To Sleep, Perhaps to Dream…

Sleeping is giving in
No matter what the time is
Sleeping is giving in
So lift those heavy eyelids
People say that you’ll die faster than without water
But we know it’s just a lie
Scare your son, scare your daughter

People say that your dreams are the only things that save ya
Come on, baby, in our dreams
We can live our misbehavior

Every time you close your eyes (lies, lies)
Every time you close your eyes (lies, lies)

People try and hide the night underneath the covers
People try and hide the light underneath the covers

Arcade Fire “Rebellion (Lies)”

For the past month, I’ve been both sleeping and dreaming quite a bit. They are large dreams, epic dreams, the kind of dreams that you could write a movie script off of. In my sleep, they seem to last for hours. Then I am usually awakened out of them with a jolt, most often by my husband. For the next few moments, the dream, and sleep itself wants to pull me back in like I am trapped in an elaborate spider web that I can’t shake off despite enormous effort. Sometimes I try to explain it to my husband, but the dream falls off when I realize that the perfectly logical epic movie makes absolutely no sense when words begin to touch it. And then I get out of bed, covered in rubber cement, trying to rid myself of the dream and ease back into reality.

There are logical reasons why I am sleeping and dreaming so much lately, a big one, of course, being that I no longer have an alarm clock. Always a morning person, it was never difficult for me to jump out of bed with an alarm. That started to change when I stopped working. I always thought that I was one of those people who only needed 6 hours of sleep. But I slowly started sleeping longer. And it slowly stopped being so easy to get out of bed. But the most dramatic shift- the one that’s occurred in the past month- is a little harder to explain.

Another answer is that this is depression. It’s probably no coincidence that this started to happen about the same time about the same time that SOC chemo stopped working. Both the depression and longer sleep can explain the more vivid dreams. Sleeping in longer means that I am having more REM sleep than ever before, and therefore more likely to have long dreams and to wake up in the middle of them. If my mind is full of scary thoughts, is it any wonder that these would inevitably work their way into my dreams?

But what if, for a moment, I entertained the fact that there was something more? That my brain and body know something that my fully awake conscience has not yet grasped onto yet? I’ve mentioned in previous posts that through the path I’ve been down since diagnosis I’ve become a believer in my own intuition. What if these dreams are a part of that? What if my body and subconscious are trying to prepare me for something? I suppose that I don’t even need to write out loud what that thing is. A great change or transition ahead. Perhaps the final one…

All of these distractions. All of this technology. All of this busyness that we’ve all been lost in. All of this information. These things pull us away from listening. Listening to what our “gut” (as people like to call it) is trying to say. We wake up early so that we can be more productive. We lie to ourselves a lot. We hide the light under the covers. We hide the night under the covers.

I take a look back, and realize I’ve had a very good “gut,” or intuition about a lot of things and about a lot of people for a pretty good long while now. I just have been ignoring it. For example, I’ve always been very good at spotting somebody who is a fake or a phony- even when the rest of the world around me gets wrapped up in the facade. And I’ve seldom, if ever, been proven wrong. Once spotted, I begin to recognize patterns and can often anticipate or predict the actions and next words to come. I also often (though not always) have had the ability to step back and look at the entire context, or “big picture” of a person’s actions or motivations. Maybe it’s less intuition than it is the fact that I’ve spent a lot of time sitting back, observing human nature, and thinking.

Beware the quiet kid who moves and changes schools a lot. The one who has witnessed in more ways than one just how drastic the contrast between hidden reality and outward projection can be. Beware the kid who’s had a first row seat in the study of humanity.

But my gut, or intuition is still more than just the sum of what I’ve practiced and learned. For example, this morning I got my “on this day notification” from my journal entry two years ago. This was five months prior to my diagnosis:

March 11th 2018: “It seems that I am nearing a few peaks in my life… the end of my younger years, the end of my [long project at work]. Uncertainty about the after… things might end up okay, but the unknown is terrifying. [I have] Unprecedented mental sharpness [and] unprecedented anxiety. The [first] grey hair… The unknown behind the scenes. What the fuck does it all mean?…. Does this path lead to peace and happiness? Does this path lead to an early death? An early death is something that I have feared for a while… Is this process about learning to be happy? [Or] Is a health event pending?”

My intuition was SCREAMING at me that something was wrong. I even journaled about it. And I was SO distracted by stress at work, I was SO obsessed with ruminations on how to fix things that I IGNORED IT. I thought that I could just wait and bear through what I deemed (and people at work deemed) to be an immediate crisis- an immediate crisis that was in reality anything but. The real crisis was brewing underneath. I felt it. But ultimately I cared more about the work “crisis” and pleasing people who literally couldn’t care less about me than I did about my own health and taking care of myself to meet the needs of my own family. My family. You know, the ones who did care about me? I was visibly on the verge of emotionally falling apart. I’d make frequent trips to the hallway or bathroom and come back with red, leaky eyes from completely breaking down. And aside from the two people on my functional work team that had been through the project with me (and who had therefore dealt with the same struggles; fighting to be listened to and getting shut down) nobody gave a damn. My lack of power to bring up existing problems had resulted in many many months of delay, and suddenly NOW it was all about the mission. The people getting thrown under the bus to execute that mission were nothing but collateral damage.

Five months might have made a difference in my longevity and survival. Or it might not have. But I will never know for sure, because I was too busy reacting, and not busy enough listening.

I’m listening now. And in those silent moments? I feel tired. I feel sad. And more and more often? I’m beginning to feel some kind of peace with the inevitable. I think that my body and my subconscious are trying to tell me that I am now on the final lap. And in fact, I am. I have stopped SOC chemo. I just got accepted into a clinical trial. I have entered the wild west. I hope, hope, hope, for good results on this trial. I am grateful for being accepted into it. But I know… I know now how powerless and human I am. I know that I cannot bend the will of fate. I know that this time I have now, where I still feel healthy, is now fleeting and that I need to cherish it, and I know that darker days are likely on their way.

I’m trying. I’m doing the next best thing to keep me here. I want to stay. I am full of hope. But I am also listening. I am welcoming the love and peace around me. I am finding the joy in every moment that brings it. I am being present with my sadness and letting myself cry. Because making peace with my sadness will get me closer to acceptance. I am sleeping. I am dreaming. I am listening.

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