Things That Keep Me Awake At Night


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Sometimes it is the weather elements - the cold easily remedied by my electric blanket, hot water bottle, and the heat by peeling off a layer or two.

On other days, it is regret—the missed opportunity. Things I could have said or done to change an outcome. My silence when I could have used my voice to stand up for myself. To fight for what is right. Or that wrong turn I made. If only I could turn back the hands of time and undo it all. But sometimes, you cannot recreate the magic - that moment you could have effected real change. ‘What is done is done.’ So, I let the harsh truth sink.


Occasionally it is the hefty bills. Those red letters the postman keeps tossing through my letterbox. And the endless phone calls from the mortgage lender. As if one reminder is not enough. Don’t they know that their threats and final warnings will not change my circumstances overnight? Oh, how I wish I had the privilege to ignore the constant threats in the pile I cannot dare to open. If only I had the financial freedom to do as I please.


Sometimes all it takes is a nagging voice. That careless whisper that unintentionally spills into my ears. I am not in the habit of holding on to things, but I cannot ‘unhear’ harsh words spoken to me or about me. Why did they say that about me? What exactly did that mean? So, I spend precious time mulling. And when answers fail me, I remind myself of that all-important doctrine which says, I am the master of my thoughts. I have the power to choose how I react and what I entertain. So, I let sleeping dogs lie.


There are times I lay awake at night due to excitement, joy superimposed by worry. It could be the pains of motherhood. On the one hand, my heart bursts with pride to see my children grow. As time shifts them from one stage to the next, I hold my breath and hope they learn what they need to know. But, on the other hand, the thought triggers me to break into a cold sweat. I imagine the state of their future world. The future when I’m no longer around. The future that will force them to fend for themselves. I pray I’m a good role model. That I have done enough, doing enough to prepare them. Because the narrative is constantly changing, the indoctrination through the internet is overwhelming. So, I hope the foundation I’m providing will prevent them from being swallowed up and tossed out to the sea. Or that, at least, when that happens, they will possess the wisdom and courage to swim back to shore.

There are times when I lie awake at night planning and plotting (It’s not what you think).


It usually starts with the panic that comes with the realisation that I have wasted the entire day, my whole life. Then, as the guilt of hours spent watching Netflix ripples through me, I go into full-blown panic mode. How could I let twenty-four precious hours go to waste without bearing fruit? I could have filled a page or two with inspired words, perhaps done a bit of editing or at the very least cleaned my house, I tell myself. At which point I spring from my pillow and compile a comprehensive list of all my deserving accomplishments. I think about the lives I saved at work - how I went above and beyond, and all the days I missed a party to work on my goals and dreams. Then I give myself a pep talk - Bertha, you deserve to rest. You deserve some ‘me’ time. It is OK to do nothing. After all, you sacrificed and did all these good deeds. Now, that is a good compromise if you ask me.


Sometimes during the small hours of the night, I wrestle with my raging mind. Oh, how it shows no mercy by dragging me back to yesteryear. Back to my roots. Those earlier times when my parents still roamed this earth before death snatched them away. As I lay my head on the pillow and squeeze my eyes shut, I swear I sometimes see my father smiling at me. I can hear his laughter and smell his snuff, which still tickles my nostrils and almost makes me break into a violent sneeze.


The yearning for my mother’s gentle touch also disturbs the night’s tranquillity. I long to hear her sweet voice egging me to do my best and make wise decisions. Slowly, in the dead of night, the fond memories turn to horror as reality sets in, causing sweat and tears to drench my nightgown. All I can do is stare into the darkness - into the void of nothingness. My heart jolts with grief, and my chest tightens. God, why? I let out a tormented whisper, knowing there’s nothing I can do to bring my parents back.


Then there are some relics from the past, which, quite frankly, I could do without. Who needs a constant reminder of toxic relationships of whom you have since rid yourself? Why open Pandora’s box? No thanks to social media, that box has become that much easy to click open. All it takes is a click for exes to pore over your pictures and glimpse into your life. ‘Oh, they have let themselves go.’ Their heart rests at the sight of the bulge around your waistline. One also can’t help but notice the banger sitting in your driveway. Hurray! My life is better than theirs. I made the right call to ghost them. These are the lies we tell ourselves when we succumb to such whims. I suppose it is in our nature.


But I would like to think that such nights are sparse and far in between. I wish you all pleasant dreams - if that is at all possible!