As many of you know who follow my blog, Carrie and I met in graduate school over twenty years ago, and we both agree that our friendship was the best gift to come out of that program. We have grown together as friends, wives, and colleagues, shaping each other in every way possible and holding each other as sisters along our twin paths. I cannot imagine who I would be without her by my side every step of the way, from conceiving on the same day (our kids are two weeks apart) to growing our counseling practices to learning about what it means to be consciously married. And, as I know that many of you suffer from sleep anxiety, it is with deepest respect and gratitude that I share her words of wisdom and compassion with you here.
“Please let me sleep!” you plead, either silently or aloud. But the letting go doesn’t come. You toss into another position. You check the clock. It’s already 11:30 p.m. But that’s okay, you think, as you do the sleep-math. “If I fall asleep soon, I’ll still get six hours.” Now you’re feeling anxious. “Don’t look at the clock.” Another hour passes. No shut-eye peace for you.
Or, you fall asleep, and then you’re up at 3:00 am tossing and turning, restless, obsessing over some “what if” scenario. The anxiety grows and the anxious thoughts come, “How am I going to be able to function tomorrow?” “I can’t do this much longer.” Your heart begins to race. Soon, you can’t catch your breath, and you can feel the anxiety swallowing you whole.
When this happens night after night, the anxiety can attach itself to one big, scary thought: “I can’t sleep.” And this thought can become all consuming. It is a hellish realm to visit for any extended time.
Sleep anxiety is torture! In order to have the energy to address it fully, we need to sleep. This creates quite a conundrum and can make us a prisoner in our mind and life. Prolonged sleep deprivation is an especially insidious form of hell. It can intimidate and exhaust us into abandoning the activities that are a natural part of the day. If sleeplessness goes on long enough, well, next thing we know, we are just unrecognizable to ourself.
It does this to millions of people, but even as widespread as it is, everyone I’ve worked with seems to feel completely isolated, thinking that they’re the only ones struggling here. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
When we think that sleep anxiety is some uniquely personal form of suffering rather than something that the whole world experiences, we tend to feel ashamed and embarrassed, and retreat into a shell of shame and secrecy, which only increases the anxiety.
I’ve seen this time and time again. Clients will come to me with so much anxiety, living in absolute panic, feeling like they are going crazy because they’re not able to sleep for more than a few hours a night. This deprivation creates isolation, which only exacerbates the anxiety. The fear, by this time, usually takes on epic proportions with the primary focus being, “I can’t sleep.” Daylight hours can be tough enough, but as soon as dusk arrives, the bewitching hour, wave after wave of panic can bring us to a ball on the floor.
How does a person get to this sleepless place? Usually there is a fear-based thought that takes over the psyche and next thing we know, we’re not sleeping. It’s a vicious cycle, originating from thoughts like:
What if I’m not in love with or attracted to my partner?
What if my daughter is not safe at school?
What if I can’t get pregnant?
Or, if already pregnant, “What if I don’t bond with my baby?” or “What if something happens to my baby?”
What if my shortness of breath means something is seriously wrong with me?
If these fears run rampant, many of us can say bye-bye to sleep, which then changes the focus from the “what if” anxiety to the “not being able to sleep” anxiety.
I’ve been in this prison multiple times.
This is when we frantically begin to Google, “Sleep tips for insomnia,” in which one will find the following:
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day…even on weekends! Not so easy.
Take a hot bath at night, or practice relaxation techniques. However when the anxiety is so great, relaxation seems like a pipe dream.
Limit caffeine intake, especially after 2 p.m. Better yet, cut it out altogether until you’re sleeping again, or actually if you’re prone to anxiety, just quit for good.
Cut out refined sugar. Period.
Exercise regularly, but not within three hours of bedtime. Except when you’re so exhausted, you just can’t seem to muster the energy.
Limit nicotine within two hours of bedtime. Or actually just quit because… really, in this day and age?
Don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid, and limit alcohol within two hours of bedtime. Better yet, don’t drink at all because you will pay for it wide-eyed by 3:00 am.
