How to End Nighttime Torture

4 kids before school

Sometimes when I see photographs of my children I can’t believe that they’re mine. Is it possible that I have five and three are in school? I still feel like I’m 25 years old. I got an invitation to my 20th class reunion. They say it goes fast because it goes fast.

I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every morning this month. I can’t help it, I just wake up. Sam has asked me to “just lay there perfectly still and not say a word”. She’s got a good reason to ask me to do this. She wakes up two or three times each night to feed Kimi. What she doesn’t know is that I often wake up with her and “lay there perfectly still, not saying a word”

While I lay there awake, not moving a muscle, I try not to think of anything. If I begin a thought process somehow I scare myself with thoughts of lack of money, lack of control, various unfulfilled promises and evidence proving the failures of my parenting. The quiet hours of the morning conspire against me. I’ve done that routine as long as I’ve had coherent thoughts.

Something changed. Last week I was lying there, dead like, and I could feel an unpleasant thought sequence coming on. If one of my thought sequences comes on then I am usually doomed to at least two hours of torture but I had an idea.

Instead of the usual horror movie that plays in its entireity I thought about the beach in San Clemente. I have a Super 8 movie collection of my children. In that collection I have a silent, black and white movie of the kids on the beach with me. I have footage of Jack and Lily running down a sunny beach towards me. I have footage of Lily dancing in the shallow surf and Jack digging a hole in the sand with his hands. It shows the crashing waves and the pier on the distant horizon. It’s as pleasant as an evening stroll. I saw those scenes while not even budging a bit.

Then I thought about old friends. I stretched my mind back to high school and the fun. I thought about surfing on top of the old van. I thought about the days in the darkroom early in the morning before school started. Instead of negative self-depreciation I filled my mind with good memories. And it worked. I was actually having a pleasant 2AM awake time.

The last few days this has happened to me I’ve thought about the future. Not the scary future but the promise of grown children, grandchildren and becoming a successful businessman. I thought about projects I’d like to do. I became excited about their completion. 

It’s been a terrific change for me. Hopefully I’m not ignoring the present and it’s demands but I’ve noticed that todays torture becomes tomorrows forgotten memories.

One comment

  1. you’re perfecting your ability to visualize what you really want…great skill to have!! i’ll have to try this when I can’t sleep even though the reasons I can’t sleep are not due to over-active mind right now!!

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