The hardest part about getting unstuck from a lousy routine that has become a lousy habit, is that the alternatives all feel impossible. If you’re fat, skinny seems a dream; drunk, sober seems a nightmare; lost, a way home seems hopeless.

Night panic makes it worse, of course. I’ve been frozen awake at 3am, convinced the shell of safety I’ve cobbled around myself with a job and a carefully built persona could easily be toppled by a bit of bad luck, or worse, some awful failure. Intangible monsters howl at the gate, as the other people in the house snore.

Mornings are better. The sunlight burns off the lingering night sweat, and another day of responsibility temporarily patches a constant and irrational fear of both business and social implosion. They shrink in the bright daylight, but those tiny discontented voices linger somewhere beneath, swirling and conspiring.

What are you doing? What do you care about? Does anything you do matter? What is it you’re running from in all of this work?

I’m fine. I’ve had some wins. My family needs me. I matter to certain people. I just have to get to that place…constantly chasing to get to that place.

At night again, I wait for the perfect silence of a world asleep, and jam my ear into the pillow, desperate to hear in those voices whatever I seem to be missing. Can I not hear the questions because of the answers? Is anyone ever satisfied?

Eventually, sleep saves me. In the morning, the light of the sun will burn it all back down.