No screens at night, and never use them in your bed. Better yet, find guided meditations for anxiety. I have one on my website http://www.carriedinowcounseling.com
Forego naps if you are having trouble sleeping at night.
Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and as quiet as possible. Sound machines – set to “white noise” – my favorite, much to my husband’s chagrin.
Unfortunately, as helpful and ‘right on’ as these tips might be, once the anxiety overtakes us, they don’t help; focusing on sleep is the wrong focus because the anxiety is what needs our attention.
Sleep anxiety can feel like a demoralizing experience, and can make us feel like we’re entering the land of crazy, or even like we’re dying. Some of my clients have had the not-so-great experience of seeing a doctor or other health practitioner who aren’t at all in “the know” of how to deal with this.
At best, they were treated with kindness, maybe the doctor wanted to prescribe a sleeping pill (which doesn’t work with anxiety); and at worst, they are dismissive and shaming, probably because they have absolutely no training in this area. So messages like, “mind over matter,” or even one of my favorites, “just relax and have a cup of warm milk” are what’s being offered.
By the time someone is experiencing intense sleep anxiety; believing that she will die or go insane, I’m pretty sure warm milk is not the answer. Not helpful.
What I know without a doubt is that the fears, whatever they tell us, are invitations to a deeper connection with our Self. And even though there’s always some nugget of wisdom waiting to emerge, the anxiety of ‘not sleeping’ becomes the central obsession.
We may think that if we ignore our fears, they’ll go away. But if we bury worries and anxieties in our consciousness, they continue to affect us and bring more anxiety; and next thing we know, some of us are not sleeping for extended periods.
When my daughter went to kindergarten, I experienced enormous anxiety; which led to many weeks of no sleep; which led to huge amounts of anxiety; which led to panic. I became obsessed by the fear of not being able to sleep. And learning how to tame my anxious mind in order to sleep becomes a world onto its own.
In my case, I explored the fear around my daughter going to school, and discovered that I still carried a lifelong separation anxiety. My inability to sleep, as terrifying as it was, led me into a deeper healing with myself.
I have since midwifed many people through the anxious dark night of no sleep. I find that holding a lifeline of love and connection, along with a lot of suggestions and offerings from my medicine bag, is the tether that carries them back from the hell realm into the world of sleep, toward the ocean of healing. A loving and safe connection to another person during this time is key.
Healing sleep anxiety is a multi-layered process and there are steps that must be taken. First, we’ve got to begin sleeping longer hours, so we can function and have the mind power to actually do the work of understanding the real fear that hides under the covers of ‘not sleeping.”
And then we get to the “what if” fears, which again, is just a stepping stone into the juicier and truer questions like, “What is my refuge? Do I trust myself and others? Do I know how to let go?”
But until we are actually sleeping a little more consistently, the ability to ask these questions are akin to reading a book while skydiving, a tad challenging to say the least.
A critical healing piece is to learn to investigate the fears without judgment. For some, the “without judgment” part is one of the hardest habits to let go of, and where so much of the healing is needed. It’s not so simple to become non-critical of our selves and others. Even if we start just by noticing how often we turn on our self for having fear. Working with the critical voice can help to grow kindness toward our suffering.
Then by acknowledging gently that fear is here. This can bring a lot of relief already. And once our fear has calmed down, we can embrace it tenderly and look deeply into its roots, its sources. Is our fear coming from something that is happening right now or is it an old fear, a fear from when we were small that we’ve kept inside? Understanding the origins of our anxieties and fears will help us let go of them.
If you’re not sleeping, and suffering with anxiety, reach out and get support. Find a guide; someone who knows this terrain and can carry you from sleeplessness into understanding the messages of your anxiety, toward freedom. You just may find strands of peace pearls along the way.
