My sleep has only improved a small amount. I have a theory that constant levels of stress and anxiety are interfering, even if the stress and anxiety have been reduced somewhat. I have trouble falling asleep before midnight, and trouble staying asleep past my first and so far only REM cycle per night.
I’m fairly certain it’s the fact that my husband now goes to bed when I do. I’m immediately keyed up, waiting for some stressful interaction, keenly tuned to his moods, which are usually sad, frustrated, lonely and perhaps resentful. Because I’m not relaxed when going to bed, the anxiety and stress prevent me from staying asleep. I get pumped full of cortisol which I need to sleep to help eliminate, but can’t sleep enough. It’s super fun.
I decided I’d test my theory by seeing about getting away from home for a week. I’d look into renting a cabin for a week and see how sleeping away from my home environment and my husband impacted my ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. It turns out cabin rentals have gotten fucking expensive in the last 20 years. I can blame Instagram, according to H. The cheapest I could find were through Indiana’s state parks, and that was still $40 per night without A/C or a bathroom inside the cabins.
H said he had a tent he could lend me, which seemed like it might be a reasonable and much cheaper option, as I could just look into getting an inexpensive cot or some kind of sleeping mat to use inside the tent, but then I had a much better idea – I could see if my dad would put me up for a week. Out of all my relatives, he’s the one least likely to stress me out. I might actually be able to relax enough while visiting that I’ll be able to see if my sleep changes at all.
I’m going to visit my sister J the last weekend in August, and my dad lives an hour or two away from her, so I spoke to him today and arranged to stay the first week of September, after leaving J’s.
While J does not particularly stress me out in ordinary circumstances, she has two children, and my mom, stepdad and little brother live on her property, and they most certainly will stress me out – and of course there’s the fact that she’s having trouble wrapping her head around the disintegration of my relationship.
On the other hand. if anyone in the family would understand what I’m going through, it will be my dad. He spent 19 years in a marriage where he wasn’t – and couldn’t be – attracted to his spouse (my mom), due to being a gay man. While sexual orientation isn’t the specific factor for me, our situations are otherwise rather similar. We both chose lives that turned out to be crushingly stressful and unhappy thanks to religious beliefs and internalized guilt.
So, we’ll see how it goes. I’d like to know, now, if I can expect to get better sleep when I’m physically away from the sources of stress in my life – if I can at least expect my sleep to improve after this last year together – or if this has become a medical problem I’ll have to see a doctor about after getting my own place. I hope I’m right and that it’s the continued stress from my husband and environment.
I just need to be able to stop feeling stressed and anxious, to be able to relax, more than once in a blue moon.
Of course, after establishing with my husband that he’d be able to work his schedule for me to spend a week away, he had to ask a question he didn’t want to hear the answer to: was I doing this just to see my family, or was I trying to get away? I honestly wish that I could just lie in situations like that. Look at him and smoothly say ‘just to see my family, I’ve missed them.’ Instead, the best I could do was a frustrated acknowledgement that it’s partly to get away from the constant levels of stress and anxiety.
I was able to avoid referencing the stress specific to proximity to him, instead pointing out that the house is still cluttered and chaotic. He said, with a slightly resentful look on his face, that he was working on it – and I had to say (which I feel I’ve said before) that just because something will change in the future does not mean I can stop my brain and body from being stressed out by the present.
(It would certainly be handy if it worked that way, but then things would never actually change because all we’d need to do was assure ourselves they could change in the future.)