For 15 years, I have battled severe insomnia. It began with some early waking and accelerated into a complete inability to sleep. I was on anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, and sleeping pills, and I still slept only half the nights. It wasn’t until I gave up sugar that I started sleeping normally again and got off all meds. I went from relying on lots of pills to needing none. Before last night, my last sleeping pill was in July, while I was crying in a hotel bed during a work convention after my father died. For the last bunch of years, I mostly need sleeping pills when I travel.
Last night, though, I was frustrated by the four teenagers awake too late in my attic, and I succumbed to the little blue pill at 3:00 a.m.
But I saw the sun set last night, and it was beautiful. And I said goodbye to 2012, the year my husband lost his job, the year my father died. A sleeping pill at the end of a very bad year is understandable. But a sleeping pill at the end of a very nice day—one that included a good movie with my husband, my favorite sushi and beer with my best friend, and cocktails at a favorite restaurant—just is.
This morning, the crows greeted me at the back window. My husband rubbed my shoulders. And I’m about to walk down to greet my friends and neighbors at the annual block party pig roast. The only thing that I absolutely mustdo each and every day is breathe. That’s tough to do right. Breathing is automatic, but good breathing must be practiced. My own breath catches. I inhale, and then I hold, expelling an inaudible gust of air in a thrust. Breath should flow in and out smoothly.
I figure if I work on the breathing, the rest of what I need—whether it’s sleep or exercise or relaxation or concentration or strength to renew, get fit, rest, write, or just get through life’s tragedies, old and new, great and small—will come much easier.
I have everything I need right here: air, airways, beating heart, and 365 fresh, new days in 2013.