The Shapeless Unease

I hate the plodding of time when I can’t sleep.

Like now.

Weeks of it. Of insomnia. Plucking at me. Pinching.

Just as I slide towards sweet oblivion, there it is. And I am tugged wide awake again and fretful and furious.

I lie into the small hours and read Samantha Harvey’s Shapeless Unease and I think hers is a perfect descriptor of this malady: Shapeless Unease: this unmoulding of me, in the dark. Where no form is distinct and where I feel, at my worst, as if I’m coming undone.

Sleeplessness is unravelling my sleave of care.

It makes for rows. My husband cannot understand that I do not sleep. Cannot empathise with my midnight wandering, the musical beds I play, dragging pillow, water, phone (for the sound not the screen: NO BLUE LIGHT!) as I trail miserably about the house hearing only the soft, enviable snores of others – him, the dog. I want to be able to sleep like the cat: anytime, anyplace, anywhere. The Martini ads of champion nappers; I feel his hot heft upon me. I listen to the rumble of his purr. It does not help.

I have done what the doctor said. No coffee. A light supper. Exercise (5 hard miles a day, up and down hills).  And no, definitely no screens. 

I push my earphones  deep into my ear and try to blindly scroll for a podcast to help me drop off. But my needing-to-sleep-self is fussy about its listening: no music, no high voices, no commercials. I need a low monotone. A lecture on physics would be good. One that runs for hours. 

Still nothing. 

I scroll some more, trying not to look at the screen, hunting the white noise app I downloaded. I listen to Rain on a Tent.

I give up. Reach for the light. Pick up Harvey, speed read as I flick through pages too fast. Looking for a solution. A cure. She has none. Time. 

In time this will burn out. 

If I don’t first.

I am trying to understand why. Why does sleep elude me.

Am I worried?

I am not sick. Or in pain.

Are there anxieties that broil below the surface of day that I can feel but not see, do I only feel their presence in the still silence of dark?

Is that the Shapeless Unease?


4 Responses to “The Shapeless Unease”

  1. Addy Says:

    You are not alone. I have been having disrupted sleep, waking several times in the night. Every night. I’ve read a lot of people are having disrupted sleep. To do with anxiety over Covid and all the restrictions and life not being the same. Apparently. In your case you have the worry about your mum and the children. Although you may not be consciously worried, it’s all there in the background.

  2. Yorkshire Pudding Says:

    I enjoyed this well-written blogpost. ADDY brought me over here as I have just blogged about a sleepless night. Fortunately mine was a “one off” because unlike you insomnia is a very irregular visitor for me. I guess it becomes like a vicious circle – fretting about sleep makes it harder to go there with confidence.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you for reading! Yes, I think you’re right: I lie there worrying about not sleeping. Which just layers up whatever worries lurk beneath 😦

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