I want to be healthy, physically and emotionally. I do! Yes, it’s unnerving at times, in the way that you feel uneasy sometimes in unfamiliar places. Yes, it means giving up patterns I have repeated for years, I understand that. And it’s okay with me; it’s worth it to be healthy.
Am I kidding myself when I write that? I feel like I’m sincere. I can pull out all kinds of evidence and say, look, really, I’m trying! Look how I quit my unreasonably demanding job. Look how much time and money I have put into therapy, doctors, medication. Look at how I’ve learned to meditate. I’ve stopped eating sugar and grains. I don’t live the same way I used to. It’s a lot, right? I want to be healthy.
But on the other hand, you could also pull out your own list of evidence that I’m not willing to make the efforts I need to. For example, I know that exercising makes a difference. Going to yoga makes my body feel better and soothes my spirit. But this is what I keep reliving, day after day: In the evening, I decide I will get up the next morning and go to my yoga class. During the night, I toss and turn and wake up every 45 to 60 minutes. Usually I can go back to sleep, but often I’m awake for an hour or more before I sleep again. In the morning, I’m exhausted. My eyes are heavy. Some days my head is groggy. The idea of getting in the car and driving through traffic to get to my studio, to make an effort and move my tired body… it’s just not appealing. And so I don’t go.
I try to make it easier: I lay out my yoga gear the night before. I read about yoga before I go to bed, and I look forward to the class. And I genuinely love this studio. But the exhaustion and discouragement and apathy of the morning swallows me up, day after day.
It’s easy to slide into negative self-talk: What is wrong with me? I am so lazy. I am such a pseudo-yogi. I don’t even deserve to be studying yoga…
I carry this into therapy with me on Wednesday, telling E, “Okay, I know that berating myself isn’t helpful, but I hate this behavior.”
E reminds me how hard it is to change. She agrees that scolding myself won’t help–humans are not motivated by being scolded. What if I just recognize that I’m trying to do a lot at once? What if I acknowledge the challenge my insomnia poses to my life, while also honoring the aspiration I have, longer term, of being a person who regularly gets up and goes to yoga?
It sounds right, at one level. But frankly, it’s hard to hang onto. Last night, I was again wide awake in the middle of the night, even though I haven’t had restful sleep in weeks. You’d think my brain would be fighting for sleep, not racing around thinking in circles, but no, every night it’s more of the same. I started to panic last night; there’s something about 3am that lends itself to catastrophic thinking: oh my god, it’s going to be like this forever, I will never get my life together…
Today I’ve struggled some all day. I’m tired, discouraged. It’s been easy to think about how long I’ve been trying to get better, without feeling well. And I’m feeling alone with it. My friends are busy and haven’t had time to meet up with me. My husband is his regular loving self, but busy and a little distracted.
I try to rally the wise woman deep inside myself, the one who stays calm, who knows what is needed. She tells me: Don’t put too much energy into thinking ahead, about how long it all takes. You might have insomnia for months to come. You might start sleeping better next week. This isn’t something you can know. All you can do is take care of yourself, right now, in the moment. Offer yourself some grace. Practice yoga when you’re able. Exercise when you are up to it. Keep eating well.
And then she tells me hardest thing: When you feel alone, you often withdraw and isolate yourself. Try not to do that. See if you can reach out, just a bit more, to feel connected. There are people who care about you, and it might help for you to know that.
Yikes, she’s right maybe–but reaching out is hard too. Sometimes it all feels hard.