May the angels of sleep bless you…
Carrie Dinow is a licensed psychotherapist and lifelong student of what she calls, “All things Om” (anything that connects us to the Spiritual realm). She is known in her circles as a wife, a beyond grateful mother, a sister and daughter, an auntie, and a soul mate to her soul sister friends. All of these relationships sustain her deeply, and because of them she is so blessed to be able to live and write about her life’s purpose, which is to grow her heart and consciousness infinitely bigger one moment at a time, while she helps others to do the same. Read more about her work or contact her here. Carrie is available for one-on-one counseling both at her Santa Monica, CA office and worldwide over Skype.
I often have trouble sleeping when I had a very rough day at work or I had a big fight with my wife. Basically whenever the day was really stressful.
The only thing that helps me is meditating and doing the “no-visualization”-technique from this book (http://mikesreviewblog.com/2016/03/15/outsmart-insomnia-review/). Those are really the only two effective things for me
Thanks John for these suggestions. It’s so important for people to have a lot of options to try when they are going through this.
I understand that I experience have a hard time sleeping whenever I experience very stressful situation mentally and emotionally and the same when my partner and I had disagreement or have a fight. But still the more I think about the problem the more my anxiety attacks and makes me tired and more angry makes me stay longer in the wee hours in the morning.
The last article helped me to feel and understand more about my anxiety. That the more I think about it the more it gets worse, sometimes whenever I suddenly woke up in the morning I tend to ruminate my lack of feelings, my partner becomes my bottom priority(not talking every minute a day), my partner keeps telling me that we should talk when I have the time for her. I stopped seeking reassurance now but keep trying to heal because my partner told me that she experienced love from me that’s why she keeps holding on to both of us and still fights harder for our relationship.
Fighting my daily anxiety feels like it’s the toughest and hardest my whole world has ever experienced. Amplified emptiness and numbness makes me turn around and call it quits and I don’t expect to fully heal from my anxiety but accept that I can experience hurt and problems 10x stronger due to me being a highly sensitive person. Lastly I wish that I can heal from my narcissism(or not or being too selfish) person. I’m very insensitive to other people especially my girl, and very happy when I’m alone and doing things my way gets angry and tend to blame somebody else when I have a problem and acting like a child having process addictions and such.
My biggest anxiety right now is that “IF YOU REALLY LOVE YOUR PARTNER OR LIKE HER SHOULDN’T IT MAKE IT EASIER FOR YOU TO RECIPROCATE FEELINGS TO HER?”
Relationship anxiety is a very dark path that can make or break us if we allow it ourselves. The process of healing is very painful and requires alot of patience and belief in yourself. My primary tools are breathwork, reading in this site, exercise and my relationship with GOD.
I also talked to my partner that I’m scared of losing feelings and I wish that I experience love more and not rejecting her anymore. I feel very painful when I see the consequences of my decision of leaving her. I know this involves a herculean work in changing myself of becoming a great partner and instead of seeing her flaws and insecurities. My partner hates it when I talk to every woman in the room like when something important or I’m not really flirting but instead socializing or just to talk only without meaning.
It sounds to me like you are committed to healing the pain that keeps you walls you off from your Self and your partner. This commitment is necessary in order to move through whatever arises that wants to shut you down. I’m glad you have found tools/refuge with Sheryl’s site, exercise, and God. Thank God for God!
I have suffered from severe insomnia for years. I have dreamed about divorcing and ex and interpreted.those dreams as face-value. I decided to take contact my ex, because I have tried to get.over that ex-issue on my own, but I did not manage to do that. He answered me very politely and nautraly and told me that he wanted me to feel free. I was so convinced that God wanted me to live with him because I dreamed about him almost every night. It was just my own fantasy. My therapist considered that my occuring divorce dreams are signs from my soul, how I will find my balance. What do you think Sheryl?
I know you’ve asked for Sheryl to respond, but I also wanted to comment. I have worked with clients, friends, and myself for 20 years with dreams. Withe very fiber of my being I believe that this dream figure is an inner character that wants your attention. I know its difficult not to take it literally, but he is offering you a window into some part of you that wants to wake up. Perhaps it’s the part of you the loves so freely? I would spend some time dialoging with this inner dream figure – he may have a lot to offer you.
