Insomnia allows for answers.

“There are twelve hours in the day, and about fifty in the night.” ~ Marie de Rabutin-Chantal

It was my third night in a row of insomnia. My brain was latched onto a problem that had persisted over months of back and forth, leaving me feeling out of control, overwhelmed, and unable to let go. In my view, it was taking too long to resolve and I had very little control over the issue. It felt like the slow, painful removal of a very large bandaid.

The “witching hour” seemed to always be 3 a.m. Each night I tried to concentrate on my breathing, change my focus, practice conscious relaxation, but none of those worked. I couldn’t release the buzz in my brain or my limbs. The haunting hovered in my head.

It is suggested that when you can’t fall back to sleep, you should get out of bed and do something with low-lighting that avoids looking at screens. I went downstairs to listen to a guided relaxation, but even that didn’t help. I came back upstairs feeling helpless and out of control. I begged my Spirit Guides for help. Please show me a sign that you are listening.

Distraught, I lay on the couch, my cat gently snoring on the floor beneath me. Ah! Petting animals is supposed to lower blood pressure. I reached down and pet him for a bit, still feeling lost.

On the coffee table I spied a book that I had taken off the shelf a few weeks earlier: How to Be an Adult by David Richo. I picked it up thinking it might be a useful distraction. Or, there may be a message in there for me that I am supposed to read.

With the book closed in my hands, and both thumbs resting on the pages, I randomly opened to a page that I sensed I was supposed to read. On the right side was a new chapter about adult relationships. Whatever, I thought. That’s not where the problem is. That’s where I get the most support.

On the opposite page, was the following quote:

What is hard to appreciate, when terror shapes a catastrophic gap, is that blankness can be a Fertile Void. The Fertile Void is the existential metaphor for giving up the familiar supports of the present and trusting the momentum of life to produce new opportunities and vistas.” Erving and Miriam Polster, Gestalt Therapy Integrated

It exactly matched what I needed to hear. Therein was my answer and the sign I had asked for. I felt a release of tension, a letting go. It helped me sleep.

When we’re in the throes of uncertainty about how to get through a difficult period, the best solution is to relax into the unknown by giving over our trust to a Higher Power that all things will work out in their own time with an often better than expected ending.

The “Fertile Void” is that gap of not knowing, that place of hanging in limbo in the present where things beyond our control–and out of our view–are being orchestrated.

TSA Discovers Alarm In My Crotch

I was traveling back home from vacation in Branson, MO with my husband. Standing in the security line at the airport, I was decidedly not frustrated by the antics we air travelers have been required to go through since 9/11/2001: removing shoes, belts, hats, emptying pockets.

As I stood there, I thought back to that horrific day and why we do this. We had to come up with something. We had to reinvent travel. As I stood in solidarity with my country, I thought: They should have a poster up on the wall to remind people. And then I saw it: a black and white and gray poster of the two white beams shooting up into the night sky, the new memorial at ground zero. At the bottom of the poster, it read: “Never forget.” 

I proceeded through the line, placed my things in bins, emptied my pockets, and walked into the booth. I assumed the stance: feet on feet, arms up and bent at the elbows as if under arrest.

“Ok, step out and stand here,” a male TSA instructed me pointing to yellow footprints on the floor. “She’ll be over in a minute,” he continued, indicating a female TSA nearby. Dave was still putting his things on the belt and walking through. 

The female TSA approached me and said, “We found an alarm on you.”

“You did?!” I quickly self-scanned in my head, but I had removed anything metal. She pointed behind me to a small digital sign of a stick figure standing with arms raised, as if under arrest. There was a red mark in the crotch. Hmm, I thought. That doesn’t even look like me.

She then explained in rapid succession what she was going to do to me with her gloved hands. “I’ll start in the back, go down the outside of your legs, up the inside, then…” She rattled it off so fast, I couldn’t keep up.

When she was done, I said, “Inside my clothes?!”

“No-o-o-o!” she responded with the sarcastic tone of a sassy teenager.  “Who are you traveling with?”

I pointed to my left behind me. “I’m with Dave, that guy there.”

“Is he laughing at you?” she asked.

“Probably,” I said.

They finally let me go after molesting me over my clothes. They never found anything because there was nothing to find.

We continued on toward our gate and had time to stop for lunch and a much needed drink. I had a Moscow Mule, which kicked in hard on an empty stomach before the panini caught up with it.

Later, at the gate, I texted my friend: “TSA found an alarm in my crotch and I’m not even wearing a thong!” It made sense to me at the time.