Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bad Dates and Insomnia Too

I debated taking a sick day, but who knew when I'd start sleeping well
again. Perhaps I'd have to learn how to fight through the workday
without sleep. While no one seemed to notice that I was a little off, I
got little accomplished that day -- spending the majority of my time
obsessing about my inability to sleep.

While I wasn't feeling well during my date with Star, I blocked out my
issues well enough to go out for dinner, rent a movie and end the night
with a series of passionate kisses. Still, the experience was hollow.
Instead of becoming absorbed in the excitement of the moment, I was
merely going through the motions required to secure a wonderful
girlfriend. As soon as Star left, the anxiety returned and I knew I was
in for another rough night.

For the next month, I began living a dual life. At times I thought about
how lucky I was to be with Star. We were falling in love and even
beginning to openly wonder if we had a future together. At others, I was
overwhelmed with anxiety, fearing that I'd fall asleep at my desk one
day and find myself in an unemployment line. As the physical pain
worsened, spreading across my jaw, temples and upper back and sometimes
even muffling my hearing in one ear, I wondered how much my body could
take before it fell apart. Would the resulting anxiety not only rob me
of joy, but also shorten my life?

The worst part of my insomnia was that I couldn't take a break from it.
No matter where I went or what I did (shy of poisoning myself with
methamphetamines), I couldn't take time off from my circadian rhythm and
come back to it a week or two later. My days were haunted by fears of a
rough night.

Even though I can't imagine where I'd be without Star, I hated bringing
all this sleep and anxiety baggage into our relationship so early on.
What could I do? I couldn't pretend I wasn't going through a difficult
time. Apart from Xena, I had no one else in the city.

Star responded like a champion. When she wasn't spending the night, she
made a point of calling to talk for a half hour before I went to bed.
Once I shook this insomnia, pain and anxiety, I knew I'd be the kind of
boyfriend she deserved. The kind of boyfriend I would've been at any
other time in my life.

When Star asked about my past relationships, I told her all about The
Axis of Evil and The Gozerian. She thought the stories were funny, but
insisted upon hearing good things about my exes. I told her all about
the "endless" email I would trade back and forth with Goz and how Eve
and I spent long summer days in the Arboretum. Star seemed relieved that
I could humanize my exes. I appreciated that Star wouldn't let me get
away with just telling stories that painted them as one-dimensional

As Star asked more questions about my prior relationships, I explained
that the biggest problem with both exes was their inability to deal with
stress. When adversity made them moderately uncomfortable, they became
emotionally incapable of handling themselves. "You're not like that,
right?" I asked.

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