I have always taken my dreams literally. And I have ended my last two relationships because I dreamed then also about breaking up. I was just reliefed when those previous relationships ended and never regretted those. Icannot help myself thinking that divorce would be solution again to my unhappiness and our disconnection. I cannot find any other information by dialoging. Is that then my truth again?
Hi Sheryl, I remember that photo, you are blessed to have such a beautiful friendship. Not easy to find.
Yesterday I had a horrible day, I was angry, frustrated with the anxiety.. So I spoke to my ego and I told ego, I am running the show, dont mess with my mind my dear friend. I am in charge of my life, Not you. Saturday night I didnt get any sleep. I felt like I was on a high, like was in a mania. Like i was a bipolar patient. Which Im not thank god. Its the worst feeling when you cant sleep. Strangely, I didnt panic. My mind was so active, im guessing its anxiety interfering with my sleeping. But I didnt feel anxious on Saturday. Im thinking about my ivf im currently doing. So I understand why I couldnt sleep.We hope we get pregnant this time. Its so stressful but worth it.
Hi Angela. IVF is such a huge deal. May the baby Gods bless you!
Sheryl, thank you for this guest post and topic! I am so thankful for this post! I’ve almost been waiting for something about sleep to pop up here and actually thought about contacting Sheryl. I’ve been dealing with insomnia for almost 6 months now and still haven’t gotten to the root of it but I now have intense anxiety surrounding my sleep. I take trazodone every night which has been a life saver but doesn’t completely solve the problem and I don’t want to be on it forever. I definitely need to talk to someone who knows about insomnia and anxiety. thanks for sharing carrie!
I’m so glad this post resonated with you. There’s a lot that’s written on insomnia, but very little (if any) on sleep anxiety. I think meds can help so much but I only recommend it for a very limited time. Getting support with a therapist who knows this realm may really help you to get to the root of it all. Best of luck to you, and may you sleep!
Awesome post…. I always have had problems sleeping, as a child it was very very unsafe where I lived so I think thats why I cant fully relax… I always have very negative dreams and or weird and last night I had a dream that my mom was not dying she kept coming back after being dead and then she would die and she would come back…
Her family is really really sick and toxic and they really just get out of me like very much anger and defensiveness because they always want to put me down and I had to deal with them through my mothers illness until she passed and they are still people that just put me down and my fault is that I respond putting them in their place, I wont talk to them again but I dont know how to break free from them without having this repeat, I dont understand if I actually responded in a way that will break me free from that karmic circle or if it will keep repeating itself with others and I am afraid that if I did not responded with love and compassion to them I will have this happen again, I did respond to love and compassion to my mom but not to her family as they were really mean….
last night as I was sleeping I had this horrible feeling that because I had not been nice to my mom sometimes I would have the cycle repeat itself, that I would have a child that would be just as mentally ill as my mom to repeat that again… my mom always used to tell me that I would pay everything I was with her with my children and that no one would love me because I was just like my dad, of course I would be mean to her when I was little and then growing up because she was never loving to me and she was kind of mean too, so I was mean to her too…. It was not until a few years back that I tried getting close to her but even then she would be like very negative and just toxic too, then in December she got sick and then I went to see her, I took care of her for 3 weeks until she got out of the hospital and paid for everything I could, she went back to her mother as she was living with her and she died just this month… Thank you for this insight, I know you are very busy Sheryl and I just wanted to comment on this because your work has helped me alot, you are very loving and your words dont scare me when I read what you say because it gives hope… If you have some wise words I would appreciate them, God Bless you.
