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  • I was never a good sleeper. Ever since kindergarten when all the children would be asleep in the afternoon, I would toss and turn or stare out the window. Once in a while I would dance on my bed and disrupt everyone. If I don't sleep, you don't sleep! I remember once I was tired so I was laying there with my eyes closed. One of the kindergarten teachers whispered to another "look, she's actually asleep for the first time." Joke's on you lady, because in just a few minutes I would unleash hell on everyone for forcing me to stay still. It never made sense, to sleep when he sun was still shining. There are things you can do! It still does not make sense to me. I am unable to nap to this day even if I am exhausted, I can never fall asleep right away at night either.

    My parents have told me that raising me was so difficult sometimes and thats why they never had a second child. I think its both an insult and a compliment. They didn't know they were making someone with such an overactive brain. Joke's on me though, because rest and sleep are often strangers whom I wish were friends instead. I whip myself into a frenzy and cannot stay still. Had I grown up in America or was younger, they might have diagnosed me with ADD and popped me full of pills. In Russia, you just grin (or frown) and bear it.

    I don't ever recall being able to conk out and snooze. I can't shut off my brain, I can't shut off the endless stream of thoughts, current events and mostly horror that always finds its way in when my defenses are down. When I was young, I would wake my parents up at night because I would have nightmares so often. Once I made them physically block the TV (no one had remotes back then) because I knew if I saw a snippet of a show about birth defects, I couldn't sleep for a week. Once in a while I would accidentally walk in on a scary part of a movie and they would know that they had to watch me overnight. Sometimes I would sneak children's books into bed and read with a flashlight when I could not sleep.

    The first trip they ever took overnight without me still required a night watchman. I was a teenager by then and should have been able to sleep alone one night, I even had my giant collie as a companion, but I still could not. Their neighbor friend had to watch me until I fell asleep, and then go home. When I was older I hated living alone for many reasons, but one of the main ones had to do with night. I thought only the worst things; the horrors on the news, the maniacs from my psychopath books, the break-ins, the accidents and etc. Once my sleeplessness did pay off but (see story link below) but usually it left me tired and frustrated. If a conflict breaks out half way across the world, I cannot sleep. If I read a story about an abused animal or child, I cannot sleep. If I accidentally see war photos and death, I cannot sleep. How weak, how pathetic! There is REAL suffering out there, but witnessing it in person or on TV makes no difference. Close or far, my brain does not know the difference and so it does not shut off.

    In one of my favorite recent books The Geography of Bliss, the author visits Bhutan where they mention that there, people are used to hardship and death, so they are at peace with it. Maybe its a Western problem? Perhaps, but even in Russia I was like this. Too sensitive, too overactive, too imaginative, too empathetic, too much of a dreamer? When I do fall asleep, I have dreams almost every night. Vivid dreams that are multi-layered with storylines, characters and scenes. Some are like short stories, others books of fiction, others scary movies. Some are so real I wake up crying, angry or confused. I've been chased, shot in the head, and lost. But I could also fly, and breathe underwater and be confident. Sometimes the last thing I read or see before passing out makes it as a storyline into my dream. Because of this, I need to be careful about what I expose myself to. Its a fine line between being ignorant to the problems in the world and protecting my ridiculous brain.

    But when I have those dreams about post apocalyptic robot dogs or flying over waterfalls, or hanging out with my favorite cartoon characters, those dreams I remember forever. I don't note them down or keep track, I should but that would mean more things to write and I can hardly keep up with this. All I know is that most people look forward to hitting their pillow and passing out while I see a bit a struggle. Sometimes my eyes fly open and horrible, bloody news articles start running through my head and I berate myself for checking social media and the like. Sometimes I just imagine the worst things happening. I often play games on my phone or browse through Pinterest, anything to wear out my brain so I fall sleep before it has a chance to throw an awful image at me. Its like wearing out a child with exercise so it sleeps through the night.

    I need to trick my brain into better thoughts and I do try. I do yoga and exercise sometimes, I read biographies and comedies, I don't have a TV in the bedroom and sometimes I am even brave enough to turn off the lights when alone. Its a blessing and a curse really, I never know what will find its way into my brain and into my dreams once I am in bed. Sometimes its a struggle and that anxiety is itself worse than any nightmare as its real and robs me of rest. However, the empathy and curiosity I feel towards everything is not something to sneeze at. Its a powerful tool for a creative individual. I just wish sometimes that they didn't give me so much to hit snooze at.

    Referenced stories:
    The Boy At the Bottom Of the Stairs
    The Worst Thing I Have Ever Seen
    Story 34 of 52 - Random Stories in 2014 and 2015
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