wandering through the maze with my fire and my heart. The next thing I know, I “wake” up and realize I have fallen in love or I am so sad I don’t know if I can survive it. Most of life is lived in between sleep and full awareness, somewhere on this continuum which rests on the fulcrum of denial. I can refuse to deal with a painful situation and deny it is happening, but I may start having bad dreams and night terrors. Asleep or awake, pain must be reckoned with.

When I live my life on automatic I am not asleep nor am I fully awake. Habit and memory keep me moving, but I am not becoming more aware or more human. I am “sleep walking” through life. If I bump someone they may say “Pay Attention , you idiot!”. I can only attend to my life when I am awake and using all my senses. In the first few months after Roger died, sleep walking was the only way I got through. I did not want to be fully awake, I was pretty sure it was a nightmare and I would wake up and all would be fine. I was obsessed with needing to know when the exact moment was that Roger became “not ” Roger and dementia claimed him. Even though I understood that dementia happened in increments , I wanted to know when the scales tipped to “not” Roger.

As he got sicker Roger slept a lot and he could not stay awake by sheer will-power. Was sleep more real to him than being awake? What were his dreams like? There are some things that are not limited by time, no before and after. I don’t remember who said this or where I read it, but I understand it more now: “I would not know until I knew.”

Aches and Pains

My shoulder hurts, sometimes the pain is dull, sometimes it hurts like hell. I have numerous issues with my hands—arthritis, carpal tunnel, numbness…. a litany of complaints. Don’t you just hate it when “old” people sit around and complain about all of their aches and pains? Just a simple “How are you?”, and you’re sorry you asked. Oh my God, I am one of those “old” people! With thousands of connections and moving parts, it is no surprise my body-years have caused wear and tear on the ole’ bones. I can relate to the Tin Man who locks up and can’t move without the oil can.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain are you in? Glad you asked , I’m at 20! Is childbirth more or less painful than a heart attack or kidney stones? Loneliness is usually thought of as a dull ache, a heart attack more like stabbing pain. Where does it hurt? I may have a headache,a tooth ache or a heart ache. We say “He broke my heart when he left me.” or “I was so scared I almost had a heart attack.” The line between physical and emotional pain, if it even exists, is very fuzzy. I think emotional pain can be present in every cell in my body. I have fear so where does it hurt, on a scale from 1 to 10 how afraid am I, and can you make it go away?

Age and physical activity can cause the body’s’ joints to wear out. Heart aches, traumas, disappointments, anxieties and worries age the body/mind and can become the weight that holds the door shut to joy, and keeps the pain in. Is this just the way it is or is there another way to face toxic emotional pain? Can we be healing even while we are hurting? The physical body may be aging and dying , but at the same time the spiritual/emotional body may be experiencing a renaissance. Aging often brings a freedom that evades the young. This ‘How important is it?” or “Who gives a f__k?” attitude can not be reached by thinking. Only experience, feeling our pain and an open heart can get me and you to freedom.

Emotional baggage can be let go of, but only death allows the body to be let go. The emotional traumas we acquire through the years can die before we face death in the physical plane. I may be saddled with an aging body and the aches and pains attached to my body, but I have much fewer emotional/spiritual aches and pains. My spirit will remain, lighter and freer after I let my body go. This sounds pretty good to me.