Dear newly married
I note you’ve not yet received a reply from Sheryl. I wanted to say thank you for your honesty. Your post really touched me. May you be blessed with love and light, healing and abundance. My fear of having children was that I would abuse them as I was abused; my fear of my mother dying was that she’d haunt me, really know how I felt about her abuse and what I experienced as unlove, lies, secrecy, abuse, meanness, victim like manipulative controlling sulking tantrum behaviour, perhaps her emotionally stuck at 13yo when her dad had died, and marrying someone and bringing in children to resolve their unacknowkedged unbalanced hurts and behaviours, meaning my dad left, was never present or invited to have a worthy opinion and I was told so often I was just like my dad! Yet to the outside world I believed others were deceived into experiencing my mother as this wonderful caring ‘perfect’ neighbour, mother, divorcee etc – yet that was the sense of perfection she demanded of me, which I will never achieve, this was her fears of not being good enough that I learned. At 49 I am now allowing myself to flourish, to trust and love me (I benefitted from Sheryl’s trust yourself course last year), I have found ‘tapping’ (EFT) which requires no cost except the attention you choose to give to yourself in order to acknowledge, understand, release, replace limiting negative subconscious blocks which are running the conscious mind. Counselling and psychotherapy were good, and I couldn’t afford for as long as I wanted (didn’t believe in my right to abundance then and had many blocks sabotaging my healing process) and short term 6 sessions of free Nhs counselling and my journalling just sent me in circles. Now I choose not to go in circles, not to be confused, not to be a victim, not to behave as my mother or father have, I realise I can choose to be my version of me, strong, loving, capable, caring, understanding, supportive, putting me first so I am not needy and I can willingly, graciously, happily share the love I have spare. I stand up for me because I chose to heal my inner child, I continue to walk hand in hand with her, my best friend always in all ways, team Sophie! May you choose what is right for you. With love for your journey of love and above, Sophie x
Hi Sophie, thank you very much for your loving words… I appreciate your post and I am very thankful for your answer…
Your words are inspiring to me and I choose to get better and grow from this…
Love and light from me to you and yours 🙂
The dreams are messengers from your unconscious tracking where your psyche is, and what is needing your attention. With what you just articulated, it sounds to me like there is trauma living inside you. I have found that getting additional support, someone who can offer you a mirror into the parts of yourself that are difficult to contact on your own, can be so healing. If your able to, therapy would probably benefit you. I also recommend EMDR for trauma. May you get free!
Thank you very much for your words…
God Bless you!!!
Hi Carrie and Sheryl,
Thank you for posting this Sheryl!! Carrie: this article resonated with me more than anything I’ve read about insomnia- especially severe insomnia. I found myself saying “yes, oh my gosh, she gets it, this is exactly how I feel”. I cried when I read that everyone that deals with this feels like they are the only ones. I have felt like no one else could possibly be this anxious and have such severe insomnia due to their thoughts. I feel so isolated and ashamed. I have also felt like I was dying after months of sleep deprivation. I even ended up leaving my job because I couldn’t drive to work due to fear I would get in an accident because I was so dizzy and disoriented.
I started having insomnia at the job I quit; before that I always prided myself on being able to sleep well all of my life. I was so overloaded with work and never had enough time to do it all. I would lay in bed at night and think incessantly about how much I was failing and how I am not good enough. I was getting sometimes zero hours of seep and at best 4-5 hours. This went on for months and I felt like I was dying. I am very resistant to medication so I just suffered. I eventually felt like I was going to have a breakdown or die and had to quit. It felt like I had to chose my life or my job. I thought the insomnia would stop once I quit but it has continued and now I’ve had it for 2 years. I haven’t been working full time so I have been able to go to sleep late and wake up late-so I’m getting enough sleep now but I worry if I go back to a full time position I will be back in the same predicament. The worst part is that I can only sleep a full night now at home in my own bed- when I visit family or am on vacation- I have sleep anxiety that I won’t fall asleep and then I won’t be able to function and enjoy my vacation or family the next day. The anxiety then keeps me up and reinforces that I indeed won’t sleep and feel like garbage the next day. If I’m at home and I have something planned early morning, this also happens.
I am not even sure what the root issue is as it has seemed to have gotten lost. It feels so complex that I don’t even know how to address it. It’s affected my life, my husbands life and our time spent with loved ones. I feel like I can’t get ahead of it?
