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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Weekend Onesie: Sleeping Among Frogs

Weekend Onesie: Sleeping Among Frogs

I've been having trouble sleeping. No, there's nothing unusual about that, I've always had difficulty, but recently I seem to have fallen into a pattern. 

I get to bed at a reasonable hour. I brush my teeth and wash my face. Drink a bit of water or sip a cup of chamomile tea while I read for a bit. I read until I feel tired, as if the day's placing its heavy hands on my shoulders.

I'm about to drift off when... a frog from my past comes to visit. I recall a person. A moment. An incident. A slight. A time when I didn't behave my best. A missed opportunity. A time I was caught off-guard, without words or a time when my words landed with deadly force.

I know I'm not alone in this. Many of us get stuck in the past, doing an endless self-inventory. You know what they say about living an unexamined life...

And I used to think I was doing myself a favor - reliving these moments, taking accountability or recognizing how powerless I was at the time. But how long must I continue sleeping with my past?

You see, I came to a sort of realization the other week. The Boyfriend was making noise about me being such a crabby, cranky Debbie-downer. And he was absolutely right. But I had to make a conscious choice to sit down and think about what I could do differently. Everybody is always saying, "Be happy." "Why not choose to be happy?" And when they did, it would simply put me into more of a snit. 

But they're right. It is that simple. 

Why be angry? If you're angry, then it's something that's not working for you, so rather than keep trying to make it work... why don't you let go and try something different? Like choosing to be happy instead? 

So, two weeks ago I started asking myself all the time: "Why not be happy?"

Every time I felt frustrated or upset, I'd catch myself, stop what I was doing and ask myself that question. 

Little chores that I used to curse about or that made me cross? I approach them differently. I don't need to do everything all at once. I can sort of do a little of this and then go over there and do a little of that... eventually, rather than feel overwhelmed or rushed or resentful, I found myself enjoying getting things done. 

And it all has to do with that one simple question. Sure, I slip up, but it's becoming easier to alter my thoughts and remarkable how much different I feel about things, especially things I can't control.

I've become more forgiving of others' behavior, too. They're just trying to be happy. Let them. My opinion does not always need to be shared. An outcome I am hoping for them actually has a lot more to do with me than them.

Well, last night, I did my usual bedtime routine and, sure enough, fell into a pity pit from the past. I thought about an actress whom I had met during a show, back when I was acting, but not directing. She was my grande dame and I, her little prince. 

She was always getting work and I was starting get work directing and we always seemed at odds, creatively. We both had a lot of fun, but then we both proceeded to behave quite badly. We had an emotional relationship at first and then it became a physical one and then... well, years would pass before I saw her again - at a dress rehearsal for an AIDS Benefit - a series of one-act plays we were doing in the drag show lounge at the Gay 90's. During a break, I saw her sit down at one of the tables and I joined her. She looked terrible. And the show she was in was in just as bad a shape. 

I'd finally come out, you see, and I wanted to share the news with her. She just stared at me. And the more I babbled, the more she stared, the more I started to feel awful about myself. I would like to think that was her gift... but in those days everybody made me feel bad about myself. Well, I didn't get the reaction I was hoping for and our friendship was good and dead.

But that didn't stop me from keeping her very much in my life in the form of a frog... one I would take out from time to time and examine, usually at night, just as I am about to fall asleep. 

I own a lot of frogs.

But last night, I caught myself. I'd already begun to feel that oh-so familiar panic; knowing that I was facing another sleepless night, living among the frogs. So I asked myself... what can I do differently? 

And then I took a good hard look at exactly what it was I'd been doing. 

Wrestling with ghosts. 

Actual ones. 

For many of the people I think about and agonize over? They're dead! Or are most likely dead (or should be.) To me. 

Some of what I wrestle with happened decades ago. Did I really think that they hadn't gone on with their lives? Did I really think that they wasted anytime dredging up the same muck I was wallowing in? As if they hadn't other things to concern themselves with. Why, they probably haven't thought about me in ages. 

So, what am I doing? Why am I poking these sores? Picking those scabs? Holding on to all these frogs? 

To feel pain. 

And why would I want to do that?

Why would I want to feel pain? Aren't things painful enough? Aren't there other things more pressing to concern myself with?

And I stopped. 

I dropped that frog and I thought about something I had to look forward to the next day.

Because that's what matters. The next day. Not the one we just lived through. Not one from last week. And certainly not one from two decades ago.

There's healthy retrospection and then there's detrimental obsessiveness. I'd been practicing the latter, thinking I was gaining the benefits of the former.

So, tonight, when I go to bed and one of those frogs suddenly appears? I'm going to remind myself that feeling pain for the sake of feeling pain? That's not any fun. Why do that? And then I will try to think of something I'm looking forward to tomorrow - I'm going to focus on the next day. And I will keep thinking about it until I feel a tiny smile on my face and the warm ball of happiness inside me growing; a warmth which will soon envelop my entire body causing me to drift away into a deep sleep. 

I'll let you know how it goes.

--- ---

Wishing you all great peace.
There is much to love about life.
So, let's all focus on that, shall we?
-uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque

Sleepwalker - Kylie Minogue


Jimmy said...

I take a white capsule. No frogs here!

Deliciousdeity said...

Be gentle with yourself, poor fellow! The past is fixed, no more portents lie there.

Mistress Maddie said...

I like to think back in the past, but I never let those "frogs" as you call them take over and wreak my mood. After all it water under the bridge and in the past...and we can't change that now. We can only live in the now and make ourselves happy. I hope your sleep comes to you regular Upton. It's so not fun feeling haggard the next day.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I hope it works and that you get a good night's sleep, Upton. Although, sometimes (not very often, admittedly) kissing frogs results in a prince - and then something other than sleep should be on the agenda!

I love that "Sleepwalker" song - I've listened to it three times now, but not yet watched the video. Thanks for posting it!

Gary M. said...

You're certainly not alone. Many of us crawl into bed hoping to relax and enter dreamland. Instead here comes that endless parade of "frogs" wanting to rehash the past ad nauseum!

SickoRicko said...

I can relate.