Waking up in the middle of the night doesn't scare me the way it used to. I'd realize I was truly awake, that sleep would not return, and a feeling would grab hold of me as I gave up and turned to look at the clock's red numerals' infernal glow to see just how few hours I'd slept and how many hours until morning. We call that feeling despair.
The waking still happens sometimes, but I'm confident now that I'll ultimately get back to sleep. It might take a while, often a couple hours, and while I'm up I'd certainly prefer to be able to fall right back to sleep. But I'm confident now that sleep will return.
Of course it's best when I just sleep through the night.
Sometimes I can point to something that happened: Oh, I did this and it kept me over-energized at bedtime, and so now I'm awake. Sometimes, though, it isn't clear. Tonight, this morning, I woke up at 3:00am and asked, "Why am I awake?" I couldn't see a good reason for it. Nothing in yesterday's behavior seemed to push me towards it. But I'm awake and not falling back asleep. Fine. I'll write. It's 3:54am right now.
Jerry wonders why I have to figure things out, what's the purpose of turning my mind to find answers to questions like this. Are you sure you aren't just putting energy into the problem itself? he asks.
It's certainly possible. But at the same time, there's this: I think my mind turns itself to answering questions, just like my eye turns to a sunset, my ear to music. It's what it does.
Do the answers matter? I don't know. Either way, sleep comes, or it does not.
These days, mostly it comes. 4:19am right now and I am not afraid.