Tossing and turning, glancing at the clock every hour on the hour, becoming frustrated with oneself because of the never ending list circulating in your mind….insomnia is not fun. You name it, and I have lost sleep over it; worries about money and bills, upcoming travel plans, worries about my children…even when my "children" are grown with children of their own. Why else would there be aisles in CVS and Walgreens filled with teas, tonics, and pills created solely to ensure a good night’s rest? I have wandered those aisles, and purchased many of the promised aids, frequently over the years.
This time though, my sleeplessness has nothing to do with any of the above. It has everything to do with my inability to say no.
Do not misunderstand me. I can say no to most "things" such as when a certain someone asks if we could use a larger television set, or do I want to go out to dinner instead of cooking, or do I mind if he replaces his golf clubs. Those are all simple questions and as such do not warrant a lengthy inner debate about the pros and cons.
"No, our current television set is working just fine thank you very much."
"No, I really don’t feel like getting dressed up to go out to dinner".
"No, I do not mind if you want to replace those 20 year old clubs with a newer set."
The golf club request was by far the easiest one in recent years, and it is not because he has perfected the art of framing a question to his benefit. He works very hard and has delayed purchasing a new set for a variety of plausible reasons…college education for four children, orthodontist bills for three of them, and of course a beautiful home with two functioning automobiles. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I am actually beginning to enjoy playing golf myself.
In fact, saying no to those closest to me is easy. Saying no to acquaintances who ask for my help is not so easy.
My husband, who sleeps like a baby most nights and has tried to help me with my "problem" , will tell me to just drop whatever is causing me to become agitated and go on to something else. Most times I get angry at him for what I consider his cavalier attitude about my responsibilities, which leads to him becoming frustrated with me for allowing situations to grow out of control. In hindsight, most of our arguments over the years have centered on this Ring-Around-the-Rosy Roulette. I’ll complain about a situation, he’ll tell me to walk away from it, I’ll get frustrated because he doesn’t "understand" why his solution is ill-advised, he’ll retort "so don’t ask me what I think", and I will walk away angry that he didn’t listen to my problems. Ah the joys of married life.
Commiserating to my mother didn’t help either. In fact, concerning this matter they are both in complete agreement. I need to drop my current project if I want to once again enjoy a good night’s sleep. It is taking time away from my family and from the things I truly enjoy doing.
Sitting in my darkened family room at 3:00 A.M, sipping my "Sleepy-Time" tea, I finally acknowledge that both of them are right. I do have problem.
I agree to do something I thought I wanted to do, and when it becomes apparent I am being taken advantage of, or it starts interfering in my family’s life, or it becomes a distraction from what I truly enjoy doing, it is hard for me to say "Enough"! And then I become angry – subconsciously at first, until it finally snowballs into my consciousness sometime around 3 A.M. And then I’m wide awake.
I need to remember true joy comes from having balance in life. All of us will sometimes have something, someone, or some cause that will begin to overwhelm our days. And, there will be periods when we need to place our family off to one side so as to finish a project, help a friend, or learn something new. But as my mother reminded me, we need to return our families back to the center sooner rather than later. Finish that project, give your friend the benefit of your counsel, and bring your new skill into play to help your family.
Most important of all, remember God and family comes first; everything and everyone else needs to wait their turn.
Thanks to my mom’s gentle reminder, sleeping is so much sweeter these days.
Copyright 2010 Carol S. Bannon
About the Author
Carol Bannon currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband. She is a wife, mother, grandmother to seven, substitute teacher, and an active supporter of the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island (DSSRI). Carol is the author of Handshake from Heaven and Our Family’s Christmas Elf. She and her husband love to spend time boating on Cape Cod and traveling to new harbors.