I’ve considered medication now because I feel it’s gone on too long and I don’t know how to fix it anymore.
Thank you the deepest part of my soul for sharing this- it is so important. Thank you for being so eloquent in writing about how painful and all consuming this problem is. I don’t feel alone anymore.
Morgan, your words touched me. I’m so sorry you’ve struggled with this. I have worked with many who have walked through such a similar journey (myself included) and I’m glad that you are able to see that you are not alone. Sleep anxiety is so widespread and when you begin to talk about it, people come out of the woodwork, ready to share their own experience around this. I believe in my heart of hearts that you can heal this. As awful as it is to go through, there are nuggets of wisdom waiting for you. I think EMDR would be especially helpful for you. This model of therapy deals specifically with fears and phobias. I wish you deep deep rest.
Carrie, I see why you and Sheryl are soul sisters 🙂 thank you for your guidance and deep empathy. I know in my heart anxiety and the resulting insomnia have been messengers from my soul that it’s time to do what it takes to heal various parts of my life. I think your suggestion of EMDR would really help me. I am going to look into that. Thank you again.
😉 and xoxo
Thank you Carrie, I need alot of support at the moment xo
You have the perfect name, Carrie meaning, Caring. Life is worth living when you have kind and caring people who understand your struggles. ?
Sheryl, Just wanna let you know I have done alot of crying, halleujah I hear you say. I have never been one to cry so much. Since meeting you I received this enormous gift Of feeling my feelings good or bad. Sending my love xo
This was beautifully written. I have a question that isn’t really related only to sleep anxiety but to anxiety as a whole. How can you heal and work through these paths all on your own? Currently I don’t have a safe, healthy, loving connection with anyone. Where I’m from people just don’t understand these things and I don’t blame them because they just simply don’t know better…but I feel so lonely without being able to talk and being understood to heal. What do you do in cases like this? It just feels like I will never make it to be honest.
I feel for you and can hear your desire to heal. It is difficult to feel like there is no connection around, but I believe there are always resources that may be able to offer you support and connection. I would look to see if there is a low fee counseling center around you. Or perhaps a 12 step program of some kind? Or maybe you could look to see if there is a therapy group you could join? Please tend to your loneliness. It is telling you that the way you are living is not working for you.
May you find the support, understanding, connection, mirroring, and wisdom that you so absolutely deserve!
I’ve watched a movie showing how the protagonist tells that he is willing to risk everything for the girl. He undergo alot of problems he is the pursuer in the relationship, he knows what he wants but in the end he left a quote saying that “Love isn’t a thinking thing but a feeling thing.” This set my anxiety and went to a dark hole again cutting feelings of love. What if my partner is just staying with me because she thinks that I can prioritize her in the future while I think that I don’t deserve love in my heart? I don’t know how to love and if my partner is my priority I don’t leave her in heated conversation and giving her the silent treatment, this never change. I never expect to heal as soon as possible but whenever my partner is in pain due to me being narcissistic I want to leave as soon as possible because she deserves to be loved not someone like me. I’m sorry for being persistent in posting.
I can feel the pain in your comments and believe me you’re not alone…I wish I could say something to make you heal or feel better but I’m afraid that’s something we have to do on our own…no one can do it for us, Sheryl and all the people on the course can help us but it’s up to us to do the work. I’ve come to realize that my fear is based around the difficult feelings I’ve experienced during this period of our engagement and that I have to accept them despite knowing that it will hurt like nothing else before…I woke up this morning in full panic so I can understand how every single thing can spike you right now, but remember, you’re not alone…..
Hi Silver, I agree with Lea, We are all in the same boat, i feel and also understand your pain. As hard as its been for me this is the hardest thing I had to confront,my relationship, my marriage. There are days where i feel so frustrated so tired of this thing i call a bluff, anxiety which is ego. It is challenging but you see I have never been one to give up and you shouldnt either. Gratitude is one tool that will cut anxiety in half. Write down the great things about yourself even if you dont believe it or feel it. And write down the nice things about your partner. Leave out i dont love myself. Instead I love who I am. This made a HUGE difference. I hope I will help, worth a try Silver.
