The Space Between

I woke up yesterday morning and wrote a blog post.  I was exhausted.  I wasn’t even sure the post made sense, but I was too tired to care. 

Then I took a nap.  A long and glorious nap.  And I felt better.

When I woke up, I received two important phone calls.  Phone calls that changed my perspective.  Phone calls that were each, in some sense, like a long and glorious nap.  Refreshing.  Reinvigorating.  Restorative.

And then I wrote. 

And it was good. 

When Husband walked through the door yesterday evening, I was smiling.  I still looked like the Exhausted Me (a nap and some phone calls weren’t enough to erase the dark circles from my eyes… or sufficient motivation for me to take a shower), but I felt more like the regular me.  Still tired.  But refreshed.  Reinvigorated.  Restored.

Eager to ride the I-am-recharging-my-batteries wave, I put myself to bed early.  I knew that Lil Mil would wake up at some point in the not-too-distant future, thereby commencing her hourly I-will-cry-for-no-reason-until-morning routine, but it was still early enough for me to get a few hours in before that happened.

I turned off the light, snuggled down under the covers, and closed my eyes.

And couldn’t sleep.

I can always sleep.  Sleeping is my trademark move.  My go-to plan of attack.  When stressed or angry or sad, I sleep.  Easily.  Often.  I don’t even need to be tired when I get into bed.  When my head hits the pillow, I sleep.

Not last night.

Last night, I was wide awake.  I could have gotten up and attempted something productive, but I was too tired for that.  Too tired to do anything but lie there in the dark, wide awake.

And then it hit me.  Out of nowhere, a very un-Lauren thought popped into my brain:

This is a gift.  Enjoy it.

I say this was un-Lauren because I hate sleeplessness.  If I do not fall asleep immediately upon getting into bed, I get angry.  With myself, for drinking that afternoon cup of coffee.  With Husband, for having the TV on too loudly.  With Lil Mil, for crying in the next room.  With the washing machine, for making too much noise.  With the silence, for being too silent.

I do not enjoy lying in bed, not sleeping but not doing anything else, either.  I know some people do.  I unequivocally do not.

Last night, I did.

I’m not sure if it was the catharsis of writing yesterday’s post, or the fact that Lil Mil’s new scream-shriek has dramatically reduced the number of quiet hours in my day, but for some reason, I felt thankful for my sleeplessness.  Thankful that I had time to think.  About everything.  About nothing.  The freedom to let my mind roam and wander while my body relaxed against the sheets.

I will not be anxious, I told myself.  I will not stress about the fact that I will be even more exhausted tomorrow than I was today.  I will enjoy this.

And I did.  For hours.  When Lil Mil finally did cry at 11:30 p.m., I was awake.  I stayed awake while she cried and was still awake when she fell back asleep, as well as when she woke back up an hour later, and an hour after that.  I didn’t fight it.  I just enjoyed the solitude and the silence between cries.  At some point around 3:30 a.m., I finally fell asleep.  Miraculously, Lil Mil didn’t wake up again until 6:30, when we both got up.

Three hours of sleep.  I should be right back in the Exhausted Place (it’s not as if I really left).

But I’m not.  I feel … rested.  Better than I did yesterday.  Better than I have in days.

Exhaustion is not the product of insufficient sleep.  Sure, insufficient sleep is part of it.  But that I’m-so-tired-I-can’t-think feeling comes from more than a mere sleep deficit.  It happens when we feel overextended, underappreciated and out of control.  It sneaks in when we’ve tried to do too much, when we can no longer see the trees for the forest (not the same as not seeing the forest for the trees).  It’s the consequence of a life lived to the edge of the page, without any margin.  Without any space between.

Last night was my space between. 

This morning, I am committed to finding more of it.


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