When I look in the mirror, I see tired eyes. The eyes of someone who has been up for days or who is plagued with allergies. My eyes, however, are tired from lack of sleep. Night after night, I am up and down. To the recliner and back to bed. Reading, thinking or looking at the muted TV. The therapeutic mattress cover I thought would lead to a more restful sleep shows the effect of tossing and turning. It is ripped – coming apart where I flipped and flopped, fighting against chronic insomnia. If only I could turn off my mind! Stop the drama and the storylines that dash across like a ticker tape. Never good drama. I’m always looking for something. Can’t find my work clothes. Looking for my keys. My glasses. A child who I can’t identify. A way to get the car to go forward instead of backing all the way to town. I’m dodging drivers as I look in the rearview mirror, trying to keep from being hit. No wonder I’m tired. No wonder my eyes show it.
Sleep once came easily. Crank up the car and I was asleep before we reached the county line. Then in my 40s, all that changed. By the time I turned 50, I could not function with as much enthusiasm as I once did at my profession because I was exhausted. I didn’t think I could get ready each morning, could face the day, could tolerate one more after-school meeting or aligning a curriculum one more time. Things that were once minor annoyances got on my nerves. I was worn out. That led me to a sleep clinic. No matter how many times I’ve been through the process (three) and how many different masks I’ve tried (five), I do not sleep well. No sleep aids, prescribed or over the counter, work. No home remedies, no hot tea, calm music, oils or weighted blankets lull me to sleep for very long. I have had to learn to cope, but I look tired. I feel tired. I long for a full night’s sleep.
Most of friends don’t sleep well. Some sleep in their recliner. A few are up and down all night. We discuss how we cope. The beauty of being retired is that I have no alarm clock blasting, forcing me to drag out of bed. If I don’t find sleep until four in the morning, I’ll take what I can get. However, I feel guilty for sleeping when I’m supposed to be productive. Guy says that is “crazy talk.”
I decided that I can at least spruce up my tired-looking eyes and see if that makes a difference in how I see myself. One morning, I put on eye shadow, added eyeliner, and brushed mascara on my lashes. I touched up my graying brows and thickened my makeup, adding some blush. I took another look. Ah-ha, maybe it isn’t my eyes at all; maybe it is the long hair drooping in my face with the prominent gray roots making me look tired. Sleep won’t help that problem, but my hairdresser will as soon as the floodgates open and I fly out! Soon, I hope, very very soon.