worry comes in waves.
there is a certain character to the thoughts that appear in dark hours. they steal in, unwanted yet irresistible, pushing at your crusty eyelids, dilating your pupils with their shadowy, ill-conceived forms. they are often of worry, of thoughts rationalized and made optimistic or dismissed as absurd in the light of day. they lie within your brain, sinewy and sticky, reaching their thorny tendrils into the restless interior. they pluck at your insecurities, encouraging you to emerge completely from sleep into that painfully wide-eyed state of unproductive thoughtfulness.
as you shift and struggle to find a cool patch in the bedsheets, the thoughts encompass your brain and body, ultimately resulting in a long sigh of defeat at any plans of resuming peaceful slumber. you open your eyes, lie on your back, turn down the volume on the radio alarm so that stories of a mine collapse or gas plant explosion will not scream into the air when morning arises.
these thoughts of worry may be spurred by genuine incredulity at the good things in your present life, of looming changes or obvious uncertainties. life catches up with you, and your brain reacts by working overtime to create emergency plans in case that life falls through. in the midst of chaos, the thoughts become organized with a self-destructive yet predictable calm:
step 1: think of something that can fall through
step 2: convince yourself how plausible it is for this thing to fall through
step 3: speak to yourself rationally about why its failure was guaranteed from the start
step 4: consider options that have been tossed aside from the start OR reconsider a radically different plan than your completely conscious self has decided upon
step 5: convince yourself that it “wouldn’t be so bad” to take up those options
step 6: pick one and begin to plan your future in that place, find all of the ways that it could actually *improve* your life
at this point, the light peeking through your windows is no longer that of the streetlamp and you struggle fully awake, resigned to a day in which those thoughts will linger and resurface and be tossed away.
although fortunately a rare occurrence for me, the one positive of such a night is that unlike the insomnia and anxiety prompted by a fruit bat circling above my head in my bedroom (yes, this happened) or of a pager stabbing at my REM sleep with its pointy shriek, this often leads to a newfound realization of those things I value for the quality of my life. to accept my backup plans for what they are: backup plans. to work extra hard towards those goals that are well-established and become ever more clear when the radio alarm finally does whisper softly awake.