Grace

I was really hurting last night. I didn’t even recognize it until I was selecting tags for my last post. I looked at my most used tags, even though I already knew which ones I wanted to use, and found myself clicking on “guilt.” Maybe there was something my subconscious knew that I did not, so I went with it. I even kept it, over other possible tags that seemed more logical.

That post was about guilt. Even my “little bit of positivity” was about guilt. So much of my life – probably, most of my academic achievement – has revolved around guilt! Namely, trying to appease the universe and my inner judge. “Look at all the good things I’ve done! Can’t I please have some forgiveness, comfort, peace?” … And if what I’ve done isn’t enough, I can do more. I can go without sleep. I can torture myself emotionally.

Last night I tried to do something to help myself fall asleep – namely, listening to relaxing music on Songza. Focusing on the music helped me stay linked to this reality – held my anxiety at bay – and occupied my mind enough that I couldn’t torture myself. But, eventually, I had to turn it off to actually sleep. And then I was alone with my pain.

I lay there desperately wanting the comfort of a mother, the comfort my biological mother will probably never be able to give me. She might have done at some point when I was little, but now she has too much of her own baggage. I needed so much more than I can ever ask of her; I needed it straight from the Source.

And it came.

The Mother said, “I’m here, and I love you.” She wrapped herself around me and filled me with her love, her peace. Every part of me relaxed; I felt as I imagine a baby must feel while being held and loved and fed by a mother: completely at ease, trusting, nurtured, loved, whole. Fully one with the Divine. It only lasted a few moments, but that was all I needed.

Even now, the memory of that moment fills me with peace.

I’m no expert in theology, but I think this is the kind of thing Christians are referring to when they talk about grace, particularly in the context of grace vs. works. It’s having the courage and confidence and humility to ask for what you need, knowing that you are already worthy of it – and that whomever you are asking (whether human, divine, natural, etc.) is willing and able to give it. I exercised grace when I opened up to my loved ones last Saturday, cried on their shoulders and allowed them to meet my needs.

You don’t have to do anything to have your needs met – you don’t have to get straight A’s or maintain a successful career or be the perfect parent/spouse/child/sibling/friend/entertainer/etc. or write beautifully or invent something spectacular or save the world.

You just need to believe – not in any particular religion or deity, but in yourself, your own inherent worth. Maybe religion can help soothe the logical part of the brain that requires justification for why you are worthy or how you can possibly be worthy; Christians believe Jesus already died for their sins, a choice freely made out of love and desire to have a meaningful relationship between the Divine and humanity. My worldview has tended toward perceiving the Universe itself as the Divine, so as part of the universe humans (individually and collectively) are inherently divine – as are all things, living and nonliving, including the very planet on which we live. But these are just explanations; they’re not important in and of themselves. Any explanation that doesn’t justify mistreating others will do. What’s important is the belief.

Depression attacks this belief. The U.S. healthcare system tears this belief to shreds. Mainstream media are equally if not even more guilty. Please don’t get me started on politics.

So much in the world humans have constructed for ourselves demands works – demands that we measure our worth by what we have done (e.g. how much money we’ve made; how physically beautiful we’ve made ourselves; how many followers we have; etc.). Worse, it turns us against each other, into harsh judges of each other’s worth. We tear our own ability to know and value our inherent worth to shreds.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.

Insomnia

So, here I am at the end of a fairly productive day. I completed not one, but TWO assignments for my online class! They were a nice challenge; I definitely learned some things. I’m kinda looking forward to, kinda apprehensive about taking on the next assignment challenge! In my mind, that’s a good place to be.

I also acquired groceries, spent time with my rats (one of whom was surprisingly cuddly – at least for a short while), and played The Sims 3 responsibly. By which I mean I played for a handful of hours, then decided I’d reached a good stopping point and went off to do something else. I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off, but I don’t feel any particular urgency.

I was even able to take a bath without my mind wandering off into horrible, dangerous thoughts.

Fast forward to the present; I’m sitting here thinking, now what? The clock is telling me it’s time to sleep but I don’t really feel like it. In a way I feel like I haven’t really started my day – I haven’t exactly done any physical activity. Maybe that’s my problem, I need to exercise. Then my body will feel like I’ve done something today and decide it’s ready to sleep. Maybe my mind will follow suit.

Of course, right now exercising is the last thing I want to do. That tends to be how I feel most of the time – otherwise, I’d actually do it! In fact, given the choice between exercise and sleep, my body and mind seem ready to choose sleep. Well, if that’s what it takes to overcome my insomnia …

I think what it comes down to is that I’m afraid. If I stay awake, I can be pretty sure I can predict what will happen. I’ll do … whatever I want. I might be tired, maybe anxious, maybe sad. Okay, I’m used to those emotions, I can deal with them. Who knows? I might be happy! It’s nice and quiet. Maybe I can even be creative. It’s been a while since I’ve drawn or colored or improvised.

If I go to sleep … when I let my guard down the darkness starts to creep in. I feel anxious and it takes a while for my body to relax. I have bad dreams.

Dreams where the rules that govern reality don’t apply. In reality if I have an irrational fear I can use my understanding of logic and science to talk myself out of it. The empirical evidence usually supports this calming self-talk. Usually.

In dreams the fear manifests as something that my dream-self thinks is real; in that moment, it poses a real threat to me. For example, the “badly drawn babies with sharp teeth” in my previous post really had the potential to devour me if I did not get away! Even when I think I’ve woken up, often it’s just a dream-within-a-dream. Maybe the new reality is better, maybe it’s worse. It’s probably just as dangerous.

And when I finally do wake up, I feel groggy and drowsy. I don’t want to face reality. My dreams often haunt me, weighing on my mind. Sometimes I feel like I left something unfinished. The worst is when my dream-self was interacting with a loved one who really died, but in my dream they’ve just been gone for a while. When my waking-self remembers that said loved one is dead, it’s like a stab in the heart. I don’t know when I’ll get to see them again, and I probably won’t have any control over what I do or say next time we meet.

To say I’m going back and forth between dreams and reality is a bit misleading. It feels more like I’m moving between or among realities. Who’s to say that this one is any more real than the dream worlds? Sometimes the dreams feel more real.

To make matters worse, if I go to sleep, inevitably I’ll have to wake up again in this reality. Then, some unknown amount of time will have passed – time that I could have spent doing, I don’t know, something.

I’ll probably wake up less able to deal with reality than I am now. I’ll probably be haunted by bad dreams. Who knows what will be happening? It could be anything! My mother might want to impose on me before I’ve had a chance to put my guard up or, you know, eat something. I’ll have to face the uncertainty of feeling like I should do something useful with my time, but lack the motivation or energy or organization. There could be some disaster happening …

I think I’ve made my point. Going to sleep is scary because I don’t know what I’ll have to face in my dreams. Waking up is scary because then I have to deal with reality when I’ve just woken up and who knows what I’ll wake up into. I’d rather just deal with one reality full time instead of switching back and forth and having to adjust after each transition.

So I keep trying to think of things to do, anything but sleep. Lately it’s been The Sims 3. It just dawned on me that going through stuff and cleaning might actually be useful. I’ve probably made this blog post longer than it needs to be because writing is a viable alternative to sleep. Maybe I should try writing fiction. Or another poem? Or maybe one of the other posts that’s been sitting on the back burner …