Naps Give Me Anxiety: And Other Effects of Abuse

Photo on 5-20-17 at 3.21 PM #3

I’m writing this as the church bells beyond my window clink and clang. They will for at least the next five minutes. This tells me that it is 3pm; this tells me that it is 3pm everyday, with a never-missed clang or shortened clink.

I give up.

At least for the moment.

It’s Saturday and I have nothing to do. I’ve been suffering from anxiety this morning because I have nothing to do. So I’m trying that whole “self-care” routine I do sometimes, where I make my room really cosy and eat some food I like. Then I decided to take a nap. I’ve been deprived of sleep all week, and I feel it. So I lied in bed and closed my eyes. I could feel my heart beating. It was beating fast. I could hear my partner’s words: Breathe. I thought about doing the 4-5-4, 4 seconds in, hold for five, and out again for four. It’s something we’ve been practicing, and it does help a lot. But instead, I just turned to the other side and closed my eyes again. Thoughts were filling my mind: Did I respond to that message? What’s the status on our new podcast episode? Do ya think you’ll get into the certification program in September? When is the last day of your visa? Will there ever be a day I don’t have to think about that? Hey, aren’t you going to sleep?!

I open my eyes. I remember that my partner left a USB filled with good movies, so although we aren’t together today, in our honor, I cuddle up on the couch and pick a movie. I’ve taken the blanket from my bed and made a little fort. I’m all tucked in. I press play. I tab over to facebook. I close the computer, go to the kitchen, and make a shake. I get back in bed and masturbate. I open the computer again and press play on the movie.

This is my attempt at a nap.

The 3 o’clock bells start ringing and as the movie plays behind my browser, I realize I’ve been trying for three hours — three hours — to sleep. I’m exhausted and (finally!) have a free day to do whatever I want. And I want to sleep! But I can’t. I just can’t.

You see, I still have the words of my ex in my head. My ex who never napped. My ex who was proud that he never napped. Because napping is for the weak. Napping is for the dead.

It may seem ridiculous, but it was words like these that were used for years to shame me out of napping. Time I needed to recharge my body was turned into a source of embarrassment. I was guilt-tripped out of naps in order to spend time with a person who couldn’t go a few hours without my conscious attention.

We lived together.

I know that when we think of abuse, we don’t think of someone dragging us from a nap. But the truth is abuse has many different faces, and it’s a simple as the misuse of your power over someone. In the dynamics of a relationship (and the one I was in was heteronormative with a white cis dude), my ex used his position as boyfriend as leverage to get what he wanted, i.e. no napping. Despite the fact that I was always a healthy napper, my view of it was chipped away at by the person I loved most. Instead of him reflecting on why he needed my attention at all hours of his wakefulness, and what insecurity that could be inside of him, he twisted the situation so that it was a matter of my weakness. To control me by emotional manipulation. That’s abuse.

Naps are for the weak! A waste of time! but uh, yeah……sure, you can take a nap……..

Slowly, my ability to fall asleep for a few hours during the day turned into half-hour intervals of tossing and turning before giving up and joining him in whatever activity he was doing (and wanted me to do with him). Over the years, naps became a very special “event” I was granted, only if he wanted to nap too.

It was only at the end of our relationship that I began to really nap again. As a form of rebellion. I wish I was joking.

Fast forward, and I’ve been out of this relationship for a year and a half. I’m sitting in my house, lying on my couch, 10 minutes from listening to bells clanging across my street. And yet, I’ve “wasted” three hours. I’m still not asleep. Every minute that goes by brings me more anxiety.

And I ask myself why?

It’s a question I’ve asked myself before. Many times. It’s a conclusion I’ve come to already. Many times. But nevertheless I’m still haunted by the anxiety. So I wrote this out. I guess as a way of healing. I guess as some subconscious hope that this will release me. And maybe someone else out there too. Maybe for you it won’t be naps. Maybe your trauma is in playing video games unapologetically, or enjoying chocolate whole-heartedly, maybe it’s listening to *your* favorite music instead of always your partner’s, who thinks yours is “stupid”. Maybe it’s hanging out with your friends that your partner “doesn’t like” but can’t articulate why, maybe it’s in leaving the house… There are many faces of abuse. We have to talk about all of them.

It’s 3:20. “They say not to nap after 4pm”… and with those words in my head, I’m going to try again.

Wish me luck.