Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Searching for Sleep in the Wake of Betrayal

The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald clearly knew a thing or two about insomnia. And infidelity, in a clear case of life imitating art. Or vice versa.
Those of us dealing with betrayal know the endless agony of a restless night. 
I would start feeling anxious about sleep hours before I actually went to bed. I would issue a silent prayer to the Gods of Betrayed Wives to please, please let me fall asleep and stay that way.
Inevitably, I would wake around 3:30 a.m. with a sudden, wide-eyed dread. And I would stay that way. My mind, to paraphrase my favorite author Anne Lamott, is like a bad neighborhood. You don't want to go there when it's dark. And – ohhhhh – was it dark. 
It would whisper awful things to me. About how hideous I was. How unlovable. Words it wouldn't have the nerve to say in the light of day. But night unleashes the dark dogs.
I was making a strong effort to steer clear of alcohol, barely trusting myself sober to stay on this side of the law and certainly not willing to tempt fate by climbing into a bottle of merlot. So that sleep-incducing option was out. I tried various teas. But my particular insomnia needed the big guns. I leaned temporarily on a doctor-prescribed sleep aid, Gravol and finally settled on melatonin, a hormone that a flight-attendant friend of mine relies on to adjust her body clock during long-haul flights.
Wonder of wonders, it worked. It took a week or so for my body to adjust. And the cynic in me wonders if perhaps it was a psychosomatic response to the ritual of taking the capsule... Whatever the reason, it worked. Not perfectly. But I perfectly recall actually falling asleep and waking up with enough energy to get myself to noon, if not to dinner time, without falling apart.
If sleeplessness if one of your betrayal-related souvenirs, what have you tried? What worked? Didn't work?


  1. Wow- that's exactly what happened to me! 3:30 and there I was: up. For weeks on end. Since I asked my husband to sleep in another room, I could make myself comfortable reading, chatting with family in a different time zone or writing away and by 5:30 I would go running for an hour or more. So that got me through the night. All the nightly writing and running finally exhausted me so - physically - that now I am sleeping more decent hours and won't wake up at 3:30 anymore. I must say I was in a serious shock at first at took some anxiety meds for a few days. I refused to let those take over and looked for other 'soothers'. BTW: it made me lose some weight too ;-)

  2. Speaking of sleeping (a little off topic)......my husband has periodically talked in his sleep. Granted, sleep talking is not the real thing, but sometimes, it does reveal what's going on in their head......one night a week or 2 ago, he had to take a Vicidin for his neck pain....guess that really gets him talking in his sleep! I got to listen to a 5 minute phone conversation he was having with apparently the OW! He was ending it with her....saying stuff like you knew I was married, "F" off, you're a whore, my wife is pretty, we have a lot in common, go ahead and start trouble, etc.....it was "eye-opening"...and of course, I had a hard time getting back to sleep. I remember a few months ago prior to D-Day, he woke me up saying "damn it, you look good in that".......for whatever reason, I knew he wasn't talking to me in his dream!

  3. I am dealing with this right now. I wake up every night anywhere between 1:30 and 3:30 and I am awake! I might eventually get back to sleep minutes before I'm supposed to get up, but not often. I had to take a sick day last week because I was awake from 1:30 on. When my alarm went off, my first thought was "How fast would I have to get the Sequoia going to make sure I died on impact?" Decided driving into work would not be the safest choice. I was taking Unisom, but it stopped working. Take Advil PM every once in a while, but I don't want to take pain medication when I'm not (physically) in pain. My husband is freaking out almost as much as I am, probably because he knows he did this to me, and he's sincerely worried this long-term lack of sleep will kill me. 7 months post DD.



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