My thoughts are simple and sweet this morning: I’m so utterly exhausted from not sleeping well, yet I’m feeling thankful to be alive. That may sound overly cheesy and/or dramatic, but it rings true. When you face real-life circumstances where death is a very likely possibility, the barometer against which you can realistically comprehend the measure of the value of your life changes. If doubt that you’ll live through something is a fear that’s completely founded, then occasional mental check-ins of gratitude that you’re no longer in that dangerously lethal place are natural. Today, seems to be one of those days.
I couldn’t sleep last night, as I was tormented by vividly realistic trauma nightmares early in the night and no matter how hard I tried to relax and convince myself it was just a bad dream, I could not fall back to sleep. I tossed and turned all night, finally getting out of bed at 3am with a pounding migraine and a stomachache. I worked through my meditation with the Headspace app and put a cold towel on my forehead to try and dull the throb. My whole body felt tied up in a string of constructing, painful knots. Even though I got out of bed and went downstairs to start my day, I did so not because I was energetic and ready to greet the morning, but because I was overwrought from tossing around sleeplessly and upset by my painful traumatic memories. As such, I was bleary-eyed and exhausted.
It’s easy for me to understand now why I also felt so grumpy, sad, and upset. Not only did I physically feel horrendous, but I was emotionally tortured by the memories of the attack and felt like a “failure,” having regressed in recent weeks in my hard-won psychological progress. I know the cause: the gyn exam, which I intentionally didn’t fully report on in my post-exam blog entry, but that was painful and unsuccessful in polite terms. Needless to say, I have been referred to a specialist down in Connecticut, but although I did my best at the appointment, it was a little scaring. The fallout has had devastating effects on my PTSD symptoms and ability to sleep. Although I was absolutely still having nightmares on a regular basis in the months before the appointment, the frequency and intensity has risen so dramatically that I lack the mathematical knowledge to accurately quantify the untoward growth. Being set so far back in the trauma-recovery progress, at least in terms of sleep, feels wholly defeating, especially because I’m eleven days out from the triggering exam and still having just as much difficulty as I was that night following the appointment nearly two weeks ago. Admittedly, I’m an impatient person, but I’m burned out at this point. I need a break in the psychological burden of trauma. I want just a few days of a more peaceful innocence again. Alas, I guess that’s not possible; hoping for such a mirage will only prove to be disappointing.
While feeling so crumby is certainly warranted (the complete lack of sleep is reason alone), something shifted in my mind after doing my body and mood check-in process. I acknowledged and understood my physical and mental pain, but I wanted to glean something positive out of it all, in an attempt to try and make the most of the day and optimize my chances for finding some amount of enjoyment today. As I was drinking my tea this morning, staring blankly at my computer screen, I wracked my brain for ideas to better my mood. As I was coming up with nothing, I had to keep squashing the rising reminders of the trauma, screaming at me with every painful throb of my head. I felt like any positive brainstorming was as futile as balancing a feather on your fingertip in a windstorm in the negative storm of painful body signals and unhappy thoughts. However, I shielded that little feather and focused in as much as I could to hear the quiet whispers of encouragement, bravery, and strength. And so, I came up with this: I may feel more emotionally and physically exhausted and ill than I ever knew possible and that feels too severe to bear at times, but I’m alive and lucky enough to be here to live my life. I could have died that day, and it’s somewhat of a medical mystery that I didn’t (maybe God intervened), so to be here on Earth today living a life that is certainly hard in so many ways but also wonderful in some, is a blessing. Today, I’ll try to tolerate this horrible sickness I feel and the brutal, relentless insomnia, and hold onto my gratitude for being alive, being a friend, being a daughter, being a sister, being a dog mother, and being a wife. I’d like to think that not only am I lucky that I survived (because I get to personally enjoy living my life), but all those people to whom I’m connected in a positive way are somewhat lucky too. Although I rarely seem to value myself much in the eyes of others, there has to be some goodness bestowed upon those I love because of my existence and relationship with them. I am thankful for the people I love and the life I live. Today, is another day I’m here to enjoy and appreciate those gifts.