Monday, March 9, 2009

nourish me

I'm eating blueberries, or I was. I'm over budget on calories today (I ate McDonald's for lunch, and not the salad I was planning to get either -- nonono. It was the greasy, salty, wonderful horrible double cheese burger. SIN.) Blueberries are little antioxidant bombs, which I need in a plentiful smart bomb sort of way, to counteract the partially hydrogenated SIN I ate for lunch. The dangers of comfort food. And why should something so nasty be so comforting? Read on.

I find myself avoiding the news again. This means only reading a few Times articles per day: aid workers expelled from Darfur. Joan Allen returns to the stage. Gagosian is still the Darth Vader of the art world. Pastor shot and killed during sermon in Illinois. I can't sleep, is the thing. Reading lots of news only gives me more to not-sleep about.

Getting to sleep is even harder than usual right now. This may be due in part to a recent change in my mental routine for falling asleep; a change of thought patterns, replacing the comforting thoughts on which I normally meditate at these times. Because while those thoughts are warm and reassuring, and conducive to a semblance of peacefulness, they are also strictly speaking not terribly productive. What the heck am I talking about? I'm talking about escapism.

Choosing words of explanation here could be tricky. And by the way, this change in my routine is a Lenten thing, so those of you who have tired of my religious blogviews should feel free to duck out now. No hard feelings. But hey, I'm not about to go off on a puritanical rant that condemns others and makes me some sort of hypocrite. Don't forget the double cheeseburger.

When I need to fall asleep, when I need to feel comfort, my thoughts are not totally in line with my relational responsibilities. There are a few people with whom I am only, only friends, who nevertheless make the scene when I need to imagine being held and feeling peaceful. I'm not really talking about fantasizing here, which isn't necessary. I'm just imagining being held, by someone I know cares for me. It's important, in fact, that my comforter NOT be someone I'm likely to end up in a real life horizontal-embrace with (read: my husband) -- because I need this comfort to seem uncomplicated. It's not a plan. It's not something I expect or even much hope would happen. Moreover, my comforter needs to be imaginatively uni dimensional. Just there to get me to sleep. Not someone who gripes about the laundry, or wakes me jarringly each day to keep me on the schedule (I like a long wake-up.) And not someone who would undoubtedly be jealous if he knew.

BUT. (And here's the Lenten bit.) Twigging certain (real life) people for this role too often leads to a whole imaginary line of relational nonsense that is not terribly productive. Imaginary conversations, imaginary developments, a fictional side to a real relationship which might just make the object of all this attention uncomfortable, were they to know. It leads to a little lust, in truth, though we should meditate on this word in its full gamut of definitions.

So, I'm trying to give it up. The imaginary comforter, and all that imagination leads to in this case. And the lust. And it might sound ridiculous, embarrassing, but this shit is HARD. Because my imaginary life has always been as much who I am as the real life. I am an escape artist. I spend a significant amount of time in the realms of the unreal.

My doubter friends might be tempted to lump my faith in with this tendency, but know this: if you do, you're only short-sheeting yourself. My little Lenten dilemma is a microscopic personal quirk in the vast universe of divine love.

However, none of that gets me to sleep. I can stay up all frickin' night, in the absence of a useful routine for getting to sleep. How will I replace my imaginary friend, out of respect for my real one?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm telling you, doll, this is the perfect reason to ditch the marriage bed for a Labrador Retriever. I woke up a few times last night (restless sleep - lots of angst) to find my beloved Maggie lying next to me, her head on the pillow next to mine. She's warm, and she's soft, and she makes very contented little snuffling sounds while she sleeps, and she loves me in a way that no human being (let alone me) could ever possibly deserve.

So - ditch thoughts of guilt and lust, and just get a really big, really friendly dog.

There's nothing complicated about it - it is all of the things you seem to be longing for - unconditional love, affection without complication. There's no dialogue, but none is really required when the adoration just pours off of her.

That having been said, I used to have a similar (though much more childish) self-comforting ritual as a teenager... only my (fictional) comforter was Lt Worf of Star Trek the Next Generation. I even had a really big pillow that I would put lengthwise against the wall, and then back myself up into, as if I were spooning with Mr. Worf.

Love you.