so up until the end of my first teaching position i had a really positive outlook on life. i was pretty happy the majority of the time. not to say that i didn’t have the shades of realism and the idealistic nature i have now, but i was for the most part overly positive and would always find a silver lining. especially for my friends and their situations. my friend cheryl once told me i am the most positive person she knows, and for her sake, i remain that way around her when i return home and visit. i have always been a caretaker with my friends, a giver, a listener…and totally am uncomfortable to have the roll reversed, and have several times been burned when it has been. or maybe just been disappointed by people in general. but that was my roll…to be the fixer and the protector for so many of my friends.
my non-sleeping habits actually started in college when i felt to a degree i had let a friend down when i was hard to wake up. back then, with tennis practice and weekend meets and the stress of the music department, i would when i could sleep 10-12 hours easily, and hard. one night i was fast asleep on the couch in our house (i shared with 3 others) and everyone was out for the night or weekend. i had just come back from a overnight, two day tennis trip and was exhausted. i had curled up with our house-cat, and one of my roommates returned home apparently not in a good state of mind. her boyfriend and best friend had chosen on her birthday to tell her they were in love with each other and had been seeing each other. she was devastated, had been drinking a lot, and was on the phone with her mother, who was trying to calm her down…in fact i eventually woke up very slowly and groggily to the phone in my ear and her mom trying to get me to wake up as shaking apparently did not work. apparently they had been trying for over five minutes. as i came to, her mom told me to stay up with her and keep an eye on her as she was extremely worried. we spent the rest of the night downstairs, her crying softly in the recliner and falling in and out of sleep, and me trying to console, listening from time to time, and apparently acquiring the guilt that would fester and seldom let me get a solid hard sleep for most of the rest of my life since (alcohol, and sometimes in the company of “safe” people, i can actually get real sleep). otherwise i am very easy to wake now, and get on and off sleep 4-6 hours a night on a good night, usually waking 5-6 times a night and sometimes being wide awake for hours.
i suppose that this could be considered a blessing or a curse, as several friends and students have actually taken me up on my offer to call at any time of night if they needed to talk, or needed a ride, etc. i had one student who was a victim of physical abuse. it took her the longest time to tell me all of it, and only with the promise that i would do the opposite of what teachers are legally bound to do, which was to report it. this really is a double edged sword as how do you build trust and then break it by turning around and lying, or breaking a promise. and, her reasoning was very good. she was in high school, most of it was over, it had been reported before and her mother had found a way to squash it as she herself worked for social services and knew the ins and outs of the system. so in the past, reporting it (several times) had done nothing but exacerbate the problem. at this point the student was leaving her locked room every night and walking down to the river where she had alcohol stored, drinking, sleeping a bit, and then returning home a couple of hours before needing to be at school. and needed to find a way to talk about it and ween off the alcohol. once the trust was built, i was a nightly phone call where we would talk options, vent, and try to figure out other coping mechanisms. i gave up drinking for 2 years in an attempt to show that there were other ways to relieve stress and escape from your thoughts and feelings that haunt you. this person also had a medical condition (a lot of kids with hard core medical issues are abused by the parent that looks like a saint by dragging them to every specialist to try to combat the problem, but then turns around to take out the stress of the illness and financial drain of the family) which was not helped by drinking. if their levels would get too low, they would go into an almost catatonic state…and i was one of the few people that knew how to get them out of it…in fact when this person went to college, their roommate ended up calling me a couple of times when it happened in front of her, and she knew that i knew what to do and would not panic.
when i am not in a vulnerable state, i am really great at reading people who are trying to hide stuff like this…but when i am in need, that is harder to see, as we are blinded by our own issues. and, i don’t trust that people will follow through with their offer to be there for me. it only takes one time where you really need that person and they basicly tell you they only offered to be there because they thought you needed it at the time, that they didn’t mean it long term…one time when you feel like you really can’t go on. so i don’t falter with people, but i have learned not to expect it in return.
which is hard now. these past couple of years have been hard on my psyche for many reasons, and i have thought several times i am at a breaking point. which sucks. this post is way ahead of its time as i haven’t gotten to the reason i became less naive, more cynical and untrusting, but it is very current with today’s feelings. almost 3 years ago when i decided to trust again, and then had a situation that bent that trust…well, i guess i am still standing, but it has definitely put a major wall back up. but one of about four people who saved me from completely falling apart (and one of two who knows at least part of the story) is offering to be a friend no matter what. and i am so close to really trusting again…but the doubt still creeps in.
“and crawling on the planet’s face, some insects called the human race…lost in time and space and meaning.”–richard o’brien