Thank you!!! It really helps when there are people who can really sympathize with us. I hope we can love like how our partner loves us, even they experience pain due to our anxieties, panics and fears they still take care of us and never give up on us. I keep trying my best this time around trying to understand my pain, why I don’t talk to my partner so much unlike talking to other people faster. I wish all the best for all of us.
I just wanted to type this for you all, and reading the last messages, I wanted to send you Angela, Silver and Lea from my heart love and positive healing light… 🙂
Thank you xo
I would love to know if there is any other positive interpretation to my occuring divorce dreams. Divorcing feels always right decision in those dreams and I feel reliefed. I cannot help thinking that.our marriage is over, but my rational mind is not ready to admit that fact.
Divorce dreams, when understood as metaphor, can be seen as divorcing from a part of yourself. In this sense they’re very positive. The question to ask is: What part of myself am I ready/willing to let go of?
Мy biggest fear is that I’m doing this against my will, just because I’m scared to end up alone, and that after the wedding, it is going to hit me even worse than now because then ( unlike now) I won’t have the escape patch I have now…. I’m so scared that my ego mind will say “I told you so ” and it breaks my heart….It’s even harder when I think that I’m making everybody around me feeling like I’m with one foot out of the whole thing….nobody can really show happiness about my wedding when it’s supposed to be the happiest day of my life…
This isn’t directly related to sleep anxiety but I was wondering if anybody else has experienced this. My anxiety causes me to be extremely irritable and cranky. And I feel that I’ve been struggling with mild depression. So I will snap on my partner and pick him apart in my mind. We do argue a lot and it can be exhausting. But I’m aware that I do project a lot onto him and our relationship and he isn’t completely responsible for my issues. This has caused me to obsess over every aspect of our relationship and compare us to other couples. And I feel horrible and guilty. Then again there are moments where I feel the anxiety disappearing for a minute and I share laughter, wonderful conversations, and plenty of kisses with my partner. I’m able to move towards him with love and patience. I have good and bad days, and I’m trying to focus on the good days and make room for the challenges that arise. I refuse to believe that I’m simply with my partner because of attachment when I know in my soul that I love him deeply.
I thought maybe a segment of my journal from this morning might help somebody. To put it into context, the losing ‘him’ last year happened when my partner’s own relationship anxiety, accentuated by the loss of his job, uncertainty as to what he wanted to do in life and dislike of the country he was living in, reached a desperate climax which broke him and made him run away from us. We separated for about a month before his truth hit him like a ton of bricks, and he came running back, ready to do all the work necessary to never lose me again, and to learn how to live with his own anxiety. That’s what I’m referring to in what I’ve written.
“Even this question, AI meant to go now?, originates from the same place of fear, where I am frightened to lose him again. Even as I’m writing the intrusive thoughts keep coming. What if I’m only staying with him because I’m too insecure to be alone or look for someone else? The truth is I don’t want to lose him, else the fears would not be as pungent. It hurt so badly last time to lose the thing that brought me the greatest happiness in life, the thing that made the most sense, that I felt was a blessing from the heavens themselves; the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. With whom I just work. The person I love with all my heart. Who mirrors both the good and bad in me and helps me to grow into a better person. Of course I am terrified of losing this gift. It is my greatest fear, this fear of loss.
