My Thoughts Won’t Let Me Fall Back Asleep
It’s 3 am. I am awakened to the tiny footsteps of my three-year-old son making a late-night run to use the restroom from his bedroom. I can hear him as he flushes the toilet, places the stepping stool by the sink and turns on the faucet to wash his hands. I give him a moment to dry his hands before I patiently wait to hear his footsteps tiptoeing back to his bedroom.
I check his monitor as he crawls back into bed, tossing and turning until he gets comfortable as he drifts back off to sleep.
But now, I’m wide awake.
I’m awake to hearing my husband’s breathing in bed beside me. I’m awake to hear the ticking of the clock. I’m awake to silence. I’m awake to hearing my inner thoughts that are now screaming loudly.
One thought transforms into another thought. Another thought transforms into something else. Something else transforms into a heaping of questions I stress because I can’t answer.
I’m silently telling myself, “Go back to sleep, Rhonda. You can’t answer all of these questions tonight.” But I continue to toss and turn as the thoughts grow louder.
My thoughts won’t stop. Try to think of something else.
My son. How much I love my son. The day he was born. How fast he’s growing. The smile he had when he realized we were having pancakes for dinner last night. But now…I’m worried. I’m worried I’m not being a good mother. I’m worried I’m not teaching him right from wrong, empathy, manners, respect. Oh my gosh, what if I’m raising a little asshole?
I’m in this spiral until I tell myself once more, “Stop it, Rhonda. You’re overthinking. Go back to sleep.”
But it won’t stop. I check my phone and realize an hour and a half has passed that I’ve been awake. I have to work tomorrow, and it would be awful trying to get work done with only a few hours of sleep. I’m calculating how many hours of sleep I can get if I could just fall back asleep at this moment; hoping I won’t be too exhausted by the time my alarm chimes.
But, I’m back to asking myself questions and my thoughts running carelessly.
Why don’t you have a lot of friends? Is it because you’re an introvert? You need to be more outgoing. People aren’t going to want you around if you continue this way.
You’re going to be tired for work in the morning. You really need to figure out what you’re going to do with your career. It’s been ten years since you graduated college and you’re not where you thought you’d be. You have a son to take care of. You have to provide for him.
I’m feeling overwhelmed I can’t answer them. What is wrong with you? Why can’t you just let things go? Why don’t you know what to do?
I can feel my breathing change. I can feel my heart beating faster. My body is growing tense, and before I know it my eyes begin to swell as a teardrop hits my pillow.
I feel out of control.
I climb out of bed slowly as to not wake my husband. I don’t want him to hear me sniffling or to see me wiping my face. I go to the restroom to take deep breaths, fighting back the tears before quietly returning to bed. I don’t want to wake him. I don’t want to alarm him. He’ll be worried if he knew I started crying at 4:30 am because I couldn’t turn off my overthinking. He’ll want to “fix” it. He’ll want to help. But, there’s nothing he can do.
I lay on my back. I close my eyes. And I start counting. 1…2…3 breathe in. 1…2…3 breathe out.
By focusing on my breathing, I’m no longer thinking about the questions. My thoughts are slowly starting to subside. I can feel my body relaxing, my heartbeat slowing down, and my breathing returning to normal.
I release my tension. I release my fear. I release the negative energy and remind myself it’s OK to let it all go. My body feels lighter as the weight is being lifted.
I remind myself that I am not perfect. I remind myself that I am flawed and to allow myself grace to not have it all figured out.
And now…I pray.
I ask God for strength. I ask God for guidance. I ask God to help me realize I am not greater than all things and acknowledge that He is in control. I ask God to help my need to have all the answers and trust that He will provide in His time.
It isn’t easy telling myself this or getting to a mental space where I am reminded to take a step back. To remove myself from the thoughts that take over. But once I detach myself from those awful thoughts, and place trust I’m not in this alone…I drift back to sleep.