I don’t sleep well most nights, but I never get any rest on Fridays. It’s been this way most of my life and I never knew why.
When I started seeing my new therapist in 2022, we both agreed on the importance of sleep. I want to sleep. I go to bed around the same time every night and get up around the same time every morning. That’s a key element in good sleep, right? Yeah, not for me.
I wake up several times a night, every night. Sometimes, it’s an emotional flashback. Sometimes, it’s a full-blown flashback and I’m somewhere in the past. Sometimes, it’s a nightmare. Sometimes, it’s 2 a.m., and my body just says, “Fuck it. Wake up.”
When you see a therapist, you make therapy goals. Mine are changed slightly as needed. If I get an issue solved, I get to tick a box and put a new goal in its place. The majority of the time goals are tweaked. My therapist and I check every few months to see how things are going, so we can make changes. One goal, which I haven’t achieved yet, is to sleep every night for at least four hours. This happens once or twice a week.
Often, as I work through things, we find out why things are an issue, make a tweak here and there, and continue working. It’s a lot of work each week.
During the really bad weeks, I tend to start by talking about Formula 1 and maybe show some cool pictures F1 photographers took during a particular grand prix. It seems silly and some people might think, “what the hell does that have to do with therapy?”
A lot actually.
I find when I have had a terrible week, I can’t dive in and just talk about what happened. F1 is my transition from “my week was shit” to “here’s the nitty gritty details I struggle to even find words for.”
Currently, I’m taking a break from reading the news. I’m going to be out of touch with the world for a couple of months because it has been taking a toll on my mental well being. I am, however, allowing myself to read r/formula1 on Reddit during race weekends. F1 is currently on its summer break, so no races until the weekend of the 26th.
Last night was another night I didn’t sleep. I keep a notepad next to my bed to write in whenever I wake up. I’ll glance at the clock, note the time and what was going on. It’s helped immensely over the past 18 months.
I’ve gone from wondering why certain body parts hurt to understanding my body is trying to process the past. When I wake up, fists clenched, and I’m swinging, I know I’m fighting something from my past. I don’t know what yet, because it wasn’t a one-time incident. My brain only gives me pieces at a time.
Fridays are something else. I have flashbacks on Friday nights. Last night sucked because I wanted to go back to sleep after I work up for the third time, but I was scared. I didn’t know why, but that feeling happens a lot and not always on Fridays.
The feeling last night was tied to an emotional flashback from a few hours before where my forearm felt like it was being held tightly, restricting the movement of my arm. When I woke up earlier, I was also sweating. Sometimes, the sweating is so bad, I need to change my shirt. This is also often combined with nausea and the clenching of my jaw. I never know what will happen once I fall asleep.
When you wake up curled into a ball so tightly you’ve bruised your knees, you know you’re protecting vital body parts. When your fists are flying when you open your eyes, you can make a guess why. When you wake up crying or screaming or covering your crotch with your hands, you can make a guess about what was going on.
An emotional flashback, however, doesn’t give you all the details. You have all the feelings – fear, pain, terror, torment, torture, tears – but you don’t always know why. I honestly don’t know which is worse.
What I do know is I don’t sleep on Fridays. I’ve gone into my history and what the weekend meant to me. It was unsafe. I could write several blog posts detailing the reasons why.
I forgot last night was Friday. Even if I had known, I can’t control what happens when I sleep. I have to listen to my body and work through what it is trying to tell me.
Last Friday was worse than last night. It’s frustrating to wake up exhausted before you’ve even started you’re day. I’ve got a few starting points. A big one was realizing just how unsafe my weekends were as a child. Another was learning to listen what my body is telling me so I can finally start piecing my life back together.
For the past few weeks, Mumford & Sons’ “After the Storm” has been running through my head. I haven’t been able to listen to music in years and I haven’t actually heard the song for at least a decade. I first heard it on Stargate: Universe.
I talked about the song in therapy on Wednesday and my frustration in trying to figure out why it’s suddenly playing in my head. We don’t know why it’s been coming up, but it is a song I find soothing and calming. Today, as it is running through my head, I haven’t been frustrated by the “why the fuck is this song in my head?” I’m letting it play over and over. The chorus is comforting. The entire song brings me a little peace and a bit of hope, especially after another night of no sleep.
As time goes on, the pieces start to fit and I can figure out a small puzzle from the emotional flashbacks. I’ll be able to sleep on a Friday one day, just not yesterday. I’ll continue to listen to everything my body is trying to tell me. I’ll write blog posts about it. I’ll write in my journal. I’ll bore you in person about it.
Each little puzzle is a piece in a bigger puzzle. I don’t sleep on Fridays, but someday I will.