“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.