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N.D. training to fight fires

Drinking from a Fire Hose – Gulp!

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: The National Guard
Are middle-of-the-night worries hosing your sleep?

People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching cold.

— John Jay Chapman

From my Not-Quite-Daily-Insights-Journal: …Things that made perfect sense worrying about all night long [now] by the light of day make no sense at all; I wakefully toss and turn fretting and deciding and then about 5AM fall into a sound sleep from which I awaken with only a sense that something is wrong but try as I might I cannot resurrect the perfect sense-nonsense anymore… SIGH. Solutions so fretfully won have evaporated into confused mist.  What was I thinking?

But in the midst of my 2 A.M. almost asleep/wide awakefulness, a deluge of worries, old irritations and grand plans flood my fretful brain:

  • Brilliant comebacks that I shoulda said
  • What I will say
  • How I’ll rearrange some room in my home
  • A plan for installing a pocket door
  • The doc appointment I need to schedule
  • The walk I didn’t take
  • The walk I will take tomorrow
  • And of course, real worries about health, wealth and wisdom…

Like white water roiling through deep canyons, the thoughts wash away the pebbles of my sleep and leave behind the litter of an anxious night.

Sometimes I sit up late with my thoughts, reluctant to fall asleep and leave my thoughts alone by themselves.

— Robert Brault

Drowning in the flood, I find myself pleading: “Turn off this nonsensical fire hose… Plug it before it washes my brains away!”  A childhood rhyme sings out: Rightey tightey. Lefty loosey.  But it’s just more dreamscape nonsense.

White Boarding Instead of Water Boarding?

Recently I caught a snippet of a TV ad for some personal injury lawyers … it showed a woman on a bus watching as her worries crawled across the window as if they were a news ticker tape … will he get well… can we pay the bills… do we need help… And I wondered: What if my mind was a white board that wrote each thought as it was thunk?

It might be a handy tool if I could intentionally parade my worries across that white board making them VISIBLE instead of capriciously ephemeral; and maybe, just maybe, I could then begin channeling them into flood control/retention ponds where my pooled worries could be considered, disputed, refuted or perhaps even accepted as “important and or urgent”… and ultimately, I could then re-release them in a productive, refreshing stream of reassurances.

A straight oar looks bent in the water. What matters is not merely that we see things but how we see them.

— Michel de Montaigne

I have at different times taken up the practice of “Morning Pages” as recommended by Julia Cameron author of The Artist’s Way.  But each time I became discouraged because my scribblings seemed like too much whiny complaining.

But I think I’ll take another look at writing daily morning pages with a small variation… I’ll only allow myself to write down the worries that have been plaguing me through the night … no explanations, no justifications, no complaining.  Just the list.  And then I’ll simply challenge my unconscious mind to find solutions for them and (giggle) kindly inform my next night’s dreams with solutions instead of worries… certainly changes how I see ’em.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

— Amelia Earhart

Maybe all I’ve done in this post is come up with another version of the dream analyzer’s “write it down technique” but I’m going to give this version of white-boarding/morning pages a trial run – perhaps then I’ll finally be able to answer my journal question: What was I thinking?

And, there’s one more little change in the making… to my evening good night prayer, I’m adding this “Quick Prayer” that a friend sent to me:

God, our Father, walk through my house and take away all my worries and illnesses and please watch over and heal my friends and family, Amen.

How do you find relief from middle-of-the-night worries?

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