I am scared. I am afraid of the emptiness. I don’t want to let go. The ways to escape sleep are limited. My imagination is my best means to keep myself safe from the angst of nothingness. I entertain myself in another world where I am the central character all-powerful and in control.
From birth, I did not want to sleep. I resisted the shift in consciousness and this followed me into childhood. Now vast swathes of hours awake confront me as I lie in bed at 7:30 pm. The dutiful daughter. I can hear the brothers next door playing outside. Mark is my age, six and a half. The half is very important.
It is the summer that Terry Jacks released his song Seasons in the Sun. The melancholy flavor of the lyrics is familiar. I can feel the foreshadowing of a future beckoning me. The sadness of loss and death ready to be added to the already established layers of sadness and loss I pretend not to feel. I am the beneficiary of the blessing of a human psychology that can repress and compartmentalize, but it does not stop the gloom from living and growing inside me. A beast lying in wait ready to consume me. It anticipates the perfect opportunity to wrap me in darkness and launch its destruction. It is ready for the one false move that will give it its opportunity to strike, but it has to wait for fifteen years
For now, I am wily and protected. Every night this summer I spend in the company of Dag and Dew my imaginary nocturnal friends. They wear ancient robes like those gleaned from glances in an illustrated bible. The Judeo-Christian theme of wise old men with beards penetrates my childhood fantasies. They are the male father figures. I need not one but two to fill the blank canvas of my imagination where the lost father left his gaping hole.
A black hole with the force of gravity that nothing can escape. I work hard at not crossing that inevitable event horizon. I live with the deformities of time and space that only an early loss can yield but without any finality of death that allows for grieving and moving on. Instead, it is an unspoken loss with the absence of an explanation that would drive me to madness in my twenties when the escapisms of perfectionism and sexual gratification could not assuage my tortured heart. Love lost that early leaves its jagged teeth marks on the psyche.
I take a deep breath as I lie in bed with the summer night’s sun streaming through the off white sheer curtains that shield the large rectangular window. Everything is visible in the room, the wooden wardrobe, the toys on the floor, the dirty clothes in the basket, the green carpet, the bare walls. I have my orange teddy with blue eyes in bed with me along with Rosebud the white doll with short blond hair in the shape of a permanent wave. She has a brown spot on her face like a birthmark. It is a warm night. I only need a sheet to cover me as I lie in bed with my long black hair strewn across the pillow. My brown skin is in contrast to the pastel sheets with narrow stripes of alternating white, green, purple, and yellow. My hazel eyes are closed. I am wearing a long, pale pink, nylon nightie. Pink is my favorite color. And there is a two pence piece under my pillow that I can rub between my thumb and forefinger. I roll over and lie on my side to get more comfortable. Now the nighttime imaginings can begin.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, regular contributor to Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. Rohini is the co-founder of The Rewilding Guide Training, The 29-Day Rewilding Experience, and The Rewilding Community. You can also subscribe to Rohini’s weekly blog on her website, rohiniross.com. You can also follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.