In the Night

What is it about nighttime that makes all my worries, hurts, bad memories, and all of the issues left unresolved from the day, seem so much bigger and more ominous?

There are nights when sleep eludes me, for whatever reason: a restless baby, a snoring husband, my own inability to just shut off my brain.  I try to lie still, waiting for that drifting feeling, hoping that sleep will float down onto me.  Sometimes it does.  Sometimes, though, a thought or feeling that may have seemed vague during the day suddenly looms large.  I worry it and worry it, teasing it as if it’s an angry dog ready to spring – not out of any sense of amusement, but rather an inability to stop myself from doing so.  And before I know it, what felt manageable in the daylight now seems nearly insurmountable.  And the cycle is then in motion: my mind is racing with bad emotion, and so I can’t sleep, and the not sleeping, the lying awake in the dark, makes everything seem bigger and badder.

And there I am, a one-woman band, playing all the parts of the conversations I imagine having, or replaying the ones I did have, or acting out all the parts of a scenario in my head, looking for resolution, and usually finding none.

It’s at night, when the house is quiet, when I am alone with myself (for even a restless baby and a snoring husband are not really present), when all the motion and distractions of the daytime are stripped away – it’s always then that I can get to feeling truly overwhelmed, when everything seems magnified.

No wonder children are afraid of the dark.

Eventually, though, the sun rises again and all those big, bad thoughts recede, waiting for another night to taunt me.


6 Comments on “In the Night”

  1. Jody
    September 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Very good insight…..I could not have explained it better….

  2. Kris M
    September 21, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    This is familiar. I remember when my oldest was an infant, I would sit in the rocking chair with a half sleepy/half fed baby, dreading the coming darkness. I would tell myself, “You can do it. Just get through this night. Tomorrow night will be better.” There was just something about that empty, lonely time when everyone in the world (except me) seemed to be getting a respite from the busyness of daylight. It felt like panic might overtake me. My mind would race and I’d imagine all kinds of horrific unimaginables. It eventually went away and I was able to attain the sleep my brain was craving. When I reflected later though, when my son was older, I wondered whether I had some PPD issues. As I said though, it did eventually end. Sleep is essential; I hope this ‘sleeplessness’ period you are experiencing ends soon.

    • Lisa
      September 21, 2012 at 5:34 am #

      kris, I think I very well may have some degree of PPD. But the insomnia, and the worrying, and the everything being magnified at night, that’s all stuff I’ve experienced my whole life, even as a kid.

  3. jen
    September 22, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    Yeah, that makes sense to me. I used to have huge night issues. It was like everything that was slightly negative in my life would swell up and become overwhelming starting at about 10 pm. The worse it got, the more I thought about it and the worse it got again…

    At some point, I figured out that I had to not trust myself after 10 pm. That sounds odd and anyone I’ve ever told has told me that’s wrong – that I should trust myself, that I deserve to trust myself, yadda yadda. But for me, it was a very good thing. I know that I shouldn’t trust what I was feeling at night – that I can just ignore it, that if I want to mull it over and take it seriously, I can do so tomorrow, but NOT to pay any mind to these thoughts after 10 pm… realizing that was a major turning point in my inner life, because now I don’t stress about it. I just know there’s no point.

    Gawsh, I’m not explaining it well at all. Somehow it works for me. It all just clicked one day a few years back, and I’ve never had that bad a night again. I don’t know if this makes any sense at all, so I’ll stop now. 🙂

    • Lisa
      September 22, 2012 at 1:39 am #

      Makes sense, Jen.

  4. Shannon
    September 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Wow, you hit the nail on the head. I had severe PPD with my first child and as the evening turned to night, my anxiety would sky rocket! I used to sleep out in the living room with 3 lights and the TV on. No matter how many lights were on though, I still knew how dark it was outside. It was like a whole new world once that beautiful sun came up. I get emotional just thinking about that time in my life.

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