Bed time is hard. This has come up repeatedly, so whatever goes through my mind as I lie there waiting for sleep feeling pain I don’t think I can stand sometimes, I know that this has been going on for three years. I can’t say beyond that, but I can remember specifically back to this for three years. Sometimes it’s worse and sometimes it’s better and sometimes I don’t notice it at all–possibly because it’s not so bad that I can’t numb it out.
In other words, it’s the bed. It is not really anything I am lying there thinking about or wishing could fix it. Lying down in bed is painful. I get to do it every day. I get to do it when I have the fewest resources for dealing with emotional pain because the reason I lie there is that I am tired.
The other day, I just acknowledged this to myself. It’s going to be painful to lie in bed at night trying to sleep. It’s going to be like that most likely every night for a while, and I have to get through that and also sleep.
That’s how it is, and wishing it away will not help.
I don’t know why it is like that. I don’t know what about lying in bed triggers emotional pain. I have been thinking it’s infant neglect. It’s lying down because that is all babies can do, and having to be with a sense of loneliness much much longer than an infant can cope with.
I don’t know why that would linger on really.
Dr. Spock’s sleep training advice is pretty much that. Let them cry to the point of despair. Then they will stop crying and dissociate. People of my generation seem to have survived that. Maybe their mothers didn’t really have the heart to follow through on this, even if they talked about trying to get their babies to sleep through the night.
I did hear in a video about attachment that children with more responsive mothers before 18 months cried less and were more obedient as older toddlers. My sister and I must have been nightmares. Intense emotions, no regulation skills, no effective means of getting help with our regulation. My poor mother.
I think of all the times my mother spiraled into shame, “I’m a bad mother.” Yes, you have no idea how to do this. You have no clue how to be in the world or to help little people learn how to be. But the way to address that was never to shame you into knowing how. Shame, like fear, can be used to modulate someone’s behaviour. It’s aversive. But it doesn’t provide anyone with actual skills. I wish someone had known how to help my mother. She was in way over her head, in every regard.