We all have injuries, things that cause us pain, stress,anxiety, fear. Things that eat us up from the inside and threaten to swallow us whole if we don’t fight back to contain them.
For each of our injuries we have medicine. Some of us might treat each new wound with the same medicine as if a bandaid was the be-all-end-all to provide excellent health. These medicines come in the form of drugs, illegal or prescribed, tasks or activities, relationships, and more.
I remember when I was in my last couple years of high school and sleep became my medicine. Sleep is a deadly medicine because you can always convince yourself you don’t get enough of it.
Sleep was my opioid. It brought me the numbness I desperately desired. It allowed me to get through each day because I knew my bed would be waiting for me when I got home. My escape from the graying world I lived in was only a blanket away. There was no effort in my sleep, I would let it overcome me and welcome its abyss with open arms.
But it was never enough.
Many mornings I would wake wishing for more time, more time to close my eyes and run away from the deep unhappiness that was invading my heart. I did not want to fight it, I just wanted to become so numb I couldn’t feel it anymore.
Sleep became my drug, my insatiable addiction, my escape.
Ironically, I’m not very good at sleeping anymore. I get enough sleep that’s for sure but I can barely sleep in past 7 most mornings. I always set an alarm, although I’m not sure why since I wake up long before its ever supposed to go off.
Sleep also doesn’t allow me to escape anymore. In fact, the more I try to sleep away my stress the more sleep evades me. I get up now. I get out of bed.
I like to think my new medicines are more like physical therapy. Biking, hiking, reading, and writing. They all take significant effort in comparison to sleeping but instead of numbing me they help me address my wounds head-on. They’re the small exercises I do to build up strength and resilience against the things that try to debilitate me and keep me grounded. The things that help me stand back up when my feet are knocked out from underneath me.They’re the things that help my open my wings and push me to fly after the dreams that would’ve once been out of reach. The things that turn this runner into a fighter, little by little, day after day.