This fear will try to morph itself into other questions, hang-ups, obsessions-du-jour so that my attention will be redirected away from the source. I need to stop being thrown off by these clever little tactics, and instead, come back to that sore and frightened place where the fear lives. In there, the fear is cowering and trembling. Shaking. Hugging its knees, crying, scared of being discovered. Ashamed of being there. Ashamed because it’s been told that it has no right to be there, it’s been made to feel like an evil monster. All it wants is a little attention, a little love. It wants to be acknowledged. It wants most of all to be held and comforted. To be assured that it’s OK to stay, it just can’t be allowed to rule the show. Today I reach inside and I see that fear and I pick it up and hold it. It’s an ugly thing, that’s undeniable. It’s caused me a lot of suffering with all its shouting and arguing. But it’s so helpless and vulnerable, and it just needs a safe place where it can be made to feel acceptable. It’s OK, I tell it. You can be here. You can stay. I won’t ignore you anymore. And as I make peace with the fear it stops trembling and yelling. It stops fighting. It just rests, content, for once, just to be itself.
Today I need to just let the fear be there. The uncertainty. I don’t need to kick it out. In fact, it needs to be embraced. With such a lot of love, there is such a lot of fear. And that’s OK.”
I just thought I’d let you know that the fear of ‘what if I’m staying because I don’t want to be alone and look for someone else?’ Is common I think! I have had it too. But I don’t think it’s to be taken at face value. I did some digging with this thought around 1 hour ago and that thought is there because you are terrified of losing him because he is such a great match for you and you love him so dearly. So of course you’d be terrified of being on your own and looking for someone else because you don’t want to, you just want to be with him. When I read everything you wrote it made me well up because I can read the pure love you have for your partner and all of the stuff you wrote about your relationship sounds like mine!! You sound like you are doing good so keep up the good work, i love reading when people are doing well it really makes me happy 🙂
Very dear Sheryl and Carrie and all,
Reading all these heart outpourings, found myself thinking that if we were awake in the night and sharing it with a beloved baby, or a lover, or a dear friend, or a brilliant book, it would seem fine, or at least not unusual – alright, not wrong. Awake on our own, we are not alone, we are sharing our night with our own dear beloved selves, who has so many interesting things to tell us, if we kindly welcome ourselves and invite our hearst to talk > http://www.befriendingourselves.com/Poetry.html.
Meant to write ‘hearts’ in that last line above, rather than ‘hearst’. However, since ‘hearst’ was what was written, thought to look it up in case it had a pertinent meaning. Of course it’s old English short for ‘hearest’ meaning ‘you hear’ (as in ‘thou hear’st’ or ‘hear’st thou?’). In urban slang ‘hearst’ is a distorted story, cf William Randolf Hearst, newspaper publisher known for sensationalist reporting of news stories. So we can nvite our hearts and our hearsts to our hear’sts to be heard…
Thank you! I’m 25 weeks pregnant with our second child and have struggled with sleep off and on during this pregnancy due to pregnancy-related symptoms and chronic dry eye. I’ve just started having sleep anxiety and I’ve been taking it at face value. Thanks for the encouragement to dig deeper! I know I WILL get a good night’s sleep again.
I have just recently discovered the wisdom of anxiety through the holistic psychologist’s self healing circle. I have had issues sleeping for years, but, during a big stressful break-up that involved moving, a sympathetic nurse practitioner prescribed me a small dose of hydroxyzine. This low-level Ned allowed me to sleep with no problems for the past 9 months. However, the prescription will be ending in a few months, and I’ve had anxiety around it ending. I’ve had two weeks off from work during the holidays, and I decided to just stop taking it.
The first few nights were great! I slept no problem, really good restorative sleep. But, the past 3 nights I’ve felt “not tired” (despite good sleep hygiene – no screens, I don’t drink alcohol much, a bath, etc.). When I realize how “awake” I feel I start to worry about sleeping.
If there’s something deeper going on, I don’t know what the root causes. During the time I receive the prescription, it was definitely the problems in that relationship. But, now I’m single, and I do a lot of inner work. I’m feeling really good about where I am. I’m feeling a little lost as to how to identify “to root”. It could be anything for my childhood, or something I’m not even bringing awareness to? Feeling a little frustrated after a bit of progress. Any guidance is welcome!
I recommend exploring other natural sleep aids like melatonin and CBD oil, and also making sure that you’re getting A LOT of exercise during the day.