The Vulnerability of Sleep

broken heart birdsIt does not seem a great mystery to me that most of us fear the darkness of night on some level. We all know evil prefers the darkness to hide. I am not afraid of things that go bump in the night. There exists nothing in the darkness that is not there in the light of day as well. What I fear is the vulnerability of my mind as I sleep. During the sunny hours of the day, I am too busy to reflect much on how different my life is now, and how insanely hard I have to work to achieve a minimally comfortable existence. I intentionally distract myself from the weakness of freshly healed wounds, guarding them viciously from breaking open again. However, my dreams are not so easily shepherded into the directions I want them to go, and tonight I awoke from sleep with an intense sadness for what I have lost. Not just hopes in my past, but also the loss of direction into my future.

When my husband pulled away from me, more vanished for me than just a partner. Decades of dreams started to crumble, and maybe those were harder to cope with than just losing one person in my life. One can easily move away from another person, avoiding common hang-outs, and building new territories to live in. We can block phone numbers, and all contact can be eradicated without much trouble when you really want to avoid someone else. But dreams aren’t so easily dismissed, and their presence can lie hidden until the moment you are most vulnerable. For years, we store up little hopes and dreams, unaware of how powerful they really were until they begin to die. Like small emotional miscarriages, there is so much grief in the loss of what life could have been. There are libraries of them stored in my mind, and each one a painful reminder of the chapter they belonged to, and how it is over. A stray breeze can deliver the smell of jasmine, and painful memories of how innocently you once viewed the world will come flooding into your presence. That girl is gone, and she will never be back. After so many years spent with my favorite person ever, the number of memories are astronomical, and there simply is no way to guard myself from them all. Most days, I am able to brace myself, aware that I am skirting dangerously close to something still wounding, respectful of their power over me. Nighttime, though, leaves me defenseless.

It speaks to the resilience of humans that we are able to cope with so much loss and disappointment in our lives. For every one hope fulfilled in each of our own lives, we easily experience hundreds of disappointments. In the case of divorce, whole forests of small hopes, dreams, and plans are torched in the shortest of minutes. A forest fire of grief burns in your mind, sometimes for decades, silently but equally as destructive. It is easy to miss the saplings of new hopes that have already begun sprouting in their places and just like the forest of memories that just burned down, it will take time for them to grow. Time is her own master, and we all dance to her tune. I think the key to moving forward is in the awareness that a new forest of hope has already begun to grow, even if we cannot really feel it yet. Joy will always come in the morning…


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