When I first met my husband, and we were living hours apart and still figuring out if we were going to give it a shot, I woke many mornings around 4:00 am and lay in bed and agonize. (“I’d lie awake and think about the boy, and never even think of counting sheep” to quote the song.) When I couldn’t take it anymore, and if the weather was warm enough, I would roll out of bed and into my sneakers and pound the anxiety away on the city sidewalks, running into the sunrise.
When I was sickest and Crohn’s symptoms were at their worst, my sleep was often dozey all night long. Pain woke me and exhaustion knocked me out: my very own sleep cycle. If I woke before dawn, I tossed as I always did, trying to find a posture that would give me some respite. Sometimes I would think about how I was going to get myself out of the apartment that day, but I often didn’t waste much energy considering that question, knowing that I would get where I needed to be, because I had to.
When I was ostensibly on the other side of these things, when we were married and living in the same place (a feat we weren’t sure we would accomplish so soon after our wedding), when we had bought a condo, I’d had surgery to take me apart and put me back together and was on the road to physical healing, the pre-dawn hours were when the crazy came in. I fretted and beat myself up. Eventually those morning torture sessions clued me in to my post-traumatic stress, and I got help.
This morning I woke earlier than I expected, a combination of heat in the apartment and having gone to bed early last night. I started rolling around different ideas in my head of projects, chores and things I want to accomplish. I started to harangue myself for the content of those imaginings (because what would the early morning be if not for self-doubt!), thinking that if I focused on one thing I would never have time for the others, and my life would slip away from me (because what would the early morning be if not for melodrama!)
So I rose and tiptoed to the kitchen to put on coffee, and I got to work.
Who knows what the rest of my life will hold, and how the early mornings will change. Today the sun rises on another day of hope and potential, and there is so much to be done, and so much that already has been.
What goes through your head just before dawn?
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