When I was a kid, I often had difficulty falling asleep. My father tried to teach me all sorts of relaxation techniques, like clearing my mind (I would imagine the expanse of space), or slowly relaxing each part of my body, beginning with my toes and working my way up to my head (my dad claims he sometimes has to do it twice, but never completes the second round).
Somewhere along the way, either during my year in Israel or my first year of college, I hit the point of "perpetual exhaustion." I was so tired, and overextended, that I could fall asleep anytime, anywhere.
Once I am asleep, I am a very deep sleeper.
When we were little, my mother put a match under the smoke detector so it would go off in the middle of the night. She wanted to see how long it would take us all to get out of the house. The alarm went off for 15 minutes. None of us, not my father nor any of us kids, stirred.
Even today, if you wake me out of a deep sleep, I will say anything to make you go away. Then I will fall back asleep. I will not remember what we said. Most likely, I will not remember that you woke me. And, if I, by some chance, remember that someone/something woke me, I will not necessarily remember who or what.
During college, a friend once walked up to me and, with angry and frustration, asked accusingly, "WHERE WERE YOU? I WAITED FOR AN HOUR BY COLLEGE WALK!" I did not know what she was talking about. Apparently, she had called when I was asleep, and we had agreed to meet at a certain time by the gates to Columbia University. Not only did I not remember making a date, I did not remember that she had called or that we had spoken.
When my kids were little, they would come into my room and talk to me. I would respond with utter nonsense and they would start to cry. My husband would get upset, but I would just respond to him with nonsense as well. When I woke in the morning, he would attack my behavior, "why do you say those things to the kids?" It took him years to realize that if the kids woke him up, he should respond! I can not control what I say when I am that deeply asleep.
I viewed my ability to sleep so soundly as "one of my brachot" (blessings).
I did not relate to the Jewish concept that if you wake someone who is sleeping, you are actually stealing their sleep ("gezel shayna"). I would fall back asleep, undisturbed. No one was robbing me of anything.
Recently, that has changed. I still sleep well, but not always. I often can turn over and return to sleep, but not always. More and more, I wake easier and find it more difficult to fall back asleep.
I am not sure if this change is a result of chemo or just getting older, or both. Either way, I do not like it.
My kids used to leave me alone in the mornings.
Now they wake me up all the time. Sometimes it is not on purpose. In the past, they could be as loud as they wanted. Nothing woke me up. Now, sometimes just hearing their voices is enough to wake me.
But sometimes they wake me, on purpose, for stupid things. They do not hesitate to wake me.
If there is something urgent, I do not mind. But if they simply forgot to ask me something the night before, I want them to figure out a solution on their own! I do not want them waking me for something they should have planned in advance.
I am tired of children stealing my sleep!
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,